Saturday, March 18, 2017

My Changing Practice!

Week 32
Titiro whakamuri, kokiri whakamua
Look back and reflect, so you can move forward
The lead statement on the NZ Education Council website declares that “Teachers play a critical role in enabling the educational achievement of all ākonga/learners.”  (NZ Education Council, n.d.)  This is one of four overarching criteria, which teachers need to meet to renew their registration.  The 12 criteria depict the fundamental knowledge, understanding and capabilities expected of all teachers in their professional practice.  The criteria are aspirational and meeting them will enable quality teaching within the New Zealand education system.

For the past three years, I have run a STEM class where I gathered together groups of mixed ability children for a term and we developed and completed individual projects based on science.  The learning was integrated and we used the mathematics and the literacy skills that were needed to help us complete our projects.  I loved working this way and for the most part, my students loved working this way.  I am the first to admit that it did not work for all students; some prefer the routine of a regular classroom but for many of our indigenous and Pasifika students. This type of learning fitted well.  Engagement increased and children became enthusiastic about their learning in a way that I had rarely seen in my ‘regular’ classroom.
This year, I have moved back into a year three and four class.  I have re-engaged with the more traditional ways of teaching numeracy and literacy but the lessons of the past three years have come with me.  Alongside this is my learning from the past thirty-two weeks at MindLab.
I have begun to appreciate more fully, the ideals of twenty first century learning and the tools with which to achieve these ideals.
The first criteria to focus on for making effective changes in my teaching is Criteria 4: demonstrate commitment to ongoing professional learning and development of personal professional practice.
This is further broken down:
i.             identify professional learning goals in consultation with colleagues
ii.            participate responsively in professional learning opportunities within the learning community
iii.          initiate learning opportunities to advance personal professional knowledge and skills
I am learning to work in a modern learning environment, team teaching with another ‘Mindlabber.’  We challenge each other and reflect on our learning through this programme and how to best implement effective change for our students.  I will continue learning from my peers, my students and through exploring future professional development opportunities, which come my way.  Design thinking is now on my radar and I will be seeking opportunities to upskill in this area.
Working in a highly multicultural school the other criterion for me to focus is on criteria 9:  Respond effectively to the diverse and cultural experiences and the varied strengths, interests, and needs of individuals and groups of ākonga.
Again, the criteria is further broken down:
i.             demonstrate knowledge and understanding of social and cultural influences on learning, by working effectively in the bicultural and multi-cultural contexts of learning in Aotearoa New Zealand
ii.             ii. select teaching approaches, resources, technologies and learning and assessment activities that are inclusive and effective for diverse ākonga
iii.           iii. modify teaching approaches to address the needs of individuals and groups of ākonga
I based my literature review on the question: How do traditional methods of ako position Māori as 21st Century learners.  I have a long way to go in my journey to speak Te reo fluently and to become competent in the use of appropriate tikanga in an educational setting.  I love the explanation of ako – a reciprocal learning and teaching process where the teacher is the kaiako, the learner is the ākonga and the roles are continuously exchanged.  The literature review has provided me with the reasons to change my practice and the research to support the changes.
So as I finish this 32 week roller coaster journey I leave you with a whakatauki.

Ministry of Education (nd). Practising teacher Criteria and e-learning . Retrieved from

Image: Retrieved from


  1. What a great post Dianne. I really enjoyed reading about you STEM class and how you were able to integrate different curriculum areas together while working on individual projects. I can see why you and many of your learners would have enjoyed working in that way. It certainly allows for authentic learning in context.

    As you also highlighted, it is like most learning opportunities in that it one approach does not work for every student. I think this is one of the biggest hurdles we face in teaching today - meeting the needs of all learners in our classrooms and schools. It provides the perfect opportunity to think about how we present learning opportunities so that students may work in many different ways.

    It must have been a big change going back to being in a Year 3 and 4 class but what an amazing opportunity being able to team teach with another 'Mindlabber'. You must be loving that!

  2. I loved your mention of how engaged your students were and how this really helped with their achievement. That engagement is key and something I am trying to trigger in some of my writers this year. Way to go :).