Monday, February 27, 2017

The Use of Social Media in School

As a teacher it is imperative to make conscious moral decisions to ensure my practice meets the ethical standards of conduct and responsibility set by the New Zealand Teacher’s Council.  The use of social media is an area filled with pitfalls.  Finding the balance between professional life and personal life can be a very delicate balance.  “Today’s teachers are frequently confronted by ethical choices in situations that did not arise, or were relatively unproblematic for their counterparts 30 years ago.” (Hall, A. 2001 p 1)
There are four fundamental principles we are required to abide by:

“Application of the Code of  Ethics shall take account of the requirements of the law as well as the obligation of teachers to honour the Treaty of Waitangi by paying particular attention to the rights and aspirations of Māori as tangata whenua.”  (Education Council, n.d.)

These principles then should guide, influence and inspire educationalists throughout New Zealand.  “It should be recognized that high ethical standards are most fully achieved by practitioners when those standards are also observed by employers, parents, students and community”.(Education Council, n.d)
It can be hard to manage this on social media.
Issues that have arisen at various times within our school include:
·         Inappropriate personal postings by teachers.  The social network is wide and although a teacher may not be friends with a parent of the school, another contact may be.  In this way, posts which involve alcohol, personal beliefs or inappropriate behaviours can really be ticking time bombs. 
·         Inappropriate comments from within the wider community on school Facebook posts or classroom blogs.  These can often be personal and addressed at staff members or children.
·         Posting of photographs of children when they do not have permission for this from their family / whanau.
·         Community members venting on a public forum.
At present we have a closed community Facebook page for our school.  We have recently deleted all members who are not currently involved in the school.  This caused a firestorm within the local community webpage.  In deleting people we were following our school protocol and despite the rage, we have stuck to this protocol believing it to be appropriate.  It will however, be up for review by the current community members later this year.  The Facebook page is transitioning to be a repository for reminders about trips and sporting events, links to school newsletter and other day to day information only.  All members can post to this page.
We are also in the process of building our school webpage.  As a staff we have agreed that this is a better forum for photographs and descriptions of school activities and the appropriate place for friends and whanau to make links with student activities and achievements.  Only staff and through them, students can post to this site.  It includes class blogs to celebrate the work of our students.  Comments are allowed on this page but are vetted by staff before publication.

In summary then, to adhere to our professional and ethical responsibilities we need to be constantly aware that all actions on social media may be visible to students, parents, whanau and employers. Social networking can be an incredibly powerful tool for both classroom use and the development of professional learning networks but it is in our own best interests to use social media and privacy settings responsibly.

Connecticut’s Teacher Education and Mentoring Program. (2012). Ethical and Professional Dilemmas for Educators: Facilitator’s Guide. Retrieved from

Education Council. (n.d). The Education Council Code of Ethics for Certificated Teachers. Retrieved from

Hall, A. (2001). What ought I to do, all things considered? An approach to the exploration of ethical problems by teachers. Paper presented at the IIPE Conference, Brisbane. Retrieved from

Critique and evaluate how indigenous knowledge and cultural responsiveness inform practice

There are many tensions between the New Zealand Curriculum document and indigenous educational philosophies.  In culturally responsive teaching, three concepts of importance are:
·         Ako
·         Whanau
·         Māori succeeding as Māori (and Pasifika succeeding as Pasifika)
These three aspects link to the 21st C skills of:
·         Collaboration
·         Knowledge construction
·         Self-regulation
·         Real-world problem-solving and innovation
·         Skilled communication
There is overwhelming agreement that recognition and implementation of culturally-based methods of teaching and learning (Berryman 2014, Thaman 2003, Chu et al 2013) provide an effective learning context for all students.  Differentiating the learning to effectively include all cultures is an expectation within the New Zealand Curriculum and is expressed within the principles. “The curriculum reflects New Zealand’s cultural diversity and values the histories and traditions of all its people.” “…it ensures that students’ identities, languages, abilities, and talents are recognised and affirmed and that their learning needs are addressed.” (Ministry of Education 2007, p9) That this expectation is often not met, results in the ineffectual learning and high failure rates of Maori and Pasifika students. (Thaman 2016)
 ‘Ako’ is a formative concept in indigenous education (both Māori and Pasifika) and formal recognition of this concept within our school champions the following methods of teaching:
·         Reciprocal learning centred relationships between teacher and student linking to the 21st C learning skill of collaboration.  The project based learning and STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) focus in my class supports this aspect of ako in my current class.

·         Whakawhanaungatanga (building strong relationships) is a key factor supporting indigenous students. 

·         Whanau: learner and whanau cannot be separated.  This is an important aspect.  In my experience, it can be the most difficult barrier for a pakeha teacher to cross. (Macfarlane, 2009) proposes that to develop an effective partnership between educators and whanau, consideration must be given to both recognition of the balance of power and consideration of the effective empowerment of whanau in determining educational outcomes for their children.  When these outcomes differ from the outcomes prescribed by the Ministry of Education, there must be a compromise.  Russel Bishop in his discussion of educational disparities in NZ education suggests that agentic teachers who can weave together a context which allows indigenous students to bring themselves authentically to the learning conversation are the key to educational success. This  skill of self-regulation, initially as cultural self-regulation later as individual self-regulation is seen within a primary context when the language and culture of a race are loudly and proudly in evidence. 

At Koraunui we are fortunate to have a staff who journey together to develop positive outcomes for all students.  For many of us, this has meant significant hours of professional development, learning new languages, new tikanga and opening our eyes and ears to the history of our country that is not taught.  The history of oppression and colonisation and the lingering effects or debts that have been the result of this.
For Māori to succeed as Māori we need to address the concept of cultural deficit theory.  This is a model in which the failure of indigenous students to succeed within a westernised education system is attributed to social characteristics rooted in their cultures and communities.  Stewart (2016) suggests that under this model, teachers hold low expectations of success for their students and this results in poor student achievement.   He describes deficit theory as a “barrier to a culturally responsive pedagogy.”
Change is slow.  Small steps make a difference.  Using the home language of a student, pronouncing their name correctly, acknowledging and accepting their culture and celebrating their stories, songs and art are all ways to develop ourselves as agentic teachers.
Toi tu te kupu, toi tu te mana, toi tu te whenua

Works Cited

Berryman, M. S. ((2014, 4:2).). Culturally responsive methodologies at work in educatio settings. International Journal for Researcher Development,, 102-116.
Bishop, R. (2010). Changing power relations in education: Kaupapa Māori messages for 'mainstream' education in Aotearoa New Zealand. Comparitive Education 39: 2, 221-238.
Chu, C. S. (2013). Educational practices that benefit Pacific Learners in Tertiary Education. Wellington: National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence.
Education, M. o. (2007). New Zealand Curriculum. Wellington: Learning Media.
Macfarlane, S. (2009). Te Pikinga ki runga: Raising Possibilities. Set (2), 42-45.
Stewart, G. (2016). Indigenous Knowledge and education policy for teachers of Maori Learners. Knowledge Cultures 4:3, 84- 92.
Thaman, K. (2003 15:1). Decolonising Pacific Studies: Indigenous Perspectives, knowledge and wisdom in higher education. The Contemporary Pacific, 1-5.
Thaman, K. (2016, December 6). Culture Matters in teaching and learning. . (K. Thaman, Performer) Aronui Lecture Theatre, Wellington, New Zealand.

Thaman, K. H. (2003). Culture, teaching and learning in Oceania. In K. Thaman, Educational ideas from Oceania (pp. 3-12). Suva: University of the South Pacific.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. (Alvin Toffler)

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.  (Alvin Toffler)

Week 27-Activity 3-Practice-Broader Professional Context

Implementing effective strategies to support priority learners in our school.
Working in a low decile school, we have many students arriving at school without the traditional European knowledge of reading, writing and arithmetic.  Many also have a limited vocabulary and are passive learners. “Priority learners are groups of students who have been identified as historically not experiencing success in the New Zealand schooling system.  These include many Maori and Pacific learners, those from low socio-economic backgrounds and students with special education needs. (Education Review Office 2012 p4)
The Education Review office (2012) discusses trends in education relating to Priority learners.  They identify three aspects, which they recognise as ways of narrowing the gap between these learners and other students.  
These are:           student centred learning,
knowledgable implementation of a rich and responsive curriculum,
effective use of assessment.  

In my class we are trying to narrow the gap through blended learning with a STEM basis.  In other words, science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) taught through both a project based learning environment and a discovery based inquiry.  This provides authentic learning experiences for the students. “Authentic learning is seen as an umbrella for several important pedagogical strategies that have great potential to immerse learners in environments where they can gain lifelong learning skills.” (Adams Becker et al 2016 p 26)  The result is student centred learning in a rich and immersive curriculum.

Assessment in our STEM class has used SOLO taxonomy with students peer and self-assessing.  Initially students struggled with the concept of SOLO taxonomy but gained confidence in their self-appraisal by also using a peer assessment strategy.  Peer review forms a huge part of the world of science and teaching students to effectively assess / discuss / query work rather than the person has made a positive impact on both collaborative learning and class culture.  Students began to recognise each other’s skill sets and ask peers for help and support to overcome personal challenges.  Again this links to traditional assessment practices of peer assessment, whanau assessment and teacher assessment, appropriate behaviour and performance in context-specific situations as identified by Mahuika (2008).

In traditional Māori education, inter-relationships between learning areas were embraced.  STEM learning brings this cultural practice into the classroom but with a 21st C agenda.  It prepares our students for a world of collaborative work teams, of problem solving and innovating solutions.  .  It also addresses issues of social justice and equity as scientific literacy and critical thinking support students in tackling the ‘wicked problems’ and opportunities currently faced by our society


Adams Becker, S. F. (2016). NMC/CoSN Horizon Report: 2016 K-12Edition. Austin Texas: The New Media Consortium. .
Johnson, L. A. (2015). NMC Horizon Report: 2015 K-12 Edition. Austin Texas: The New Media Consortium.
Mahuika, R. (2008). Kaupapa Māori theory is critical and anti-colonial. . Mai Review, 1 - 16.

Office, E. R. (2012). Evaluation at a Glance: Priority Learners in New Zealand Schools. Retrieved from from

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Current Issues in My Professional Practice

Critically analyse issues of socio-economic factors, school culture and professional environments in relation to practice
“School culture is one of the most complex and important concepts in education” (Stoll, 2000 p9).  Almost anyone who has walked into a school will agree with this statement.  Each school has a defined character that meets a visitor head on.  At Koraunui we are unashamedly a multicultural school which celebrates difference and inclusiveness.
 School culture is influenced by the school’s pupils and their social class background.” (Stoll 2000 p 10) 
The Education Review Office (2013) listed the following as important factors, which have an impact on learning at our kura:  
·         Students come from a diverse community
·         Students are taught in either English or bi-lingual Māori mediums
·         There is a high level of parent participation in the school   
All three points are true but there is more.  We are a decile 3 school and poverty is a very real issue for us.  We have families who cannot afford to feed their children and live in damp, overcrowded housing.  A hungry child cannot learn and so the basic needs must be met.  We have normalised the issue of food, providing for all who come but poor housing creates health issues. 
We have 45% Maori and 12% Pasifika students.  The diversity brings life and joy to our school.  We learn from each other and celebrate our wide variety of cultures.  We run the Hutt Valley Polyfest, which involves all staff and in 2016 had 30+ schools participating. Although a HUGE effort, this brings our community together and working hard towards a common goal brings cohesion, recognition and appreciation for each other’s strengths.   We are a beacon school for students with special needs.  The families love the inclusiveness and the students learn to accept and acknowledge difference.
It is not all a bed of roses though; there are cultural divides, misunderstandings, occasional violence and widely differing expectations from our parent community.
We need to look carefully at the cost of schooling, $5.00 is the maximum we can charge for a school trip and the idea of 1:1 devices or a trip to Mindlab are out of reach unless we can access alternative funding. Gargiulio identifies that a teacher who is an educated person is unlikely to “understand the perspective of a child from an impoverished background”. I am still learning this lesson and am regularly confronted by issues of inequity within our society. So how do we then develop students who will become competent 21st C learners and citizens?
1.      We work hard to build positive relationships with our students and their whanau
2.      We empower ourselves with professional development which then leaks out into our classroom and into the wider school community.
3.      We are a ‘Glasser’ school basing our behaviour management systems on Choice Theory.
4.      We have recently picked up PB4L and KIVA to support behaviour management.
5.      Teachers walk the talk.  We have staff meetings on our local marae, we learn te reo and other Pasifika languages and we use them.  Through this we role model learning, risk taking and mistake making to our students.
6.      We trust each other and we support each other through our differences. 
7.      We expect our students to succeed.
The children are at the centre of our world.  They are our priority and we hold high expectations for them.  We try to expose them to experiences and ideas beyond their immediate environment.  When your family is multi-generational unemployed, or your next-door neighbours are a gang, your life experiences differ from those of children in more affluent suburbs.  Providing hope, belief, love and opportunities then becomes critical to foster the possibility of future change.  In relation to practice, this makes you a social worker, a teacher, a friend, a trusted adult or an untrusted adult (depending on the situation).
When I look at Stoll and Fink (1996) Norms of Improving Schools. I would tick every box on this list. We create shared goals annually, we take shared responsibility for success and we measure the success in multiple ways.  We believe we can improve our academic results and work collegially to achieve this end. Gargiulio (2014) alludes to the importance of education in alleviating poverty in society and to the crucial role low decile, multicultural schools play in achieving high educational outcomes for their students.  The BOT and management team support us to take risks in our teaching.  We model ourselves as lifelong learners and we celebrate achievements.  Best of all, we are open to change; we talk with each other when there is a problem and try to come up with a resolution together.  (Stoll, L. and Fink, D. 1996)


Gargiulo, S. (2014). Principal Sabbatical Report. Auckland.
Office, E. R. (2013, November 04). Koraunui School 04/11/2013. Retrieved from Education Review Office:
Stoll, L. &. (1996). Changing our schools: Linking school effectiveness and school improvement. Buckingham: : Open University Press.
Stoll, L. (2000). School Culture. Set, 9 - 14.

My Community of Practice

I am currently a classroom teacher and leader of science in a small urban school in Stokes Valley, Lower Hutt. In describing my “community of practice”, I reflected on Wenger’s definition:  “communities that share cultural practices reflecting their communal learning” (Wenger 2000 p 229) and “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” (Wenger, McDermott & Snyder, 2002, p.4).  Using this definition, I have an affiliation to a large number of Communities of Practice.  Looking only at education these include: my teaching colleagues, the students, the science teaching community, the enviroschools community, the Mindlab community, the twitter community...... All of these groups have their own unique beliefs, practices and educational relationships. As described by Knox (2009) these are groups of people who have the passion and purpose that leads to an exchange of knowledge and professional development.

Using the first definition of community of practice (Wenger 2000 p 229) I can see that in our school which has both a bilingual whanau unit and a Pasifika class, some cultural practices are shared while others are not.  This does not stop us being a community of practice, but it does bring into question, the validity of the definition.  I find that the second definition (Wenger, McDermott & Snyder, 2002, p.4) resonates better for my own situation in our school.  A cultural divide arises from a lack of knowledge of the traditional tikanga of each group.  While we work hard to address this, it is a constantly moving target as families and staff move into and out of our kura.

Wenger (2000) describes three essential elements of these communities of practice as
The domain:   Within Koraunui, this is to give our students opportunities to develop the knowledge and skills required by 21st Century learners.  Learning forms the core of our domain. This includes aspects such as learning about ourselves, about each other, about our multicultural community, academic learning and culminates in providing rich opportunities for our students. 
The community:   Our community has a foundation of mutual respect and trust.  That said, there are communities within the larger school community.  Our whanau community, our Pasifika community and our Aoraki community.  Each has its own focus and develops its own purpose.  From these groups we then move together to design the purpose of our school community working collaboratively to ensure that it meets the needs of our children.  Sometimes there is conflict and dissonance within these communities but we routinely reflect on our practice and continue to address issues and further develop our skills and competencies.  
The practice:   Within the various Koraunui communities there is sharing of capabilities and opportunities.  We grow our skills, knowledge, and understandings collectively, through face-to-face and online discussions, sharing, encouraging and supporting each other.  This collaboration is enhanced by reflection, both self-reflection and team reflection. 


Knox, B. (2009, December 4). Cultivating Communities of Practice: Making Them Grow. Retrieved from

Wenger, E. (2000). Communities of Practice and Social Learning Systems. Organisation, 225-246.
Wenger, E. M. (2002). Cultivating Communities of Practice: A Guide to Managing Knowledge. Cambridge MA: Harvard Business School Press.