“We’re a small branch so we need high levels of engagement to succeed,” says president Sarah Hammersley, a teacher at Sandspit Road School, west of Pukekohe.

“That means we work hard to build relationships and include all groups across the community.”

When it became clear a local Community of Learning (CoL) was being planned, members decided to get involved and make it a space for everyone. The branch organised a big social event at the Sandspit Yacht Club at the start of 2016, bringing in teachers, principals and support staff from around the district.

It was a chance to begin new relationships, build on existing ones, and start discussions about where the community should head. Sandspit School Principal Graeme Newall says the event helped set in train a strongly collaborative approach to the CoL that has got people thinking about the whole community.

Powerful visits

The branch has added momentum by organising professional development involving visits of teachers to classrooms across the region.

“It’s been part of our branch focus to build engagement in those areas where we haven’t had great involvement, and those visits have been really powerful,” says Hammersley. “We’ve also built a good dialogue with the principals’ group and our next push is to grow involvement in the ECE and support staff sectors.”

Waiuku branch also makes an effort to connect with beginning teachers. Hammersley’s own career in NZEI Te Riu Roa dates from when she was encouraged to attend the New Educators’ Network National Hui and then asked to share her new-found knowledge and enthusiasm with others.

This year, PCT Claire Lyford from Waipipi School, Waiuku, was sponsored to the hui and is now sharing her learning with other new educators in the area.

Share the work

“It’s part of our succession planning,” explains Hammersley. “We’re a small branch so it’s important we keep growing the pool of experience and enthusiasm. We share the work around and try to get as many people as possible exposed to the big picture of education that NZEI provides. If we want the best for our kids we need to see that big picture and be involved in shaping the future.”