Thursday, May 26, 2016

Broader Professional Context (Week 27)

Applied Practice in Context (APC) - Broader Professional Context

Activity 3: 'Contemporary issues or trends in New Zealand or internationally'

The New Zealand education context
New Zealand is among the high quality education performers globally, but also faces critical issues that need to be addressed. A report by the Education Review Office (2012) indicated that New Zealand’s education system needs to pay more attention to three key aspects including:
1. Shifting the focus towards student-centred learning,
2. Implementing a responsive and rich curriculum,
3. Assessment used  to know about, and plan for students’ learning.

Image retrieved from CORE Education Trends, 2015

'Each year, CORE Education’s experienced staff of researchers, educators, and digital technology experts pool their expertise and combine their understanding and evidence of the ways that digital technologies are influencing all aspects of education. The result is CORE’s list of the ten trends that are expected to make a growing impact upon education in New Zealand in the coming year.' (About CORE's Ten Trends, 2014, 2015, 2016)

During 2014 and 2015, their focus was very much on Learner Agency, which is the one I would like to concentrate on along with the focus towards student-centred learning.

Some important features of learner agency:
1. Agency (is about making decisions about learning) involves the initiative or self-regulation of the learner, but they must have a belief that their approach to learning is actually going to make a difference. Agency, however, is not simply handing control over to learner, but rather creating an environment where learners could be actively involved in the moment by moment learning
2. Agency is mediated by the classroom. It is definitely not about a learner doing their own thing and what suits them. Providing choices in learning (whether to work individually or in a group; whether to evidence learning through a piece of writing or technology) is an important factor in engagement, which in turn contributes to student learning and success.
3. Agency should include an awareness of one’s own actions, every decision they make and action they take impacts on the thinking, behaviour or decisions of others.

Another aspect of agentic behaviour is student voice. It is important to consider how it is reflected in the day to day decisions that are made around school. It should be exercised in more engaged and authentic ways that are about the students learning, rather than to simply satisfy ourselves that we have heard what students have to say.

We need to scaffold and develop the skills, attitudes, and behaviours required by this approach. This will then provide opportunities for students to own their learning through meaningful and relevant reflection and collaboration. It is my perception that we as 'teachers' should still provide structure, without being too directed.

According to ERO (2012), the number one issue is 'Shifting the focus to student-centred learning'. This [to me] sits neatly under the Learner agency 'umbrella'. However, no matter if you call it Learner Agency or Student-centred learning... the notability is on students becoming empowered to own their learning and the teacher becoming the guide.

International context
In the era of globalization, our professional context is no longer confined within the boundaries of a local community. Over the last decade, technology has moved so swiftly that teachers are increasingly connected across a variety of platforms and in a variety of settings.

21st Century learners are digital device and platform users. Their learning goes beyond passive receipt of knowledge towards actively seeking knowledge and their learning extends beyond the classroom walls to the digital learning environment. These changes in learning behaviour are a global phenomenon and not confined to a specific country or region. It is within this interconnected world that our context of practice needs to be able to respond to changes in technology and new educational paradigms.
The RSA.(2010, Oct 14). RSA Animate - Changing Education Paradigms. Retrieved from

In his talk about Changing Education Paradigms, Sir Ken Robinson explains how the educational system needs to go through some major changes. He goes further and states that not much has changed about school as a whole since the 18th century.

What really bothers me is that he talked about these issues back in 2010 and we are still not there yet. We are [still] having silo's in many schools and teach our students according to age. I will go further to note that in my experience it is easy for people to start playing the 'doubting game' instead of the 'believing game' when discussions around change are being brought up.

This made me wonder as to why change is not happening constantly. Is it because many teachers are used to teach the way they were taught or are they not given the opportunities to explore and change their pedagogy?

Without doubt, education needs to change...
I rate our NZ curriculum and its intent highly, but I do think that we have some way to go in implementing it to explore the full potential and to use it effectively as an example of how we [can] educate students for an unknown future where we do not know what kinds of jobs will be around when they finish school.

However, changing paradigms is not easy and takes a lot of effort. Taking small steps to achieve this change might be the solution. Maybe we should start with getting students to be more involved in their learning choices, rather than teaching them as if they are robots...

Image retrieved from the 'Partnership for 21st Century Skills'

CORE Education's Ten Trends 2014, 2015 | CORE Education. (2014,2015). Retrieved from

Education Review Office. (2012). Evaluation at a Glance: Priority Learners in New Zealand Schools. Retrieved 18 May 2016, from

The RSA.(2010, Oct 14). RSA Animate - Changing Education Paradigms. Retrieved from

~ “When you take the free will out of education, that turns it into schooling.”
- John Taylor Gatto ~

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Professional Context (Week 26)

Applied Practice in Context (APC) - Professional Context

Activity 2: 'Current issues in my professional context'

Stoll places the importance of understanding school culture as the starting point for leading change towards school improvement. Some internal and external factors that shape a school culture include the school history, the student socio-economical background, external contexts such as national educational policies, and societal changes (Stoll, 1988).

Stoll and Fink (cited in Stoll, 1998) identified 10 influencing cultural norms of school improvement including:
'. Shared goals - “we know where we’re going”
 2. Responsibility for success - “we must succeed”
 3. Collegiality - “we’re working on this together”
 4. Continuous improvement - “we can get better”
 5. Lifelong learning - “learning is for everyone”
 6. Risk taking - “we learn by trying something new”
 7. Support - “there’s always someone there to help”
 8. Mutual respect - “everyone has something to offer”
 9. Openness - “we can discuss our differences”
10. Celebration and humour - “we feel good about ourselves” (p.10)'

The organisational culture is an invisible powerful force that influences the members’ behaviour. Hongboontri and Keawkhong (2014) show that the school culture impacts on teachers’ beliefs and instructional practices, but this relationship is also reciprocal.

In this post I will be exploring different aspects of my community of practice and how these impacts on us.

What are the current issues in my community of practice? How could we address them?
Parents/whānau/stakeholders do not view digital technologies (class and student blogs) as an enabling platform that can deepen their engagement with their children’s learning.

Although there has been little research undertaken on parent engagement with learning as opposed to parents involvement in schooling (Redding, Langdon et al. 2004), this distinction is a very important one (Emerson, Fear et al.) as the two have a completely different focus.
To elaborate, parent engagement with learning is differentiated from parent involvement in learning. Parent involvement in learning concerns the likes of but not limited to: sporting, cultural, and behavioural aspects of schooling. Whereas parent engagement with learning includes things such as: academic progress, learning conversations, and holistic pathways to activities adapted for increasing student learning outcomes (Militello and Janson 2008).

Partnerships plays a vital role in defining the positive relationship between school and parents/whānau and academic achievement, attendance and other. Also, as stated by ERO (2008): 'Partnerships with parents, families and the wider community enable the sharing of responsibilities and collective resources for children’s education.' p 45.

Parental involvement requires multi-level school leadership; parental involvement is a component of school and classroom organization; parental involvement recognizes the shared responsibilities of educators and families for children’s learning and success in school and parental involvement programs must include all families, even those who are not currently involved, not just the easiest to reach.

Therefore it is important to realise that school leadership underpins the approach taken in engaging parents and is therefore an important factor in the impact parents have on student learning outcomes in school (Militello and Janson 2008).

Bottom line... build strong relationships with parents/whānau and engage in ethical, respectful, positive and collaborative professional relationships with whānau and other carers of ākonga and agencies, groups and individuals in the community.

What are the challenges that I face in my community of practice? How to address them?
We are in the process of implementing our BYOD programme. According to Argueta, et al. a 'more personalised, student centred learning is often cited as a reason for BYOD'. (Alberta Education, 2012) (Argueta, Huff, Tingen, & Jenifer O. Corn, 2011).

Therefore enhancing areas of a future focus learning pedagogy is essential in moving forward with implementing a successful BYOD programme that will provide an opportunity for transformational changes to learning and teaching. However, many teachers are still not ready for this change and it would be a challenge to change their mindset as well as ensuring that there exists the required level of commitment and accountability at all levels.

One of the strategic priorities for 21st century skills and digital competencies stated in a report by the 21st Century Learning Reference Group is one of Creating future-focused learning environments. 'Design vibrant, technology-rich, cyber-safe learning environments. Make these environments flexible enough to serve multiple learning contexts, including one-to-one, small groups, collaborative and community learning. Put learning at the heart of the system.'  (Future-focused learning in connected communities, May 2014, A report by the 21st Century Learning Reference Group, p.5)

To address this, it will be needed to constantly emphasize the value of:
1. Connectedness + Collaboration in which feedback is rapid and collaboration becomes a natural part of the learning process
2. Agency where learners are empowered to make more choices about the direction of their learning
3. Ubiquitous Learning which empowers learners to learn anywhere, anytime.

All these are going to play a part in enhancing student interest and learning outcomes.

BYOD in Schools Literature Review 2013. Prepared by Bruce Stavert BSc DipEd MA. Retrieved from

Emerson, L., et al. (2012). Parental engagement in learning and schooling: Lessons from research, Family-School and Community Partnerships Bureau.

ERO (2008). Partners in Learning: Schools' Engagement with Parents, Whānau and Communities. Wellington,Wellington.

Future-focused learning in connected communities, May 2014, A report by the 21st Century Learning Reference Group. Retrieved from

Hongboontri, C., & Keawkhong, N. (2014). School Culture: Teachers' Beliefs, Behaviors, and Instructional Practices. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 39(5), 66-88. Retrieved from

Militello, M. and C. Janson (2008). "Socially focused, situationally driven practice: A study of distributed leadership among school principals and counselors." Jsl Vol 17-N4 17: 409.

Redding, S., et al. (2004). "The effects of comprehensive parent engagement on student learning outcomes." American Educational.

Stoll (1998). School Culture. School Improvement Network’s Bulletin 9. Institute of Education, University of London. Retrieved from

~ “A challenge only becomes an obstacle when you bow to it.” - Ray A. Davis ~

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Defining my Practice (Week 25)

Applied Practice in Context (APC) - Defining my Practice

Activity 1: 'My community of practice'

Wenger defines community of practices as 'groups of people who share a concern or a passion or about a topic, and who deepen their knowledge and expertise in this area by interaction on an ongoing basis'. He goes further and states 'The members of a community of practice are bound by three distinct elements: the domain, the practice and the community' (Wenger, McDermott & Snyder, 2002, p.4).

In their study on 'School cultures as contexts for informal teacher learning', Elena Jurasaite-Harbisona & Lesley A. Rex states 'A community of practice differs from other group types in terms of learning and knowledge and practice sharing rather than management objectives. In the school context, this occurs through informal learning via daily conversations, lesson reflections and other exchanges' (Jurasaite-Harbison & Rex, 2010).

Finlay mention that '...reflective practice invites professionals to engage in both personal reflection and broader social critique'. (Finlay, L., 2009, p.5).

My take on a Community of Practice is as follows:
A Community of Practice is a network of individuals with common problems or interests who get together to explore ways of working, identify common solutions, and share good practice and ideas. This group of people will share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.

My specific learning communities (communities of practice) are:
1. My colleagues at the school I am currently at
2. Schools in the wider context as part of my role as Learning Facilitator with Ngā Pūmanawa e Waru (NPeW)

What is the purpose and function of my practice in these communities and in what ways do I contribute to them?
1. School: As Assistant Principal and ICT Lead, my purpose is to support colleagues with change and new digital technologies as well as making them aware of PL&D opportunities that will allow them to grow and improve their practice. Through discussions in our senior management team meetings it is evident that our shared goal is to ensure that colleagues and students have the opportunity to reach personal excellence. Throughout I am constantly reflecting on how I can lead effectively. Therefore I am grateful that I had the opportunity to grow myself professionally and personally through my involved in the [year long] Academy for Collaborative Futures' emerging leadership programme.
2. NPeW: My role is one of a Learning Facilitator and as a Junior School Teacher, after gauging interest from around the district, a Community of Practice for Junior Teachers have been started where we are able to discuss current issues and share best practice.

Although these are my two main communities, I am also part of these specific learning communities in which I aim to meet the goals and aims of my specific areas of my practice:
1. Twitter (share and partake in the many online "chats")
2. Virtual Learning Network (NZ) (and all the sub-groups that I belong to within)
3. New Entrant & Year 1 Modern Learning Pedagogy & Environment
4. Google+
5. TeachMeetNZ
Face to Face:
1. Whānau / Students / Local community
2. Connected Rotorua (Organiser and presenting at times)
3. Educamp NZ
4. uLearn

My final thoughts on a CoP:
Why having a Community of Practice?
It is not about bringing knowledge into the organisation but about helping to grow the knowledge that is needed internally within our organisations.

Benefits of a Community of Practice
1. Members share a repertoire of resources: experiences, stories, tools, ways of addressing recurring problems—in short a shared practice.
2. Various resources such as tools, documents, routines, vocabulary and symbols that in some way carry the accumulated knowledge of the community are being developed.
3. It involves ways of doing and approaching things that are shared to some significant extent among members.
4. Allows for sharing of experiences and learning from others.
5. Allows to collaborate and achieve common outcomes.
6. Provides the opportunity to innovate and create new ideas.

What are the key theories that underpins my practice?
1. Constructivism (Piaget, J., 1983 & Vygotsky, L., 1987)
This theory was formalised by Piaget who claimed that people construct new knowledge from prior experiences. He also believed children undergo stages of cognitive development that allows them to grow and develop as individuals, whilst Vygotsky claimed that learning is dependent on socio-cultural influences.

2. Pragmatism (John Dewey, 1916)
Within this theory it is believed that reality must be experienced. From Dewey's educational point of view, this means that students must interact with their environment in order to adapt and learn.

Evaluation of my practice with regard to these theories.
1. Constructivism: Vygotsky stated that peer work and cooperation lies at the heart of learning. However, the way that people become more knowledgeable is through increased actions and interactions with the environment, as Piaget suggested, but it is essential that pupils interact with their peers to gain a true experience of what they are learning. Therefore I do make use of Learning Buddies, Co-operative learning groups and Tuakana/Teina.
Drawing clearly from Constructivist ideas, it is claimed that pupils should be able to use speech and communication to make connections between what they already know and any new experiences and ideas they may encounter. Therefore, our learning environment is one in which students feel encouraged and secure enough to be able to express and explore their thoughts, feelings and emotions. 

2. Pragmatism: Dewey believed that human beings learn through a 'hands on' approach. I have change my practice significantly this year by giving students the opportunity to learn in this way. It became evident that learners were actively engaged in hands on activities as learning was rewarded immediately. Students also have a better grasp about the new concepts they are learning and realise that their learning goals are achievable.

What is the impact?
Reflection is crucial. I really like Rolfe et al's (2001) reflective model which is based on three questions only:
So what?
Now what?
My opinion: Although this model is based on three simple questions, it should not indicate that reflections should lack depth, but it should rather be as comprehensive as possible. 
Finlay also states 'Other authors argue for the concept of critical reflection, which is seen as offering a more thorough-going form of reflection through the use of critical theory (Brookfield, 1995)'. 

A more comprehensive [and formal] way to reflect on my practice is to use our very own 'Teaching as Inquiry' model as “...effective pedagogy requires that teachers inquire into the impact of their teaching on their students.” (NZ Curriculum, p35)


Finlayson,A.(2015). Reflective practice: has it really changed over time?. Reflective Practice: International and Multidisciplinary Perspectives, 16 (6), 717-730.

Jurasaite-Harbison, E., & Rex, L. (2010). School Cultures as Contexts for Informal Teacher Learning. Teaching and Teacher Education,26(2), 267-277.

Ministry of Education (2009) Teaching as Inquiry. Retrieved from

Wenger, E., McDermott, R., & Snyder, W. (2002). Cultivating Communities of Practice: A Guide to Managing Knowledge. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business School Press,

~ "Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful." - Margaret J. Wheatley ~

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Voyager Graduation

In our final session of this incredible learning journey we recapped our 6 learning phases:

Some of my final take-aways:
Strengths-based perspectives
Emerging vocabulary of positive change (positive psychology):
1. You can remedy the world by looking at character 
2. Building the best is as important than fixing the broken
3. Human beings are not driven by past, but drawn by future 

Positive emotion is as important as negative emotion
Seligman talked about "positive psychology" and that "we need a psychology of rising to the occasion”. Negative emotions narrow the field of attention, but positive emotions opens it up. 

Broaden: Expanding the Thought-Action Repertoire
1. Joy: Playful, Light & Bright, Innovative
2. Interest: Take in New Ideas, Learn More, Explore
3. Love: Life-long Bonds, Trust & Security, Intimacy
4. Hope: Energised to make a Good Life, Believing that Things can Change, Sustained & 
5. Serenity: Sit Back and Soak it In, Savour & Integrate Current Circumstances

From the Principles of AI, I have learnt that the topics we study are fateful and that the future is a human option. "[Management's] task is to make people capable of joint performance, to make their strengths effective and their weakness irrelevant." (Drucker, 2001, p.10)
Inquiry is based on strengths rather than weaknesses. Could it be that ... catalyzing change might be ALL about strengths? 

Appreciative inquiry requires a shift and the genius is in creating the question. The more positive the question the more positive the change.

Happiness and the authentic life

What determines happiness?
50 % Set range (genetics)
10 % Circumstances (where you live, society) 
40 % what is in your control (voluntary variables)

We evaluated ourselves through the:
1. Subjective Happiness Scale
2. Pleasant Life - Measuring Emotional Well-Being - My Score: Pleasant Feelings: 36
                                                                                                  Unpleasant Feelings: 8
                                                                                                  Hedonic balance: 28    

3. Engaged Life - Measuring your Satisfaction with Life - My Score: 33

4. Psychological Flourishing Scale (How you regard yourself) - My Score: 72

Graduation Ceremony:

My Inquiry Presentation:

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Ethics and Research (Week 24)

Researched and Community Informed Practice (R&C) - Ethics and Research

This week explores the key ethical principles in educational research and several examples of how people or institutions are rethinking the relationship between research and practice in education.

Learning Objectives:
  • Understand the key ethical principles in educational research.
  • Engage with literature on different initiatives and approaches to the relationship between research and practice in education.
  • Recognise some of the opportunities available to you going forward if you are interested in becoming more engaged with research.
'All social research (whether using surveys, documents, interviews, observation, or computer-mediated communication) gives rise to a range of ethical issues around privacy, informed consent, anonymity, secrecy, being truthful and the desirability of the research’ (Blaxter, L., Hughes, C., Tight, M. 2001, How to Research (2nd edn.), Oxford, UK: OUP.)

While as a teacher-researcher (undertaking research in your own classroom or school) one are not required to go through any formal ethics process, it is still critical to think about the ethical implications of your research.

The key principles of research ethics are:
  • Voluntary informed consent. That is participants have the right to opt in and opt out of the research and may not be forced or coerced into participating. Issues of consent are particularly important when working with children and generally require more rigorous consent procedures (often including a parent or guardian giving consent on behalf of the child).
  • Avoid deception. The aims and nature of the research must be clearly and accurately articulated to those involved.
  • The right to withdraw. All participants must have the right to withdraw from a study at any stage. If a participant withdraws, none of the data previously collected on them can be included.
  • Avoid detriment to participants.
  • Respect Privacy. This often includes ensuring anonymity for participants.
  • Consider disclosure.
  • Aim to debrief participants.

Ethics in your own work:

Miles and Huberman (1994) suggest that to mitigate ethical issues it is not only necessary to follow the ethical guidelines of your particular institution but also to consider why the study is worth doing and how it will contribute in some significant way to the broader domain. Tracy (2010) further advocates ensuring the worthiness of the topic of study and considering the significance of the contribution it will make to the research field or to practice.

Therefore, when planning any inquiry projects in your own practice it is helpful to think carefully about the purpose of your inquiry. Think about what your research might be able to contribute and to whom, and also how you will disseminate and share the findings of your research.

~ “While it might be argued that there are few scandals in educational research (or scandals that become public) it is difficult for researchers to deny that ethical, moral and political questions do not surround their day to day experience of education and educational research.” 
- Burgess, R. (Ed.) (1989). The Ethics of Educational Research. Lewes, UK: The Falmer Press. ~