This week, we were given a wero (challenge) for professional learning- equity. Having chosen 4 Maori students across a range of abilities, we were encouraged to talk to each student academically every period. As easy as this sounds, with 32 in the class, these students had to be prioritised. Ironically the four students (L, M, F & S) were very vocal contributors to their learning so needed prompted. Talking to each student was a powerful learning experience as we quickly moved into deep pedagogical conversations where more often than not, they led the learning discourse. The greatest positive so far has not just been the conversation but the exhibiting of artefacts. Increasingly I see that these students are not only capable of talking about their learning but also capable of leading their learning. The focus on Whanaungatanga (building relationships) has not just been effective with my four targeted students, it has also ensured that I am focusing on the student ownership and learning journey over mere achievement destinations.
This week was moving week. All students were developing agency way more than in the last three weeks. In terms of Literacy development more and more of my 9SV Digital, Thinking & Problem-solving (9DTP) class were using Google to check the definitions of digital terminology. As a result, I fielded a lot less definition queries. Students were also more at ease explaining literacy terminology to their peers. Students were also required to continue writing about their 9DTP learning. At the end of each period, they were required to write about not only what they had learnt but also their feelings and thoughts about their learning. Equity strategies continued to be prominent with students completing their Google Slides about themselves with significant agency in choice and presentation. The Innovation continued with 9SV being introduced to Pencilcode.net (a coding and programming platform) with exceptional buy-in and interest from both boys and girls. Here is an example of one of the girl's (Lainey) projects. Once again, the students were given personalised learning opportunities through choosing what object they were to program and how they animated their name.
I take my role as a deputy principal very seriously...when I need to. Earlier this week I was asked to be a burger tester for two of our senior students' preparation for a Auckland-wide culinary competition. Needless-to-say, I didn't need to be asked twice! The two students had worked tirelessly on their kitchen and preparation craft. The end results were amazing. Very quickly, there was nothing left on my plate.
Upon reflection, I was highly impressed with the innovation behind their food constructs and the attention and dedication to detail. The only aspect of this whole undertaking that left a sour taste in my mouth was just how rare this type of student engagement appears to exist in "traditional classrooms". Yes, these students have the attitude and aptitude and a brilliant teacher and workspace but there had to be something else. I believe a lot of the energy in this learning space was the coaching over teaching by their teacher and the agency and trust given to them. Surely all learning spaces should be presented to allow such freedoms.
It is hard to believe that I have come to the end of the 32-week Mindlab course but in reality only the beginning of my exploration and adventure in “Digital & Collaborative Learning.” I’ve learned so much but simultaneously have so many more questions, questions that I need answers for the betterment of my teaching, my students’ learning and our collective future. It with dual sadness and excitement that I leave and reflect on one journey and the commencement of another one. I am a firm believer as is the Ministry of Education, in the idea that “e-Learning enables learning opportunities to be tailored to students’ individual needs and interests, improving achievement and engagement” (n.d).
Osterman, K. & Kottkamp suggest that “reflective practice is a challenging, demanding, and often trying process that is most successful as a collaborative effort” (p. 2, 1993). These aspects of challenge and demand have been ever-present in my Mindlab undertakings. I’ve done so much much, but this has not been the arduous element of the course for me. The most draining but ultimately fulfilling part of the course for me has been the thinking, unthinking and rethinking both as an individual and as a collaborator. To think deeply is a tiring activity as often it takes far more time than we realise and often as Osterman, K. & Kottkamp note “awareness is essential for behavioural change.” It is hard for educators to stand back and genuinely reflect in order to do less hard work and more smarter work for student success and personal and professional satisfaction and empowerment.
One of the most significant changes I have made in my practice is with respect to Criteria 7 of the Practising Teacher Criteria (PTC): “Promote a collaborative, inclusive, and supportive learning environment.” Through doing the course, I have become convinced of the merits of collaboration over in-class competition. Through using transparent and equitable student contribution platforms such as Twitter, Google Classroom, Coggle and Padlet, I have tried as much as possible to make sure all student voices are heard equitably and often. Through the use of whole-class Google Slides in my Year 9 Digital Thinking & Problem Solving classes, each student gets one slide to present what they think and feel. Through a whole-hearted and structured adoption of online learning, students can and are included in our learning space whether physically present or otherwise.
Where possible, I have encouraged students to put their cultural background as genuine, valuable classroom assets. I feel that if students feel that they and who they are and where they come from are valued, they are more likely to value themselves, their present and their future. Through a deliberate and sustained focus on my practice developing a collaborative, inclusive, and supportive learning environment, I have found that students increasingly take responsibility for learning & and begin to reflect on their own assumptions and thought processes. Lastly, as Resta & Laferrière believe “Social and team skills are developed through the give-and-take of consensus- building” (p.66, 2007). Increasingly in the shared environment I now exist in, students seek out collaborative opportunities and become more at ease with the fluidity and flexibility of role and team dynamics.
The second change in my practice sits well with Criteria 6 of the Practising Teacher Criteria (PTC) “Conceptualise, plan, and implement an appropriate learning programme.” The "old-school me" used to set a year-long teaching course, then unit plans and then lessons plans. In so doing, I made it explicitly clear to any student that the classroom they were entering into was a teaching space over a learning space and that I would teach to my predetermined teaching and assessment demands. Now to be honest for many students who were these classes of mine, they did achieve exceedingly well academically, but in reality, I’m not sure how much of what I taught them was transferable beyond the classroom walls, let alone into the big wide world.
Through my learning, reflection and inherent cycle of inquiry, I have come to understand and present in thought and action, the need for considerable flex in my students’ learning and if I focus on their learning (authentic and transferable), the achievement will likely take care of itself. By achievement, I am not losing sight of the fact that our New Zealand still exist in a summative standards-based learning environment, but to me now, student achievement is also about the succeeding as themselves. They should have to be someone else or suffer in silence just to achieve.
In 2017, I now publish the learning outcomes for my students on Google Classroom. We then co-construct how and when we are learning towards these outcomes. The benefits of co-conceptualisation are clear. Students have greater ownership over the learning process and therefore are more likely to engage, and secondly, students have the ability to bring their personality and uniqueness into the learning and learning space. For the Year 9 Digital Thinking & Problem Solving rotation, we deliberately plan a program that is at least one week short of our term allotment. In doing so, we allow students to learn at their own pace, and the additional “free space” enables the students and me (to be honest) to go off on some pretty wonderful learning tangents. By having the term’s work completely transparent, the students can also see that 1) their opinion is valued and 2) there is still a systematic but transparent learning programme in place.
Lastly, a further key change with respect to my conceptualizing, planning, and implementing an appropriate learning programme is the move away from task-based learning to skill and thinking development. Through this change, the students are becoming increasingly aware that growth contexts such as computational thinking and regular reflective practice are best done regularly, formatively over summatively. Miri, B., David, B. C., & Uri, Z. (2007) among others highlight the need for the explicit and regular teaching of higher and critical thinking skills. They suggest with appropriate scaffolding in place; such targeted teaching can commence at a very early age without impinging on curiosity or creativity. In my context, each day, Each year 9 Digital Thinking & Problem Solving student is required to complete a daily Slides journal entry on what they did, how they felt and what would they change. They can change present images, words but what they must do is to think and reflect often as must I.
Ministry of Education (nd). Practising teacher Criteria and e-learning . Retrieved from http://elearning.tki.org.nz/Professional-learning/
Miri, B., David, B. C., & Uri, Z. (2007). Purposely teaching for the promotion of higher-order thinking skills: A case of critical thinking. Research in science education, 37(4), 353-369.
Osterman, K. & Kottkamp, R.(1993). Reflective Practice for Educators.California:Cornwin Press, Inc. Retrieved on 7th May, 2015 from http://www.itslifejimbutnotasweknowit.org.uk/files.
Resta, P., & Laferrière, T. (2007). Technology in support of collaborative learning. Educational Psychology Review, 19(1), 65-83.
In 2017, it is incredulous and rather an indictment on many education institutions and their included educators that not only does learning and curriculum presentation exist in theory but also more in damming in significant localised and arguably siloed practice. We don’t live our lives compartmentalised, so it makes no sense to live our learning such a way. It is ironic therefore that we wonder 1) why many of our students are disengaged, disinterested and low-achieving, and 2) how our students struggle to connect their often static school lives with their lives beyond the school gates; ones that are thriving, dynamic, and of considerable flexibility and meaning to these same students and the wider society.
In the Coogle image at the head of this blog, one can see that I have identified a considerable number of interdisciplinary connections. Ironically one of the weakest interdisciplinary connections that I have noted is the bolded and capitalised community connection of “contributing schools”, more specifically Kedgley Intermediate the pre-Aorere College learning location of almost 70% of our past and present students. In light of such a student connection, it is essential that this connection is given more status and communication than has been the case in the past. Our Year 9s who have come from Kedgley Intermediate have been exposed to two years education post their primary school and pre their secondary education. Two years may not seem like a significant period in length, but as this time duration occurs at such a key time in these students’ intellectual, social and academic growth cycle, it is essential that the location and curriculum transitions and barriers for these children are minimised, if not removed altogether. In this light, the Thomas McDonagh Group (2011) highlight the need for sustainable education communities, ones where students and teachers collaborate not only across curriculum areas but also across previously isolated year levels and institutions. Such a focus ensures that learning for the students is on a continuum, matching their experiences outside the classroom and in their wider lives.
Regarding the joint planning, decision-making, and goal-setting, we are fortunate that both my school (Aorere College) and Kedgley Intermediate are in the same Community of Learning (COL). As a result, both institutions have the same priority goals of raising student ability in Literacy, Numeracy and the Sciences. Including the other four schools (all of the primary status), there are three checkpoints spread across Years 1-11. The commonality of these goals (approved by the Ministry of Education) enables each school to retain their own unique values and essential character while working clearly and collaboratively towards agreed common good. In the initial stage of this COL, planning, decision-making, and goal-setting took place between the principals of each school involved. Increasingly now, communication and collaboration is across the people and contexts of Literacy, Numeracy & Science. Whereas the first joint planning, decision-making and goal-setting took place at the executive level, more often than not, there are significant such actions about pedagogy and learning and below the executive level. Such collaboration is existing in the macro and micro contexts across the schools and in person and online.
Hall and Weaver note “interdisciplinary education is as much a journey of changing mind shifts as it is about changing practice” (p. 871, 2011). I agree with this suggestion and believe as does Newell (1992), that when our contributing schools and Aorere College have greater connectivity in learning, discourse and community, there will be less academic, social and community gaps for our students to fall into. It also ensures that one hand metaphorically knows what the other hand is doing. As a result, it is hard not to envisage enhanced and more efficient use of best practice pedagogy, personnel and physical and digital resources.
There are however challenges to the sustainability and viability of this interdisciplinary education in our local educational community. One is the relevance of what we are doing to the world beyond 2017 Papatoetoe. We must work effectively within this COL but must also be mindful to simultaneously and pro-actively engage with fit-for-purpose support agencies and indeed the wider world at large (Mathison & Freeman, 1997). We must also ensure that the COL is not reliant on the drive and presence of just one or two individuals. Leadership enthusiasm and expertise at all levels of this connection are important but can be reduced in significance through clearly and often revised (and if need be, modified) systems and communication. A final challenge of interdisciplinary practice is that it cannot be all things to all people. There is simply not just enough time, resource or space to do so. Care must be taken to be highly prudent in ensuring that all voices may be heard but do not necessarily need to be acted on, if at all. For all involved, there must be a degree of concessionary thought and action to ensure that the students achieve holistically, promptly and for the great good (Ross Institute, 2015).
After all, are the students and their futures really what interdisciplinary education is all about?
Hall, P., & Weaver, L. (2001). Interdisciplinary education and teamwork: a long and winding road. Medical education, 35(9), 867-875.
Mathison,S.. & Freeman, M.(1997). The logic of interdisciplinary studies. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, 1997. Retrieved from http://www.agglbabbny.edu/cela/reports/mathisonlogic12004.pdf:
Newell, W. H. (1992). Academic disciplines and undergraduate interdisciplinary education: Lessons from the School of Interdisciplinary Studies at Miami University, Ohio. European Journal of Education, 27(3), 211-221.
Thomas McDonagh Group. ( 2011, May 13). Interdisciplinarity and Innovation Education.[video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDdNzftkIpA
In 2017, I have taken a leap in faith and curriculum context due to my professional learning from social online networks. From being an English teacher for the past sixteen years to now being a Digital Technologies practitioner at Aorere College I now teach two Year 9 term-long rotations of Digital Thinking & Problem Solving. I am also the host of the popular twitter chat #digitaledchat every Monday night during school term-time. While I have under 100 “friends” on my personal Facebook page, I have just under 7,000 followers on my educational @stuartkellynz Twitter account and follow just over 5,000 educators from around the world. I should point out that two years ago, neither #digitaledchat or my Twitter presence existed. stuartkellynz.com is my educational blog site. I have became increasingly active online after becoming a firm believer in the power of online collaboration and the positive benefits of sharing resources locally and globally. I also blog mostly on modern teaching & learning pedagogy and digital technology in education.
At the same time, I am a also firm believer that the New Zealand Curriculum is the jewel in our education crown, a world-leading curriculum that arguably still has so much freedom and potential almost fifteen years since its introduction.Increasingly at the same time, I see the provision of digital citizenship and competency as much a social justice issues as an academic requirement for all of our students now and in the future. We need our future adults and leaders to be doers and thinkers, followers and leaders, consumers and producers. For the belief to become reality, it is essential our students are set free by the teachers. In order for such freedom for be provided quickly, sustainably and safely, teachers must not individually “recreate the wheel” but instead work not just in schools collaboratively but also globally in person and more realistically, online.
Seaman & Tinti-Kane comment “social technologies can provide new opportunities to engage learners and many educators are discovering impactful strategies for using them in educational collaboration” (p.18, 2013). I wholeheartedly agree, and would argue that those educators most active online in pedagogy and curriculum debate and sharing of practice, are also those attempting more and more to innovate and empower and enable their students in learning spaces. One of the greatest benefits I believe regular and quality online educational presence enables is that teachers are able to re-invent themselves as learners and leaders through giving and taking of best practice with fellow like-minded individuals around the world, when, where and however often they see fit. The online teachers now realise the futility of existing either in a mere local context or heaven forbid physically and philosophically solely with the confines of their own classroom.
It is surely beyond argument that the learning process for both teachers and students up to and including most of the last 10-15 years have been singularly-led by one “expert” and delivered via for the most part, through one-way transmission from educator to recipient, consumer. The advances in society and in our workforce have rendered such education practice redundant and without relevance to an increasingly digital over industrialised economy and a growing, global lifestyle. Our students at secondary school have understood online social networks arguably better than any educator. It might therefore be a little hard to swallow but if we want to learn the “flies and dies” of online interaction, it is essential that we look and learn from the genuine experts; our students (Seely Brown, 2008).
At Aorere College, the vast majority of our in-school professional learning is now done online and through Google Classroom in order to ensure no teacher is left behind or isolated from best practice and support. Likewise every four weeks, I met in person and online with our Heads of Departments on matters of Innovation and Learning. We use digital collaborative tools such as Padlet and shared Google Slides to not only ensure that all involved individuals can contribute whether physically present or otherwise and with equity of voice and representation. When social online networks are used fit-for-purpose by and for educators, the quietest voice is as loud as any other. Furthermore, all voices and contributions can easily be stored and retrieved without delay and indeed distress.
Robbler et al emphasise the need for educators to have a clear distinction between their personal and professional online existences. In doing so, they argue “when the education profile is differentiated from an individual’s online personality, collaborators are more likely to engage with another, regardless of personal admiration or knowledge” (p139, 2010). For this reason, my personal Facebook profile is completely private while on Twitter, I never post or contributes to anything other than work-related matters or discourse. I have also found it increasingly easier to debate educational philosophy and practice with teachers world-wide, even if I do not know them personally or face-to-face. In this light, online social networks enable education over people to be robustly but genuinely debated. As a result, we all win through moving forward collectively and collegially. Arguably the exponential sharing and caring online empowers us all to take the online into our own classrooms and our learning processes for the benefits of our students here and there, now and in the future.
Connect and network on, I say!
Roblyer, M. D., McDaniel, M., Webb, M., Herman, J., & Witty, J. V. (2010). Findings on Facebook in higher education: A comparison of college faculty and student uses and perceptions of social networking sites. The Internet and higher education, 13(3), 134-140.
Seaman, J., & Tinti-Kane, H. (2013). Social media for teaching and learning. Babson Survey Research Group. Retrieved from http://www.onlinelearningsurvey.com/reports/social-media-for-teaching-and-learning-2013-report.pdf
Seely Brown, J. (2008). Open education, the long tail, and learning 2.0. Educause review, 43(1), 16-20.
In the early 1990s when the internet was in its infancy and this author was in his last years of high school education, when viewing text and low resolution pictures over what was termed the “world wide web”, it was almost impossible to envisage the speeds, users and commercial, educational and social use of the internet as exists today. Due to the comparatively internet capability, online threats albeit present did not exist in such breadth and depth as they do today. In my honest opinion, ethical and legal theory and more significantly action, have sadly trailed the exponential growth of online opportunities and threats. In many cases and over a significant period of time, schools like the communities in which they exist, have faced challenges in simultaneously ensuring student access and safety online.
Slowly however teachers and schools are getting much-needed support from organisations such as Netsafe and New Zealand’s Education Council who recognise that teachers and students need explicit and up-to-date support, guidance and resourcing. In this light, I really like the following from Education Council regarding the revised code of ethics for teachers:
"This Code has been developed with our profession for our profession. It reflects the expectations of conduct and integrity that our profession share; what we expect of each other and what our learners, their families/whānau and the public can expect of us." (n.d)
The reason this statement resonates so much with this educator is that it highlights that a teacher’s responsibilities extend beyond the classroom and beyond the school. It also highlights teachers are not, and cannot be isolated from/by trends and expectations in existence beyond the school gates. Likewise I believe it is awesome that Netsafe has worked with the government to proactively support the New Zealand digital community; “Under The Harmful Digital Communications Act, Netsafe has been chosen to offer a free service for people in New Zealand to help with the online bullying, harassment and abuse.” (2017). Such ventures can only ensure that there are more ambulances at the top of the legal and ethical cliffs and less so at the bottom.
My school (Aorere College) is truly a “connected” education institution in terms of both theory and practice and our community. We have built significant online visibility via our redesigned and refreshed school-built website however the attention this digital presence attracts pales in comparison to the volume of visitors and interaction on our official Aorere College Facebook Page. A video of our Cook Island Polyfest Group in 2016 posted on Facebook had around 20,000 views in a matter of days. In 2017, a post for example of Year 9 students at Hunua Falls will likely be seen by 2,000 people. What I believe has driven the engagement on this facebook page is that it is open to the world and furthermore, we allow comments to be posted from anyone whether directly connected to the school or otherwise. This does raise the issue of whether the contributors are of appropriate age as per Facebook “regulations” whether in reality,enforced or otherwise. To be honest, unless the “contributors” are known to us, we have no idea if they are of the minimum age of 13. As Protalinski notes:
"Less than two weeks ago, it was estimated that 7.5 million Facebook users are below the minimum age. To make matters even more worrying, more than 5 million were 10-years-old or younger." (2017)
I therefore believe that we doing the best we can in terms of our Facebook practice in both the legal and ethical contexts. Our aim is to educate our community as fast,as much and as regularly as possible to ensure that we do not have to restrict access or return to a static online presence.. To meet what I see as our ethical obligations, all students at Aorere College are given cybersafety education and from 2017, all Year 9 students have a one-term rotation of Digital Thinking & Processes. We want our students to online users, adventurous ones yes but safe nevertheless.
Inappropriate comments (albeit very rare) have popped up sporadically but are immediately removed by a group of teachers who are notified on our digital devices whenever a comment or image has been posted on the page. As Hall notes in the case of the Samoan student being disciplined, as a multi-cultural school and with a significant Polynesian population, we too are forced to think “What ought I to do, all things considered?” (2001).
In one recent case, a Year 9 student inadvertently posted inappropriate material that shone our school in a less than favourable light. In all honesty, my initial and emotional reaction was to initiate formal disciplinary procedures against the student and ban the student’s online access within Aorere College. However after a period of considered and informed reflection, I decided to educate over confiscate. This decision was made not just for the student’s physical safety but also for their future as a digital citizen. Subsequent to this decision, I talked to the student and the mother concerned, and was enlightened by not only their honesty but also their apology and now-recognition of the impact of the student’s action. Although the student’s post was shared a number of times before I intervened, I’d argue that any damage to the school was only temporary and minimal while the student concerned, emerged educated and respected. What’s that saying “today’s news is tomorrow’s fish and chips’ paper”. One silver lining of the Year 9 student’s indiscretion was that a number of students immediately notified us via our Facebook page. In my opinion, such peer tracking and intervention only serves to highlights how teenagers can and do know what is right in life and online.
After all, when we it comes to the law and ethics and in this increasingly digitized world, we are all most certainly in this together.
Education Council. (n.d). The Education Council Code of Ethics for Certificated Teachers. Retrieved 10th March 2017 from https://educationcouncil.org.nz/content/code-of-ethics-certificated-teachers
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 10th March 2017 from http://www.educationalleaders.govt.nz/Culture/Developing-leaders/What-Ought-I-to-Do-All-Things-Considered-An-Approach-to-the-Exploration-of-Ethical-Problems-by-Teachers
Netsafe (2017). Get Help with Online Bullying, Abuse and Harassment. Retrieved 12th March 2017 from https://www.netsafe.org.nz/hdc/
Protalinski, E (2017). Mark Zuckerberg: Facebook minimum age limit should be removed. Retrieved 12th March 2017 from http://www.zdnet.com/article/mark-zuckerberg-facebook-minimum-age-limit-should-be-removed/
For many years, it appears to this person that there has been considerable talk and theory around the need and existence of indigenous knowledge and cultural responsiveness in classrooms both in New Zealand and indeed abroad. Yet until the 2000s and the emergence of Te Kotahitanga, there was very very little action, let alone results for our priority learners. Thankfully such inaction in 2017 is increasingly rare, for as Savage et al. (p186, 2011) notes “culturally responsive pedagogy is nothing new”.
I understand indigenous knowledge to be more than just one’s awareness of their own culture. I argue it is more than that; I suggest it is about each individual knowing and being able to thrive their identity in the past, present and future, in the classroom and in society. This is genuine equity to me. Complementing an individual’s pride and knowledge of who they are, there is a need for educators and society at large to not only embrace an individual’s culture and identity but to do everything possible to empower and grow such cultural and identity confidence.
One area where I believe Aorere College is doing well in terms of Indigenous knowledge and cultural responsiveness is in terms of our school wide-goals. For many years, Maori achievement had trailed non-Maori NCEA achievement across all senior levels. Although there may have been many reasons for such disparity, one influencing factor in my opinion was that until the last few years, we did not explicitly and publicly target this low achievement. In 2016, we had five whole school academic goals. One of them was that “Maori students’ NCEA means (all levels) to be consistent with whole school means.” Simultaneously to this goal was the wider expectation of all student NCEA achievement to be at or above the national level. The cohesion of these goals meant that 1) teachers were explicitly aware of the goal and 2) every Maori student was now a target. By also targeting Maori students via an academic goal over a pastoral one, this ensured that teachers had to look forward and up for their students and avoid any “deficit theorising” (Bishop, 2012).
In critiquing this area via the “Pasifika: Participation, Engagement, Achievement” tool, by focusing on “achievement”, we naturally had to work backwards and ensure that our students were not only physically safe in the classrooms but also emotionally and academically. As Bishop (2012) notes, the lack of Maori students’ cultural safety was now a “global issue” and as such the negative economic, political and social impacts need to be addressed by the society at large and first and foremost, there is an urgent need to address the profound “educational disparities.” At Aorere, teachers had to be “learners among learners (Bishop p739, 2009), be more culturally responsive in terms of how they encouraged and enabled both participation and engagement and where needed, many teachers restructured their classrooms, lessons, and opportunity for student response & agency.
However one area where I believe Aorere College could do better in terms of Indigenous knowledge and cultural responsiveness is in terms of our school’s learning activities. For many teachers not used to being in such a multicultural environment such as ours, it is often difficult to see why many learners do not participate or engage, let alone achieve in the classroom setting. However once a teacher is prepared to see through the eyes and hear through the ears of a priority learner, the need for an appreciation of Indigenous knowledge and cultural responsiveness becomes not only highly visible but also urgent and an issue of social justice and equity. Many agentic teachers in our school now are co-designing the learning with their students, asking them how, when, where and indeed why they want to learn. In many cases, it has been (and has to be) the teachers who now initially feels most uncomfortable in the learning spaces. It took me one visit to Polyfest to truly understand the importance of culture to our Pasifika and Maori students. At this annual event, there was extraordinary participation, engagement and achievement yet the same students in the classroom were often ghosts once back in the traditional classroom.
Let our students be ghosts no more in learning, in society or in terms of their cultural strength, empowerment, and futures.
Bishop, R., Berryman, M., Cavanagh, T. & Teddy, L. (2009).Te Kotahitanga: Addressing educational disparities facing Māori students in New Zealand. Teaching and Teacher Education, 25(5),734–742.
Edtalks. (2012, September 23). A culturally responsive pedagogy of relations. [video file].Retrieved from https://vimeo.com/49992994
Savage, C., Hindleb, R., Meyerc, L., Hyndsa, A., Penetitob, W. & Sleeterd, C.(2011) Culturally responsive pedagogies in the classroom: indigenous student experiences across the curriculum .Asia-Paciﬁc Journal of Teacher Education, 39(3), 183–198.
When I started teaching 16 years ago, dial-up internet was king, mobile phones were in their infancy and primacy. My core teaching tools were the blackboard, textbooks and the overhead projector. Now in 2017 in an increasingly globalised, tech-heavy world, my students are on easy-to-use Chromebooks using a super-fast Wi-Fi network able to share documents anywhere and to anywhere in the world in a matter of seconds. I push out my lesson content via Google Classroom and the only time I use a whiteboard is to write up this classroom’s access code. My students could be anywhere in the world and learning in my class. It’s safe to say that things have slightly changed due to technology but what about my pedagogy-in-play?
For an old-timer such as yours truly, the fact that 75% of the world’s population have mobile phones (in many cases, while not having sufficient nutrition or hydration) is not only confronting but to many teachers, confronting. Students know longer need the teacher to be the font or holder of knowledge. This knowledge can be easily be gained by the student whether in or out of the classroom. However in this light, teachers have a highly significant role in guiding and developing the students of today and tomorrow to be judicial, critical users (consumers and producers) of the information out there now and to come. Students need to know more than ever how to assess the appropriateness and quality of education technology processes and outcomes.
I love the term “glocal”; albeit not exactly the most beautiful neologism ever. It does however highlight the need for students and teachers to have one eye on the local and one on the global. We must ensure as teachers that students do not give up or think less of their local context in pursuit in the collegial global. This is a delicate balance to achieve and arguably one that educators must exercise great skill and judgement in obtaining for the students. In New Zealand, this is particularly essential in respect of our Maori & Pasifika learners. Due to the oral-based nature of these cultures and their limited geographical and numerical existence, the retention of these uniques in the face of globalization in both education, society and commerce is essential for not only their preservation but also the aiding and abetting of these young people’s culturally appropriate learning.
The manufacturing automation of FoxConn (1 million robots in just three years), (KPMG, 2014) truly emphasises that our students now and in the future must be still doers for sure but more importantly as the age of industrialization become further in the past, we must all think as much if not more than do. For many educators whose classrooms and thinking and doing still resemble a production line, this is a frightening and ideally avoidable context. Regardless of the fear factor, educators must take the moral and ethical high ground and take on the change ahead. If we are to legitimately do justice academically and socially (ERO, 2012) to our priority learners, we need to have an educational context in New Zealand that reflects not only our unique past and present but one that is open to the best teaching & learning from around the world. The last thing any teacher wants to have is an empty classroom because Khan Academy and comparable options offer above and beyond what the “local” teacher can. Maori & Pasifika learners can still choose to enter the labour/manual occupations that are becoming increasingly rare and automated. However such a move must be fully informed and arguably without fear or favour to past personal family or cultural employment histories. As the OECD report highlights (2016), the citizens on the lower and lowest incomes globally are increasingly being left behind while at the same time, those with mobility, transferable education and growth & judicious skill-sets and mind frames are able to comfortably move around the globe, hence the emergence of genuine “world citizens.”
Maybe the concept of “I think, therefore I am” has never, ever been more prevalent or indeed, important. Just a thought.
Education Review Office. (2012). Evaluation at a Glance: Priority Learners in New Zealand Schools. Retrieved 18 May 2016, from http://www.ero.govt.nz/assets/Uploads/Evaluation-at-a-Glance-Priority-Learners-in-New-Zealand-Schools-August-2012.pdf
KPMG Australia. (2014, May 22). Future State 2030 - Global Megatrends.[video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=im5SwtapHl8
OECD. (2016). Trends Shaping Education 2016, OECD Publishing, Paris. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/trends_edu-2016-en
I proudly work at Aorere College in Papatoetoe, Auckland (or as many would inappropriately) call the area, “South Auckland”. We are a Decile 2 school with the majority of our students Polynesian or Maori. We succeed on the stage, the field and the netball and basketball courts. We are also a very successful and modern school in terms of our core business. In 2016, our students achieved multiple subject and tertiary scholarships and we are on a 4-5 year ERO review cycle. Oh yeah as we in 2016 host the Auckland South edition of the Mindlab post-graduate programme, educampAKL, and the holy grail, the EdtechTeam “Google Summit”. We are also a significant New Era school and strategic partner with both Auckland University, AUT and MIT. To be blunt, we are a school that many friends and foes struggle to comprehend and place in the education system.
Without a doubt, our holistic success (for students, staff and the wider community) is down to an empathy over sympathy of our surrounding socio-economic factors, a strategically-developed and nurtured school culture (and climate) and collegial and highly capable teaching and administration community that is relentlessly focused on developing outstanding local and global leaders and learners, and great citizens too. Our professional community (support staff inclusive) is effectively “all for one and one for all”. I love the fact that no-one is more important than anyone else and that there is considerable recognition that the only way forward is via team in both theory and practice.
The socio-economic status of our school’s community does however give rise to a few issues of educational relevant not so prevalent in more well-off communities (OECD, 2015). Many of our families do have internet in the home and often devices such as laptops or tablets are shared across multiple members of one family. In many cases, senior students assume a significant de facto parenting role due to both parents working often long and labour-oriented jobs. To this end, our school expects student-owned devices and strongly recommends Chromebooks for learning but as yet, has not made this expectation compulsory. This being said however, significant and increasing numbers of students are bringing their own devices, no doubt in part due to an extensive and highly capable school Wi-Fi & Google eco-system. We also run extensive in-school tutorial and homework sessions to enable students to complete work before going home. We also keep school and co-curricular fees as low as possible to ensure as much as possible no student is left behind.
Aorere College has a very robust and egalitarian professional environment; essential for firm, fast and fair school growth (Kraft & Papay, 2014). Teachers at our school frequently and proactively prepare, care and share. Collegiality in a school such as ours is not only essential for whole-school student achievement but also for staff well-being and staff personal and professional development. One major issue that did arise from the professional environment was to reduce our professional learning foci for 2017 to just three areas; Innovation (inclusive of innovative learning environments and education technology), Literacy, and Equity (inclusive of Culturally Responsive and Relational Pedagogy). The idea behind this reduction was that if the school community got these three elements sorted, the battle would almost be won. Thankfully the staff saw the logic and need for such focus and thus far, have been highly enthusiastic and participatory. Such buy-in is no doubt in part due to frequent and high-quality consultation (noted by Stoll, 1998) with 2016 professional learning leaders and clear alignment with school academic and pastoral targets. Once again, our school culture of consideration, inclusivity and collegial made a fairly transformational transition seamless and efficient.
OECD. (2015).Education at a Glance 2015: OECD Indicators. OECD Publishing, Paris.DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/eag-2015-en. Retrieved from http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/docserver/download/96....
Kraft, M.A. & Papay, J.P. (2014). Do supportive professional environments promote teacher development? Explaining heterogeneity in returns to teaching experience. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 36(4), 476-500.Retrieved from http://scholar.harvard.edu/files/mkraft/files/kraf...
Stoll. (1998). School Culture. School Improvement Network’s Bulletin 9. Institute of Education, University of London. Retrieved from http://www.educationalleaders.govt.nz/Culture/Understanding-school-cultures/School-Culture