Activity 10: Summarising my Postgraduate Learning Journey and planning for the future

The Practising Teacher Criteria and e-learning site provides a guide for teachers to reflect on how e-learning can be used to support the Practising Teacher Criteria. My personal 32 week learning journey through the Mind Lab postgraduate programme has helped to meet a number of the criteria as detailed below.

Developing relationships with students

My students now use e-learning tools to share information about themselves, providing a way for me to connect with them and discover some insights into who they are. For assignments on the course I have used tools such as as Google Forms and Survey Monkey to provide students opportunities to contribute their ideas and opinions. My students have also used Google Presentations to share information they had researched collaboratively.

Developing relationships with parents/whānau

I am developing relationships with parents/whānau by using e-learning tools to facilitate on-going relationships and interaction between home and school, (in order to support learning). A great example of this is my class’s e-portfolios which display our learning goals, evidence and reflection pages. News and information is also shared using our School ‘Lunchbox’ App.

Professional development networks

All of the teachers from our school that have completed the Mind Lab course have used the information, resources, and stories to identify and develop their own professional learning communities that share e-learning understandings and practices (focused on improved student learning outcomes). In the first course we were able to critique leadership theories and reflect on our own personal leadership attributes and styles, within a context of leading innovation in digital and collaborative learning. This enabled us to identify a potential digital and collaborative innovation and design a plan that could be applied in our learning environment.

Being culturally responsive

After implementing our plans we were able to conduct a research informed inquiry project that supported both our needs as practitioners and those of our community. Our inquiry harnessed e-learning tools and online resources to recognise and value the cultures that students bring with them to the classroom. Examples were using Blended e-Learning for Māori and Pasifika Learners and Bit Strips for engagement.

Developing digital citizens

Our school is now using the e-competencies to break down e-learning and create e-awareness (Awareness of ICTs and their relevance in society, including digital citizenship). We have improved digital literacy, media literacy, informational literacy and technological literacy across the school.

Managing change

My environment (the physical, social, and pedagogical context in which learning occurs) has changed due to an innovation I created at the Mind Lab. My class is now an innovative environment supporting strengths-based teaching and learning. It offers my students (and me) flexibility, agency, ubiquity, and connectedness. I am now working in an innovative learning environment where teaching and learning is collaborative, reflections and inquiries are shared, and my community is engaged, leading to a more robust, continuously improving community of practice.

Professional development

Osterman and Kottkamp (1993), detail a four-stage experiential learning cycle that is the heart of the reflective process. With this conceptual framework in place, my next steps are finding useful ways to move through the various stages of the cycle. I have had the experience, observation and reflection, and must now concentrate on abstract reconceptualisation, and further experimentation. While experience is the basis for learning, learning cannot take place without reflection. Conversely, while reflection is essential to the process, reflection must be integrally linked with action.


Education Council. (n.d.) Practising Teacher Criteria. Retrieved November 10, 2015 from

Ministry of Education. (n.d.) Practising Teacher Criteria and e-learning. Retrieved November 10, 2015 from

Osterman, K. & Kottkamp, R.(1993) Reflective Practice for Educators. November 10, 2015 from


Activity 9 – Evaluations of cultural responsiveness in practice

All cultures within our school are valued and accepted through active encouragement of non biased school culture and ethos. Staff members ensure that tamariki from all cultures are treated with respect and dignity and actively work towards maximizing the potential of each tamariki. We also have a Maori immersion unit at the school and the focus for tamariki in this unit is to succeed academically in Te Reo through the New Zealand curriculum.

Mainstream classrooms endeavour to develop an awareness of Te Mana o Aotearoa and provide the means of fostering better cultural understanding consistent with the Treaty of Waitangi. School celebrations reflect Maori Culture through signage, waiata, powhiri and daily conversations (e.g. greetings, weather, classroom language etc.) Study topics include components of te reo Maori and tikanga Maori as appropriate to the topic and the class level.

Whakopono (Honesty), Tumanako (Respect) Aroha and Tiaki pai (Caring) are reflected in our daily practices. Each class implements a class treaty which highlights a range of values as the school focus. These values are promoted through school assemblies and classroom programmes.

At least one Maori parent is represented on the Board of Trustees. The school consults with the Maori community through regular hui and panui on the first Monday of every month. Senior management are supportive of these meetings. Through the hui parents are regularly informed on tamariki achievement. The school also encourage parents and whanau to be active in supporting our immersion unit and to achieve the objective of improving learning outcomes for Maori tamariki.

Student Achievement Function (SAF)

I am the only classroom teacher at our school that is a member of our change team working with SAF. SAF Practitioners focus on assisting their schools to raise student achievement and improve their capability in one of five key areas: evaluative, instructional, organisational, cultural and linguistic intelligence and educationally powerful connections with parents, family and whānau. Our team has created a 26 week change plan which will build our own capability to:

  1. accelerate achievement levels of priority student groups including Māori students, and Pasifika students
  2. increase our capability in at least one of the five key areas above
  3. increase their capability to lead and embed change
  4. implement and continue an inquiry based approach into our performance and to drive sustainable changes within the school
  5. contribute to the Ministry’s Pasifika Education Plan goal of having 85% of year 1-10 Pasifika students meeting literacy and numeracy expectations, including achieving at or above in national standards (years 1–8)
  6. contribute to the Ministry’s Success for All target of having 80% of schools and kura demonstrating highly inclusive practices.

On Saturday the 31st of October we held our first Pasifika fono. This event was for our Pasifika families to join with some of our team in an informal conversation around the ongoing education and well-being of their children. It was a fantastic opportunity for these families to share their thoughts, aspirations, concerns and questions in a friendly social environment. The morning was well attended and began with a cup of tea and biscuits while everybody was welcomed by Hazel (our parent representative) Pamela (from The Ministry) and Peter (our Board Chair). We then watched a short video I made of some of our students from each cohort sharing their thoughts on school life. The food for morning tea was blessed by another one of our parents before we moved into the community room where, in café-style, parents were able to respond to a number of prompts about the schools future direction. Our next step is PD with .


Ministry of Education. (n.d.) Supporting Pasifika students. Retrieved November 10, 2015 from

Activity 8 – Legal contexts and digital identities

In my first year of teaching I experienced an ethical dilemma of a digital nature that almost cost me my position. I was first made aware of the situation when my principal called me into her office and asked if I had an Instagram account. I replied in the affirmative and was then asked if I had any inappropriate content that students might be able to view. I replied in the negative and was informed that a parent had laid a complaint against me.

What had happened was some of my students has started following my Instagram account. While looking through them one student had shown her mother a picture I had taken of a scantily clad street performer in Las Vegas around 3 years prior. The parent was quite rightly aghast to learn that her daughter had access to her teacher’s photos, one of which she considered inappropriate for a nine year old.

My principal followed procedure by standing me down for the rest of the week while an investigation was launched and my school computer was forensically analysed. It’s fair to say I was in shock! While I had several social media accounts including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, I believed I had made everything private or only viewable by request, when I had first started my training. I was also teaching a year 5 class who I did not think were even allowed to have such accounts, (my daughter was 14 at the time and certainly not permitted on these platforms). My shock soon changed to embarrassment when I realised my Instagram account was still set to public viewing and had pictures of my family and travels from as far back as 2009.

We know that the prevalence of the use of social media has greatly impacted the educational community – including teachers, administrators, students and their families. A new generation is growing up with social networks as an integral part of life and the public sharing of information obscures the normal boundaries between teacher and student and teacher and colleagues (Connecticut’s Teacher Education and Mentoring Program, 2012).

To quote Goran Collste (2012);

“Morality is a natural feature of human life. Human beings are social beings engaged in social interactions. As human beings, we cannot avoid making judgements about what is right and wrong, what one should do and what is valuable.” (pg. 17)

The Education Council Code of Ethics for Certificated Teachers clearly states that Teachers certificated to practice in New Zealand must be committed to the attainment of the highest standards of professional service in the promotion of learning by those they teach, mindful of the learner’s ability, cultural background, gender, age or stage of development (Education Council, nd).

All my professional interactions are governed by fundamental principles, one of which is a commitment to learners and another a commitment to the profession. This means that I need to develop and maintain professional relationships with learners, based upon their best interests, and also advance the interests of the teaching profession through responsible ethical practice. While I felt I had not intentionally dishonoured these principles, my inaction was a clear breech of my Schools Cyber safety policy.

Our policy states that the use of any ICT equipment/devices on the school site, or at any school-related activity must be appropriate to the school environment. This includes any images or material present/stored on ICT equipment/devices brought onto the school site, or to any school-related activity. This also all includes the use of all personal electronic devices such as mobile phones and ipads.

Staff are reminded that they are powerful role models and need to be seen to be upholding the core values and principles of Cyber safety and the conditions of our user agreements. Staff are also reminded to be aware of professional and ethical obligations when communicating via ICT with students outside school hours. There should be no contact outside of my role as their teacher.

In the end my breech was viewed by the board as unfortunate. I was told to secure my account, given a verbal warning and the parent was informed of the circumstances and given guidelines from Net Safe about social media. We then used the scenario as cyber safety PD with other staff members and updated our user agreements. Lesson learned!


Collste, G. (2012) Applied and professional ethics. Kemanusiaan,.19 (1), 17–33

Connecticut’s Teacher Education and Mentoring Program. (2012) Ethical and Professional Dilemmas for Educator: Facilitator’s Guide. Retrieved November 5, 2015, from

Education Council (nd). The Education Council Code of Ethics for Certificated Teachers. Retrieved November 5, 2015, from

Ministry of Education (2015).Digital technology- Safe and responsible use in school. Retrieved November 5, 2015, from

Activity 7 – Social media in professional development, teaching and learning



Studies suggests that online groups can provide a thriving participatory system that enables educators to engage in an informal kind of professional learning, focused on immediate concerns and contexts, in their own teaching and leadership situations (Melhuish 2013).

Following on from my last post, promising as it seems, ICT and social media are still not without their challenges, especially when they can be more distracting than helpful to students and teachers alike. While teachers can use ICT and online social networks to seek information, share ideas and even contribute to the development of deep knowledge, effective learning will always vary according to their own (and their students) knowledge and competence of these platforms.

The Ministry of Education has introduced an initiative to enhance professional development via online social networking. The Virtual Learning Network is a platform where educators can engage in professional dialogue around the use of these platforms. VLN Groups can enable an informal type of professional learning for teachers and support those new to the available tools.

Edutopia also have a great page, called Social Media in Education which has a toolkit that both outlines and links to blogs, articles and the unbelievable number of resources available for educators to explore and support the process of using Social Media in their teaching practice.

Web 2.0 Tools

Web 2.0 tools are essentially online software and web-based services that let users create, collaborate, edit and share content online. I have already been using Web 2.0 tools by writing in the cloud (GAFE), creating my own digital resources (blended learning) and again now by creating this blog!

One of the first social media platforms that supported engagement with my own professional development was Pond. This Network for Learning portal, is an online environment that aims to unite teachers, school administrators and students with providers of educational content and services. Its basically a place where I can discover content, share knowledge and engage with my peers. By actively engaging in the Pond environment, I can connect with the wider education community – not just peers I already know and have contact with, but new people I discover inside the environment. Discussions with other educators are some of the best resources I have found in Pond and groups like #ULearn15 have been invaluable.

Digital tools can also be used to scaffold students to think deeper about their learning, organise their thinking and to communicate and collaborate with others online. Pam Hook’s HookED Wiki Solo Taxonomy and Web 2.0 shows how Web 2.0 apps can be used to enhance differentiated learning outcomes.

Another great digital resource to use is Yammer, a social network much like Twitter or Facebook, but only available to people who belong to your school. All of the postings are intended to allow collaboration between teachers and students to work on projects, share files and co-edit documents. You can explore 5 Ways Yammer is Improving Communication, Connections, and Learning in our Schools  or watch Build Classroom Community with Yammer to learn more.

There are also some great readings about future-focused teaching and learning.

Using Mobile Web 2.0 to Transform Pedagogy and Engage Learners by Dr Thom Cochrane on integrating Mobile Web 2.0 technology into learning environments to enhance learner engagement, is an interesting read. So is his  Post Web 2.0 Pedagogy: Mobile social media

Supporting future-oriented learning and teaching – a New Zealand perspective – This research project draws together findings from new data and more than 10 years of research on current practice and futures-thinking in education.

Future-focused learning in connected communities – This report from Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye’s 21st Century Learning Reference Group aims to help inform government planning around 21st century skills and digital competencies.




Melhuish, K. (2013) Online social networking and its impact on New Zealand educators’professional learning. Retrieved November 5, 2015 from

Activity 6 – Contemporary issues and trends

The New Zealand Council for Educational Research (NZCER) argues that current educational systems, structures and practices are not sufficient to address and support learning needs for all students in the 21st century. Changes are needed, but what kinds of change, and for what reasons?

International thinking about education has shifted to a new paradigm. This shift has been driven by an awareness of massive and ongoing social, economic and technological changes, and the exponentially increasing amount of human knowledge being generated as a result.

KPMG’s Future State 2030 – Global Megatrends, identifies some of the most important global trends that they believe will define our future. Two of these, especially poignant for the teaching profession are;

  1. Advances in global education, health and technology are empowering individuals like never before, leading to increased demands for transparency and participation in decision making.
  2. Information and communications technology (ICT) has transformed society over the last 30 years. A new wave of technological advances is now creating novel
    opportunities, begging the question, what work will my students be doing by 2030?


A key trend that has characterised the move away from the old paradigm is the move from teachers completely owning the learning process to learners owning more of it. When learners have the power to act in their learning, they have what is known as ‘agency’.

Agency can take many forms from being empowered to make decisions about which activity to move onto next through to learners being empowered to take positive social action in their communities. Providing choices in learning (whether to work individually or in a group; whether to evidence of learning using a piece of writing or a diagram) is an important factor in engagement, which is in turn a contributor to student learning and success.

What I can do is seek new ways to invite, honour and act on student voice, both in learning and across the wider life of school. This means gathering student views through surveys or focus groups and having students actively participating in classroom decision making. I can begin by exploring the perspectives on the wellbeing of students, by asking if they can say the following about themselves:

  1. I am valued and accepted and have opportunities to make a positive contribution to my learning and culture of my school.
  2. Learning is interesting and fun. I have a say in what I learn about and how.
  3. My language, culture and identity are acknowledged, valued and celebrated.
  4. My teacher respects, accepts and celebrates all the things that make me, me.
  5. My opinions matter.
  6. There are lots of options, groups and people at school that can help develop what I am good at.


The concept of digital convergence refers to the merging of previously discrete and separately used technologies, as well as the constant integration and use of technologies as a part of our everyday life. This brings both challenges and opportunities to those working in education. On the one hand, the proliferation of individually owned devices, be they smart phones or tablets for example, means that students can now access information at any time they wish – whether that be something that supports their learning, or something that may be a distraction to their learning. Engagement and motivation does not always translate to deeper understanding, but this has also changed the balance of power in our classrooms, where teachers have traditionally been the ones who have controlled the flow of knowledge and what is learned.

Another significant impact for my practice however, is the ability to now develop personalised learning pathways, that are more intuitive and responsive to the mix of the learners, level of progress and availability of support available to them. It is on this platform, (beginning in my case with GAFE) that a highly tailored set of outcomes and feedback can be established and monitored in my classroom.



Bolstad, R., Gilbert, J., McDowall, S., Bull, A., Boyd, S., & Hipkins, R. (2012). Supporting future-oriented learning & teaching: A New Zealand perspective. Wellington: Ministry of Education. Retrieved October 17, 2015, from

CORE. (2015). CORE Education’s Ten Trends 2015. Retrieved October 17, 2015, from CORE Education:

Education Review Office. (2015). Wellbeing for Children’s Success at Primary School. Retrieved October 17, 2015, from ERO:

KPMG Australia. (2014). Future State 2030 – Global Megatrends. Retrieved October 17, 2015, from

Ministry of Education. (2014). How does New Zealand’s education system compare? Retrieved October 17, 2015, from Education Counts:

Activity 5 – Professional connection map



The above map depicts the many direct and potential connections associated with my practice. My immediate day to day links (in green) are Government agencies that oversee education, online communities that I participate in, media outlets that keep me informed, the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) which guides my content, friends and family who provide support and work / life balance and of course Freemans Bay School (FBS) that employs me!

FBS links directly (in light blue) to my students, teaching staff, our vision, professional development and the school community. At the edge of some of these links lie many potential leads for future integrative networks.

Other cluster schools and online communities have a considerable impact on my profession. The Modern Learning Environments (MLEs) that neighbouring schools have created has influenced changes to our environment (we knocked out the walls!) There is a corporate aspect to this as well. Research suggests the needs of 21st Century learners will be better addressed in an environment similar to current and future workplaces. We can better prepare students for the jobs, and social enterprises of the future by creating open, collaborative spaces.

The fact that 87% of our year 6s will go on to a local intermediate also has an effect on our teaching and learning program. We can construct understandings and share expertise across levels, which is of great value in preparing our students for their next step. By sharing our expertise within similar communities we are also able to create and foster similar, future learning environments. We can share experiences to expand and extend beyond our own classrooms. Shared knowledge can help to guide inquiries into new teaching approaches and support best practices and emerging models.

Educators are doing amazing things with their learners despite standards based and accountability driven movements. Using online communities we are publishing great projects via Twitter, Facebook, and Blogs and sharing resources using platforms like Pond. We have global collaborations, fascinating new ways technology is being integrated into the classroom, students making a difference in their communities, and great project-based learning. Jackie Gerstein has a great blog about using theses connections called User Generated Education.

Interdisciplinarity means integrating the information, perspectives, and tools of two or more disciplines to advance understanding or solve problems whose solutions are beyond the scope of a single discipline.

To be proficient in core competencies for interprofessional collaborative practice, an expert panel came up with four competency domains:

  1. Values and ethics. The goal in this domain is to work with individuals from other professions to maintain a climate of mutual respect and shared values.
  2. Roles and responsibilities. The goal is to understand your own role and those of other professions and then use that understanding to appropriately assess and address the educational needs of your students.
  3. Interprofessional communications. The goal is to communicate with students,  families, communities, and other education professionals in a responsive, responsible manner that supports the team approach not just for teaching but for maintaining life long learning.
  4. Teams and teamwork. The goal is to apply relationship-building values and the principles of team dynamics to perform effectively in different team roles to plan and deliver student centered learning that’s safe, efficient, effective, and equitable.

Benefits for the teaching profession, according to Mathison & Freeman (1997, pg) include:

Improved and more meaningful relations with students, more curricular flexibility, better overall integration of new and rapidly changing information, better collegiality and support between teachers and wider comprehension of the connections between disciplines. Perhaps the most key benefit however is relevance to the needs of the twenty-first century. New curriculum approaches are constantly being created to align with the imperative that schools move towards the future. Sharing expertise across connections allows expertise outside of our immediate connections to be more accessible and viable, across many platforms.

To integrate disciplines is to address the needs of the whole child, which Mathison and Freeman (1997) suggest is the cornerstone of the interdisciplinary approach. When educators consider their curricular objectives and students’ needs, they may choose interdisciplinary teaching and learning to deliver part or all of the content they will present. This method can help bring students to a new awareness of the meaningful connections that exist among the disciplines.

Ten suggestions for Interdisciplinary Teaching can be found here.




Clay, R. A. (2011). 2011 Education Leadership Conference: Interdisciplinary and interprofessional teaching, research, and practice. Retrieved October 7, 2015, from American Psychological Association:

Mathison, S. & Freeman, M.(1997). The logic of interdisciplinary studies. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, 1997. Retrieved October 7, 2015, from

Activity 4 – My professional community

Good teachers have always tried put the learner first, but the learner at the center of the learning process (something that seems obvious), is not so easily realised in practice.

Stakeholders in my professional community include parents and families, teachers and staff members, administrators, community members, local business leaders, and elected officials such as school board members, city councilors, and the Ministry of Education. Stakeholders are also collective entities, such as local businesses and organisations, advocacy groups, committees, media outlets, and cultural institutions, in addition to organisations that represent specific groups, such as the teachers union, parent-teacher organisations, and associations representing principals and school boards. Basically anyone who has a personal, professional, civic, or financial interest or concern!

In my school shared leadership allows for the creation of leadership roles and decision-making opportunities for teachers, staff members, students, parents, and community members, while community voice refers to the degree to which we include and act upon the values, opinions, beliefs, perspectives, and cultural backgrounds of the people in our community. We take on shared leadership responsibilities at school, to give voice to ideas, perspectives, and opinions especially during team, staff or school-board meetings.

Stakeholders also play a role in community-based learning, the practice of connecting what is being taught at school to our surrounding community, which may include local history, literature, and cultural heritages, in addition to local experts, institutions, and natural environments. Community-based learning is also motivated by our belief that all communities have intrinsic educational assets that educators can use to enhance learning experiences for students, so they are necessarily involved in the process.

Increasingly, my school is being more proactive about involving a greater diversity of stakeholders, particularly stakeholders from disadvantaged communities and backgrounds or from groups that have underperformed academically, including English-language learners, Maori and Pasifika, immigrant students, and special-education students. In our case, the Student Achievement Focus (SAF) grant requires the involvement of multiple stakeholder groups as a condition of funding.

We advocate for more inclusive, community-wide involvement in our school-improvement process. By including more members of our school community in the process, we can foster a stronger sense of “ownership” among the participants and within the broader community. In other words, when the members of our  community feel that their ideas and opinions are being heard, and when they are given the opportunity to participate authentically in a planning or improvement process, they feel more invested in the work and in the achievement of its goals, which will therefore increase the likelihood of success.

Our school decile is reasonably high (6) but many of our students are living in low income households (generally city apartments) and are from diverse cultures. It is widely acknowledged that higher income and wealth provides access to a wider range of life experiences and to resources that can support learning .

To quote from a recent article by Duncan and Magnuson (2013, pp.15- 16):

“Compared with children whose families had incomes of at least twice the poverty-line level during their early childhood, poor children complete two fewer years of schooling, earned less than half as much money, worked 451 fewer hours per year … and are nearly three times as likely to report poor overall health.”

Many of our children come to school tired, hungry, and cold, wearing inappropriate clothing and often they are coming to school unwell (or not at all). We do have Milk for Schools and a system where the school will provide morning tea and lunch but this often takes money away from other areas like Information and communications technology (ICT).

We are unable to supply one to one ICT devices and even after introducing Bring Your Own Learning Device (BYOLD) we found that most of our families could not afford them. This makes it difficult to introduce further change initiatives that are technology based.

Another factor is home learning. We do not promote homework as such but encourage our students to have a reading logs and read with caregivers at home. When families are recently arrived immigrants with little or no English this can also prove challenging.

How we meet some of these challenges affects our practice. On Tuesdays and Thursdays after school I will take 5 “target” students to the school library where we use the computers to complete tasks on Reading Eggs, Mathletics and Spellodrome. I also meet with the parents of these students twice a term to discuss strategies we employ to increase their exposure to ICT. While this does plug some gaps there are still many students missing out on learning opportunities.

This site provides a number of ways the parents and the community can help resolve some of the issues.

About us


Every Child Counts. (2015). Child Poverty. Retrieved October 7, 2015, from Every Child Counts:

Duncan, G. and Magnuson, K. (2013) ‘The importance of poverty: early in childhood’, Policy Quarterly, 9 (2), pp.12-17

The Glossary of Education Reform. (2014).  STAKEHOLDER. Retrieved October 7, 2015, from The Glossary of Education Reform: