Activity 10: A long and winding road that leads to…


http://The Long & Winding Road – Beatles – YouTube

Ok, this is me being just a bit silly.. it has indeed been a long, winding, bumpy road.There were more than a few times when I debated whether I could complete this course. I was too old..too busy…too much of a Luddite… and don’t even get me started on A.P.A referencing. But with my newly polished growth mindset, I am there.

Wait.. where is “there?” Is there a “there?”

If I am to fulfil  Criteria 4  and “demonstrate commitment to ongoing professional learning and development of professional personal practice,” then this reflection is a rest-stop rather than a destination. What this 32 week road-trip has taught me is that I am still curious and ready to try out new ideas in my practice.It just takes energy and critical thinking to decide what is worth spending valuable time on.

For me, research about growth mindsets has probably had the most impact on my practice.I learnt such a lot from planning and implementing an inquiry into the effects of ability grouping on mindsets.I believe I fulfilled the criteria of critically inquiring, responding to feedback  and problem-solving effectively through the very detailed process needed to fulfil the requirements of Research and Community Informed Practice. (Criteria 12) I intend to continue to implement this learning in my teaching and also to “show leadership that contributes to effective teaching and learning” by leading professional development in this area. http://Criteria 5

Collaborative Communities: The Support System.

Criteria 1: I was very fortunate in this journey because I had a ready-made collaborative community- my colleagues who were also undertaking this study, commonly known as “The Mindlabbers.”We had both formal and informal opportunities to “establish and maintain effective professional relationships focused on the learning and well-being of all ākonga.” We planned and implemented our Lean Canvas in order to provide a more meaningful context to learning in Religious Education.Throughout the 32 weeks we have continued to meet, discuss and support each other in our learning. The talk in particular has been invaluable, reinforcing and clarifying personal reflection.

Finally, the opportunity to reflect on varying aspects of professional issues  in this last part of the journey- Applied Practice in Context- has been so worthwhile. I have to confess i didn’t come into blogging with a growth mindset. I thought it would be an exercise in navel- gazing and patting myself on the back (my perception of blogs). I have found the reflective aspect- and maybe having to condense my thoughts into a word-count-a really useful exercise in deciding what it is that is important to me as an educator AND as a learner.

Where to next?

  • My next goal is to “analyse and appropriately use assessment and information” in order to evaluate the value for my learners of undertaking the inquiry into the effects of ability groups on mindsets. This would also enable me to fulfil Criteria 11.
  • Then, I plan to look at some professional development in te reo.I have heard good things about I aim to make a commitment to developing my language proficiency beyond what we use in the Religious education programme and those everyday phrases we can all use. In part, this would meet Criteria 3, but  I do also feel in would be achievable, practical and hopefully a learning challenge!

 Actually, I lie. My first goal is to have a weekend off!!


Lastly,Osterman & Kottkamp really reflect the purpose of this latter part of the MIndlab learning journey when they tell us that it is this type of reflection, put into action, that makes the most valuable change in behaviours.(as cited in Mindlab, 2015)

Thanks, Mindlab, for pulling, pushing, prompting and praising me along the way.


Ministry of Education (n.d). Practising Teacher Criteria and e-learningRetrieved from

Mindlab.(2015). APC CISC8100  Reflective practice: putting it all together. [Class notes Week 32]. Retrieved from

Activity 8: Legal contexts and digital identities:The Hypothetical Scenario…  several years ago.. in a school far far away… a group of Year 6 boys were commenting on Facebook on a photo of a girl from their class. This photo was taken from someone else’s page. The girl was very upset, and the situation came to the notice of the teachers. 

The class teacher discussed the situation with the Senior Management Team.

First consideration: The Education Act of 1989 states that “educators can take action when they have reasonable grounds to believe that a student has digital information stored on their digital device or other digital technology that is endangering the emotional or physical safety of other students or detrimentally affecting the learning environment.” (Ministry of Education, 2015, p. 9).

Additionally, the Code of Ethics states that the first responsibility of a teacher is to ensure ” the physical, emotional, social, intellectual and spiritual wellbeing of learners.” ( Code of ethics for certified teachers, 2015 ).

In this case, the girl’s emotional safety both in and out of school was certainly affected by the boys’ actions.The teacher, by acknowledging that these actions were affecting the girl’s well-being, was taking action to fulfil (at least in part) these guidelines. 

 Action: The parents of the children involved were contacted by senior management.

  1. The girl’s parents were understandably upset. The girl herself was not on Facebook,but her friend who shared the photo was.
  2. The friend’s parents were not aware of her Facebook page but did not believe their daughter had any responsibility for the use of the photo.
  3. The reactions of the boys’ parents:
  • This was a modern-day equivalent of passing a note.The comments were not derogatory, therefore no harm was done.
  •  It wasn’t any of the school’s business.
  • One parent was surprised that his son had a Facebook account, disappointed in his son’s behaviour and dealt with it by discussing it with him, ensuring that he shut down his account and apologised to the girl.

Second Consideration: The Code of Ethics states that teachers should “respect lawful parental authority, although professional decisions must always be weighted towards what is judged to be the best interests of learners.”

By contacting the parents, the school demonstrated a commitment to the best interests of the children involved, whilst acknowledging the primary responsibility of the parents.

Bear in mind that this was several years ago and the debate about cyber-bullying/ appropriate behaviour on social media is now more publicised than at that time.  Having the same generally unhelpful parent attitude now would certainly be difficult to deal with.

 Action : The school should provide some cyber-safety education.

Third consideration: The Code of Ethics encourages teachers to “teach and model those positive values which are widely accepted in society and encourage learners to apply them and critically appreciate their significance.”

There is a plethora of material for schools to refer to when developing policies for digital citizenship. Pre-empting the event would obviously be the preferred course of action.

Parent education would also fit with the school’s responsibility. Again, there is a huge range of available material:  

Action: The school should remind parents of Facebook policies.

Facebook has strongly stated age limits which could be discussed with the parents.Reporting the users would be another consideration. “In general, a school’s responsibility to maintain a safe educational environment justifies a measure of authority over off-premises and student after hours conduct.”p. 10

Facebook guidelines for reporting a user under the age of 13 suggest,” If you are not the parent of this child, then we strongly recommend that you encourage a parent to contact us personally, using this form.”

Final Consideration: To repeat, the Code of Ethics states that the first responsibility of a teacher is to his/her students, in order to ensure ” the physical, emotional, social, intellectual and spiritual wellbeing of learners.”

The priority for the school is the wellbeing of the children involved. By taking positive rather than punitive action, the school acknowledges the effects of the behaviour, the shared responsibilities of parents, children and teachers and the wider picture of digital know-how as a necessary facet of education.


Education Council of Aotearoa New Zealand. (2015, AugustThe Education Council Code of Ethics for Certificated Teachers

Ministry of Education. (2015). Digital technology: Safe and responsible use in schools. Wellington, New Zealand: Author. Retrieved from

Activity 9: Evaluations of the cultural responsiveness in practice: E kore au e ngaro, he kākano i ruia mai i Rangiātea. I will never be lost, for I am a seed sown in Rangiātea.

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Image retrieved from Original source unable to be located.

Just this year, our school has changed the names of our teams to teina, waenga and tuakana. This acknowledges what we see as the growth of our learners and was a result of consultation with our community.The proverb I have included summarises much of what I believe is important in teaching practice and to me, summarises that same growth. I believe in the concept of the promise of that hidden seed. For all of us, the mutual respect of knowing where we come from and knowing where others come from too gives us that strong root to cling to.

Te Kotahitanga Effective Teaching Profile  gives a very clear profile of what effective cultural responsiveness looks like and is a really useful document to refer to when reflecting on our school’s journey. Its five guiding concepts as to cultural concepts are referred to throughout this post.

We are a Catholic school, with a Religious Education curriculum to follow. This curriculum has for many years had a strong component acknowledging Maori kaupapa.This stems from leadership of the Catholic Community as a whole. The Catholic Bishops of New Zealand acknowledge the importance of cultural responsiveness when they state,“In the Treaty of Waitangi, we find the moral basis for our presence in Aotearoa New Zealand and a vision that sets this country apart.” (“Treaty of Waitangi,” n.d.)

The Religious Education curriculum itself states that, “Maori children in Catholic schools have a right, supported by Church teaching to have the faith explained to them in a culturally relevant way, using those traditional Maori concepts, beliefs and values which are still part of the life of Maori today.” (“Maori spirituaiity in the curriculum” p.7)

 So, for us, kaupapa is woven into everyday practice. The children are well used to tikanga such as karakia. This, I think, goes quite some way towards the concepts of manakitanga ( respect and integrity) and tangata whenuatangata (cultural locatedness) as it  affirms concepts in meaningful contexts. There is nothing ‘token’ about this aspect, as it is central to the programme.

What resonates with me is that, because we are a relatively small community, with a wealth of actively involved parents, our interactions evolve with ease, whereas whanaungatanga  requires me to elicit, rather than respond to, these communications. Perhaps sometimes we feel a little condescending asking our Maori parents for that particular perspective?Should we be more proactive in this?

The concept of deficit theorising also has implications, not just for Maori students, but for other groups- refugees, learners for whom English is not a first language,boys.It really is essential that we back ourselves to make a difference.For us as learners, our ako needs to be pushing ourselves to know more.It fits so well with the growth mindset I am working to achieve this term. Bishop and Berrymann (2009) tell us “despite our having the best intentions in the world, if the students with whom we are interacting as teachers are led to believe that we think they are deficient, they will respond to this negatively.” P 28 .

Cultural responsiveness is more than rejecting the deficit theories, it is absolutely accepting the tapu of the whole person.I hope I do this in all my interactions, in school and beyond.


Bishop,R.,& Berrymann, M.(2009) The Te Kotahitanga Effective Teaching Profile.Set 2.27-33. Retrieved from

The Catholic Church in Aotearoa New Zealand.(n.d) Treaty of Waitangi

Maori spirituality in the curriculum.(n.d). Retrieved from

NZ Teachers’ Council. ( 2011). Tātaiako – Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners: A resource for use with the Graduating Teacher Standards and Registered Teacher Criteria. Wellington, New Zealand: Retrieved from

Activity 7: Social media in learning and teaching and professional development: Reflections of an ‘experienced teacher.’


I must admit that as a digital learner I am far from native…the name of my blog really does mean something!


However, I cannot imagine how I ever managed without the easy access of social media as a tool for professional development and a guide for teaching and learning.In this post I will discuss professional social media within the context of how it can help me to meet the criteria required of an “experienced teacher.”

As an experienced teacher I am called on to support and provide effective assistance to colleagues in improving teaching and learning. 

 I contribute most frequently to a closed Facebook group,NZ Teachers (Primary) and see this as an extension of the mentoring role I might undertake within a physical community.I have to admit I tend towards the passive user. I read widely and put much of what I read into practice, but I have found the process of contributing quite daunting. 

Experienced teachers continually evaluate and reflect on their teaching and act on areas where it can be improved:

The blog posts of fellow educators have proven to be an amazing pãtaka of treasures. By reading them I can stay in touch not just with modern pedagogy, but with reflections on use in practice. I find those of fellow Kiwis particularly relevant as we tackle similar issues within our particular community.They speak ” kiwish” in terms of experiences. They also respond in a timely and reflective way to current issues, such as the response to a recent news item found here  Such posts inspire readers to consider their own responses to media reports.

Another key feature of social networking is the ability to communicate with educators from other sectors of the wider educational community. I have learnt much which is relevant to my own practice through  In days gone by, there was little opportunity to find common ground between sectors of the teaching community, indeed we viewed each other with some suspicion.

Experienced teachers demonstrate a commitment to their own on-going learning:

Professional blogs, such as been invaluable to me as I have moved through my Mindlab journey.They have allowed me to gain professional knowledge from educators physically distant from little old N.Z. Professional communities such as provide what may be described as ” a participatory system that enables educators to engage in an informal kind of professional learning.” (Melhuish Spencer, 2014)

Experienced teachers successfully organise aspects of programmes within the school to promote teaching and learning.

Within my own  community, our connections through Google+ are probably the most used. We plan collaboratively and feed back/forwards as we work.This allows us to contribute more efficiently than we sometimes are able to face-to-face. Older (slower?) brains such as mine value the reflective and adaptive quality of this form of communication.

Experienced teachers effectively manage challenging learning environments:

My next challenge is to extend the use of social networks into my own community of learners.Thus far, this has been limited to the use of Blendspace ( ) as an interactive community. This is a bit of a ‘cowardly custard’ response to integrating social media… quite controlled. I need to follow the lead of  colleagues who have now started class blogs. I also intend  to look at the use of Google Docs for collaborative learning. I can see particular relevance in shared writing and in forming questions for inquiry learning. It really is a way to provide an equitable platform for all learners, regardless of confidence in oral discussions, to contribute successfully. Melhuish Spencer provides a good reminder of inclusive practice- what she describes as asking,”Who’s not in the room?” when managing social networks.This pertains to other educators as much as to students.(Melhuish Spencer, 2014)

Experienced teachers demonstrate highly effective communication skills when interacting with students, colleagues and families/whanau: 

 What I need to do is to look into issues such as digital citizenship and internet protocol whilst beginning conversations with the wider community, particularly parents, in order to facilitate this. I like what Karen Melhuish Spencer  reminds us about the power we have and the power we give- I need to think about the balance I am willing to offer to my learners. I have a responsibility for helping them not to navigate the technicalities of the tool, but to think about how, when and why they use it and how this impacts on others. (Melhuish Spencer, 2015) 

Finally, experienced teachers demonstrate a high level of commitment to student welfare.

“Students need to learn how to be a part of our society. And increasingly, that society is technologically mediated. As a result, excluding technology from the classroom makes little sense; it produces an unnecessary disconnect between school and contemporary life.” (Boyd,2015 )


Boyd, D. (2015, May 7). Are we training our students to be robots? Retrieved from

Melhuish Spencer, K. (2014, May 30). Can social network sites support effective professional learning? Retrieved from

Melhuish Spencer, K. (2014, October 30). 7 characteristics of a true connected educator. Retrieved from

Melhuish Spencer, K. (2015, June 7). Voice and choice:growing great citizens for a connected world. Retrieved from

Activity 6: Contemporary issues or trends in New Zealand or internationally

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Image retrieved from——-10–31—-0reports+on+schools–

 Issue 1 : National Standards- a contemporary issue?!

 One of the three key areas in which New Zealand schools need to improve is that of assessment ” to know about, and plan for, students’ learning.” (Education Review Office, 2012)

To what extent does assessing my learners against National Standards achieve this?


  • Moderation among and across teaching communities in order to create objective, consistent ‘Overall Teacher Judgements’
  • Knowing how the curriculum pertains to levels of learning has been deepened by a focus on documents such as the Literacy Learning Progressions.
  • Forming O.T.Js based on a range of material is more relevant than one based solely on a levelled running record.
  • The implementation of National Standards has heightened the intensity with which we gather and use such data in order to know about our learners.

My views reflect those found in Wylie and Berg, that for most teachers the biggest gain has come from moderation and collegial discussions. (Wylie & Berg, 2013, p.9)

But then again...

  • If the vision is ” confident, connected, actively involved, and lifelong learners” (Ministry of Education, 2007) how does consistently reporting to a child and parents that this child is ‘below’ or ‘well below’ standard (or even the sugar-coated ‘working towards’) contribute to that vision?
  • Linda Stuart, principal of May Rd school, says, “success looks different according to where you’re working from. Many of our kids are on the back foot to start with.” She continues by describing the research showing that ESOL children can take up to seven years to gain academic language proficiency. (Gracewood, 2015)
  • Where do we fit ‘art for art’s sake? Has the curriculum narrowed?This is described in the RAINS report (2013) as ” almost guilty pleasures for teachers.”
  • Is there now a two-tier curriculum across richer and poorer schools by giving permission to, and incentivising, an even tighter concentration on numeracy and literacy.” (Thrupp & White, 2013)
  • Teaching time is what gives when assessments are needed.

     One-on-one assessment x 30 learners= less time for teaching and learning

The Obama administration in the U.S has called upon no more than two percent of class time to be spent on assessments.

     What exactly does assessing against the Standards achieve for individual learners?

  • Very little, if not accompanied by consistent, targeted learning.
  • A focus on identification and an emphasis on the need for the current teacher to get these children ‘up’ to standard as quickly as possible but little practical help in how exactly to do this.
  • Targets work best when there is a shared responsibility for developing strategies to accelerate progress and worst when practical support gives way to an emphasis on merely measuring progress.
  • Best achieved by collaborative teaching with an emphasis on whole-school responsibility, much like that seen in Finland.In this team meeting, those involved talk from their knowledge of the child, rather than relying on justification from tests. There are no huge folders in sight!
  • Implications: choosing carefully the language with which I discuss standards with both children and parents. I need to give hope- education is a long journey, and certainly not finished by the end of Year 6. Hope is rationalised by knowing my learner, their needs and what the team, ‘we’ not ‘I’, can do to move them further on this journey.


Issue 2: : Student Voice, Student Choice: Choose your own pathway.

“New Zealand prides itself on its child-centred approach to learning, yet ERO’s national evaluations would suggest that practice is not matching the rhetoric. ERO has found that some schools are not positioning students at the centre of learning and teaching.” (Education Review Office, 2012)

  • Heutagogy, the study of self-determined learning, puts the power of what is learnt firmly in the hands of the learner.
  • Learners take control of what and why they need to learn. This is particularly well suited to a world in “which connectivity, creativity and reflexivity are foundational to global citizenship and collaboration.” (Herie, M.)

    All learning, to some extent, is self-determined- we can lead that horse to water, but as for the drinking…

Doing + prior knowledge+ emotional response= making sense of our world.

  • As the world evolves around us, it is important that we learn to quickly but reflectively respond to this change.
  • The NZC ‘s key competencies  develop the capabilities needed to adapt to our environment.
    • Releasing control is tricky because we generally like a path, and we are often hidebound by the limitations of prescribed school-wide plans, not to mention required assessments. If we are truly seeking ownership, then we must let some of this go.
    • For me, the first step is Inquiry Learning. There may be an overall theme but the focus can be determined by the group or by individuals. Is this true agency? No, in truth it is student-directed rather than student-determined. Student voice is something I am working hard to use earlier in the learning process.
    • Steve Mouldey says, “I don’t see students as just being flexible to adapt to whatever happens in the future – I want them to create the future they want to have. And I don’t mean creating it in the future, they are capable of it now.”

    Tino Rangitiratanga- self determined learning-control over our own pathways- helps us, wherever we are on the journey, to feel confident as we create that future.


Education Review Office (2012).The three most pressing issues for New Zealand’s education system, revealed in latest ERO report – Education Review Office. Retrieved  from…

Gracewood,J. (2015, March 12). What’s Wrong with National Standards? Metro. Retrieved 21 October from

Herie, M. (2014, January 5 ). Paragogy and Heutagogy. Retrieved from

Ministry of Education (2007) The New Zealand Curriculum online: Vision. Retrieved from

Thrupp, M. & White, M. (2013). Research, Analysis and Insight into National Standards (RAINS) Project Final Report: National Standards and the Damage Done. Waikato, New Zealand: Wilf Malcolm Institute of Educational Research.  Retrieved from

Wylie, C & Berg, M. (2013, November) National Standards: What difference are they making? Paper presented at the NZARE Annual Conference, Dunedin,New Zealand. Retrieved from


Activity Five: **“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.” Herman Melville


I actually had fun with this one!

**Herman Melville’s quote comes from

This map shows my current connections. It begins in the middle- with me. My closest and largest connections- my fibres-are in green.These centre around my school community and link quite directly with the wider Catholic community, both parish and educational.The community of NZ primary teachers has far-reaching links in both support and in professional development.This year, one of my most powerful connections has been via Mindlab. From there, my connection links move out, with the outermost subsets being the benefits I currently gain from these connections.

 So, where and how am I currently using connections, and where will I connect next? What professional communities can I add to the borders of my connections?
Digital Communities: Thanks to the big shove from Mindlab, I am now a member of 100% more digital communities than I was this time last year (which was none!) Belonging to groups such as the Mindlab Google+ group  has opened up research, practices and resources. The immediacy of the search is one of the real strengths. If I need to do know something, a search can usually locate it relatively easily. However, I have been a taker, not a giver. In order to be more collaborative I need to become an active participant. The fibres need to stretch both ways. This is easy in a face-to-face community, but more daunting online. it opens me up,for better or worse,to the opinions and feedback of others.However, the potential benefits are beginning to outweigh the negatives. The ability to connect with educators, to share experiences and to receive quality feedback will push my reflective practice out of its one-school focus. First task: to open up this blog by joining the online community of Mindlab bloggers:
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Another of the potential benefits of digital communities is the opportunity it can offer my community of learners to extend their understandings through easily accessible Interdisciplinary learning.The New Zealand Curriculum summarises the usage of e-learning as assisting in” the making of connections by enabling students to enter and explore new learning environments, overcoming barriers of distance and time.(“Effective pedagogy,” 2007, p.36). Jacobs  defines interdisciplinary learning as a ‘knowledge view and curriculum approach that consciously applies methadology and language from more than one discipline to examine a central theme, topic, issue, problem or work.”(as cited in “What is interdisciplinary learning?”, 2004.) If this is so, then the conscious component is important.The fibres which connect new and existing learning need to be real rather than forced. It is the fibres themselves which reinforce the strength of each discipline as a standalone entity, and it is exploring the connections which builds understanding. I want to explore the possibilities of resources such as  It seems to me that this is a user-friendly way of exposing my learners to a wide range of experts and to an equally wide range of experiences.

Then, I want to move from digital to real-life experts by finding ways to use a resource literally right on our doorstep, the neighbouring secondary school.The possibilities of working to include the expertise of specialist teachers of science, languages or technology are exciting. Similarly, extending our connections across our parent and parish community,with their links to knowledge and experiences, allows us to draw on multiple talents and points of view in order for our learners to acquire deeper, more personal understandings (Mathison & Freeman,1997).

There would be challenges to overcome. Hardre, P. L.,et al (2013) discuss the importance of creating a collaborative community in order to enhance the value of interdisciplinary learning.This would need planning, professional conversations and time. Hardre et al ( 2013,p.410) go on to say that it is “getting out of familiar and comfortable spaces and immersion in novel and challenging experiences ” which facilitates deeper learning..An interesting video to watch which discusses interdisciplinary teaching, albeit in a secondary school, is As one of the teachers featured in this says, “The real world is not siloed into disciplines.”It would be interesting to look at the impact, not just on learners, but on both primary and secondary teachers if we worked across the two schools.


Hardre, P. L., Ling, C., Shehab, R. L., Nanny, M. A., Nollert, M. U., Refai, H., …Wollega, E. D. (2013). Teachers in an interdisciplinary learning community: engaging, integrating, and strengthening K-12 education. Journal of Teacher Education, 64(5), 409+. Retrieved from

Interdisciplinary learning in your classroom. (2004). Concept to Classroom.WNET Education. Retrieved from

Mathison, S., & Freeman, S. (1997). The logic of interdisciplinary studies. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago. Retrieved from

Ministry of Education.(2007). Effective pedagogy. Wellington, New Zealand:Learning Media. Retrieved from

Teaching Channel. (2015). Collaborative teaching for interdisciplinary learning. Retrieved from

Activity Four: Communities of Practice: Kia mau ki te ako ko tou oranga hoki ia.

“Kia mau ki te ako ko tou oranga hoki ia. Hold on to learning, for it is your life.”

(Auckland Catholic Education Office, n.d.)

A community of practice consists of a group of people with a shared commitment to practice within a focus or domain. (Wenger-Trayner, E.,& B. 2015).

In this post, my intention is to focus on the most direct community of practice to which I belong, that of my school community, and how it fits the description of a community.

I teach at Marist School. As its name suggests, it is a Catholic school. It’s quite fitting that I reflect on this community in this post, as our school has just celebrated Marist Week,the week in which we remember our charism, our particular special character or lens through which we see our Catholicity.(  New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference, 2014. p.13). In our case, our charism comes from the school’s founders, the Marist Sisters. This charism is central to our community’s domain, its relationships and its practice.

Imagine cogs, turning together in order to do what It is needed to fulfil their purpose-

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Who are the stakeholders and in what ways do they influence your practice?
The Families: The families who choose to enrol at Marist School make a real decision to do so. It is quite a process to become part of a Catholic school community. Families need to show a connection to the Catholic faith, they need to sign an agreement to pay fees and, in the case of our school as well as in others,there is a long waiting list for places.

Within this community of families- the students: The school has a roll of approximately 300.It is inner city and culturally diverse. The 2014 ERO report lists the ethnic composition as: Māori 5%, NZ European/ Pākeha 69%, Indian 9%, Samoan 5%, Filipino 4%, Chinese 3%, Tongan 3% and other ethnicities 2%. One of the challenges for our community of practice is how to acknowledge and affirm differences. The Religious Education programme acknowledges the importance of key aspects of the culture and spirituality of Maori and gives meaningful opportunities for integrating these.

 The Catholic Diocese of Auckland : This stakeholder funds all buildings primarily through attendance dues. The Proprietor, the Bishop of Auckland, has overall responsibility for ensuring that,

        “our students develop a Christ-centred faith relationship, when pastoral care reflects the sacredness of each  individual, when individuals are encouraged to know, love and respect themselves as children of God and              when a culture of excellence is fastened in the heart of the Gospel.” (Auckland Catholic Schools’ Office, n.d.).

The Staff: We have 28 members in our team.We are not all Catholic in faith, but we all share a commitment to valuing a faith- driven education. An ongoing challenge is ensuring that the special character of a Catholic school is not lost, whilst affirming the faith of all our community.

Our Community of Practice owes its stakeholders a real responsibility for doing our best to fulfil our point of difference, that is education within a faith environment.”As a Catholic school our Special Character is at the heart of all we do. Gospel values underpin our daily lives.”(Marist School,n.d.)

How do we work to achieve this? We keep this “special character” front and centre in our planning.Our theme this year, for instance, has been Light.This came from Pope Francis’ call,“Those who believe, see; they see with a light that illumines their entire journey, for it comes from the risen Christ, the morning star which never sets”( as cited in Kaufman, 2013).

So, for instance, this term our focus has been “Lighting a Fire for Others.” Our value has been Equity and our big question was,” How can we make a difference to other people?” As a school, we worked towards a market day as a fundraiser for a school we are sponsoring in Namibia. Research carried out in 2011 found that although many young people describe themselves as Catholic, there is a disconnection with faith in their daily life (as cited in  The New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference, 2014, p.8).Our focus on connecting across the curriculum is one way in which we can attempt to address this.

My practice, as part of this Community of Practice, is to help achieve what the Catholic Education Office states is the purpose of its schools – to enable young people to develop the attitudes, knowledge and skills to become active and committed members of the Faith Community and to contribute positively to the world community.

(New Zealand Catholic Education Office, 2002).


Auckland Catholic Education Office. (n.d.)Catholic Schools – Radiating hope for the future. Retrieved from

Education Review Office. (2014). Marist School (Mt Albert) 27/06/2014 Retrieved from

Kaufman, M ( 2013, July 13).Quotes from Pope Francis’ encyclical Lumen Fidei. Retrieved from

Marist School Mt Albert (n.d.)Our Catholic special character. Retrieved from

The New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference. The Catholic education of school age children.(2014). Wellington, New Zealand: Author. Retrieved from

New Zealand Catholic Education Office (2002, June). Retrieved from http://(

Wenger-Trayner,E.,& B.(2015). Communities of practice a brief introductionRetrieved from

Activity Three: Reflecting on reflecting

 reflective practice is understood as the process of learning through and from experience towards gaining new insights of self and/or practice
Image taken from

There are three methods to gaining wisdom. The first is reflection, which is the highest. The second is limitation, which is the easiest. The third is experience, which is the bitterest. Confucius

 Wow- I have actually managed to add an image! You would not believe how long this simple task took me!
Back to the task in hand….
It’s Sunday afternoon. I am thinking about the week- last week and this week. What did we learn and how did we learn it? How can we move forward in our learning this week? What was effective and why? What wasn’t and what should I do about it? Which learners did I reach and which did I miss?

Is this reflective practice, or just what we do on a Sunday?

I think perhaps what we are doing is what Ghaye in 2000 called being brave enough to try to find a way to” work competently and ethically at the edge of order and chaos.” (as cited in Finlay)

                Or is that just my reaction to getting near the end of a very busy, very wet Term 3?

Finlay’s article is complex and took quite some concentration in order to make some kind of personal meaning.

I do think that Schon’s concept of the importance of a reflective practitioner, rather than the process of reflection as an end in itself, is an idea which rings true with me. His description of ‘reflection-in-action’ as well as ‘reflection-on-action’ appears very much to align with my experience. Reflection-in-action is the day to day work in progress, the almost instinctive modification that happens in learning when we as teachers find that what we had supposed, planned, decided is not where our learners fit.  Reflection-on-action is the Sunday afternoon  think spot, where we use our old friend hindsight to review, analyse and inform practice- much as we do when we work with our children to look at success criteria and to decide on next steps in learning.

Finlay continues on to describe Schon’s ‘experience of surprise.’ She likens it to what Boyd and Fales in 1983 called ‘a sense of inner discomfort.’ The Spiral of inquiry describes this as the ‘hunch’-assumptions and beliefs about practices (Timperley, Kaser & Halbert, 2014). I definitely know that feeling- the little nag in your head which keeps you awake at night. It’s when we just know that something is not working in the way it should for that child or that group.

This essentially introspective practice can be quite limiting if we don’t engage in both inner and external dialogue. It’s funny, really, because until I stood aside from my own practice to examine that self-same practice I hadn’t thought about the importance of the dialogue. When we discuss with our peers we explore more deeply, we re- re-examine, we thrash it out until we have the courage to take some action. Mann et al (2007) reinforce this by suggesting that self- reflection may result in less effective reflection than that which is shared, simply because of the opportunity to listen to and respond to a range of experiences and opinions. One way in which we can introspectively carry on an externally situated conversation is through reading and research. It opens us up to the thinking and experiences of others.

I guess what the Mindlab experience, particularly over the latter half of this year, has done is force my hand a little in this deeper conversation and reflection.Whilst  I am not exactly embracing Ghave’s chaos, I am pushing myself along that edge. I am trying hard to do what Boud and Walker suggest when they say that teachers who are really interested in reflection ” must confront themselves,their processes, and their outcomes” ( as cited in Finlay).


Finlay,L.(2008).  Reflecting on reflective practice.Retrieved from

Mann,K., Gordon,J., & MacLeod, A. (2007) Reflection and reflective practice in health professions education: a systematic review. Retrieved from

Timperley, H., Kaser., L& Halbert, J. (2014). A framework for transforming learning in schools: Innovation and the spiral of inquiry. Retrieved from

Activity 2: It’s all about me.. learning about learning.

What have I learned about my own learning as I have undertaken the Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Practice?Some of the time it has been wading through mud……


Image from:

I haven’t done any formal study since 1986…the last assignment I completed had the reference list underlined in pen… so for me the process has been hard work and many times I have doubted my ability to manage the critical thinking and the workload.

I’ve learned that I have a growth mindset and a reasonably high level of self-efficacy. I keep on keeping on. I became more and more determined as time went on and I quite enjoyed the challenges in my path (but don’t tell my family, who have had to deal with my tears and tantrums along the way!) I have found that I enjoy trying out new ideas and that is what I have done. I’m lucky enough to work in an environment where I have been encouraged to do this.

I am a collaborative thinker. Listening to the experiences and perspectives of others, as well as contributing my own, helps me to define and refine my thinking. Tinzmann et al (1990) say that “it is primarily through dialogue and examining different perspectives that students become knowledgeable, strategic, self-determined, and empathetic.’ If this is so, then the range of experience, teaching styles, age and cultural background in our small but diverse ‘Mindlabbers’ group of colleagues at school really helped me to develop powerful understandings.

I’m  a verbal learner. I like words. The reading involved in this study has been something I have relished. My old brain doesn’t assimilate as quickly as it once did and I procrastinate when making decisions about what to include in essays, but I have enjoyed the process of making myself reflect critically on texts with lots of “big words.” I have also had to push myself into new ways to present these words- the challenge of responding in video form was a big one for me!

What have I changed in my practice?

Firstly, conducting a literature review into mindsets and grouping unwrapped a mountain of research that contradicted the commonly used practice of ability grouping. For me, much of the research backed up what Timperley, Kaser & Halbert (2014) describe as a “hunch” that this was not always the best way to promote learning. My own research with my small community of learners pointed to a general belief that intelligence can be developed through practice and hard work, but also showed up aspects of fixed mindset. The word cloud below shows a summary of their responses to the question, “What do you think intelligence is?”wordle 2

I have had to think about my general habits in grouping as well as look for ways to integrate some growth mindset learning. I have had to consider my own instincts and experience, and now I have to back myself to make quite a radical change in my practice. That self-efficacy might come in handy as I experiment with alternative grouping systems.

Secondly, the concept of the ‘flipped classroom’ really intrigued me. The practicalities of our school situation are not yet conducive to this- we have a lot of exploring of these concepts to do as a community before we embark on this process. However, the idea of a blended approach was worth exploring, and I began doing this in Terms 2 and 3. I am using blended learning more and more in my own class, allowing me to increase the time I can spend with targeted learners while at the same time providing choice in both pathways and resources for the class as a whole. I believe that this  blended learning approach will  “not just supplement, but transform and improve the learning process.”

Lastly, I don’t consider myself a ‘natural’ leader. In fact, I have spent much of my teaching career avoiding formal leadership roles. So having to consider my own leadership style as part of the Mind-lab postgraduate learning  has been a real challenge for me. I have had to really think about not just what I do, but why I do it, and what effects it has on others. Firstly, my challenge was to accept that I am a leader in my learning community, not just because I have more years’ standing than most others, but also because I do exhibit some of the traits of leadership. Having the opportunity to look into some theories of leadership meant that I had to pull apart my practice. I have discovered through the close analysis / sometimes painful viewing of myself in action that I am primarily democratic in style, whilst also exhibiting aspects of transformational leadership. I tend to lead by involvement and by working alongside my colleagues.

So what have I learnt about leadership? I am competent manager. And there is nothing wrong with being a manager. Sometimes managing gets done what needs to be done. But is management leadership? My learning and my thinking tells me no. At a seminar I recently attended an Australian educator, Brendan Spillane, said, “Mindful leadership requires both intentionality and commitment.” I believe I have both of those traits. Now I need to show them. Intentionally and with commitment! For me, this means not always taking the practical approach.  I have to create personal meaning and I need to be brave enough to share that

Brendan Spillane offered a clear definition of what high performing leaders- in any situation-do. He uses a diagram which looks a little like this:




                    ……………………………….The Magic Line………………………………………




He says that in order to be effective, we need to take up our oar and get out of bed

My challenge in my practice IS to  get out of that bed, pick up my oar, and encourage others to pull themselves over that magic line along with me!


Coleman, J. (2008). Framework 1: Rolfe et al (2001) Framework for reflective practice. Retrieved from

Timperley, H., Kaser., L& Halbert, J. (2014). A framework for transforming learning in schools: Innovation and the spiral of inquiry. Retrieved from

Tinzmann, M., Jones,B., Fennimore,T.,Bakker, J., Fine,C., & Pierce,J. (1990). What is the collaborative classroom? NCREL,Oak Brook. Retrieved from 

Activity One: This is me.

I am a not-so-young teacher, practising (in more than one sense of that word ) for more than 30 years- when I say that aloud it sounds scary! I am a classroom teacher and that is truly the best part of my job. For me, teaching is about relationships, and it is a real privilege to be part of the lives of so many young people and their families. Nothing gives me more joy than having a gangly teenage boy raise his eyebrows in the classic boy greeting and grunt, “Hey, Miss!” as he passes me on the street!I love it when my former students pop in to update me on their lives.I really do think teaching is a wonderful career, with an opportunity to make a real difference, to be someone’s ‘safe place,’ to have a laugh and to never EVER be bored ! I am especially interested in mindsets, ability grouping and the inter-relationship between them- this is my inquiry focus in Term 4.

I teach in a Years 5 and 6 class in a Catholic primary school.I’ve been part of this supportive community in a teaching role for ten years. Prior to that, I was part of the parent community in the very same school, so it has been a very big part of my life for over 20 years.

In my other life I am married to a teacher, who is currently principal of a primary school. I tell him that I am his “Basic Scale Conscience,” always ready to pop some words of advice from the shop floor into his head!

I have three adult daughters, all lovely, funny and feisty. They make me proud because of the people they are. One of them has just started on her own teaching journey.

I read a lot, travel a bit and walk a little (not enough!)

I am totally new to the world of blogging, so apologies in advance for any mistakes I make. Of course we all know that mistakes are the key to learning!