Saturday, October 31, 2015

Activity 10 - Summarising the Postgraduate Learning Journey and planning for the future.

What an adventure.

From hands on activities to the thousands of words uploaded for assessment tasks.  It has been a long journey.  It is also started the next course of my planning.

There are 12 practicing criteria in e-Learning which is divided into two groups.

1- Professional relationships and professional values.
Criteria 4 - Demonstrate commitment to ongoing professional learning and development of professional personal practice. (Practicing Teacher Criteria and eLearning)
This course has made me reflect on my teaching practice more in the last 32 weeks than in the whole of my 20 year career.  I was asked to reflect on my leadership qualities and make comments.  I was asked to collaborate on assessment tasks with colleagues, and I was asked to develop new programmes which would integrate collaborative tools in my practice.

2- Professional knowledge in practice.
Criteria 6 - Conceptualise, plan, and implement an appropriate learning programme.
It has been this practicing criteria in e-Learning that I have made the most changes. AND I will continue to change to fit the ever changing dynamics of the students in my class.  I have moved into a more student directed learning programme in our Modern Learning Environment.  This has seen me create assessment tasks online for students to have in real time.
Project-Based and Collaborative learning gives the students the opportunity to learn collaboratively.  Students are beginning to learn that there is merit in working as a team and that every member of the team has a part to play in the collaborative work.

Although the course, classes and drop in meetings may be over the learning, leading and changing has not.


Ministry of Education. (2013). Registered Teacher Criteria and e-learning. Retrieved November 2, 2015, from    Enabling e-Learning:  learning

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Activity 9 - Evaluations of cultural responsiveness in practice.

In New Zealand, Māori has a unique place in society.  It is a 'multicultural society underpinned by bicultural foundations" (Ministry of Education, 2012, p.2).
As I identify myself as a New Zealand Māori citizen, I need to not only be responsive to Māori students but also to the many other cultures of my students.

Elm Park School
Our school has a diverse number of ethnic cultures.
As stated previously:

  • 30% New Zealand European
  • 20% Pasifika
  • 15% New Zealand Māori
  • 13% Chinese
  • 10% Indian
  • 5% Other European
  • 7% Other

We believe in our school that Maori is an important part of our school life.
Our management staff have invested time and money into professional development in Te Ao Māori.
3 staff members (including myself) have attended Te Wanganga o Aotearoa  Te Ao Māori courses.  As a result of this we were able to provide professional development for our staff.
We are fortunate to have 4 staff members identify as Māori, 3 as Pasifika, therefore our commitment to encouraging our Māori and Pasifika students is high.
For example:

  • Each day starts with a Karakia and himene.
  • A staff member who has the role of cultural advisor.
We also welcome new students and staff with a powhiri, lead by staff and our Kapa Haka roopu.  
Learning foci and events that support cultural celebrations e.g. Waitangi Day, Matariki, Māori, Samoan and Tongan language weeks.
A strong Kapa Haka roopu who perform at the annual Koanga Fesitval.

Our school believes and cares about raising Māori achievement by prioritising and tracking of Maori achievement.  Most Māori and Pasifika students achieve well, especially in Literacy.  (ERO, 2013) 
We encourage whanau participation in school events and have whanau hui where parents and caregivers are given the opportunity to voice their opinions or concerns.

As a Māori teacher at Elm Park School I need to work harder at applying my understanding and knowledge of teaching Māori students, to other cultures.  This is where I can incorporate the Tuakana-teina concept.  This is a relationship which provides an older or more expert tuakana to help or guide and younger or less expert teina. (Ministry of Education, 2009).

Through engaging with families, and creating those strong educational links, and by being culturally proficient, all these combined will create a positive environment for our learners.


Education Review Office (2013) Elm Park School Report.  Retrieved 26 October, 2015    from  12-2013/2-Learning
Ministry of Education. (2012, January).  The New Zealand Curriculum update (16).  Retrieved    October 26, 2015 from
Ministry of Education. (2009). Tuakana-teina.  Retrieved October 26, 2015  from  Maori/Aspects-of-planning/The-concept-of-a-tuakana-teina-relationship

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Activity 8 - Legal contexts and digital identities.

Teachers certified to practice in New Zealand are committed to fulfilling the highest of standards of professional standards.

These standards are governed by four fundamental principles:

  • Autonomy to treat people with rights that are to be honoured and defended
  • Justice to share power and prevent abuse of power
  • Responsible care to do good and minimise harm to others
  • Truth to be honest with others and self.
Application of the Code of Ethics shall take account of the requirements of the law as well as the obligation of teachers to honour the Treaty of Waitangi by paying particular attention to the rights and aspirations of Māori and tangata whenua.  (Educational Council)

In terms of the the above principles, common sense must be upheld the most.

In school where personal devices are so common, it is hard for a school to "police" the use of these.  Especially when it comes to using smart phones or accessing personal social media sites on school equipment during class time.
This is where legal and ethical issues come into play.
The use of you smart phone to take of photo of a student in your class or record their voice is just so handy.  BUT do you have permission to do this?

As a parent of a student in my school who is on the Autistic Spectrum, I was appalled to hear a voice recording begin shared during lunch in the staff room by a reliever teacher who wanted to get advice on how to handle a child in the class that they were relieving in using inappropriate language.  The voice recording was of my child!  BUT as a teacher I can understand that this reliever was just wanting some advice to help her handle the situation in class.

As a parent, I have signed a consent form for photos, video and voice recordings to be used in school for educational purposes for my child.  I guess that the teacher could also argue that she took the recording for educational purposes in order for her to educate herself on the needs and behaviours of a student on the spectrum.  So how does the school deal with this?  Is it illegal for the teacher to have recorded the student/my son?
With both hats on my head, teacher and mum I don't think it it illegal.  But as a mum and a teacher I do think it was ethnically wrong to play the recording in an open forum such as a staff room.  If the teacher had thought of autonomy and responsible care principles of the Code of Conduct, maybe she would have chosen a better forum in which to play her recording to gain further knowledge.

It is hard for a school to 'police' personal use of devices BUT it is not hard for the school to form policies that will protect the identities of students, teachers and protect them from harm.


Copyright Council of New Zealand. (2015).  Retrieved October 24, from Copyright Council of New Zealand:

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Activity 7 - Social media in learning and teaching and professional development.

Social media use in learning and teaching and in professional development.

The Google definition for Social Media is websites and applications that enable user to create and share content or to participate in social networking.

An online platform brings together people in some kind of organised way, that may involve or combine:

  • Sharing content (social media) or,
  • Interaction between people (social networking).
(FacDev, 2012)

How do/would you use social media to enhance your professional development?
I use social media all the time.  There is a huge amount of current, easily accessible information on almost any topic.  Using tools that support collaboration, teachers can work together to solve problems and learn from each other.  The direct access to authoritative knowledge enhances my programme.  I am learning all the time from teachers with different experiences.  

What are the key features of social media that you have identified as benefits for teaching and learning?
The key features of social media that is beneficial to my teaching and learning is being able to connect with other teachers and students.  This opens up a whole new world of learning and making connections with other teachers and students.  As I stated in Task 6, though before this can happen in my class, safeguards need to be established as routine.

What are the potential challenges that teachers need to be aware of when integrating social networking platforms into teaching activities?
I think that the vast amount of potential challenges is what turns many teachers away from using social media in class.  One of the most discussed challenged is the lack of control over what students can post online.  This can lead to cyber bullying.  Schools need to develop a cyber safety policy around bullying.  Students need to be shown what to do if there is any kind of negativity aimed at them through social media.  
To overcome this challenge teachers and students alike need to be shown and taught about the grey lines of cyber bullying and that it is NOT ok for this to happen.

What social media platform do you feel best supports engagement with your professional development?  Why?
I find the social media sites that are based in New Zealand most relevant.  I often use educational groups on Facebook (NZ Teachers ( Primary))  as my first port of call.  This group has over 15,000 teachers based here in New Zealand.  The feedback that I get in response to an issue I have, is New Zealand curriculum based.  Not only that but the feedback is of similar social and cultural context that I experience.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Activity 6 - Professional Context, Broader Context.

Contemporary issues in New Zealand schools.

There are three pressing issues related to New Zealand schools as stated by the Education Review Office (2012).  ERO says that it is important for schools to understand these three issues if New Zealand is to raise the achievement of all learners.

Although these issues were raised in 2012, I feel they are still pertinent today.

Issue One:  The need to shift the focus to student-centred learning.
In previous assessments I have often stated the need for a shift in classroom teaching to student centred rather than teacher focused.  Giving learning more power over their own learning links to the Key Competency such as relating to others and managing self (Ministry of Education, 2007).  For example.

Within my learning community it has been important to observe student centred programmes.  We have been fortunate in our school to have two teachers who are leading the way in terms of this programmes.
Within in our personal learning community (Modern Learning Environment) it has been easier to make this shift with the continued support of others.
Being involved in a MLE has given us the opportunity to let our students decide where, how and who to work with.  We have also given the students the choice to attend workshops if they are needed support.  This gives the students the option to carry on with the work at their own pace or revert back to a more formal teacher led lesson.
As much as possible, our programme is student centred there needs to be a balance.  Notions like autonomy, accountability, responsibility and support need to be balanced.  It is about "student learning and teacher teaching" (Rate, 2013)

Issue Two:  The need to use assessment information to know about, and plan for, students' learning.
"Digital technologies play a crucial role in enabling learners to connect with, contribute to and learn from those in other parts of the world."  (CORE Education 2015).
Our students use GAFE  and any other online platform which enables them to present their work.  The devices we use in class are Chromebook's so all work must be saved to their folders on their Google Drive.  They are being prepared for global connectedness by learning the:

  • Technical skills of connecting with one another to complete work (using a google app collaboratively)
  • Digital citizenship skills such as feedback and feedforward on collaborative work or blog posts, and what is appropriate to share.
The next step for us in our classroom is to enable the collaboration to move beyond the safe boundaries of our class and go global!  However before this can happen consideration and implementation of safeguards needs to be established as routine first.

Issue Three: The need to implement a responsive and rich curriculum that incorporates 21 century technologies.


CORE Education. (2015). CORE's 10 trends 2015.  Retrieved June 24, 2015, from CORE      Education
EDUCATION REVIEW OFFICE (2012). Retrieved October 15, 2015 from Education Review  Office  for-New-Zealand-s-education-system-revealed-in-latest-ERO-report
Rate, N.  (2013, June 4).  Student agency.  Retrieved October 15, 2015 from eLearning    infusion:
The Ministry of Education, New Zealand. (2007, September 14).  Key competencies.  Retrieved  October 15, 2015, from the New Zealand Curriculum Online:  New-Zealand-Curriculum/Key-competencies

Friday, October 9, 2015

Activity 4 - Professional Community

Who are the stakeholders of your professional community? In what ways do they influence your practice?

About Elm Park School

Elm Park School is a Decile 5, state co-educational contributing primary school situated in Pakuranga, a suburb of East Auckland.  Elm Park School primary has a roll of approximately 600 (Year 0 - 6 children).
Elm Park School's special character is the cultural diversity that includes 40 different ethnicities.  We pride ourselves in providing an inclusive caring environment in which we value individual differences (EPS website).

Cultural diversity of the school:

  • 30% New Zealand European
  • 20% Pasifika
  • 15% New Zealand Māori
  • 13% Chinese
  • 10% Indian
  • 5% Other European
  • 7% Other

Stakeholders of Elm Park School

There are two groups of stakeholders in our Elm Park community.

  • Approximately 600 students
  • Principal, three deputy principals, 29 teachers, and 15 support staff.

In what ways do they influence my practice?

The cultural and social background of the students in my school community has a huge influence on my practice.  With the culture diversity of our school it is important to get to know the students in my class.  What culture they identify with, their interests and passions and their family life.  I feel knowledge is power and knowing this about the students in my class gives me an insight into what they are interested in, how they learn, and what could be possible barriers to their learning.

As Wenger (2012) points out, members of a community must develop a "shared repertoire of resources" (p.2).

To do this we must meet regularly, discussing issues, planning and working together using the sorts of activities such as:
  • problem solving
  • drawing on each other's experience
  • re-using assets.
The experience and wealth of teachers in my school has enabled me to grow as a teacher.  I have the confidence to step out of my comfort zone and know that I have the supports of my colleagues and students.

What are the current issues in my community? How would I or my community address them?

One of the main issues that I see in our community is the lack of home/school partnership and lack of parent support.  Many of our parents/caregivers are working full time to support their families, therefore during times of parent support we lack that partnership.  We have a great PTA team in our school but this team consists of the usual hardworking parents that often give up so much time to support of many different ventures. 
Twice a year we have Student Led Conferences which is often well attended.  Throughout the year we as a school provide many opportunities for our community/parents/whānau to be involved in.  Unfortunately they are usually poorly attended.
One way that we are trying to address this is by providing a landmark learning partnership programme.  This programme is the Ministry Of Educations initiative, Mutukaroa (2015).
Mutukaroa is a home-school learning partnership that seeks to accelerate learning progress and achievement for students in years 1, 2 and 3.
The Mutukaora programme is a process that fosters the active engagement of parents and whānau in learning partnerships and provides them with the tools and knowledge necessary to support the development of core skills and their children.
As a teacher of māori decent, it has been a privilege to work along side one of our deputy principals ensuing that māori tikanga is been respected. 

What are the challenges that you face in your practice?

Often I complain about all the challenges that I face while teaching.  But in reality when it comes down to it there are only ever two challenges that I continue to face every day.

#1 Time!  Or lack thereof!  I seem to constantly battle between a balanced home and work schedule.  There never seems to be enough time to get everything at school done.  Therefore marking books, planning etc usually are done at home.  According to Wegner (2012) a community is a "group of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regulaly" (p.12).  Having this community supporting me is essential to keeping a balance between work and life.

#2 Achievement and Behaviour.  Addressing the needs of low achieving students and students with behavioural concerns is another issue.  Finding ways to reach these students can be a challenge.

As I have said, there are always challenges in teaching and learning.  But at the end of the day the most important part of my teaching life is the students!  It is my job to make sure that I am providing opportunities for my students to become life long learners.


Elm Park School. (2015). Retrieved October 9, 2015 from Elm Park School:

Mutukaroa. (2015) Retrieved October 10, 2015 from

Wenger, E. (2012, January 6).  Communities of practice: A brief introduction.  Retrieved October 10, 2015, from

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Activity 3 - Response to Finlay's (2008) Article.

Purpose of the article:
The purpose of this article is to explore ideas and debates around reflective practice and how it is currently used in professional organisations.

Defining reflective practice:
Finlay recognises many different meanings of reflective practice and that it means different concepts to different groups.  To me, I see reflective practice as a way of studying own experiences to improve the way things are done.
In her article she states that reflective practice is hard to do and equally hard to teach. It is even harder to do and teach effectively (p.15).

Reflective 'In' and "On' practice:
This section was interesting reading and thinking about how it related to me in the teaching profession.
Reflection-on-action (after-the-event thinking) and reflection-in-action (thinking while doing) became clearer as I related it to how I reflected on my own practice.
As I re-read this section it became clearer to me that Schons (1983) concept of reflective practice developing more from a "reflection-on-action" type of reflection to 'reflection-in-action' as teachers confidence and experience grow in teaching.
During discussion with provisionally registered teachers, I can see that reflection comes at the end of a lesson taught, at the end of the day or at the end of the week.  With experience, I think 'reflection-in-action' comes naturally and becomes relevant as one is continually reflecting on how the lesson and going and if the lesson needs to be adjusted to meet different needs.
When planning lessons and in fact during lessons, it is always important to think about practical and critical questions to improve your practice.  Some are outlined by Grushka, Hinde-McLeod and Reynolds in their 'reflection for action' section (p.4). For example; are these instructions clear?  Do I (as the teacher) know what I want my students to get out of the lesson?  Do I have specific learning intentions and are the success criteria co-written and understandable?

Reflection, critical reflection and reflexivity:  
Personally I found this section hard to understand.  The term 'reflexivity' is new to me and I had to do some searching to understand what the term meant.  I think it means the relationship between cause and effect.
This is something that I am going to have to continue to learn more about.

Modelling reflective practice:
Although the most commonly cited reflective model is Gibbs (1998), I found the model by Boud, Keogh and Walker (1985), easier to follow.  I liked the revisiting aspect that follows on to an outcome easy to incorporate into my thinking.  This model also aligns with our Elm Park School Inquiry model.

Critiquing reflective practice:
I found this section of the article very interesting.  Many of the points raised highlighted my concerns with reflective practice.
In particular:
Ethical concerns - Quinns (2000) point about students/practitioners appearing to have little choice about having to do reflection, as it is often a significant component demanded by those in authority, in my opinion is quite true.  Who are the reflections for?  Are these reflections helping or hindering a student or practitioners abilities as a teacher?  As Finlay points our "when required of individuals through learning and assessment exercises, reflections can end up being superficial, strategic and guarded" (p.14).
Professional concerns - If reflective practice is done badly, ineffectively or inappropriately, its value goes unrecognised or undervalued.  Mentors need to be encouraging and supportive to students.  But these mentors also need to be aware of positive critical reflections and be able to share their knowledge in a positive manner with their students.

Overall I found this article a difficult read.  It has given me a lot to think about in terms of what reflective practice means to me.
I know that reflection is an intrinsic part of teaching and learning, and that it directs the next steps in my lesson, but it is important and necessary for others to read my reflections?  More to think about.

Finlay, L. (2008). Reflecting on ‘Reflective practice’. Open University, Practice-based professional learning centre. Retrieved June 16, 2015, from

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Activity 2 - Reflection on Learning and Practice.

As a teacher who is finds it a necessity to be up to date with new educational concepts, I was excited to find a course that entailed hands-on tasks as well as pedagogical theories.
An added bonus was that a colleague was willing to participate in the course as well, which meant shared transport and a likeminded brain to bounce ideas off.

During the last 24 weeks of study there have been many "aha" moments but in particular the following three points are things that I have learnt about myself as a learner...

# 1 Working with, collective, collaborative learning. 
Being able to work collaboratively with either a group or another person has been enjoyable.  Although this is a normal form of learning in my classroom it is not one that I have come across during my personal experience in education.  
Being able to collaborate on "in class" activities and during assessment tasks has meant that I have often had to commit to work and time schedules rather than last minute opportunities.

# 2 Assessments, accountability reflective learning.
I have found the assessment tasks rather cumbersome.  It has been quite some time since I last had a time frame and a deadline to hand work in.  What has inspired me to complete these tasks, was the way in which we were encouraged to use a different presentation platform rather than the old traditional written essay.  
Many of the presentation platforms that I have been introduced to, I have shared with students in my class and they are now using these with ease.  Kahoot for example is a favourite and is spreading around the school with speed.
It has also inspired me to branch out of my comfort zone and try new presentation tools that I would not normally use.

# 3 Hands on, tactile, kinaesthetic learning. 
Being able to complete tasks in class has helped my understanding of programs and feel more confident in using them in a class situation.  While I would normally sit and listen to someone talking about their product/program, I was never that confident to use it in class as I was not willing to make errors in front of my students.  These errors are now described as learning opportunities in our class.
Some on the boys in my class are loving using scratch and I can see this becoming a favourite tool to use in class and in personal time as well.

Changes to my practice.

# 1 Providing more opportunity for collaborative learning.
During this course, I have been given the opportunity to work collaboratively with my peers and this has made a far greater impact on my learning than if I was left to my own devices.  Collaborative learning has been a small part in my class.  Usually students collaborate in class and their thinking is that they are "cheating" or "copying" so is done quietly rather than out in the open.  So I though, if collaboration has a positive impact on my learning, what would my students think of collaborating in open?  So I changed the way I delivered my lessons.  Many lessons became collaborative, where students were able to use Goggle Apps for Education in their lessons.  It was ok to talk about what they were doing, it was ok for them to be working on one document in class and then adding to it during their own time.  AND it was ok to submit one piece of work as long as a self and peer evaluation was completed.

# 2 Being adventurous and taking more risks.
This led to me taking more risks and being more adventurous with the way I ran my classroom programme.  As stated above the new mantra in our class became - Mistakes are learning opportunities.   Before, many errors where not seen as a learning opportunity.  Now I had to think about revisiting the learning intention and and changing the way I delivered the lesson to my students.   Was there a better way?  Not only did I need to convince myself of this, I also had to convince my colleague as well. 

I have always put my hand up to be involved in new initiatives at school but only ever in a role of team member.  Now, I am working towards a Self Directed Learning programme for next year.  This means that I am now not following a leader in a new initiative in school but am leading from the top.

# 3 Awareness of communication skills and leadership skills.
Being put in a position of leadership is intimidating when there has been no professional development on "how to lead".  The only leadership professional development that I have been involved in is a course that was led by David Anderson.  The reason I was asked to participated in the course was I had just taken on the new role of P.E coordinator for our school. I don't think there are many opportunities for PD in leadership and many people go through their teaching careers not knowing how to be an effective leader.  The leadership module of this course has opened my thoughts and has made me delve into my own leadership qualities and to reflect on the leader I want to be.  

Bergmann, J. & Sams, A. (2012). Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day.
Washington, DC: International Society for Technology in Education.

Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. New York, NY: Random House.

Hargreaves, E. (2007). The validity of collaborative assessment for learning.Assessment in Education14(2), 185-199.

Powell, S.D. (2005). Excerpt from Introduction to Middle School. 

                 Retrieved from

Friday, October 2, 2015

Activity 1 - Welcome to my Reflective Journal

This year I celebrated my 20th year in the teaching profession.  I joined a group of friends from those days teaching in Mangere and we celebrated with food, and conversation.
I remember those days teaching in Mangere with fondness and horror.

Horror at how could a child (and parents) threaten me and physically hit me?  Gosh how times have changed!  A court case would have ensued if it had happened in this time but back in those days it was restorative care.  And fondness when I get friend requests on Facebook from a past student.

During my 20 year career, I have been in many different roles.  From a position of management, to changing the platform from P.C to Apple in one school, ICT lead teacher, P.E specialist, Maori mentor, sports coordinator, classroom teacher, and now a reliever.

I have had the opportunity to present at various ULearn's, South Cluster and Eastnet Cluster networking seminars.  I have throughly enjoyed my teaching career.

After 20 years though, I found that I needed something else....

I have been teaching at Elm Park School for quite some time  I started off as a reliever, and then was asked to open a new entrant class in Term 3.  Thus began my journey here.  I taught Y1 and 2, then moved to Y4, then on to Y5 and this year a job shared position in a Y6 class. 

I have often thought about how I go about teaching my students.  If I sit down and really think about this, I can honestly say that over the years my approach to teaching students has changed. I am sure my approach will continue to change as well.

With a colleague we were given an amazing opportunity to begin a MLE (with 25 students) using two different areas as our learning environment.  We were also lucky enough to be able to teach one week in class and one week as a P.E specialist and my colleague as a music specialist. 

This gave me some flexibility with my personal time.  Because of this extra time I decideded to enrol in the Post Graduate Certificate in Applied Practice (Digital and Collaborative Learning) at The Mindlab by Unitech (2015).

Now is the time to reflect and consolidate on my learning.