Tag Archives: collaboration

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 http://goo.gl/U1Kj89

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 http://goo.gl/Elupm8

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 http://creativecommons.org.nz/ccinschools/
Heritage, E. (2015). How Schools Can Share OERs – Legally – NZ Commons. Creative Commons Aotearoa. Retrieved 19 March 2016, from http://nzcommons.org.nz/share-oers-legally/
Ministry of Education. (2016). Future-Focused Learning Report Released. Education in New Zealand. Retrieved 19 March 2016, from http://www.education.govt.nz/news/future-focused-learning-report-released/
Ministry of Education. (2016) Know your copy-rights! Retrieved 19 March 2016, from http://www.edgazette.govt.nz/Articles/Article.aspx?ArticleId=9224



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 http://goo.gl/S3xDAW

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 http://researchcommons.waikato.ac.nz/bitstream/handle/10289/8482/thesis.pdf?sequence=3&isAllowed=y
Twitterforeducation Wikispace. (2016) Educational Uses of Twitter. Retrieved on 12 March 2016, from https://twitterforeducation.wikispaces.com/Educational+Uses+of+Twitter




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)


Gradschool.cornell.edu,. (2016).Teaching Philosophy Statement | Graduate School. Retrieved 31 January 2016, from http://gradschool.cornell.edu/career-services/teaching-philosophy-statement
Renee Raroa. (2013). Teaching Metaphor . Retrieved 31 January 2016, from https://prezi.com/zv51jpqckg0q/teaching-metaphor/#
Renee Raroa. (2013). My Personal Philosophy Statement. Retrieved 31 January 2016, from https://msraroa.files.wordpress.com/2016/02/my-science-teaching-philosophy.pdf