Tag Archives: keycompetencies

Mirror Mirror

A Response to ‘Reflecting on Reflective practice’ (Linda Finlay, 2008)

During our teacher training we are often asked to be thinking about thinking. However, when developing an analytical mindset some of us develop a tendancy to overthink moments in time. The small details of conversations can go round and round in our heads, theorising about the way in which our words may have been misinterpreted, attempting to interpret for ourselves the tiny nuances of our numerous daily encounters. That was of course before the teacher workload!

every cloud has a silver lining

As teachers, we no longer had the luxury of obsessive thoughts. ‘Thinking time’ is a precious commodity to be used efficiently and with purpose.

We have all heard the cries of busy teachers, over worked and always on the job. But, if  we are optomistic we can easily find our silver lining. No longer having time to ‘sweat the small stuff’ can unburden us in quite a life changing way. We are enbled to continue to be analytical and draw on our reflective natures, but in a way that actually affects positive change. Instead of dwelling on the negative and feeling helpless in its shadow, we can learn to consider the extensive research and models of reflective pratice. This means putting our inquiring minds at ease as what we once considered failures now present as learning opportunities.

Linda Finlay (2008) draws on extensive research and numerous models to explore the difficulties of reflective practice, both conceptually and practically.

The New Zealand Teaching as Inquiry cycle can be considered alongside her description of Schon’s idea of reflection-on-action. In practice the artistry of teaching in New Zealand draws also on Schon’s idea of reflection-in-action as more and more we need to be flexible and responsive to the changing demands of education in a complex environment.



The Teaching as Inquiry (TAI) Cycle can be a topic of controversy in our schools. As facilitators working across schools we see extreme variation in the implementation and embedding of TAI. This  is mirrored in Finlay’s sentiments around the complex and difficult application of reflective practice for many institutions. Finlay poses the question, ‘How should models of reflection be used and it what context’?

This leads us to consider her how we might use the TAI model in a more fluid and responsive way. Drawing on the work of Finlay and Gough (2003), we can consider how each component of the continuum from ‘Reflection’ to ‘Critical Reflection’ to ‘Reflexivity’ might apply for different persons at different places and in different moments of time or practice.

As descibed in the post ‘Key Competencies & Me‘, I had been working on the development of my own key competencies of ‘Participating and Contributing’ and ‘Relating to Others’. Finding appeal in the ‘social critique’ and ‘ironic reconstruction’ layers of Finlay’s (2003) model and using a marae framework, I have developed a model examining the practicalities of ‘reflection’ alongside collaborative and transformative ‘critical reflection’ with the overarching goal of ‘reflexivity’ grounded a context I can own and realate to.

Marae Model of Reflection

Each type of reflective practice shown would be drawn on dependant on the need of the individual or institution. The tools and ways of reflecting are symbolised as support for these practices in their representation as paepae, amo, maihi and tekoteko. The concept of the wharenui helps to remind us that everything we do is culturally embedded and that a consideration of social justice is importatnt in all professional practice.



Finlay, L. (2009) Reflecting on reflective practice. PBPL. Retrieved from http://www.open.ac.uk/opencetl/files/opencetl/file/ecms/web-content/Finlay-%282008%29-Reflecting-on-reflective-practice-PBPL-paper-52.pdf
Keep Calm and Carry On [Image] Retrieved 21 February 2016, from http://www.keepcalmandcarryon.com/creator/?shortcode=dhuPglfv
Teaching as Inquiry [Image]  Retrieved 21 February 2016, from http://nzcurriculum.tki.org.nz/var/tki-nzc/storage/images/media/images/tu-images/teaching-as-inquiry2/3711-5-eng-NZ/Teaching-as-Inquiry_preview.jpg?popUp=true&KeepThis=true&TB_iframe=true&height=904&width=944

Key Competencies & Me

A Focus for Change

In the beginning weeks of The Mind Lab by Unitec’s Postgraduate Certification in Applied Practice (Digital & Collaborative Learning), we are asked to think about the New Zealand Curriculum’s Key Competencies (KCs). Using a Google Form each cohort considers which KCs they see as strengths and pinpoint those they would like to develop over the next 32-weeks of the course.

‘Thinking’ was the KS that I decided I identified with most. In a leadership sense, I perceived that my strengths in creativity and thinking outside the box helped to spark enthusiasm and positivity in others. In my practice, I tried to always be consciously aware of the metacognition involved in learning and considered how I might use this to lead a particular innovation or idea in a way that was respectful to teacher learners and helped them to make their own connections with the innovation.

When asked to reflect critically on strengths of practice, I decided to make a shift of focus toward designing learning experiences that focussed outside my own personal strengths. Up until this time, I had felt an inert lean in my teaching, toward activities of a ‘thinking’ focus. However, in order to facilitate the growth of well-balanced learners, it is important to focus on the area of relative stillness in our own personal growth – for me, this was ‘Participating and Contributing’ and ‘Relating to Others’.

“Exposing our weaknesses can be painful. This process takes effort. We must learn to feel comfortable in the discomfort of not knowing.” Renee Raroa

Key Changes in Practice

  1. Seek knowledge: I quickly realised that I did not have all the answers on this one. Colleagues, mentors, family, friends, students and professional learning networks play a big part in helping to evolve practice.
  2. Feel the fear and do it anyway: Deciding to make a conscious decision to jump into those situations where we feel less confident participating. Adopting the ‘fake it till you make it’ mentality means that the doors to possibility are opened.
  3. Relationships! Relationships!: Feeling part of a community and being connected to students, colleagues, whānau can make or break one’s ability to contribute. Feeling valued can be key to helping unlock our ability to participate and contribute.

So, what do we do when developing an action plan to reach these goals? Look for the unseen – those areas of our practice that we usually are not attentive to. Then ask questions. What were the needs of the community we want to connect with, participate in and relate to? What strengths can we draw on to find value in ourselves first?

Digital technologies

Digital Technologies. This was one skill that infiltrated every learning area, however, the confidence of many teachers with this was very low. I had realised the power of online and collaborative learning through distance teacher training. I was by no means an expert, but, I had recently experienced firsthand the change in mindset needed to make that fearless leap into the unknowns that can accompany using digital technologies for teaching and learning.

Recognising the vulnerabilities that were present in myself and that there were different strengths and weaknesses for teachers at every level, helped me to make connections with my colleagues as fellow learners. I soon found myself an e-leader within my school. The next challenge was to take up an opportunity to become a facilitator of Learning with Digital Technologies for CORE Education. One year later I reflect on my target KC’s –  ‘Participating and Contributing’ and ‘Relating to Others’. In my new role working across schools in Te Tairawhiti and beyond, I am relating to a whole range of new persons and personalities as I participate and support change.

“It is by working on our weaknesses that we experience the most profound growth.” Renee Raroa (2016).


New Zealand Government. (2016). About / Key competencies / Kia ora – NZ Curriculum Online. Retrieved 21 February 2016, from http://nzcurriculum.tki.org.nz/Key-competencies/About