Category Archives: PLD

The Return

“Return to your ancestral mountain, and the winds of Tawhirimātea will cleanse you.”

Image by Manatū Taonga at Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Today, I am returning. It has been way too long since I took the time to reconnect myself here. Today, I am committing to writing, to sharing, to reflecting out load.

Well, it has been a long time coming, but what has finally helped steer me back up this maunga? Today I am embarking on a journey of self-reflection and critical analysis of my cultural lens with Te Whakamānawa for Facilitators. I am so grateful to be part of a group of people being offered this koha within Tātai Aho Rau | CORE Education.

This morning I have heard Janelle Riki-Waaka introduce the course content in a way that bridges the distance of learning online, using a simple video, a personal conversation. Viewing this has me reflecting on how I am using technology to communicate; often emails, rarely video. The approach feels outdated in an era where our technology allows so much more! What if we all used video messaging instead of writing emails, how might this change the communication and increase the connections we have? In a digital age, it is crucial that we ensure our cultural values are transferred into our developing technologies so that they may help us strengthen our humanity not deplete it.

A challenge I face in this course is one that I am working on changing. My perception of time! This beautiful construct of our realities is so often called up as the critical barrier to anything and everything we do. I am committing to developing my perception of time, to view this as the beautiful constraint it is. I am reminding myself each day to swim downstream, going with the currents and pathways which make sense will mean that I can enter a state of flow more easily, allowing my productivity to increase and thus creating more time. Well, that’s the theory anyway.

According to research, there are two factors which affect behaviour change most; these are accountability and incentives. By the power of social expectations, being part of a group of people who we are accountable to helps us get stuff done. So, ngā mihi ki āku hoamahi o tenei akomanga, big ups to Te Whakamānawa for Facilitators for laying down the wero. I’m picking it up!

Digital & Collaborative Learning

The Mind Lab by Unitec Postgraduate Certification in Applied Practice (Digital & Collaborative Learning)

This professional learning opportunity is an innovate blend of face-to-face and online study grounded in practice, allowing educators to gain a recognised qualification while continuing in full-time employment.

Go Local

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At the end of 2014, after nearly one whole year as a classroom teacher, I had found an interest and enthusiasm for teaching in a collaborative and digital way. An email from my principal alerted me to the an upcoming professional learning and development (PLD) opportunity which sounded too-fitting-to-be-true. In a wide-eyed, ‘newbie’ fashion I jumped at the mention of local PLD and set about exploring. The following review is a snapshot into the last 28 weeks of The Mind Lab by Unitec’s Postgraduate Certification in Applied Practice (Digital & Collaborative Learning) experience.

Two Stages

The programme is divided into two stages, each of 16 weeks.

Stage 1

This first half of the course truly ‘walked the talk’. Delivering a range of materials via its online portal, providing the opportunity for challenging discussion in face-to-face sessions, and leading the critical reflection of current classroom and leadership practices through assessment tasks and activities. This stage was very engaging. The material was fresh and relevant including all the ‘hot topics’ of current educational theory. Perhaps, most beneficial of all was the opportunity to discuss these issues with fellow educators of our region, making connections and gaining a deeper insight into the culture of our local education scene.

The Mind Lab Answer Garden Topics

Stage 2

The second half of the course was carried out through the online portal. The content was relevant and discussion forums stimulated thoughtful discussion. However, it was vital that participants were diligent. Staying up-to-date with readings and assignments, on top of a busy teacher workload, does present some challenges. Face-to-face sessions were essential for survival.

Assessments & Workflow

Assessment tasks were grounded in practice and the regular contact times encouraged critical discussion and collaboration. However, the workload is quite substantial on top of a full-time teaching load. While assignments were enjoyable, completion of these can feel frustratingly limited by the time constraints of a busy teacher schedule if attention is not paid to planning and strategy.

The assessment process was robust and high expectations set the standard for deep thinking. If I could do it again, I would try to be more disciplined in getting my tasks completed early for review and reflection well before submission. I would also choose to collaborate on more assignments although this usually took more time, sharing led to increased learning and creation of new knowledge.

If I could do it again, I would try to be more disciplined in getting my tasks completed early for review and reflection well before submission. But, hindsight is 20:20. I would also choose to collaborate on more assignments – as while this usually took more time, sharing led to increased learning and creation of new knowledge.

Who is this PLD for?

Anyone looking to build on their teaching practice through 21st-century teaching pedagogies and the use of technologies to deepen learning should seriously consider enrollment. But also, anyone looking to take a refreshing look at their own practice and the wider education frameworks we  are operating within would enjoy this course. Delivered in a fun and friendly manner responsive to the learners of each cohort. A time committment is required and good time-management is a neccessity. Importantly, this course also helps educators to develop thier local perspective as they collaborate with other teachers and leaders from across the education sector.

Five stars


The Mind Lab by Unitec. (2016). The Mind Lab – Programme Overview. Retrieved 7 February 2016, from