Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Class sites 2016

Tonight I stumbled across Matt Goodwin blog. It is a fantastic place to find tips and tricks for teachers who are in a digital setting. Tonight I reviewed one of his posts about this class site. He had created a screencastify about how his students navigate the site.

I thought it would be a great idea to make a screencastify to show the staff an example of how effective class sites can be and how user friendly they can be for our students.asil  I think this would be a great goal for 2016 as there is a lot of digital technology in school and it would be a waste if our sites were not user friendly for our learners.

This here is a screenshot of my comment on Matt’s blog. I thought it'd be a great piece of evidence to show that I'm growing my digital footprint and really put my name out there.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Yes, and...

Just a quick post today. I have finally set up class blogs for every student in my class (7 experts are already blogging). Anyway, it dawned on me, how much my mindset has changed!

I recall speaking with James (Manaiakalani outreach facilitator) earlier this year.. Term 2 (I think) and discussing what he could expect to see in my class (e.g. no individual blogs). I asked about blogging at a year 3/4 level and James mentioned that their are very few Year 3 classes with individual blogs and that it would be ideal to have mine set up with their own blogs and ready for the following year. Deep down inside I was relieved, as I couldn't bare the thought of my class blogging and was mentally preparing myself for etting blogs set up and teaching my class how to log in, log out and access their own blogs.

Boom! I have 7 chromebook ninjas blogging already!

I have information about creating blogs, and as a result I have created a blog for each of my learners! The cherry on top is... I am excited about the challenge (my 'yesterday brain' was simply daunted by the thought of individual blogs).

Love reflecting without noticing, and then realising the gems and understandings that come from it.

                                                                  Image 1


Image 1: Retrieved September 30, 2015 from  How Improv Can Open Up the Mind to Learning in the Classroom and Beyond. (n.d.). 

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Ako Hiko PLD/G

Today was great!  Juanita (Pt England School) opened my eyes to simplifying my class site and making it 'user-friendly'.  I found this very helpful as it tied in with our schools aim to build on community engagement.

When thinkng about our audience, it is our parents.  I asked myself questions such as

  1. Can my parent community access this site?
  2. Do they understand how to navigate through it (with or withut their child)?
  3. Have I displayed what is important in our day of learning?
To this I realised that my site was aesthetically pleasing but hard to navigate.  So I have since given my class site an complete overhaul.  It is now simple and user friendly (tested on my family members).  I feel that the home page displays what is important in O'Neill Class.  That is , Writing, Reading, Maths, Cyber safety and our class blog etc.

It was also great to think about the importance of our pedagogy around digital learning.  You can hand a tool over but without first knowing how to use it, it cannot be used.  I think this is something that needs to be stressed to teachers who are new to 1:1 classrooms.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Reflection on reflection

Ako Hiko principals have asked that we break down our data to identify the exact number of sub-levels each student has moved.  This was a fairly straight forward task that I could complete.  However, when I sent my data through to be analysed, we found that it was 'skew whiff'.

I had somehow saved my Term 1 data as Term 2 data and hadn't saved changed correctly on Excel.  I can only think that this confusion happend during my discussion and data analysis with my student teacher at the time.  However, I was left feeling like a pain in the arse, guilty, useless, and under performing as a teacher.  I felt this way as my data was all out of whack, and this put out a few other staff memebers.

Usually I would be hard on myself and feel like as if I had fallen to the bottom of the mountain, only to have to work ten times as hard to get up and attemp the climb again.  

But... through reflection I came to accept that my data was not up to scratch and began planning ahead straight away.  Without this reflective thinking, I would have remained depressed and low about the data.

The power of reflection is great.  It helps you plan prior, for the here and now and the future.  It also helps you get over yourself and move ahead, aiming to avoid making the same mistake again.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Power of Reading

Today we discussed the pro's and con's of the Power of Reading lesson sequences.  The value of drama based activities cannot be underestimated.  It brings the story to life and develops rich vocabulary  for our learners.  This is especially important for our ESOL learners.  I have found that is importamt to follow the sequence of plans.  I missed a drama aspect of one lesson, which had a huge impact on the quality of writing.  I found that I had to go back and re-do the drama part of the lesson.

Where to next?
Visit the Power of Reading site and familiarise myself with the definition of each aspect of drama.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Summary of my Postgraduate Learning Journey [Activity 15]

This has been a turbulent journey!

In all honesty, I struggled to enjoy this course as much as I thought I would.  I'm more of a kinesthetic learner, motivated by practical 'hands-on' based activities.  I must admit, I was disheartened at the amount of theory based work involved in this certificate, but now that I am at the end, things are different.  I now appreciate the value of research and readings.  The importance of understanding and being aware of educational documents that circulate around the world.

If I was to complete a course like this again, I would want to be relieving or working part time, as I found my workload along with the expectations of the course were at times, overwhelming.  There were also points of my Postgraduate Journey where I saw opportunities to delve deeper into the unknown but found I couldn't because of time and work restrictions.

Below are a few of the criteria I have decided to reflect on.

Criteria 1: Establish and maintain effective professional relationships focused on the learning and well-being of all ākonga
I believe I am able to maintain effective professional relationships that are focussed on my learners. I do this by connecting to other staff and teachers alike through Twitter, Google+ and the Virtual Learning Network. I am also available va email for staff, students and families to contact me at any time.  My goal is to continue this but firmly establish effective professional relationships with the parent community.  I have started this already but I feel it can be strengthened and in some places, re-established to ensure all parties involved are on board and understand how we can best promote the well-being of our learners.

Criteria 2: demonstrate commitment to promoting the well-being of ākonga/learners.
I follow a variety of threads on the Virtual Learning Network that provide information to engage my Maori and Pasifika students in writing, with a focus on boys.  I also participate in a fortnightly meetings with our Manaiakalani Outreach facilitator with a focus on promoting the well-being of our learners through digital technologies.  I also have a fortnightly schedule of Digital CyberSmart lessons that alternative with PB4L lessons.  These cater to the immediate needs of my students especially as they work 1:1 with Chromebooks.  My goal is to further upskill myself in my understanding of Digital Citizenship so I can continue to promote this with my learners and follow it up with parent  meetings.

Criteria 5: Show leadership that contributes to effective teaching and learning.
I have continued to support in the area of ICT. Helping teachers familiarise themselves with new apps, problem solving iPad issues, participate in iPad purchasing discussions and created 'Screencasts' to help staff understand how to use Google sites and more, all in their own time.  This term I will be assisting with PB4L and I hope to use this as an opportunity to further develop  my leadership skills that will help myself and others to be effective teachers.

Criteria 7: Promote a collaborative, inclusive, and supportive learning environment.
We are a PB4L school and I continue to use positive praise with students, their families and other staff members.  As a staff we use Google Apps for Education which helps us collaborate on planning, sharing ideas and recording them.  This also occurs between students and staff and extends beyond the classroom walls via individual and class blogs.  I am often complimented on the positive and respectful class culture I develop.  My goal is to continue this in class and find ways to extend this and strengthen it in the wider school community.

Future Goals
  • To create memorable learning experiences that will be passed down through generations.
  • Provide my students with the tools they need to be successful, meta-cognitive and actively reflective learners.
  • Present and an Education Conference (ULearn, #EDChatNZ, GAFE Summit)
  • Lead my own school one day. Take on more responsibilities and leadership roles, and build my presence as a leader.  Then lead a low decile school as Principal.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Evaluations of the Cultural Responsiveness in Practice [Activity 14]

My school is a Decile 1 and has a large Pasifika presence, yet all cultures, beliefs and understandings are used to inform the way forward with our school vision.

These are three ways in which my school is culturally responsive.
  1. Vision, Goals and Values
    Our school vision is Partnering with our community to develop successful learners who can take action to shape their future. This is being acheived though ensuring our staff work in a partnership with the community, prepare our learners to be successful and equipped with the correct tools to aid their success once they leave our school. We also address this vision by fostering our core values Whakaute (Respect), Manawaroa (Resilience), Kaitiakitanga (Responsibility), and Whakawhanaungatanga (Relationships).
  2. Policies
    We have various policies that we adhere to each day.  A few of our policies are, a 'no-fizzy' drinks policy that came into effect this year.  It was initially a questionable policy as some families found it more affordable to buy lunch packs which readily include very sugary juices or fizzy drinks.  However, this year we have been privileged to participate in the Fonterra 'Milk for schools' initiative and receive fresh milk each day.  This has helped us justify the policy and encourage parents to send their children to school with water only, provided we have milk each day and water fountains around the school.  There is a Media release policy that needs to be signed by each family upon enrollment that respects their rights to privacy and/or allows the school permission to publish their child's name and picture. We are also a PB4L school and have our 'Hay Park Way' firmly established throughout the school.
  3. Communication methods
    English is a second language for many of our students and their families.  Along with our regular newsletter, we also send newsletters out in different languages, such as Tongan or Samoan.  This is achieved by approaching our local parent community and involving them in decisions about the language used in our newsletters and asking them to translate them into their native tongue.  This regular parent consultation also allows keeps us aware of cultural issues or concerns that exist in the community,

    Another way is by arranging qualified translators to attend meetings where our parents and families struggle to understand English.  For example, I have worked alongside a mother who knows very little English but speaks fluent Urdu.  After arranging an interpreter, her confidence in helping her children and participating in school activities increased.


Hay Park School. (2015).  Vision,Goals and Values.  Retrieved from vision-goals-values on 12 July 2015.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Indigenous Knowledge and Culturally responsive Pedagogy [Activity 13]

When I first started my teaching degree in 2009, indigenous knowledge and culturally responsive pedagogy was undefined for me.  I believed everyone learned at their own pace and if you struggled to learn, it was due to a disability or lack of motivation.   It wasn't until I attended a lecture through university that clearly defined what culture means.  I now understand it to mean a way of life, not your ethnic background.  I used to say that, I am Cook Island Maori but was brought up in a very sheltered lifestyle, where knowledge was handed to you through books, TV, interactions with adults and school.  From here I realised I was making a sweeping generalisation that all Cook Island Maori people are brought up rough around the edges.  But in fact, my culture was simply different to other peoples cultures.  Professor Russell Bishop discusses an example of learning achievements in the Maori community and people believing that the poor results in this area are due to the Maori people themselves (, 2015). This is exactly what I used to do.

From this I made sure my teaching practice was based on a deeper understanding of the learner.  Not solely on their assessment data, but based on Mason Durie's Whare Tapa Wha model. (Durie, 1998). Really getting to know the learner and understand their own unique culture without any bias or predetermined criteria.  Allowing them to approach their learning in a way that suits them and letting me gain an insight into how they learn, and ways that I can promote further learning (, 2015).

Durie, M. (1998). Whaiora: Maōri Health Development. Oxford University Press.,. (2015). A culturally responsive pedagogy of relations | EDtalks. Retrieved 9 July 2015, from

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Code of Ethics [Activity 12]

In your opinion are ethical codes of conduct reflective of societal norms or essential principles of humanity?
Based on my profession and the Code of Ethics provided by the New Zealand Teachers Council (2004) I believe they are reflective of societal norms as they relate to the exchange of commitment from between us, learners, society, community and families. However, they also align themselves with some of the basic principles of humanity such as, respecting the privacy of others and promoting the well being of our learners.  These being governed by four principals, Autonomy, Justice, Responsible Care and Truth.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of having a Code of Ethics?
They provide us with clear expectations as professionals and help us align our practice with these principals.  Its also protects us from accidentally imposing on any unethical boundaries, especially those who are new to the profession. If an Ethical issue were to arise between staff and/or families, we would have a document that provides us with accountability for our actions. However, this can lead to society viewing us as lawful citizens who do no wrong and holding very high expectations of us as a profession.  This can lead to pressures outside of work hours, where we must continue to uphold these Ethics and make them a part of our everyday lives.  This makes us accountable for a lot of things that may be viewed as a societal norm for most people.  Whereas an advantage to this would be the regulation of appropriate behaviors in the Education sector, particularly when we have the safety of our learners at the forefront.

In your own field to what degree are ethics concerned to protect individual rights and to what degree do they exist to minimise organisational risk? How is the balance between the two distributed?
I believe these are both addressed equally throughout the Code of Ethics, where it states that we have a commitment to our learners, society, profession, community and families. (New Zealand Teacher Council, 2004).  These commitments highlights the degree in which individual rights are upheld and applied in an educational setting.

These Ethical principals also minimise organisational risk as decisions can be based around these Ethics ensuring all parties are covered and held accountable where necessary.  It also provides a foundations for leaders and management to judge teaching applicants upon and making Ethical judgements.

New Zealand Teachers Council. (2004). Code of Ethics. Retrieved on 7 July 2015 from

Monday, 6 July 2015

Applied and Professional Ethics [Activity 11]

There are a range of methods associated with Applied Ethics which was in a steady decline throughout the 1960's, until prompted by pressing issues in Medicine (Collste, G, 2012. p,g 3).

Collste (2012) discusses a few reasons which have led to the development of applied ethics. Such as a shift from 'moral heteronomy' to 'moral autonomy', new technologies and policy vacuums.  There are also different methods that can be used to approach Ethical issues, also termed as Ethical Inquiry.

Collste (2012) also mentions that the chosen method of approach is determined by the question at the heart of the inquiry.  So when I think the Implications for Education this makes me think about the way in which school management and staff should approach 'Ethical' situations.  As an aspiring leader, it has helped me understand the importance of knowing these methods like the back of my hand.

This brings me to the Code of Ethics provided by the New Zealand Teachers Council (2004) which is a document that governs how educators should carry out their practice.  These are instilled in us from University onwards.  The importance of upholding these Ethics are crucial, especially with the shift that we can see going towards 'autonomy' (Collste, 2012) both inside and outside the classroom walls.

Collste, G. (2012). Applied and Professional Ethics. Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden in KEMANUSIAAN Vol. 19, No. 1, (2012), 17–33

New Zealand Teachers Council. (2004). Code of Ethics. Retrieved on 5 July 2015 from

Ethical Dilemma [Activity 10]

An Ethical Dilemma I have encountered is through Google+ and Facebook.

I have had students and parents request to connect with me through my Google+ profile.  At first I was apprehensive because I wasn't sure if I wanted them to see my professional networks and communications via Google+ but I also didn't want to offend them by declining their requests.  I discussed this with other staff members and we decided it would best to ignore these requests.  This was justified by the fact that parents and students can maintain contact with me through my class blog, class site and email.  It also helps me keep my professional network separate from my networks with the community and safeguards my privacy too.

With Facebook I had a student send me a friend request.  Without question this request was rejected.  I think it is important to keep personal and work relationships separate.  I discussed this with senior staff members, who also agreed with me.

I do believe if I had a Facebook page based on myself as a teacher, with the goal of providing communication opportunities between myself, students and their families, it would be appropriate to accept friend requests.

My decisions have also been based on the purpose of me using the social media, which the New Zealand Teachers Council deems as important (New Zealand Teachers Council, 2012).

New Zealand Teachers Council.(2012). Establishing safeguards.[video file]. Retrieved from

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Legal Contexts and Digital Identities [Activity 9]

Upon enrolment each student is required to have a media release form signed.  This gives the school permission to publish the students images and also allows parents to request that their child does not have their picture published.

For our digital classrooms we also have a Kawa of Care document to be viewed and signed by parents and returned to the school as a contract to ensure the Chromebooks are cared for correctly and that parents are aware of how chromebook use is monitored by staff.

As part of an agreement for students to take their chromebooks home, parents must sign the Kawa of Care and attend a minimum of two workshops facilitated by our staff.  These workshops provide information to parents about the importance of monitoring their children whilst they are online and guidelines towards appropriate use of chromebooks as learning tools.

At present there is no social media policy for teachers, but this is currently under review and being drafted.  However, teachers are encouraged to join Twitter, join the Virtual Teachers Network and follow the NZ Teachers Facebook page to further develop their professional learning networks.

These current Social Media documents have been put in place to ensure the safety of our staff, students and families.  Upon review, I hope new documents will be developed to promote the professional development opportunities through social media, which will ensure all staff reap the benefits of social media.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Professional Social Media Networks [Activity 8]

Twitter and Facebook have been most beneficial to my professional development.

Facebook has allowed me to connect with teachers across New Zealand through the NZ Teachers page.  I have found this more beneficial than other social platforms as it is easy to use and updated regularly.  The ease of use is also due to the fact that I use Facebook for personal and I have found that this also one of the reasons why other teachers find it so easy to share the resources through this page.  This keeps me engaged outside of school hours. Through this page I have also been able to connect to other teachers through their blogs that they have shared and gain access to a separate web page which has been created solely as a resource bank which collates all resources that have been shared through the page.

Twitter has been a great way of extending my professional network.  I have access to educators across the globe as well instant updates for professional development events.  Last year I attended my the first #EdChatNZ (twitter based) conference which was held due to popular demand and has led to #SciChatNZ and #EngChatNZ which are regular chat events where discussion is based on educational needs in these areas.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Social Media in Learning and Teaching and Professional Development [Activity 7]

I currently use Virtual Learning Network, Twitter and the NZ Teachers facebook page to further develop my teaching practice.  These social network platforms allow me to ask questions that enable me to inquire into my teaching and allow me access to effective resources that have been widely used by other educators to promote further learning with our students.  They also help me build relationships with other educators locally and abroad, giving me insight into different teaching models and allowing me time to reflect on these.

Key features that I believe are beneficial to teaching and learning are, the potential to take learning beyond the classroom walls and provide connections to the far reaches of the world, the ability to have access to up to date resources, research, the ability to share and collaborate instantly through these platforms and developing agency and self-efficacy (Melhuish, 2003, p.24).

The New Zealand Teachers Council posted a video that reminds us to be aware of why we are using social media and asks us to question how we are interacting with young ones through this media.  We need to have goals and clear expectations as well as keeping the community aware of why we are using such media to ensure ideas. learning and teaching approaches are not misconstrued (New Zealand Teacher Council, 2012).  This will also provide a safe and effective method of approaching social media for our students.

Joosten (2013) cites one of their quotes in a slideshare which mentions social media is a virtual place where anybody can share anything they choose to.  This highlights the importance of teaching our learners how to be safe whilst using social media, as the open access could make them susceptible to strangers or counterfeit information.

Twitter Handle @Miss_Teening

Google Plus Community

Notifications about active threads in my VLN


Joosten, T.( 2013. October 22). Pearson: Social Media for Teaching and Learning. Retrieved from

Melhuish, K.(2013) Online social networking and its impact on New Zealand educators’ professional learning. Master Thesis. The University of Waikato. Retrived on 05 May, 2015 from

New Zealand Teachers Council.(2012). Establishing safeguards.[video file]. Retrieved from

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Contemporary Issues in Education [Activity 6]

Elaborate in your own words how you would address those issues or trends in your context within your learning community or professional context.
Below I have identified three contemporary issues that are influencing Education in New Zealand.

Trend 1: Learning Agency
Derek Wenmoth discusses student agency and mentions that learning requires the initiative and actions of the learners more than the input from teachers (, 2014). This active progres is what can be considered as Agency.  He also mentions that it is not as simple as handing the learning over to the students, but requires the teachers setting up the students for this process or agency.  I am currently looking further into flipped lessons and trialling these in class.  I have completed a LEAN Canvas on this (submitted as one of my assignments) and hope to implement these lessons in Maths by the end of Term 3.  I would hope that this would provide opportunities to scaffold my students towards developing their own learning agency and giving them the 'power to act' (Core-Ed, 2015).

Trend 2: Digital Convergence
Digital convergence refers to the heavy influence technology has on our everyday lives (Core-Ed, 2015).  Each day I rely on my smartphone to tell me the time, weather, contact friends, check emails and Facebook.  Once upon a time, I used my laptop to do that.  Later I came across a Chromebook which only took 7 seconds to start, so I started to use that.  Now I have a smartphone, I no longer need the other two.  This is what I do in my personal everyday life.  A question I ask myself is: How am I preparing my learners for this growing trend?

My learners work 1:1 with Chromebooks and have access the internet during school hours.  They no longer use paper back Thesauruses or Dictionaries, instead they have bookmarked a digital copy of these.  I hope to continue addressing this trend by ensuring my learners understand how Digital technology can effect our everyday lives and how they can use it to benefit themselves and their learning.

Trend 3: Global Connectedness
Penpals are almost a thing of the past, now you can communicate with people from all over the global at the click of a mouse via email, blogs, Twitter, YouTube etc.  My job is to make sure that my learners are prepared for this and are able to question, investigate and act as global citizens (Core-Ed, 2015).  For example, Wikipedia isn't always right.

The way I can address this trend in my classroom is integrating initiatives such as LEARNZ field trips, using a class Twitter account and starting individual blogs for my learners (Core-Ed, 2015).

References (2015). Ten Trend Categories. CORE Education. Retrieved from on 24 June 2015. (2014). Ten Trends 2014: Agency [Video file]. Retrieved from video/ten-trends-2014-agency on 24 June 2015.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Professional Connection Map [Activity 5]

This Professional Connection Map shows my learning network. It is comprised of connections to support my teaching and learning as well as those which support my learners and the parent community. I have noted in each little bubble, the connection I have which each aspect. The green boxes are a representation of where I feel I have strong connections and the yellow boxes are areas that can be potentially be strengthened. The benefits I find are that I can bounce ideas of more than one person or collective group and gain different perspectives as well as stronger evidence in some cases.

 However, the challenges are maintaining these connections and a balanced work-home life. I find that meetings need to happen before or after school and I already have 2x staff meetings each week as well as planning (planning is slightly more intense for me this year as I am still getting my head around maintaining a high level of work in a digital classroom). After squeezing in meetings with external agencies I end up going home to continue working. I have also found another challenge is when one area breaks down. For example, all agencies could be lined up and ready to work with a family (maintaining that rich connection with the communities), but the family declines. This sets back all parties involved.

Throughout this process I have realised that there are many more connections to be strengthened.  For example, I have just realised that I have not noted 'local churches' on my connections list.  I have minimal contact with one of our local churches, but I can see positive impacts coming from connecting with other churches and further reinforcing community relationships.

This reflective post also calls to mind the Registered Teachers Criteria 1: "Establish and maintain effective professional relationships focused on the learning and well-being of ākonga".  It is my job to establish and maintain these professional connections.

Registered Teacher Criteria. (n.d.). Retrieved June 14, 2015, from

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

My Professional Community [Activity 4]

Who are the stakeholders of your professional community? In what ways do they influence your practice?
The main stakeholders in my professional community are the parents.  Without their voice it is difficult to help address the needs of their children.  They provide a basis for us to plan ahead with regards to report writing and having them written in a language that they understand.  This is especially important as a majority of a parent community are Pasifika and have English as their second language. For example, the Ministry of Education has created a web page with ideas that parents can use to help support their children at home (this is a link to the page,  These are great suggestions but they don't all align with our parent community.  Therefore, I need to amend these to make them suitable for my stakeholders.  Without their support at home, it makes teaching and learning at school more challenging for their children.

What are the core values that underpin your profession and how?
The core values that underpin my profession are fostering a safe and inclusive learning environment based on trust, having an open door policy, teaching as inquiry, and promoting further learning.

I base my daily routines and expectations around PB4L (Positive behavior for learning).  By reinforcing positive behavior I am building trust between myself, students and their peers.  They have a clear understanding of my expectations and this allows them the space to learn in a safe environment where they don't have to be worried about being singled out or highlighted as an example of undesired behavior.  This positive behavior management also ties in with pace, clarity around learning and enabling student voice.  Giving them the confidence to ask and answer questions to further their own knowledge, regardless of their learning abilities.

Having an open door policy allows me to build and strengthen relationships with the wider parent community.  I encourage parents to sit in during a lesson and watch their child learn, to let their child teach or talk to them about anything new they have learnt.  As I grew up, I always though that 'teachers' were perfect humans who could do no wrong.  They were always right and have the answers to everything.  In my school community where we have a majority of Pasifika students and families, I have found that this stigma can sometimes keep parents away from the classroom in fear of being questioned or intimidated by the teacher.  Some parents feel they can't go into their child's school because they may be ignored of patronised by teachers (Mittler,2012)  My open door policy is an attempt to remove those worried or fears and let parents know that they are key to the success of their children alongside the school.

Teaching as inquiry leads to promoting further learning.  By critically reflecting on my practice and inquiring into my teaching I am able to keep up to date with research and supporting documents to help me promote further learning with my students.

What are the challenges that you face in your practice?
A huge challenge for myself is getting all of my learners achieving at the National Standard, as well as the other demands of working in a small school.   I personally need time to consolidate new learning and in a high performing school there isn't much time for this.  As a result, I have challenged myself by joining MindLab, discussed new ideas openly with staff and sped up the  rate in which I can digest new information. This has also allowed me to maintain reasonable and high expectations of my learners.

Another challenge is gaining full parental involvement with learning both within and outside of school.  This can be challenging for parents due to church, sport, work, younger siblings, health or other extra-curricular commitments.  This is where it has been beneficial having a Social Worker on site as well as having a strong connection with the public health nurse.  Both are able to liaise with families outside of school.

What are the current issues in your community? How would you or your community address them?
My school is part of the Ako Hiko cluster where their purpose is "To accelerate student achievement through equitable digital learning access in low decile schools in the Mt. Roskill / Mt. Albert area." Our Year 4,5 and 6 classrooms work 1:1 with Chromebooks.  We have seen an acceleration in student achievement and can see our learners moving forward but I feel the parent community is lagging

behind with in this process. They are inexperienced and have limited knowledge about the digital 'cybersmarts' required to keep our learners safe online. This gap will addressed by offering community workshops in school, run by either myself and/or our students themselves.

What is the purpose and function of your practice? In what ways do you cater for the community of your practice?
My purpose is the cater to the needs of my learners, their learning networks and provide a means to becoming lifelong learners (Ministry of Education, 2007).  It is also my purpose to uphold the registered teachers criteria.  I have added in an illustration of the 'registered teachers criteria'.  This illustration has been taken from Nickrate who has aligned these criteria along with the graphic from Timperley’s Teacher Professional Learning and Development: Educational Practices Series brochure, 2008. The illustration of these criteria can be seen below.

Ako Hiko Education. (n.d.). Retrieved June 1, 2015, from

Ministry of Education. (2007). The New Zealand Curriculum. Retrieved May 18, 2015, from

Ministry of Education. (n.d.). Positive Behaviour for Learning.  Retrieved June 1, 2015, from

Ministry of Education. (n.d.).  Retrieved June 1, 2015, from

Mittler, P. (2012). Working towards inclusive education: Social contexts. Routledge.

Nickrate. (n.d)  Retrieved June 1, 2015, from

Registered Teacher Criteria. (n.d.). Retrieved June 3, 2015, from

Timperley, H., Wilson, A., Barrar, H., & Fung, I. (2008). Teacher professional learning and development.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Responses to Finlay's (2008) article [Activity 3]

Reflection 'in' and 'on' practice.
During my first year as a beginning teacher I did a 'reflection on reflections'.  Upon reading this article, I have realised that my earlier reflection was a 'surface reflection'.  There was an absence of critical evaluation, and self-awareness.

It was interesting to read about Schon, 1983 and his two types of reflections (as cited in Finlay, 2008). Up until I read this article, I have always reflected-on-action. I would wait until something happened and then use it as an opportunity to reflect on. It has been great to read that reflection also happens during and event. I know that I do this, but have never had the theory or basis in writing that underpins this notion.

Just as I thought I was ready to carry out critical evaluations of my practice, Finlay mentioned Zeichner and Liston's model, 1996 which demonstrate five different levels of reflection that can occur during teaching (as cited in Finlay, 2008).  These are;
  1. Rapid reflection
  2. Repair
  3. Review
  4. Research 
  5. Retheorizing and reformulating
I find this model is clearer than Schon's model as it breaks it into five deliberate acts.  Although they can be aligned with Schon's model as rapid reflection and repair relate to reflecting-in-practice and review, research, and retheorizing and reformulating relate to reflecting-on-practice.

Gibbs Reflective Cycle (1988) was clear and I found that it aligns closely with the Teaching as Inquiry model found in our New Zealand Curriculum (2007).   However, I prefer Zeichner and Liston's model (1996).  It seems more succinct and provides an explicitly clear model to develop deeply critical reflections on practice. I fell it encompasses Schon (1983), Grushka, Hinde-McLeod and Reynolds (2005), and Gibbs (1988) reflective cycles.


Finlay, L. (2008) Reflecting on ‘Reflective practice’, Practice-based Professional Learning Centre, paper 52. A discussion paper prepared for PBPL CETL,

Ministry of Education. (2007). The New Zealand Curriculum. Retrieved May 18, 2015, from

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Reflection on Learning and Practice [Activity 2]

My takeaways from MindLab

This course has opened my eyes to the benefits of digital tools in the classroom.  Prior to MindLab, I was aware of tools such as Kaizena, Explain Everything and GAFE but I had no idea about the potential benefits of using them in the classroom .

As part of this course I have learned how to use these tools in the classroom and presented an assignment on Kaizena.  I researched this tool and was surprised about how effective Kaizena is, yet it is not widely used in digital classrooms.  Just when I thought I knew everything about Kaizena, how it could be used for teachers to provide feedback/feedforward and had seen the potential impact it could have for our ESOL learners, I was guided (through feedback from my assignment) towards how this tool could be used for students to peer-review each other's work.   One of my take-aways from this course has to be 'empowering our learners'.  I am no longer looking solely at ways to develop my teaching capabilities.  Now I am seeking ways to empower my learners and set them up for success.

Another take-away is the power of collaboration.  In my classroom, 'Collaboration' is a term which has been loosely been defined as 'working together'.  Through MindLab I have refined this definition to include not only participation, but critical reflection and challenging each others beliefs and understandings.  That the end product isn't just a 'target' to reach together.  Rather it is a journey to see how we reach the target together and then how far the target can be stretched, altered and applied in context.  This was evident in my work with Vicki Archer.  The challenging conversations and deeper understandings that were brought to light during our collaborative work on assignments has stuck with me more than the other assignments I completed on my own.

The third take-away is based around my Leadership skills and where to next.   When I look at my grades throughout my studies with MindLab, I am definitely lacking Leadership skills and an understanding of these.   I sometimes default to 'learner mode' and listen, then act on instruction, as opposed to stepping up and assuming role as leader.  However, with the discussion around leadership styles, I now have an idea of how to transition into the role of leader, but I will still need to research and further unpack the capabilities of a strong and effective leader and the leadership style that suits me.  This is my next step and I hope to lead Science and Reading programmes next year.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Kia Orana [Activity 1]

Join me on my turbulent journey as an educator learning to walk in the wonderful world of MindLab.

I work in a small decile 1 school with access to an abundance of 'digital tools'.  My strengths are ICT and Science and I have patience and perseverance when it comes to problem solving.

I am currently in my fourth year of teaching and started at my school as a Beginning Teacher.  My first two years of teaching were very challenging as I realised my degree had barely covered the basics of being an effective teacher. In my third year of teaching I was able to consolidate the previous years of teaching which had me prepared to apply for the MindLab scholarship and challenge my beliefs and teaching pedagogies.  

I believed this paper would be suitable for myself, as this year I am teaching in a digital classroom.  I am learning alongside an amazing class of Year 3/4 students who are working 1:1 with chromebooks.
National standards have been very challenging as I feel it narrows the curriculum and our learners are left without the fundamental capabilities of 'critical innovators with inquiring minds fueled by curiosity' in our modern society. This is a challenge for myself, as it is one of the values in the New Zealand National Curriculum (Ministry of Education, 2007).  MindLab is where I had hoped to find inspiration and direction towards addressing this gap for me.

I believe it is impossible to learn in a learning environment which lacks basic routines, explicitly clear expectations and trust.  I strive to provide a safe learning environment based on trust,clear expectations and routines.  This ties in with my inclusive approach to teaching and learning. 

Please follow this link to my class blog to view photo's of my classroom, and shared learning from my students.  O'Neill Class Blog

Ministry of Education. (2007). The New Zealand Curriculum. Retrieved May 18, 2015, from 

Friday, 6 March 2015

Stop.. Collaborate and Listen!

Wow it has taken me over a month to update my blog.  This is partially due to me travelling to Rarotonga during week two.  So tonight I am going to do a super quick reflection.  Hopefully I can revisit this blog when my brain is rested and refreshed.

Weekly schedule

  • Very busy.  I have been run down since returning from Rarotonga with an illness.  I think this has led to me feeling/being less prepared during the day and I find that I am not leaving my class throughout the day unless I am going to the bathroom.
  • There have been a few unscheduled meetings that for me personally, throw me way of course.  Especially when they are before school meetings.
  • Observations.  I feel like a beginning teacher all over again.  Making mistakes that I have already learned from.  After reflecting on this I have come to the conclusion that 1. I am trying to cover too much and overwhelming myself and the class.  2. Am so focused on adapting my teaching practice to Chromebooks that the fundamentals of teaching are being left out. 3. There is lots of information to take on this year with AFOL, student teachers and MindLab.  I need to sit back and breathe.

School events

  • Successful community day.  Though there were quite a few hick-ups that led to a few grey hairs.  Something for management to reflect on.
  • Feed the kids too.  Touching base with Cain's parents and having them come into school and provide each child with a lunch box.  My reflection is to be more organised as I felt some children took it for granted, were demanding and didn't know how to politely take a lunch box. Next time I will prep all children at assembly or ask staff to do that well in advance.

  • Had Kama in to observe/discuss ICT.  I need to simplify what I am doing.  I have thrown my learners into the deep end and need to take a step back and simplify things. I think I have been too worried about data and expectations of group work etc that I have overlooked effective ways of using Chromebooks for learning.
  • Although Ako Hiko PD discussed remaining documents etc I need to change it and start to push out documents rather than having learners make a copy and rename it.  This will save time wasted during class learning time.

Clean mind, clear ideas
  • After discussion with Kama today, I have decided that I not only confused my learners with so much content but I also confused myself.  I have cleared all 189 emails from my inbox and am back at (0) unread. WOHOOOO! I have also gone through 'my drive' and started to sort my files.  My head is feeling a little lighter now.

My learners
  • Wow..... just wow.  The behavior needs of my learners are extremely high!  With this in mind, I will be reading up on my incredible years notes to see what other strategies I could use with my learners because some of the most 'positive' strategies have minimal impact.  Hmmmm.  I have general conversations with staff about my learners and pick up a few tips here and there.  I feel I don't need to ask management for help (yet) as I am still trialing many other strategies.

My Hauora
  • Not good.  I have been ill since returning from overseas.  I still stayed at work because my learners needed the stability after I was absent a week.  Need to find a work-life balance again.  
Goodness me, this wasn't so short after all. But has been great to think about these things as I write them down.  Now it's 11.24pm on a Friday night and i'm doing this.  I better stop now and start finding that balance.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Day toooo

Today's highlight has to be creating our inquiries for the first two weeks of school.  This was fantastic because we were able to create an inquiry as a team and work together on the same inquiry.  It will be easier to talk about our inquiries with each other as we will already have a shared understanding of it.  So my goal for week one is to find out what my learners think a 'great learner' is and really break it down so they understand what I expect of them and foster a learning focused culture.

MindLab today challenged my thinking about modern learning environments (MLE).  I used to think that MLE referred to the way your classroom is setup, the furniture you choose and how your pedagogy changes.  Which it does, but today I was encouraged to think about it in a macro sense.  Beyond the wall of the classroom.  Questions such as 'we know there is more devices in hands, but what does this mean for the children?  How does this modern learning environment effect them?

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Welcome back... TOD 1

This year will be a year of many 'first's' for myself.  I have started my own blog (...whoa) which I am using soley to record my ideas or reflections.  I have no intention of publishing this but would love to look back at it in Dec 2015 and see how my posts or ideas have shifted.  

This year I also have my first student teacher (or TC - Teacher candidate) and will be going 1:1 with chromebooks.  Very exciting!  

Today was filled with a lot of admin that will hopefully help the school run smoothly.  One thing that I have noticed is the presence of 'checklists'.  There are now checklists for classroom environments, marking books, planning, observations etc.  Normally I would shake my head and feel overwhelmed, but as a year of 'first's' I am going to be open to change.

I hope I can keep on top of these checklists, which will make them less of a burden and lighten the workload.  Of course, marking will be slightly different for me as my learners will be going digital this year.

Another point I noted was the importance of tracking RTC's and the appraisal system.  Last year I took in examples of work to share during my appraisal.  This was awesome an allowed the conversation to be less...formal and instead 'informative'. It made the appraisal process enjoyable and as a result I felt valued.  This is where we are hoping to head to this year, so it looks like the checklists might become my new best buddies.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Professional Learning Communities

Characteristics of a PLC
There are 8 characteristics of a PLC that need to be in place for it to be successful.  The main focus is on collaboration of all (based around learning), this means open forums where everyone is kept 'in the loop', sharing ideas and learning from each other and having high expectations of themselves and their learners.

Active reflection and input from students needs to be valued.  We need to listen to our learners.  As a staff we need to be open to change and for this to happen, change needs to be positive and not discouraging.

There need to be mutual trust and support.  All staff incl support staff need to feel competent, confident and the drive to succeed.  This could be achieved by applying the incredible years strategies to ourselves. For example, more positive than negative.  Really build on confidence and growing as a staff.  Professional development needs to be appropriate and apply to all staff members.  This will optimize the use of PD.

There needs to regular evaluation and reflection on the effectiveness of the PLC.  What needs to change?  Where to next?

Three ways to determine the effectiveness of a PLC
     • It has an impact on pupil learning and social development.
     • It has an impact on staff morale and practice, with potential for developing leadership capacity.
     • The characteristics are in place and processes are operating smoothly – it is part of ‘the way we 
       do things'.

PLC Article