Monthly Archives: March 2016

Postgraduate Learning Journey

Summarising 32 weeks of Learning

A journey quote

Image: The Journey of 1000 Miles by Jack Standbridge, (2014). Retrieved from 

They say ‘The journey of 1000 miles begins with one step’. Those first steps I took, 32 weeks back, toward enrolling in The Mind Lab by Unitec’s Postgraduate Certification in Applied Practice have certainly led me on a journey.

Putting into few words, 32 weeks of learning and discovery is no easy task. Each week delivered such a breadth of topic that even the PLD post reflecting my thoughts on  ‘Digital & Collaborative Learning’ which I made at 28 weeks in, is miles from where my thinking is now.

The growth I experienced in the programme has been exponential. The following Tagul image shows the responses of our intake when asked what our ideas for 21st Century learning might be.


Over the sessions to follow we explored these ideas through critical discussion, research, hands-on experiences and creative pursuits. Developing strong collaborative relationships with our fellow classmates and a deepened understanding of what it is to be a learner in our digital world.

Practicing Teacher Criteria

Throughout the course, each participant is demonstrating and collecting evidence toward the Practicing Teacher Criteria (PTCs) through shifts in practice.

The following resource by the Ministry of Education (2016) via the Enabling E-Learning site, links each of the twelve criteria to examples of e-learning supporting the PTCs.

Professional relationships and professional values

  • Criteria 1: Establish and maintain effective professional relationships focused on the learning and well-being of all ākonga.
  • Criteria 2: Demonstrate commitment to promoting the well-being of ākonga.
  • Criteria 3: Demonstrate commitment to bicultural partnership in Aotearoa / New Zealand.
  • Criteria 4: Demonstrate commitment to ongoing professional learning and development of professional personal practice.
  • Criteria 5: Show leadership that contributes to effective teaching and learning.

Professional knowledge in practice

  • Criteria 6: Conceptualise, plan, and implement an appropriate learning programme.
  • Criteria 7: Promote a collaborative, inclusive, and supportive learning environment.
  • Criteria 8: Demonstrate in practice their knowledge and understanding of how ākonga learn.
  • Criteria 9: Respond effectively to the diverse and cultural experiences and the varied strengths, interests, and needs of individuals and groups of ākonga.
  • Criteria 10: Work effectively within the bicultural context of Aotearoa NZ.
  • Criteria 11: Analyse and appropriately use assessment and information, which has been gathered formally and informally.
  • Criteria 12: Use critical inquiry and problem-solving effectively in their professional practice.

My Three

If I had to choose just three skills that this learning journey had helped me to develop well they would be:

Criteria 4: Demonstrate commitment to ongoing professional learning and development of professional personal practice.Kickstart

The commitment to my own ongoing PLD is obvious. Enrollment in the course and the dedication with which I completed each assignment in a way that really impacted my professional practice can be evidenced by assignment submissions and my teaching as inquiry. However, my interest and enthusiasm for PLD sparked, I then engaged in a huge array of other PLD opportunities from workshops to online events, my professional learning networks grew and my professional discussions broadened beyond my own classroom practice.

Criteria 5: Show leadership that contributes to effective teaching and learning.

Seeing the value that PLD had given my practice I then went on to join the PLD committee at our school, to help lead the e-learning team, to run an e-Learning PLD day for 50 plus staff and eventually to move into a full-time role as a PLD Facilitator.

Criteria 9: Respond effectively to the diverse and cultural experiences and the varied strengths, interests, and needs of individuals and groups of ākonga.

The practical and applicable nature of the programme made it easy to transfer our learnings into practice. Using my Teaching as Inquiry I was able to explore How Gamification might support responsive teaching practice. My literature review of Gamification and GameBased Learning in the New Zealand Education System led me to consider my new role as a facilitator and how I might support my new ākonga being teachers in this way. I c0-developed an inquiry into the Gamification of Teaching  the Adobe Slate version of this is linked to the image below.

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 2.14.55 PM

Next Steps


The next steps for me as an e-leader might be better described as leaps. My goal for 2016 is to strengthen my ability to facilitate change through developing the ability to help others have an awareness of their thinking, around the use of digital technologies for learning. I would like to do this by developing mentoring skills such as effective questioning techniques so that schools might develop sustainable shifts toward the effective use of digital technologies for learning. I have identified several enablers that might support me in this goal including:

  • my awareness of the need to develop critical thinking for change
  • an ability to feel comfortable in different situations and environments
  • being well supported in admin and tasks side of my role as a facilitator
  • being well supported by family who enable me to spend time on developing in this role
  • being well connected in local education environment – PLD providers, local educators, local experts, helping with my own critical thinking and as a support network and
  • having strong cultural and family links to my region.

I believe that using my strengths will help me develop my ability to facilitate change. This goal is linked to the Te Toi Tupu -Professional Dimensions for Facilitator Practice, Dimension A2. Facilitators engage in appropriate professional relationships and demonstrate commitment to professional values – Professional Leadership.

I am also working with my mentor to build collaborative practices in my community of learning by designing community collaboration initiatives to increase engagement and collaboration across stakeholders. In achieving this goal I will have created a visualisation of my local PLN with the intent that this will allow me to see connections across my network and make links where beneficial. I will have explored ways of supporting COLs to find common goals and I will have a kete of skills, techniques and tools for working with COLs and other groups toward common goals.

I am excited by the opportunites these next steps bring and the new pathways that open ahead of me as I continue on toward the next 1000 miles.


Ministry of Education. (2016). Practising Teacher Criteria and e-learning. Enabling E-Learning. Retrieved 27 March 2016, from
Wagner, T.(2016). Tony Wagner’s Seven Survival Skills. Retrieved 27 March 2016, from

Responsive or Responsible

A Lens of Our Own

When considering our cultural responsiveness we must first develop a sense of our own cultural positioning. We all view the world through our own cultural lens. This lens is developed over a lifetime and is a product of our experiences. It is therefore mostly imperceivable by us unless we consciously look to understand it. In order to truly respond to our learners in a culturally conscious way, we must acknowledge the barriers that prevent this way from being the norm.


Image: Race is not Changeable by Pan-African Alliance, (2016). Retrieved from

So how might one go about this journey of self-discovery? How might we begin to understand the culturally appropriate acts we should take when faced with a culture unfamiliar to our own? I recently attended a CORE Breakfast Seminar by Alex Hotere-Barnes (2016) who spoke about what he had coined ‘Pākeha paralysis’. Hotere-Barnes found that those persons who worked effectively in cultures which were not their own had broken free from the ‘paralysis’ of a society permeated by racism. Learning to be clear in their relationships and comfortable in themselves. Dissonance is not always a bad thing, it can create movement and growth, however, unacknowledged dissonance can lead to an uneasy disposition. Indigenous pedagogy models have a lot to offer us as we navigate the complex landscape of a colonized society. I have heard too many times, teachers with the best intentions professing that they do not see colour in their classrooms. Taking pride in their ability to ‘treat all learners as equal’. To deny a person’s culture exists so that we might treat everyone the same is to force our own unconscious bias onto others, those who are disadvantaged most are those whose cultural knowledge differ most from our own. In an oppressor society, these are always the oppressed.

“If the structure does not permit dialogue the structure must be changed” Paulo Freire

Vision and Mission

So what do we do toward becoming more culturally responsive? Most schools have a strong theme of culturally responsive pedagogies outlined in their vision and core values. But for many schools, this understanding stops at the document. Constant effort should be made toward creating awareness and maintaining high expectations of cultural responsiveness from all stakeholders.

Hands Up

Image: Need to Focus on Education in 6th Plan by Financial Tribute, (2015). Retrieved from

CORE Education pride themselves as innovators and thought leaders of learning and education. Cultural intelligence and multiculturalism is actively promoted across the organisation. To me, multiculturalism is an awareness and appreciation of all the cultures around us. In this digital age these cultures might be present both virtually and physically. Multiculturalism is embracing the differences that exist across our society and being aware of our own cultural lenses. Having a multicultural disposition in our work means that we are actively aware of multiculturalism. I believe, it is important in our work, that we make genuine effort to engage with and find meaning in with both our own culture(s) and those of others who we engage with in an authentic way. Having a multicultural disposition involves being comfortable in looking to others to guide our understandings of culture with which we are less familiar, and sharing with others the intricacies of those in which we are.

Professional Learning

I have found that professional learning involving learning a language offer much more than vocab and sentence structures. Completing language courses, in Te Reo Māori for example, draw a lot on the tikanga and cultural understandings involved in a Māori world view. Professional learning targeted at developing certain sectors of our society ie. Māori learners, Pasifika learners, may be helpful. However, more depth of knowledge comes from an immersion in that culture, for example attending hui at marae or visiting schools with high population of Pasifika students. I believe that in making an ongoing effort to develop my own sense of culture and identity helps me to build a multicultural disposition. Firstly, an understanding of our personal bias is necessary if we are to address the bias’ and preconceptions honestly. My ideas about multiculturalism continue to evolve as does the multicultural nature of our society. Bringing an awareness of multiculturalism to the way I work and communicate both professionally and personally helps me work towards being more open minded and accepting of all persons.

Reasonable Resourcing

Educators and schools nationwide are working to develop resources responsive to our multicultural and bicultural society. However, there is a long way to go. Presently most of the resources we use in our schools are strongly grounded in the dominant culture, to be truly culturally responsive there are mojor shifts needed in resourcing our education sector at both school and professional development level. It is important that we continue to question the resources we are using in our practice and those we are provided with. There are many educators working to develop culturally relevant resources but more can and should be done. Contributing to this deficit and sharing the culturally located resources we create helps build a culture of critical thinking over compliance.


CORE Education. (2016). Multiculturalism: Navigating the spaces between Ethnicity, Identity, and Diversity using Cultural Intelligence. Retrieved 26 March 2016, from


Share, Be Aware!

The Dilemma

On occasion, we come across areas of our practice that conflict in some way with our beliefs, thus we are faced with the ethical dilemma. For me, it is the desire to share. With a common goal and limited time, it makes sense to share any and all resources we have created to save others ‘reinventing the wheel’. If someone out there has done it already, likewise we draw on our connectedness through the wonders of modern technology and make use of that which others are willing to share. Well, yes but we do need to be aware of how and what we share.


Image: Plagiarism by Dane Mark, Thinkstock (2016). Retrieved from

As a beginning teacher, I was so enthusiastic I spent hours creating resources and designing learning experiences that I’d then use and refine. Asking others for critique and sharing ideas that worked well was encouraged wasn’t it? These ideas and resources belonged to me, so I could share them out however I liked. Or did they? In my blissful ignorance as a new teacher, I hadn’t stopped to question… “To who do these resources belong?” And “Is it my place to share?”.

Intellectual Property Rights

How many times today have you broken the law? If you’re a teacher who likes to adapt and share resources, the answer might surprise you.” Elizabeth Heritage (2015).

Elizabeth Heritage (2015) writes “There is currently a major problem with copyright in education.” Many of us may be unaware that it is not us but our employers who hold the copyrights to all resources that we create during employment. Without the Board of Trustees express permission, each time we share resources with our teaching colleagues at another school or use those created while working on one job at another, we are breaking the law!

In my second year of teaching, I worked hard to feed the culture of sharing and collaboration across colleagues nationwide. Upon hearing that it was likely, I was breaking the law in doing this; I approached my principal with these concerns. Thankfully, there is some good news. Although the Board did legally own all of those resources I had been tirelessly creating in the wee hours, I was reassured that they would never draw on their ownership in a way that limited my ability to share and adapt the resources I had created. It is up to the owner of any copyright to permit or deny the use of the work. However, not all teachers may feel confident in a vocal arrangement. That is where developing a Creative Commons policy will help.


Image: Intellectual Property by Raconteur Media Ltd, (2013). Retrieved from

Creative Commons

A Creative Commons policy can be used in schools to change the default copyright relationship. The policy would shift licensing to enable the sharing, adaptation and reuse of teaching resources. Current Government thinking supports such a change as nationwide collaboration is made increasingly possible through digital technologies. Boards of Trustees are encouraged to consider the Future Focused Learning in Connected Communities report as they develop their Creative Commons policies (Ministry of Education, 2014). 

Video: CC Pukeko from CreativeCommons AotearoaNZ on Vimeo.


Tools and resources to help your school get started with their Creative Commons licensing are found at Creative Commons AotearoaNZ.


Creative Commons Aotearoa NZ. (2014). Creative Commons in Schools. Retrieved 19 March 2016, from
Heritage, E. (2015). How Schools Can Share OERs – Legally – NZ Commons. Creative Commons Aotearoa. Retrieved 19 March 2016, from
Ministry of Education. (2016). Future-Focused Learning Report Released. Education in New Zealand. Retrieved 19 March 2016, from
Ministry of Education. (2016) Know your copy-rights! Retrieved 19 March 2016, from



Our Social Appitite

Connected Learners

The digital world creates an opportunity for us to be increasingly globally connected. Our social circles extend far beyond the streets and towns that once bound us. Children are born today into a world of unbridled possibilities, and equally enormous pressures.


Image: Monitoring Social Media by Creativebeans (2016), Retrieved from

As the digital revolution impacts the lives of our learners, teaching and learning practices must evolve in alignment. While concerns about cyberbullying and unfettered access to information incite caution, as educators we are faced with the challenge of developing teaching experiences which help our learners become safe and socially responsible users in this online space.

Social media provides an avenue for us to connect our students with people and places beyond the classroom walls. Networks such as Facebook and Twitter can be utilised to broaden our discussion groups and audiences. Building global relationships through these tools can enhance empathy, global awareness and lead to increased social good. Curation tools such as Pinterest can be used collaboratively encouraging shared discovery and knowledge creation. Exploring the ideas of others via creative tools such as YouTube, Instagram and Tumblr can also help our students to create, share and critique. Using platforms such as OpenIDEO and Zooniverse we can help learners realise their potential beyond than passive consumerism as they contribute solutions to real world issues.

As e-leaders, we need to encourage reflective learning focused use of social media. Running a workshop on the theme of global connectedness led to a critical discussion of this issue.

Presentation: Napier Girls High School, Global Connectedness Workshop (2016) by Heather McIntyre and Renee Raroa

Connected Educators

As educators, we spend most, if not all of our time giving. We tend to live and breathe our professions, always thinking of the next act we can do or the next resource we might create for our learners. Unless others are around who we can engage in critical discussion with and who feed our inquiring natures, our busy schools and classrooms can be isolating.

Social media is powerful in its ability to connect us with a world of like-minded others and critical friends. Tools such as Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin provide forums for discussion and sharing across the globe. National initiatives such as the VLN support our drive to develop, relevant and culturally situated learning experiences for our learners and ourselves.

“It is timely to consider the extent to which online social networks present both challenge and opportunity for educators’ professional learning.” Melhuish (2013).


Melhuish, K.(2013) Online social networking and its impact on New Zealand educators’ professional learning. Master Thesis. The University of Waikato. Retrieved on 12 March 2016, from
Twitterforeducation Wikispace. (2016) Educational Uses of Twitter. Retrieved on 12 March 2016, from




On Trend

What’s Hot in Education Now?

By analysing trends across the education sector, we can strategically invest our time and energy into relevant themes, identified as worthy of consideration.

Business vision concept vector

Image: Business Vision Concept Businessman Looking to the View with Telescope by Point It Inc, (2016). Retrieved from

The New Zealand Education Review Office (2012) identifies the following three themes as pressing issues in the New Zealand education system:

  1. Student-centered learning – A shift in the locus of control from teacher to learner.
  2. Responsive and rich curriculum – Providing learning experiences relevant to our students.
  3. Assessment used for students’ learning – Adjusting teaching and learning strategies based on achievement evidence.

To address these issues, we consider what approaches we might employ to most effectively develop our teaching and learning practices in these areas. One efficient solution is to look to emerging trends in digital technologies which support education.

Ten Trends

Each year, for the past decade, CORE Education has pooled its understandings and expertise in education and digital technologies to establish the ‘Ten Trends’ which are expected to impact the New Zealand education sector over the coming year.

These trends are organised around five key areas of change, which highlight the context that these trends are likely to make an impact in (CORE Education Ltd, 2016). These five key areas of change are Structural, Technology, Process, Economic and Cultural.

CORE Ten Trends

Image: Ten Trends 2016 by CORE Education Ltd, (2016). Retrieved from

Using an inquiry approach, we might consider one or two of these trends which relate most to an area of our practice that we are looking to improve. Of 2016’s trends, there are two which stand out as particularly relevant to my practice as an e-leader.

Networked Communities

The trend of Networked Communities comes under the critical area of Structural Change. From leadership to infrastructure New Zealand schools have historically been organised in a typical institutional-style. Heavily dependent on hierarchical authority, repetitive timelines and standardised building design our schools have traditionally been highly dependent on structures for daily operation.

The Networked Communities trend suggests that schools are rethinking their existing frameworks. Where most schools have previously operated as isolated institutions, a shift toward Communities of Schools and Communities of Learning breaks down these campused silos, offering teachers and leaders new roles and providing schools with the opportunity for new positionings within their communities.

In my capacity as a Facilitator of Learning with Digital Technologies and an Advisor of the Connected Learning Advisory, it is imperative that I remain at the forefront of this trend in my community. I aim to do this by being involved as much as possible in the educational community of my region. By working across schools in my area from Ruatoria on the East Coast through to Hastings in the Hawke’s Bay, I can maintain a broad scope of regional understandings and keep my finger on the pulse of the initiatives that emerge from this space. I am also working to develop strong professional relationships with other professional providers in my region to ensure that I understand the strengths and needs of local educators. As a parent, I have recently joined my daughter’s school’s Board of Trustees which provides me yet another perspective of how our local schools are operating. Maintaining connections to the local business sector also broaden my insight and understanding of the communities perception of our education system. Wherever possible we must take the opportunity to promote explicitly Networked Communities, so that our schools do not miss out on the potential benefits that being connected provides.

Change Leadership

Processes are the critical area identified as being impacted by Change Leadership. The processes of our education system are the way in which we carry out tasks and reach our purpose. The New Zealand education system has well-established processes such as curriculum and assessment. However, the processes involved in how a school organises its daily operations, and leadership are becoming more variable across the sector.

The need for the development of Change Leadership highlights the point that many of our schools’ processes are undergoing shifts. Change Leadership is critical to making transitions and progress during times of complex change. At every level of our organisations, professional learning and development (PLD) will play a vital role in equipping leaders to be effective leaders of change.

As an e-leader, it is important that I am developing my leadership practice toward leading complex change. There are many PLD opportunities which can provide Change Leadership development. In my practice, I seek the chance to enrol as many in seminars and workshops of this focus as possible. These might include PLD days such as that run by Jennifer Garvey-Berger; Theory of Change, of Complexity and the Way Adults Grow Over Time, reflected upon in my post Leadership in Complexity and the annual Emerging Leaders Summit run by CORE Education. Being enrolled in the uChoose customised professional learning and mentoring programme also helps me target my PLD through inquiry and coaching toward these specific goals.

“The only thing that is constant is change” – Heraclitus


Education Review Office (2012).The three most pressing issues for New Zealand’s education system, revealed in latest ERO report – Education Review Office. Retrieved 5 March 2016, from
CORE Education (2016). Ten Trend Categories. Retrieved 5 March 2016, from
Online Learning Insights (2014). Three Trends That Will Influence Learning and Teaching in 2015. Retrieved 28 February 2016, from
Online Learning Insights (2016).Three Trends that Will Influence Learning and Teaching in 2016. Retrieved 28 February 2016, from
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 5 May 2015, from