Monthly Archives: January 2016

A Teaching Philosophy

My Personal Teaching Philosophy

As part of most teacher training programmes, we are asked to develop a personal teaching philosophy. This narrative is meant to convey our teaching values, beliefs and goals as a teacher.

“Definitions of education are as vast as those who seek it. To me, the purpose of education is to foster a desire to learn and to provide the opportunities whereby learning can take place. My role as an educator is to help every student uncover their learning potential and to assist them in acquiring the skills and understandings beneficial to them as individuals and members of society.” Renee Raroa, My Personal Philosophy Statement – What Teaching and Learning Science Means to Me. (2013).

In the Beginning

Looking back at the components of my personal philosophy statement which had been considered so carefully as a beginning teacher, a strong sense of the ‘purpose of education’ was evident. However, an appreciation of the complexities of working in an ever-changing  and volatile education system is something that many beginning teachers are not aware of in these early days of theorising and philosophising. These appreciations develop rapidly once you are on the ground in schools and continues to be developed by experience.

Metaphors and Sense Making

Conceptualisation of our teaching philosophies can be developed through metaphor. Drawing on the specialist subject area of Science and Biology, the following metaphor considered the eukaryotic cell as a descriptor for the many roles and responsibilities of a teacher. Within this conceptualisation, the systems and procedures of cell activity are  examined as the workings of a classroom.



Building on Beginnings

As we grow from our beginning teacher infancies, we able to build on such models. In the example of the eukaryotic cell, we might develop an understanding of the importance of each and every cell (teacher), in all their contrasts and variations. We being to sense that the survival of the organism (school) is highly dependent on the functions of each and every cell as they work together toward a common goal. Then we grow in our awareness of the significance of each organism (school), working alongside other organisms in a delicately balanced ecosystem (our communities).

A Call to Collaborate

Of course, these comparisons will run deeper still. Our new roles and experiences continue to transform our personal philosophies. To ensure that we continue to broaden our views of the educational landscape we must also draw on the expertise and experience of others. Through collaboration, we build understandings which would not have been possible on our own.

Comments, questions and additions to this conceptualisation are very welcome.

“It is through the meeting of minds that innovation is born.” Renee Raroa (2016)

 References,. (2016).Teaching Philosophy Statement | Graduate School. Retrieved 31 January 2016, from
Renee Raroa. (2013). Teaching Metaphor . Retrieved 31 January 2016, from
Renee Raroa. (2013). My Personal Philosophy Statement. Retrieved 31 January 2016, from


Welcome to My Digital World

Ko Wai Au?

I am a learner. Raised in the fresh sea air on the eastern most edge of New Zealand. I am a teacher. Learning alongside students, teachers and leaders as we navigate change. I am a leader. Uncovering strengths in myself and others to help weave a path of best practice, to reflect on mistakes and to learn, unlearn and relearn.

Ko wai au blog pic

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. ” Alvin Toffler

Memoirs of a Mother

As my Twitter bio claims, I am both a mother and an educator. Ironically, one of my most vivid memories was formed in my role as a mother and learner. My daughter came home from Kindergarten, with one of those crunchy questions. She asked not why the sky was blue, nor the classic; from where do babies come? As an educator, these wonderings were always welcomed. I revelled in the chance to share in her learning and to help her to explore. No, the soft mumblings of my two-year-old daughter which shook my world to the core were “Mumma, where is our i-Pad?”.

Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 8.14.05 PM

Birth of a New Age

This story begins way back in dark ages of mobile technologies. It seems like half a lifetime ago, but it was less than six years back, in 2010 when Apple released the first i-Pad.

At this time, my tech skills were little-to-none. I had been kept busy entertaining myself with several odd-jobs while raising the children, “screen-time” was an unnecessary luxury.

The Life Cycle of Change

My reaction to this other-worldly request precisely followed the Kuber-Ross Greif Cycle:

Kubler-Ross Grief Cycle

1. Denial — In my initial shock and confusion I wondered… How does my two-year-old even know about i-Pads? What is the ‘typical’ playground chit-chat in this digital age?

2. Anger — How dear the world be forcing these extravagances down the throats of babes! We cannot all afford these “toys.” Kids these days need to be outside climbing trees. Sound familiar?

3. Depression – Woe is me. What are we going to do, to support our poor child in this rat race world?

4. Bargaining – Accosting my partner with the ‘Five W’s and an H’ as he walks through the door with “Why does our daughter think we should have an iPad? Where did she learn about them? Who does she even know that has one? When did two-year-olds start thinking about such things? What are we going to do about this? How will we ever keep up?”

5. Acceptance – Then finally, with a sigh of relief, I remember that there are no rules. I allow my preconceptions to dissolve away and try to imagine what the future might look like for my daughter. I realise that if I am going to be a part of her digital world, then I need to step up to the play.

A Journey Begins

The journey into my digital world begins there. Five years later I have trained extramurally to become a teacher, taught in two secondary schools in the disciplines of  Science and Mathematics, taken on the role of e-Leader and carried out postgraduate studies in applied practice of digital and collaborative learning with The Mind Lab by Unitec. I am now a Facilitator of Learning with Digital Technologies and an Advisor for the Connected Learning Advisory, as part of the government’s initiative to increase digital proficiency in learners and teachers across New Zealand. I am still only at the beginning of the road, but I now know that I am ready to learn, relearn and unlearn as I walk beside my children into my, their, and our digital world.


Rowley, K. (2016). The 5 Stages of Grief after Death. Retrieved 24 January 2016, from
YouTube. (2016). Steve Jobs introduces Original iPad – Apple Special Event (2010). Retrieved 24 January 2016, from


Why Blog?

“ An intellectual is someone whose mind watches itself.” Albert Camus

The Adventures of Miss Happ

Before getting too settled in my new found passion for blogging, I wanted to consider the process more critically. I understood that blogging my reflective journal had many advantages.

Forbes Magazine lists 34 reasons to blog:


The idea that stood out most to me was the notion that blogging could ‘Make you Happy’, Slide 27. Happiness, isn’t this the holy grail? What else are we working toward if not to be happy? But, how? Then came the next concept on the list, Slide 28, ‘It gives you freedom’. Ahah! The lightbulb moment hit.

I would continue my creative pursuit as an exercise in freedom. Allowing myself unbridled expression in whatever way I felt might free my thinking…

SilhouetteI recalled a conversation with Dr Michelle Dickenson, aka Nanogirl, where she talked about her alter ego allowing her the freedom to exist in realms that had been previously disabling for her as a shy ‘science-type’. I have always wanted to write science-fiction. I believe in the power of storytelling.

From these thoughts, I decided to use my blog as an opportunity to reflect as though I was another self, looking in. I have named this observer Miss Happ as an encouragement to my being comfortable in the presence of unexpected misfortune. The more comfortable we are with mistakes, the more we can be free to take risks and to learn from their outcomes. By reflecting in this way, I hope to develop new perspectives and importantly to have fun.


How To Start A Blog Online. (2015). Why Blog? Should I Start a Blog? 34 Reasons You Should. Retrieved 14 February 2016, from