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.