Saturday, 14 April 2018

TML Wk 19: Communities of Practice

Wenger (2000) states a community of practice can be defined as "groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly". These communities have three characteristics, domain, community, and practice.  I am part of several CoPs and for this reflection I will contextualise my participation and leadership within our school senior leadership team and consider the following 2 inquiry areas from our MIndlab study to date:
  1. Digital: Maker Movement + computational thinking (Tinker Time)
  2. Leadership: Teacher inquiry into student learning
The senior leadership team as a CoP consists of 4 senior leaders and 6 team leaders.  The team leaders are responsible for ensuring that Tinker Time (our school's take on the Maker Movement inclusive of computation thinking) takes place within their teams.  The team leaders also are responsible with the facilitation of weekly collaborative inquiry meetings within their respective teams to reflect, plan and adapt their weekly teaching in order to have a positive impact on student outcomes.  

My involvement as the principal and lead learner/change maker is to create systems and structures to ensure that these 2 initiatives are happening and empower the team leaders (and senior leaders) to monitor the implementation of these initiatives.

  1. Tinker Time: The video below was made this week by visiting educator Michael Davidson of MakerEdNZ.  At our school we have integrated Tinker Time as our take on Maker Space and incorporation of computational thinking.  Many schools have visited to see how we have invested in technologies and have our Tinker Kits rotated through the classes.  
  2. Collaborative Inquiry: Teaching as Inquiry has been modified at our school over the last 3 years.  We have implemented a spiral of inquiry approach in the past that was individual, however last year moved to a more collaborative approach where staff worked in teams (rather than individually).  Staff were able to then start reflecting and supporting each other with changes to their practice.  When responsibility is shared, substantive decision making occurs and interdependent relationships are fostered for collaboration (ITL research, 2012).

Critical Reflection:
After discussions with my CoP (senior leadership team) and also informal discussions with my CoP (Mindlab crew) I can reflect: 
  1. Tinker Time: Currently staff go through the process of letting the students participate in Tinker Time, however there isn't a deep investment from staff with the importance of how this links to the digital technologies curriculum.  There is also a disconnect between the WHY we are implementing Tinker Time with how student interactions with this type of technologies contributes to promoting our future orientated outlook at our school.  I would like to investigate the views of staff into the barriers for them with implementation.
  2. Collaborative Inquiry:  Based on feedback from last year's teaching as inquiry/collaborative inquiry where teams once a term investigated student outcomes and possible ideas for changes in their practice and reflection, a new system has been created to enable weekly critical reflection of teacher practice and the impact that this has on learner outcomes.  I would like to investigate how to support and develop team leaders facilitation and coaching skills to really ask the hard questions of their team members to reflect on whether their adaptations are having an impact.
Word count: 546


ITL Research. (2012). 21CLD Learning Activity Rubrics. Retrieved from

Jay, J.K. and Johnson, K.L. (2002). Capturing complexity: a typology of reflective practice for teacher education. Teaching and Teacher Education, 18, 73-85.

Ministry of Education (2017).  Digital Technologies Hangarau Matihiko. Crown, Wellington.  Retrieved from

Wegner,E.(2000). Communities of practice and social learning systems. Organization,7 (2),225-246 

Thursday, 12 April 2018

TML Week 18: Future-Orientated Learning & Teaching

Figure 1: Gibbs' reflective cycle
Step 1: Description - What happened?
As a connected educator/leader who has a future-focused disposition and considering myself as a change maker already, I am interested  now in reflecting on theme 3: A curriculum that uses knowledge to develop learning capacity.  I am interested in our current pursuit for developing a new teaching model at our school focused on a visual metaphor of GEMS (Growth, Empathy, Mana and Self-belief). This change is a current process that we are in the midst of implementing.

Step 2: Feelings - What were you thinking and feeling?
Myself and the senior leaders believe our GEMS acronym will provide continuity for our staff, learners and community to understand what teaching and learning at our school is about.  We can relate the GEMS to aspects of the New Zealand Curriculum (2007) key competencies, and have adopted the GEMS into our behaviour management plan, learning inquiry model, staff performance management and values.

Step 3: Evaluation - What was good and bad about the experience?
We are currently energised by the GEMS and adapting these to many aspects of our school context.  We are finding that having a strong focus is giving us opportunity to bounce creative ideas off each other and relate the GEMS to different cycles.  For example, in our performance management we talk about Growing Everyone, Maximising Success.  In our learning model we talk about Get thinking, Exploring, Making meaning and connections, Sharing & shining. The changes at present have not been shared out with the learners or community (this will be the next phase after consultation, co-construction and iteration with the teaching staff). 

Step 4: Analysis - What sense can you make of the situation?
There is a sense of synergy across the leadership team and this is beginning to extend to the wider staff as we share our initial concepts and see feedback on the development of each metaphor within contexts.  The staff initially have indicated in favour of this strong metaphor/acronym and in relation to GEMS as a learning model for inquiry (described above) this moves us closer to knowledge not being taught in separated learning areas and equipping our learners to do things with knowledge and within context in order to develop learning capabilities (Bolstad 2012).  We believe our GEMS will help support and develop learning capabilities.

Step 5: Conclusion - What else could you have done? & Step 6: Action Plan - If it arose again what would you do?
We are within the process of implementing this change, so at present we are too close to have perspective of whether we would do this differently.  What I have learnt with our change process is that we seek and consult with our staff to gain feedback to adapt and be agile.  We trial ideas, reflect and iterate.

Word count: 535


Bolstad, R., Gilbert, J., McDowall, S.,  Bull, A.,  Boyd, S.,  & Hipkins, R. (2012). Supporting future-oriented learning and teaching — a New Zealand perspective. Report prepared for the Ministry of Education  

Finlay, L. (2009). Reflecting on reflective practice. PBPL. Retrieved from

Saturday, 31 March 2018

TML Week 17: Reflective Practice

Reflective practice is one of those terms that is touted as current best practice for being responsive to the needs of our learners and dare I add in my leadership role, responsive to our staff and community needs.  It has become an integral part of the cycle of teaching as inquiry for effective pedagogy, a practice that is now widespread as a means for educational improvement and improved teacher quality. However after reading through the article by Finlay (2008), I would postulate that it is not done with the depth of understanding to truly be reflective.  The important element of critical analysis required for reflection-on-action as Schön (1983, cited in Finlay, 2008) describes as ‘after-the-event-thinking’ is often missing. In this post, I attempt to use a three step model by Jay and Johnson (2002) to critically reflect on my own reflective practice.

Jay and Johnson (2002) Reflective Model

Stage 1: Descriptive
In my own practice, as an educational leader, I do not believe I reflect to the best of my ability, despite good intentions.  In a time poor environment where I am driven to juggle many tasks and manage events on a situational basis, I feel I need to be more selective and spend time to reflect and draw clarity to the events around me for future learning and leadership. I am often caught up with situations that arise unscheduled, where I have to be agile and this requires me to take a reflection-in-action (thinking while doing) approach.  I often find that I then personally reflect on my own after a situation or event on my actions, my feelings and what I would do differently in the future based on my own gut feeling and hindsight.

Stage 2: Comparative
When given the opportunity to meet with a colleague, my leadership team, or in a professional learning group, I have the time to digest an event and reflect more deeply on my actions, the situation and contemplate how to adapt if this event or similar was to occur again.  When reflecting with others, if this is verbal or completing a PMI chart of an event, I am drawn to the many perspectives that I would not have had while in an isolated internal thought structure. This interaction allows me to consider multiple perspectives, feelings and therefore new information for me to add to my personal professional knowledge and mental model.  I also find when I reflect with my professional learning group, we are often reflecting against our own practice and a current topical reading. For example, currently my professional learning group is reading Dylan Wiliam (2016), Leadership for teacher learning. I find relating relevant readings when reflecting on a situation or event can be helpful to uncover what the wider educational community have found through research.  However, I must include in this part of the reflective process that through being a connected educator and leader, I will often seek perspectives from social media. I tend to post on a closed Facebook group for New Zealand Principals, or on Twitter to seek advice.

Stage 3: Critical reflection
After connecting with others through online forums or in person (partner, team or group), and considering relevant readings (or research) I find I am able to draw conclusions and considerations to add to my personal professional knowledge.  Through these connections I know that when confronted with a new situation or event, I am often more poised to respond in-the-moment (reflection-in-action) by appropriately drawing on hindsight of previous experience, collective wisdom gained through discussion and readings, and ready to seek further feedback from my colleagues.

Word Count: 599


Finlay, L. (2008). Reflecting on reflective practice. Practice-based Professional Learning Centre, Open University. Retrieved from

Jay, J.K. and Johnson, K.L. (2002). Capturing complexity: a typology of reflective practice for teacher education. Teaching and Teacher Education, 18, 73-85.

Schön, D.A. (1983). The reflective practitioner. New York: Basic Books

Sunday, 28 February 2016


On Saturday 27th February at the crack of dawn I picked up +Fiona Grant and +Karen Ferguson to head south for a day of learning and connecting at #educamprotovegas held at Rotorua Girls High School.  We made it with time to spare and it was a great opportunity to see some of my awesome PLN face to face and meet new educators that I can now call upon.  The day started with a really informative smackdown - where participants had only 2 minutes maximum to share an idea, app or educational gem.

I shared in the smackdown about the +GEG NZ learning community and our upcoming GEGNZ Studygroups that will help educators in NZ attain level 1 in the new Google for Education certifications.
After the smackdown and lunch break we then had the opportunity to select two breakout sessions - I listened to +Steve Katene share the learning journey of Richmond School in Napier where he is DP for his learners and coaches (teachers) which was really inspiring! This guy has great energy and I'd love to take a visit to his school to see it in action.  I'm looking forward to revisiting his slide deck.
I was super pleased to meet my old student teacher and colleague +Robyn Keightley for her first Educamp.  She travelled over from Tauranga and ended up sharing twice in the smackdown and then led a breakout session on the 1:1 ipad journey her school had made.
Thanks to +Annemarie Hyde and +Marnel van der Spuy for being great hosts and organising this event! It was well worth the 450km round trip!
Here are the tweets from the session:

Friday, 15 January 2016

Are you a Connected Leader?

The Connected Learning Advisory (CLA) runs webinars each month, and I was asked to be part of a  Webinar on and for "Connected Leaders" on the 21 October.   The aim of the CLA is to provide interactive opportunities for sharing practice, discussion of key ideas and connection to experts and other educators.

What a great opportunity I thought to give back to the education sector and contribute some gems on helping the sector connect. The other connected leaders were Marnel van der Spuy, Stephen Lethbridge, Rachel Boyd and Annemarie Hyde and together we answered the following:

  • What does a “connected leader” look like ?
  • In your role as a connected leader, what do you do to support/model/advocate/facilitate e-learning ?
  • What attributes do you think you need most, to make this role successful?
  • How would you encourage a reluctant teacher/ leader to get connected?

Sunday, 18 October 2015

#EdBlogNZ Challenge Week 2

#NotAtULearn15 - Get thinking Deeper!
So this week's challenge I've decided to do a bit of a combo and while I've done a few posts already on events that I've participated in during #ULearn15, for the majority of the week I've not been at ULearn15!  On the Friday morning there was a panel discussion that was streamed live facilitated by +Derek Wenmoth that I watched firstly on my phone then Chromecast to our 50" TV in the comfort of my lounge!  I love how Pam Hook challenged the status quo and didn't necessarily go along with the "group-think".  I'll add more detail of my points of highlight (when I find the notes I hand wrote at the time of watching)... watch this space

Here is the Twitter feed from the discussion that I kept an eye on while watching the video:

Saturday, 10 October 2015

GEG_NZ at #ULearn15

I became part of the Google Educator Group New Zealand (GEG_NZ) community on Google Plus right from it's inception in July of 2014, this year I was asked to join the leadership team, helping to organise events.  I jumped at the opportunity to Learn.Share.Inspire.Empower myself and other educators associated with this community.

Our session at ULearn was co-led with +Fiona Grant, myself with +Rob Clarke joining us virtually through Google Hangout.  It was also great to have an international contingency in the room with +Kimberley Hall and +Jim Sill. Fiona and I ran a tag team through the face to face presentation with Rob contributing through the session. It's fantastic to be such of a supportive group of GEG leaders and community.  I learn so much each time we meet and connect, along with the contributions made to the G+ community for GEG_NZ. 
Here is our slide deck from the session:
Here's some tweets from the session: