Oct 23, 2016

Changes in my practice at the end of the Mindlab journey

32 weeks down and the final assignment!

My Mindlab journey has been enjoyable in places and quite rocky in others. My main focus for taking this on was I had seen first hand with a colleague at school what some of it was about as I was her ‘go to’ person for all the ICT support she needed to get through it. I supported her understanding of the technologies that were being swiftly introduced and trying to implement them in her classroom. For her it was inspiring and encouraging to watch her start to implement technology in the classroom with a new found understanding and interest. For her, the first intake of Mindlab was successful. I was encouraged by my boss to take it on for the ‘paper’ that it offered. I was skeptical as I did point out that I clearly didn't need a ‘paper’ to prove my skills in technology as they had employed me without a paper as the eLearning Director in the school. However, take it on I did. 

Osterman & Kotkamp (1993) stated that “awareness is essential for behavioral change. To gain a new level of insight into personal behavior, the reflective practitioner assumes a dual stance, being, on one hand, the actor in a drama and, on the other hand, the critic who sits in the audience watching and analyzing the entire performance.” (p.2)

In a lot of respects I think Mindlab has grown too fast and too quickly to cope with the myriad of students at different levels requiring different interactions with the staff. There are a lot of issues that have arisen this intake rather than the previous one; according to continued conversations with my colleague who had already done it. However, some positives did arise.

For the most part the collaboration and new found friendships I have built from the Mindlab experience are by far the best positives. I am keen and hopeful that the friendships I have built over the 32 weeks will continue and thrive. I did enjoy being a support to other Mindlabbers particularly in the technology area, however this also put added pressures on me during assignments and being a full-time teacher – very hard to keep up the momentum of keeping on top of teacher requirements and Mindlab requirements.

I was disappointed that the one aspect of Mindlab that I was most keen to do was scooted over very swiftly – blink and you’d miss it. Week 3 was my week…except it wasn’t. I was most excited to learn the ‘how to’ of Aurasma. However all I got was what I already knew, not a ‘how to’ at all. Disappointing. Week 6 was an enlightening week. Understanding and delving into different leadership styles was interesting and quite eye opening too. It never hurts to understand different styles and ways of working. It indicated to me my leadership style and the one I was aspiring to be. This improved my practice in the way I utilised my time as an ICT facilitator in the school – always a bonus when positive change occurs. “A facilitative transformational leadership style also encouraged frequent reflective dialogues. This supports the general idea that transformational school leaders can create a learning organization and can stimulate teachers to innovate and take risks” (Bryk et al., 1999)

The experience of using a varying model of learning; traditional verses online, was suitable for this purpose and enjoyable on my part. I thoroughly enjoyed the weekly sessions catching up with my fellow Mindlab Madge’s at the Mindlab. I also relished the online reflective section as this is an area I am very comfortable with and have engaged in for many many years. However, I do know that this was a large stress to some Mindlabbers and doesn't suit everyone – enter me the supporter, the teacher and the lead workshopper that supported and taught a number of students so they could achieve this section of the paper. As Osterman & Kotkamp quoted (1993) “In the reflective practice model, the learner’s role is far more active: “The practitioner becomes a researcher. . . and engages in a continuing process of self-education” (Schon, 1983, p. 299). In doing so, the learner assumes a central position, and the model of instructor as expert gives way to that of the instructor as facilitator.” (p. 15)

The biggest change in my practice has surprisingly come from the most difficult and taxing part of my Mindlab journey – the dreaded Literature Review. This was the hardest and most stressful aspect for me personally as I hate writing formally and always had trouble with it since my school days moving into College. However, I did enjoy understanding how Mindset and Mindfulness are interlinked and can be utilised in the classroom, so following the Lit Review and entering into the Teacher Inquiry segment I found myself planning a programme for testing the effectiveness of this learning. I think having colleagues on board who are as excited as me to implement my programme at the beginning of next year is thrilling and energising. Implementing a programme of Mindfulness, Growth Mindset and understanding the brain fits perfectly with the Ministry’s Practising Teacher criteria in a number of areas:
  • Criterion 2: Demonstrate commitment to promoting the well-being of ākonga.
  • Criterion 4: Demonstrate commitment to ongoing professional learning and development of professional personal practice.
  • Criterion 6: Conceptualise, plan, and implement an appropriate learning programme.
  • Criterion 7: Promote a collaborative, inclusive, and supportive learning environment.
  • Criterion 8: Demonstrate in practice their knowledge and understanding of how ākonga learn.
  • Criterion 9: Respond effectively to the diverse and cultural experiences and the varied strengths, interests, and needs of individuals and groups of ākonga.
It’s only October and heavily into report writing but I am already excited about the year ahead and really putting my teeth into Carol Dweck’s Growth Mindset and seeing if as Dweck states (2012) that "In a fixed mindset students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. Their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb. In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it” (p.2)

While I went through many mindsets/attitudes and behaviour changes during my Mindlab journey - I can at least say thank heavens I have come out the otherside a better Educator and a better person.


My new focus for professional development will be to find out what is required for the next paper so that I can use this Post Graduate paper towards another achievement. Is it achievable while in full-time employment? Hopefully it won’t be quite as full on as this paper and that it is doable. I am both relieved and pleased I have survived the experience and come out with some very pleasing grades [some of the best of my career] the elation of completion is like nothing else. 

Roll on graduation day!


Bryk, A. S., Camburn, E., & Louis, K. S. (1999). Professional community in Chicago elementary schools: Facilitating factors and organizational consequences. Educational Administration Quarterly, 35(5), 751e781. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/ 0013161X99355004 via a paper entitled Teaching and Teacher Education http://ac.els-cdn.com.libproxy.unitec.ac.nz/S0742051X16300415/1-s2.0-S0742051X16300415-main.pdf?_tid=1898bfd8-1a28-11e6-9fc3-00000aacb362&acdnat=1463267199_aecb08cb7dea5dc50c04d6afd164fd00

Dweck, C. S. (2012). Mindset - How You Can Fulfil Your Potential. Random House.

Morehead, J. (2012). Stanford University’s Carol Dweck on the Growth Mindset and Education. Retrieved from http://onedublin.org/2012/06/19/stanford-universitys-carol-dweck-on-the-growth-mindset-and-education/

Osterman, K. F., & Kottkamp, R. B. (1993). Rethinking professional development. Reflective Practice For Educators, 2–17. Retrieved from http://www.itslifejimbutnotasweknowit.org.uk/files/RefPract/Osterman_Kottkamp_extract.pdf

TKI, & Ministry of Education. (2015). http://elearning.tki.org.nz/Professional-learning/Practising-Teacher-Criteria-and-e-learning. Retrieved from http://elearning.tki.org.nz/Professional-learning/

Oct 6, 2016

My interdisciplinary connection map

This was quite a taxing task to start with - firstly just trying to ascertain what interdisciplinary actually means.

Andrews (1990) defines interdisciplinary collaboration as occurring "when different professionals, possessing unique knowledge, skills, organizational perspectives, and personal attributes, engage in coordinated problem solving for a common purpose" (cited in Berg-Weger & Schneider, 1998).

Once I began they seemed to flow into different areas as can be seen by the map...additions kept popping into my head, so this image has now been changed five times.

See ONLINE with active links http://tinyurl.com/h3plnr7

As to focusing on one - tough call. I have decided to focus on my TEAM and my Team Leader as my interdisciplinary future focus as this is the plan in the forefront after completing my teacher inquiry aspect. This area for future focus will incorporate a variety of skill bases and can easily be thought of as interdisciplinary. My Team Leader has the skills [and has been doing this for many years) for running effective Mindfulness training in her classroom; a team colleague effectively runs a brainology type programme at the beginning of every year in her room; my proposal is to combine these expertise and knowledge with my goal to focus on Growth Mindset and begin a study on the effects and possible positives of running such programmes in conjunction with each other on the learners in my room. Also combining the outside expertise of Carol Dweck's information and Sentis productions. Jones (2009) cited interdisciplinary benefits as having a “wider knowledge base”, “wider personality base”, and a “wider design, teaching, and assessment methods to draw on and thus more balance in the overall approach” (Haynes, 2002, p.19). Reading a fellow Mindlabbers blog, which I will continue to follow with interest, has also inspired this interdisciplinary future plan of action. Dion Paxie has been running some interesting mindfulness activities on a daily basis and has through his blog he has inspired me to purchase books they have used as well as trial a few myself. Now to implement the plan in the new school year to see the overall effect it has on the students who have a ‘I can't do it’ attitude.

 Our focus would be to combine the knowledge and understanding of all three of us to create a programme that enriches and benefits our learners from the beginning of the year. We might also see if the combined ideals have any discernable or observable benefits to some of our learners, particularly those with fixed mindsets. Jones stated (2009) “the interdisciplinary approach is a team-taught enhancement of student performance, an integration of methodology and pedagogy, and a much needed lifelong learning skill” (p.3).  One would hope that as Jones (2009) suggests the “students and their teachers will advance in critical thinking, communication, creativity, pedagogy, and essential academia with the use interdisciplinary techniques” (p.5). Our interdisciplinary focus would follow a clear plan of action.

Initially students will be taught about a growth mindset, what it is and how it can affect their learning. They will be taught specifically about the workings of the brain and how this can benefit their learning using ‘Your Fantastic Elastic Brain Stretch It, Shape It’ (JoAnn M. Deak) and the ‘Mindup Curriculum’ as well as using Mindfulness Made Easy cd of exercises by Renew Your Mind. Boaler, 2013, commented on the teaching of the brain in schools being critically important and learning about its plasticity in improving students’ attitudes. “Research shows the plasticity of the brain and the ability of students to develop smartness through hard work and challenge” (p.145, p.150). Students will also be taught some mindfulness techniques and strategies, together with their peers.  According to Mrnjaus & Krneta, 2014, our subconscious and conscious minds are always searching for a 'handrail' to hold on to. This 'handrail' can be someone’s belief, spiritual thought or unknown energy, and it is something our minds perceive as true, this 'handrail' is called creative energy (p.1048). If we start to develop and challenge the subconscious attitude of the student we can start to change their mindset, which affects their ability to learn and achieve.  Mindfulness can begin to create a more positive subconscious brain and therefore improve the mindset of the student; the challenge will be whether we observe this change in students and teachers over the research period. We would need to incorporate some of Andrew Fullers ‘resilience’ training ideas too. The intention will also be to focus on how we as educators give feedback to students and how the students give feedback to each other. Lesson time during each week would focus on effective feedback strategies. The focus needs to move from being achievement based feedback or natural talent based to effort based; it needs to focus on the students understanding their steps to success and how their effort to achieve it is progressing.

http://tinyurl.com/hjzjkjb created by https://creately.com/
All these skills based teachings and knowledge from different people should prove to be a fascinating incite into the learners attitudes and minds as well as our own in a lot of respects. As the focus will not be a specific inquiry it should make for an interesting and adaptive learning focus over the year, which will encompass all aspects of our timetable and curriculum while also developing some life-long skills.

Barton, K. C., & Smith, L. A. (2000). Themes or Motifs? Aiming for coherence through interdisciplinary outlines. Retrieved from http://auburn.edu/~silvesb/smicha/Barton&Smith.pdf
Boaler, J. (2013). Ability and Mathematics: The Mindset Revolution that Is Reshaping Education. FORUM: For Promoting 3-19 Comprehensive Education, 55(1), 143–152. http://doi.org/10.2304/forum.2013.55.1.143
Jones, C. (2009). Interdisciplinary Approach - Advantages, Disadvantages, and the Future Benefits of Interdisciplinary Studies, 7(2009), 1–6. Retrieved from http://dc.cod.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1121&context=essai
Mathison, S., & Freeman, M. (1997). The Logic of Interdisciplinary Studies. Retrieved from http://www.albany.edu/cela/reports/mathisonlogic12004.pdf
Mrnjaus, K., & Krneta, M. (2014). Mindfulness, Concentration and Student Achievement – Challenges and Solutions. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 116, 1044–1049. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.01.343
Mulligan, L. M., & Kuban, D. A. J. (2015). A Conceptual Model for Interdisciplinary Collaboration. Retrieved from http://acrlog.org/2015/05/14/a-conceptual-model-for-interdisciplinary-collaboration./

Oct 5, 2016

Little things cheer you up

Sometimes little emails put a wee smile on your face and a warm fuzzy in your heart.
Love a resource being promoted...on one of my favourite sites


Sep 30, 2016

Using social online networks in teaching and professional development

I have been an active user of social media in my classroom programme for nearly 10 years, or maybe longer. Although it has evolved over the years the initial premise is still there. The ability to connect with learners and educators outside of my classroom, my area, my city and my country…the world as they say is your oyster. As Whitby stated in Connected Educators (2013)  ‘We have to realize that as educators we’re always telling our students to be lifelong learners, well, education doesn't stop when you get your teacher’s license. You have to be a life-long learner” (4.12). Obviously as an early adopter I had to learn myself before I took it into the classroom so my learning started online. Enter my learning network of folk on Twitter. Through my life on Twitter I have gained close contact with a number of educators from around the world and this was invaluable in supporting my set-up of class-blogs safely (so locating other blogs was selected by me not by student accidental clicking – top bar removable was a must for the class blog set-up). Being able to access educational gurus knowledge and expertise in certain areas saved me hours of work and reinvention of the proverbial wheel. Melhuish (2013) pointed out that “The privileging of the individual voice saw a shift in the locus of control, from ‘expert-driven’ learning modes to a more collaborative, participatory model” (p.40) this is how the advent of using social networking in the classroom has evolved an moved.
EdChatNZ has been my most resent collaboration tool over the last few years. As Melhuish (2013) quoted “While collaboration and networking do not, of themselves, enhance professional practice, they can be precursors for meaningful dialogue to occur (Bolstad, Gilbert, McDowall, Bull, Boyd & Hipkins, 2012; Timperley et al., 2007) and EdChatNZ is this to an absolute T! Conversation every fortnight with like minded and passionate educators is interesting from many perspectives and often a source of on the spot PD as well.
Our class blog has been utilized for a number of years (although a name change has been incurred due to school movement). This particular social media has worked very well with the class although I haven’t ventured into children having their own personal blogs yet due to lack of technology here and the class enjoys sharing their own posts. It has also become a great source of history over the years and the ability to show past examples is a real lifesaver sometimes. For example, the years of posts on the NZ Post MailBox designs has been great to demonstrate and see past successes. The blog has almost become an archive of my teaching career in some ways. The ability to communicate and collaborate with other schools is educational on so many levels.  The rise of QuadBlogging has been an invaluable and rich experience for the children and my classes have enjoyed this practice over a number of years within NZ and then QuadBlogging in the wider world. The beauty of blogging is also the ability to approve or deny comments, this outwits the phishers and trolls that are around.
I have a class twitter account for numerous years. This has allowed children to access experts and other classes in other lands. This has been less successful on the class front, again due to lack of technology in the classroom, and really only gets used when we have something to comment on, a particular person we need to speak to or something exciting has happened. I would love to use it more frequently with the children. Using ‘fake’ tweets has been great at inspiring the reluctant writer too. The limitation of 140-character writing is always a fun writing exercise – can you write a short story using only 140 characters? Hopefully with the onset of possible BYOD next year in my class and another class we will support the twittersphere will become a much higher success rate and utilized in an improved and productive manner.

Joosten (2013) stated we should “engage students through rich current media” (s.25). With the evolution of the internet, rich media and other apps and products out there we have over the years utilized other aspects of social networks. Google hangouts and skype have been invaluable to connect and chat to and SEE classes in other countries – the time difference can always be a problem but this has been invaluable for children learning about others and how education changes from country to country. Instant gratification is the name of the game – such an improvement on the old pen pal letter. Instagram has been a great introduction to the class and they LOVE adding pictures on almost a daily basis (cheesyclass), the Daily Ducky is their most loved posting each day. It’s allowed us to keep in contact with students who have moved down the line and see how they are progressing. It also recently became a great reminder/learning tool for discussing cyber bullying when another group of students were writing nasty comments about another student – great digital citizenship reminder.
Our Class YouTube channel and our School YouTube channel has been a roaring success also. I particularly like to ability to approve or deny comment postings but the public – keeping the riffraff to a minimum. The students love sharing their videos and relatives aboard have enjoyed this aspect as well as the blog. Again sharing across the world is invaluable learning experiences.

 A current favourite connection, which has been invaluable for students, teachers and parents, has been using Class Dojo in school. Their new element of adding student stories, class story and class video has been an absolute hit with all concerned. Parents are loving the snippets of connectivity about what children are doing at school, students are loving sharing their photos of what accomplishments and work they are doing at school – it’s easy it’s monitored and it’s a safe environment. Again, this will be better utilized with more devices in class but having some devices connected is a fun way for children to share their learning. It’s been great for school wide communications and I haven’t had anything but positive feedback from parents that can keep up-to-date with the school/class/student goings on right from their phones – anytime, anyplace, anywhere!
Social Networking in the classroom has made the world accessible from the classroom. It has opened my students up to a world of possibilities and wealth of instant information. It has made learning fun and appropriate to my learners who are digitally connected at home, why would I get them to disconnect and write everything with pens and paper? This is their world and we as educators in the 21st Century have to embrace it, with all the challenges it entails but also the endless possibilities it also offers.

Joosten, P. T. (2013). Pearson: Social Media for Teaching and Learning. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/tjoosten/social-media-for-teaching-and-learning-27456257?from_action=save
Melhuish, K. (2013). Online social networking and its impact on New Zealand educators’ professional learning.

Office of Ed Tech. (2013). Connected Educators.

Sep 28, 2016

Legal and Ethical contexts in my digital practice.

According to Metcalf [2016] there were 2.307 billion social media users as of January this year with the prediction from Statista of this number growing to 2.95 billion users by 2020 – 4 years time! The internet and social media is the world our students are born into. Is not our ethical duty as educators to teach social online citizenship skills? I do not believe that we can rely on communities and parents to do this effectively.


https://politicalviolenceataglance.org/2013/09/10/ostrich-or-quixote-intervention-in-syria-et-moi/I am reminded on an incident nearly 10 years ago now….when I first decided to have a Teacher profile on Facebook as well as a private Facebook account.  So many children [even though they shouldn't be on Facebook, they are] want to keep in touch with teachers – my decision rested on using it for educational purposes and continuing to educate students even after they’d left my classroom. It also opened up the conversation with students within my class to feel comfortable discussing issues with me. Now I am fully aware that they shouldn't have been on Facebook as the requirement is being 13 years or over, however, I am also not going to be an ostrich and stick my head in the sand and think it’s not happening when it clearly is. An incident arose in quiet conversation where a female student asked me how to stop someone from requesting friendship via Facebook. She had been approached a number of times by the same male whom she did not know. Am I pleased she felt comfortable enough to talk to me YES! Am I grateful she knew I had a Facebook page and knowledge of the Privacy settings YES! Should she have been able to discuss it with her family YES! But she didn’t……too often students feel more comfortable discussing personal things with unrelated people – in this case I am relieved she could ask for help and that I could help her deal with the situation and stop it happening again. Henderson, Auld & Johnson (2014) stated that “the ethical issues are largely founded on the understanding that both students and teachers have lifeworlds outside of school that are characterized by complex identities, social practices, and discourse that influence how they engage or disengage with each other and with social media texts such as Facebook” (p.2)


There is a real chance of opening oneself up to cyber attacks from parents and or students by having a Teacher Facebook page – but the odds are already there regardless. A website called ‘Rate my teacher’ came into action some 10 or so years ago – actively promoting rating education institutions and staff on a scale. Thankfully this particular site seems to have been revamped to give a more positive spin on teachers, it certainly wasn’t the case then. With the rise of social media platforms that give people a ‘faceless’ voice there will always be the possibility of cyber-bullying. Look at the amount of trolling that goes on with our own NZ celebrities. Polly Gillespie seems to put up with an awful lot of cyber attacks. So my ethics are firmly planted in the – we must educate our students arena. They need to know and understand that cyber bullying is just as bad as face-to-face. They need to know that there are REAL people on the other end of blogs, Twitter feeds, Instagram accounts, Facebook accounts, Snapchats etc. Bullying should not be tolerated anywhere – not even in cyber space! Henderson et al (2014) stated that “when students are encouraged to examine and critique their use of social media, such as Facebook, when interacting with the teacher or with fellow students, they are being asked to behave, converse, share, and self-regulate in ways that are different to their already established practices” (p.6).
With the continuing rise of online gaming forums, which allow ‘conversations’ between strangers and the continuing, rise of social networks such as Snapchat and Instagram there is a real need to discuss ethics and cyber safety with our students. We have a duty to keep our students safe in school…why not in cyber space too. They need to learn the protocols of cyber safety as many of them are already online. We had an incident recently of a student being verbally abused by a number of other students on Instagram. According to the Ministry of Education & Netsafe (2015) nearly 45% of youth have been attacked online (p.11), I am guessing this number has probably grown, and this is only the percentage we KNOW ABOUT – what about the youth that say nothing, that tell no one, what’s that percentage?  

Should this be up to parents to monitor? Yes! Are we going to rely on all parents doing that? No. We are living in an age where students have devices everywhere – they WILL find a way to be online! It’s in their DNA! We need to teach the basics if nothing else, especially as devices are being used in the classroom – regardless of whether they are on social media sites or a locked in school hub…the option to be unsafe is still there. Our students ARE online. They ARE communicating in digital form. It’s the 21st Century. 
A great source of information for your classroom on Digital Citizenship is:
https://globaldigitalcitizen.org/resources - Lee Crockett & Andrew Churches - Education speakers and authors

Chaffey, D. (2016). Global Social Media Research Summary 2016. Retrieved from http://www.smartinsights.com/social-media-marketing/social-media-strategy/new-global-social-media-research/
Crockett, L., Churches, A., & Global Digital Citizen Team. (2016). The Global Digital Citizen. Retrieved from http://globaldigitalcitizen.org/
Henderson, M., Auld, G., & Johnson, N. F. (2014). Ethics of teaching with social media, 1–7.

Metcalf, E. (2016). Social Media Ethics. Retrieved from https://ellismetcalf.wordpress.com/2016/04/24/social-media-ethics/
Ministry of Education, & Netsafe. (2015). Digital Technology Safe and responsible Use in Schools.

Sep 25, 2016

Indigenous knowledge and cultural responsiveness in my practice


In the past I have worked in some very culturally diverse schools. However, my current school is almost rural in location and as such we have very few students from other cultures in our school. Wilson (2013) states "Culture is the beliefs and priorities that drives the thoughts and actions of the people in the school” (0.54). The culture of our school is lead from the top tier of management and then the leadership team. For the most part is a collegial set up and works well with staff and students. I would like to see more ownership from the students about how they learn and what they learn, but at the moment this is contained to certain classes and teachers. We have a student council group that meets weekly with the Principal and reports back to classes. Our school also runs a values programme that supports positive behaviours (honesty, excellence, aroha, respect and trustworthy), the children do respond to this quite well and the HEART values are frequently discussed and promoted. However, I do have reservations about the way this is rewarded and how much it is related to the specific teachers opinions and attitudes to certain children. I am not convinced it is effective in the right way.
In my classroom I have 3 of the 8 Maori students in school. I have high expectations of all my students regardless of their cultural background. Bishop (2012) states that “Maori are an incredible educable population, just as easily educable as any other group in society” (3.19). I am inclined to agree with Bishop in a lot of respects, however I do feel that there appears to be a vicious circle of ‘it’s someone else’s fault’ coming from some of the students families. Which means regardless of the work we do in school it gets unraveled fast at home with no effort or support given to learning and getting to school on time, if at all. Some students are hindered by their backgrounds and a whole different family dynamics while others are encouraged by a positive mindset and supportive family life. However, I will also state this is not a cultural thing, this is across many cultures and backgrounds, not just Maori. I encourage students to share their own personal learning and we have a weekly section called Genius Hour – students can research and study their own chosen learning and share with the class. I also let go of setting ‘homework’ some years back and set ‘home learning’ suggestions with free choices added so that students have some guidance but are free to make their own choices of study also. I have also encouraged parents with certain skills that we need to support the class. Just this term we have had two parents coming in to teach the class and share their knowledge from the film and advertising world to support our film focus. It’s great when the community can gets involved in the students learning. Cowie et al states that “Teachers seeking out, affirming and incorporating student and community funds of knowledge into the curriculum sometimes challenged traditional classroom power−knowledge relationships” (p.3), this is where some teachers have difficulty in becoming the learners rather than the educators and fountains of knowledge.
We have a strong Kapa Haka and Te Reo teacher who presently revolves around all the classes doing CRT. I feel that this is the first school where Maori has had a sense of belonging and involvement and yet it's one of the schools with the least Maori in it! We are always encouraged to participate in Matariki, Maori language week, Whakamahi and termly Powhiri’s where the Kapa Haka perform and speak. Often we have morning notices that encourage to the use of specific Maori words for the day. There are also frequent Hui’s organized for whanau which celebrates community. 

Pitama, Robertson and Cram (2007) suggest that it is important to ensure all assessment tools and practices are “placed within the appropriate cultural context to ensure valid hypotheses are drawn and that potential interventions sit within appropriate cultural norms” (p.5). This is where I think a number of schools in this country are suffering greatly. Just throwing in a Maori name for a student into an assessment question doesn’t make it cultural representational or appropriate to our students and neither does it include the cultural diversity of our increasing diverse population. I would personally like to questions/assessments written by a Pacific Islander, by an Indian or even a Korean. We need to see more education in the different cultures and space in our timetables to be able to include other cultures and beliefs other than just in off hand discussions. 
Bishop (2012) “there needs to be support from the school, there needs to be tremendous support in terms of time and energy provided for teachers and most importantly very highly qualified and proficient professional development needs to be provided for teachers” (5.37). He goes on to say that wrapped around the education institution needs to be a robust education system that provides “sufficient funding and support for ongoing change” (6.06). Our school is one of the best (in my humble opinion) at providing just in time learning and Professional Development for staff. It is positively encouraged and rarely is PD turned down. Staff are always sent on courses to learn about new students with asperger’s or dyslexia etc Anything we deem as important is always supported. As Bishop stated though (and I commented in my previous post) there needs to be more funding and support given to schools to effectively promote change and provide resources that are culturally diverse and support children with different beliefs and backgrounds. This also allows for awareness within Pakeha to understand, celebrate and appreciate other cultures, particularly given the quite clouded media coverage of certain cultures in our ever changing diverse society.
Bishop, R. (2012). A Culturally Responsive Pedagogy of Relations. Retrieved from https://vimeo.com/49992994
Cowie, B., Otrel-cass, K., Glynn, T., Kara, H., Anderson, M., Doyle, J., … Kiri, C. Te. (2011). Culturally responsive pedagogy and assessment in primary science classrooms: Whakamana tamariki. Retrieved from http://www.tlri.org.nz/sites/default/files/projects/9268_cowie-summaryreport.pdf
 Pitama, S., Robertson, P., & Cram, F. (2007). Meihana model: A clinical assessment framework. New Zealand Journal of Psychology, 36(3), 118–125. Retrieved from http://www.biomedsearch.com/article/Meihana-model-clinical-assessment-framework/173643516.html
Wilson, M. (2013). Building a Culture of Success. Retrieved from https;//www.youtube.com/watch?=n_8Bjz-OCD8 

Sep 22, 2016

Contemporary Trend in NZ - BYOD

The trend that interests me the most at the moment is that of BYOD in schools. Having been a high user of technologies in my classroom for many years and more recently trying to encourage a school of teachers to use technology to enhance their teaching and programmes, this trend is the one that is forefront in our school and my classroom.
While I have a number of varieties of technology in my class we still have not yet gone BYOD. Only recently with the SNUP upgrade has our infrastructure been robust enough to possibly support a BYOD plan. Now….plans are being developed and discussed with myself as the eLearning teacher and my Principal. We have an idea and plans are beginning to be formulated, in the hopes that this will come into our practice in 2017.


According to the Horizon Report 2015, “The use of mobile and other technologies, combined with new instructional approaches and the ubiquity of the Internet, have led to more student-centered learning where students have autonomy over the tools and materials they use” (p.28). To my mind using their own devices develops more of the child’s 21st Century skills necessary for their life outside of the classroom and beyond the classroom. The skills needed today are very different from the skills we needed when we left school [too long ago to mention]. Students need to be able to communicate in person but safely and clearly online too. It has for many years been hard to manage online interactions and make sure all get a fair crack of the whip when there are limited devices in the class. I imagine much more scope and creativity in my class if each child had their own device, their learning would be more about them than me directing and delivering. My role would invariably change as it has over the last 10 years, it should evolve and develop as times change and I want to bring this change to other teachers in the school that are just beginning to see the possibilities available to them by using technology in the class. 
In the priority learners report 2012 “ ERO encourages schools to develop systems, processes and connections that put students at the heart of learning and teaching, rather than on the periphery of school decision-making and the curriculum” (p. 6), why should our students not have a say in how they learn? The only problem with this in our school at the present time is the funding to support it, therefore BYOD is the only logical progression. 
Of course for our unique situation this does pose problems. We have a small community that is the only means for fundraising. The same people are required to pay all the time – at present our situation is that we have lost a playground and are trying to raise funds to rebuild…with the vast expense of 240K to do this hanging over us it is difficult to ask parents/community for more funds to buy personal devices. Although I agree with Future- Focused Learning (2014) that “taking devices home also has consequential benefits” (p.11) it does become problematical when the same peoples finances are being stretched. Future-focused learning also stated that “schools and their funding and hardware partners could provide back-up devices in case of technology failure and breakage, and ensure no student misses out” (p.11) again this becomes problematical with insufficient funding to support this.

It is important for my role as eLearning director to facilitate the use and implementation of technologies in our school. Future-Focused Learning indicated that “every student and educator is to be a confident, competent user of digital technologies, we will need to provide curriculum resources and professional development opportunities for teachers” (p.9), my question again is who funds this? It has worked really well this term me being released to support staff, model and encourage in their classrooms with the technology, but this release time is unsustainable due to financial limitations. It’s a grave shame as some staff have really begun to gain traction in our focus on Film Making – it’s a worrying to think that this will dwindle if it’s not a focus and that support is not at their fingertips. Staff need to be comfortable and confident in the use of ICT’s in their class and this is/was beginning to improve with my support and guidance within their classes. In the European Survey of schools they also indicated that teacher confidence and ability were some of the biggest obstacles in implementing successful technology programmes in schools and BYOD.
The Ministry of Education’s draft outline vision for education in 2025 (2015) stipulates that education institutions should change and that all educators and students become the teachers and the learners (p.2). This IS what we want for our school, this IS our aim and our focus….the only problem will be when can it feasibly be implemented in our current situation. 

21st Century Learning Reference Group. (2014). Future-focused learning in connected communities, (May), 1–37. Retrieved from http://www.education.govt.nz/assets/Documents/Ministry/Initiatives/FutureFocusedLearning30May2014.pdf
Baas Ton. (2013). BYOD - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly. Retrieved from http://blog.bizzdesign.com/byod-the-good-the-bad-the-ugly
Johnson, L., Krueger, K., Adams Becker, S., & Cummins, M. (2015). NMC Horizon Report > 2015 K-12 Edition. Retrieved from http://cdn.nmc.org/media/2015-nmc-horizon-report-k12-EN.pdf
Stoop, G. (2012). Evaluation at a Glance : Priority Learners in New Zealand Schools August 2012, (August). Retrieved from http://www.ero.govt.nz/assets/Uploads/Evaluation-at-a-Glance-Priority-Learners-in-New-Zealand-Schools-August-2012.pdf
Ministry of Education. (2015). NEW ZEALAND EDUCATION IN 2025 : Lifelong Learners in a Connected World. Retrieved from http://www.education.govt.nz/assets/Documents/Ministry/Initiatives/Lifelonglearners.pdf

Sep 11, 2016

Current issues in my professional context

When I first arrived at my current school a few years back I had the distinct worry that things were not as they should be. While the general ambience of the school was welcoming and warm, there was a distinct buzz with the children and most of the staff, there was also a distinct cold front. I was quickly told in no uncertain terms that things were done this way for a reason [the reason was never given] and that that’s the way we do it here. Stoll states the same thing, “Each school has a different reality or mindset of school life, often captured in the simple phrase “it’s the way we do things around here” (p.9, 1998). So trying to suggest new ways of running some programmes [such as maths] were met with very frosty responses. Thankfully the cold front was short lived and moved onto a different area of Auckland and the general culture and feel of the school warmed up considerably. School culture for me needs to be one where staff are valued for their ideas and input regardless of whether they are on the management team or not. Professional development should be shared and utilised and ideas welcomed. We as educators expect this to happen in our classrooms with our students so why not in the staffroom or meeting?

Stoll (1998) defines school culture along three dimensions, the relationship among its members; the organisational structure including the physical environment and management system; and the learning nature. Some internal and external factors that shape a school's culture include the school's history, the students' socio-economic background, external contexts such as national educational policies, and societal changes. 

Stoll and Fink identified the 10 cultural norms that influence school improvement. Our school definitely seems to have most of them pretty nailed. Although the first two maybe need some work. One of the things I love about some of the staff I work with is the collaboration we have. Frequently we spontaneously and voluntarily work together on different programmes and ideas, we share activities and we join forces on activities too – it certainly improves the general feel of positivity and alleviates the stresses of the job. I have found the yearly challenges laid down to us quite taxing sometimes but I love that there is always someone there to help. I love that staff offer support and guidance in their areas of expertise frequently, willingly and often without prompting. 


There is an openness and mutual respect amongst staff and this makes the school environment a pleasant place to work in. The areas we need to work on as a school I feel are definitely the first two. I’m not sure that the shared goals are often decided on together as much as laid down in a ‘you shalt’ manner, this makes for a divisive staff attitude and therefor success is often not strived towards with the right attitude – it is rather dragged along kicking and screaming in some cases; depending on the goal structure and discussions that led to it.

I do sometimes feel that the socioeconomic area of our school promotes a culture of judgment and criticism; however, I have also experienced this in other areas in schools also – it’s not just this school. I think a great deal of this attitude comes from the constant media bashing of schools. ‘Schools failing in core subjects’, ‘Parata fires shot at teachers’, ‘Schools under pressure’ etc etc. It is a struggle to rise above the onslaught of negativity but as educators we do need to hold a growth mindset on a daily basis. As Silns, Mulford, Waters et al (2003) state “If we want to nurture a growth mindset, we need classroom, school, and community cultures that reflect the language and expectations that come with it.” (p.2). Our school and culture must be positive even in a sea of negativity otherwise we will all drown. Promoting and using mindfulness on a daily basis has become a useful tool for myself as well as my students. It helps to take stock of the pressures of the world around us it actually helps to refocus the brain on the things that matter. It’s a new strategy I have implemented lately and will continue to implement as the year continues. As Mrnjaus & Kmeta (2014) suggest “maintenance of concentration, social problems resolution skills, how we manage frustration, negative and positive feelings (this is connected with frontal lobe) is extremely important for school, social and personal results”. (p.1046)


Deal, T.E., & Kennedy, A. (1983). Culture and school performance, Educational Leadership, 40 (5), pp.140–141.

Mrnjaus, K., & Krneta, M. (2014). Mindfulness, Concentration and Student Achievement – Challenges and Solutions. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 116, 1044–1049. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.01.343

Silins, H., Mulford, B., Waters, T., Marzano, D. R. J., McNulty, B., & Blackwell, L. (2003). Growth Mindset in Context Content and Culture Matter Too. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 15(3–4), 43–466. http://doi.org/10.1080/09243450512331383272

Stoll, L., & Fink, D. (1996). Changing our schools: Linking school effectiveness and school improvement. Buckingham: Open University Press.

Stoll, L. (1998). School Culture. School Culture, (9), 9–14. Retrieved from http://www.educationalleaders.govt.nz/content/download/483/3690/stoll_article_set3_2000.pdf