Connecting our Learners to Online Teachers

During ULearn 17 Olivia Graham and I presented in the research stream on the Grass roots project we conducted in our school, Wairakei Taupo. We also took part in the Connected Conversations panel where we streamed live to #notatulearn17 followers. You can see this panel conversation in the accompanying video. Our presentation starts at 16.10 minutes.

In our analysis we found three key themes where learners benefit from learning online:

  • Life long learning in a connected world
  • Student agency and personalisation of learning
  • Digital citizenship

What we also found were key areas that we need to work on:

We found there was a disconnect between what was happening with the children’s learning in the online classes and their face to face learning. We felt that we need to join these two educational pathways  through the student’s goal setting within our ILE using the key competencies to guide this.

We also identified the need to provide more support for students to enable them to develop their digital capability that is necessary for an online learner. We felt this could be achieved by including our Year 5s as well as Year 6s. In this way we would develop student experts who were leaders to assist those younger students learning online for the first time and develop a culture of sustainable support for learners.

Grab some popcorn and enjoy our story.  Our presentation starts at 16.10 minutes.

Presenting Sucks

Yes, this is true, for me anyway. I don’t know what it is except I get up there and my head fills with noise, my mouth goes dry and I forget what I really, really, really want to say. The real essence of my message gets lost in the fact I need to perform in front of a large audience. Now that sucks!

Over the last two days I was part of an amazing hui with the VPLD. What is so great about this group is we all have the same interest of doing better in this world of education. It is a supportive, kind, caring group and is all about mentoring each other. In fact mentoring is the essence of the group, it is the foundation of which the group was built on. Each one of us had a 3 minute slot to talk about what we had learnt in the past year. Here is the real message of my presentation which was lost with my nerves.

I learnt such a lot from the wonderful people in the room which enhanced my thoughts on what is important in my work. There was one message that stood out for me the most and this came from a number of people. Take care of yourself, take time with nature – biophilia and don’t forget the truly important things – yourself and your family.

The important stuff in our lives is who we are, our work is what we do. Getting a good balanceIMG_6615 in this world of education is surprisingly our biggest challenge. Getting it right is so,so,so important because one day, our work will finish and will be gone. That important stuff will always be there, will always need us and deserve us more than our work.

I have decided I will never get up and present in front of a large audience again. Not for my work anyway. I love sharing what I do, I love talking about what I do, I love listening to others about what they do and I love what I do. Presenting is just not my thing.

I have been pondering this little dilemma since flying home yesterday, it woke me early this morning and now I am at my computer at 6am on a saturday morning while everyone sleeps. I needed to do this to clear my head so I could give my all to my family and hobbies before Monday comes around again. I am good with it. I can still share here. I still have the next 6 months to talk with my mentor and I will always have my school colleagues to share with.

Perhaps I could  become a mentor……mmmm…..

Melanie M

Fuel for Success

Leadership Values and Beliefs

My Leadership Values and Beliefs as they are today demonstrate a great deal of growth and understanding from me. My journey this year has at times being challenging as I have questioned myself about being a leader and becoming a principal. I basically missed having the responsibility of my own classroom and the rewards that brings. When I was challenged on this I decided that being a leader of learning was a priority for me. This gave me more focus and direction and less distraction and confusion about what the hell I was doing.

My Leadership Values and Beliefs

  • Grow leaders in teachers and students
  • Build capacity in making a difference and leading change
  • Provoke the thinking of the leaders around me with innovative practice and pedagogy
  • Identify, understand and value the aspirations of my learning community with a particular focus on our Maori community and increasing the achievement of our akonga

More Surprises

More reflection on my 2015 professional inquiry

At one point this year our teachers felt like they were in the pit and were struggling with some of our student’s  not managing themselves in this environment. As a team we thought that it would be time to define the different types of learners we had in our collaborative team. We decided we had three types and lined this up with the SOLO framework. The teachers also had discussions with the students and students identified where they belonged. Within this SOLO framework

Multi structural – Managed Learners

Relational – Self Managed Learners

Extended Abstract – Self Directed Learners.

The three are distinctively different and require a level of skill to work within. These skills need to be taught, modelled and practiced daily for them to become part of a daily routine. This is a work in progress.

The teachers identified our managed group as having all our target students and also complained that these students were disrupting the class by being noisy, off task, disorganised and often destructive of a breakout space we had available to the students.

I had a discussion with these students –  In a summary the target/managed students thought it was the rest of the class that was disrupting their learning by being noisy and off task, they wanted quiet spaces to go to and they wanted their teacher to be available more for them to talk to, they made reference to their teachers time always being taken up with the others students who were being, in their words, ‘naughty’. They also thought that they would be more comfortable with the teacher telling them what to do instead of having to write their own timetable. This surprised all of us and immediately things were put in place to support these learners – a managed timetable was created and time each morning was given to them to explain what the timetable was for the day and also gave them a chance to make decisions about their day with their teachers support. The teachers also ensure these students are listened to more consistently and were given them positive specific praise, praising them for the behaviours the students identified they needed to work on. When they get distracted they are to do what our group Expert, Harry, said he does

‘Ignore and focus on what I am Doing’

So even though we are aiming for student agency for our learners we know this will be at different levels for all of them.

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Find the Spark

After reading this article I was really frustrated and extremely sad for this family who lost their son. These are my thoughts as I tried to process my frustration.

School is something our kids have to go to, why do we try and squeeze everyone’s perfect imperfections into the same mould of ‘this is the way it has always been done’. If it doesn’t work find a way that does work for the individual. I like nothing better than the challenge of finding that one thing that lights up a kids face and you find their voice in this place called school.

 Anything outside of school, he loved to the fullest, his mother said.

Bring joy into school for all our kids kick TTWADI to the kerb and find the spark in each individual.

Please don’t misunderstand my voice here, I am not indicating that school caused this heartbreak. This mothers voice spoke loudly to me as an educationalist, a mum, and a person who learns with a difference.

This Ted Talk is a perfect example of what we need to do in schools. Hack the system and teach kids how to be Happy and Healthy.

Opportunities Made Possible

In my last post I mentioned that I would reflect on the spin off from my Inquiry and the changes myself and my team have been making in our pedagogy around student agency. This is an example of one of the surprises which confirmed that what we are doing has positive effects.

Opportunities made possible

Part of the Visible Learning process has been about students creating their own goals, setting their own timetables and making decisions about the workshops that they will go to. We discovered this freedom to make decisions about their learning time provided opportunities we hadn’t thought of.

For example, a couple of our students decided to timetable time to create a video, to enter a competition for Chinese language week. They created a video talking about their school speaking in Mandarin. We didn’t even know they could speak Mandarin. We were right, they couldn’t, they had used Google translate to find their words. The speaker wrote down the sounds she knew to enable her to say her English words in Mandarin.  Their video won the competition which gives them flights to Wellington to visit the Weta Workshops and to go to the Chinese Embassy for Dinner.

Ok, Now What

Student agency – giving the students the power to act on their learning.

Inquiry Question

How will  our leading of change influence teachers to develop beliefs, practices and habits around developing Student Agency – giving the students the power to act on their learning.


Develop active learners who can guide their own learning with the knowledge and resources to understand where they are at with their learning, where they have been and where they can go.


  • The learning is visible
  • Students help create the criteria for the learning
  • Students have the opportunity to learn how to become reflective on their learning

My Inquiry was a fascinating journey and although the visibility of learning needs a lot of work other exciting developments have spun off from this. I will write more about those in my blog.

Learning Progressions

Part of the learning being visible means that our students need to know where they are, where they have been and where they can go so that they can make decisions about their own learning. Our students are very new to this process and the journey has been challenging to say the least and we are still working on it.

At the beginning of the year our staff wrote our own Learning Progressions in Reading, Writing and Mathematics. We used the NZC, Literacy Learning Progression’s in student voice, the Literacy Learning progressions and various other resources to help guide us with this. We worked in teams and eventually came up with our own which are still evolving. With the teachers guidance students write their own goals and we frequently review these as needed or as requested by our students.

Next steps for the Learning Progressions: We find these too wordy for the students and will look at rewriting these. We will continue to use these in our student learning conversations and guide the students to use these when reflecting on their learning.

Student voice

This hasn’t always been as streamlined and as exciting as the video has indicated and we are still changing how we do things but the shift in thinking and the development of student agency is certainly being demonstrated with student’s knowing their goals and identifying workshops they need to go to. I have completed an interview with our target students except it was about 6mins long. I believe that even though they know and they say the same things as what these students know. Getting it out of them was like pulling teeth. I will hold onto this video and do a similar one at the end of 2016 to see if there has been progress.

It is so Quiet Here

I thought I better explain the quiet on my blog. It hasn’t been purposeful or deliberate,  in fact I miss it. This year I have been part of the National Aspiring Principals program and this requires me to post on the My Portfolio Platform. So all my professional practice, reflections and journaling has gone into there, for now.

This year has also been different for me, in that I do not have the responsibility of my own class. This has been a struggle for me. I have come to accept it and now enjoy the process of going into lots of classrooms and working with all the teachers and best of all getting to know more students. Now that is rewarding.

So for now I will finish my Aspiring Principal responsibilities and then decide if I will continue blogging or continue to post in My Portfolio.

Time for Change – Change makers Needed

My notes from NaPP Hui 2015. All mistakes are my own.

Michael King

Regional Coordinator

Te Toi Tupu Kaiarahi


  • Is Important
  • Is the relationships

Let the silence do the heavy lifting

Pepeha is a part of us it isn’t a thing that we do.

Use the skills and talents of those that are important recognize the treasures in front of you, deepen the relationships and use the opportunity to grow as a leader

Jan Robertson – Academic Director

Develop leaders around you that will be more than you have ever been.

Ask yourself how does the Treaty of Waitangi affect your leadership.

Be concerned for the students down the road as you are with the students within your school.

Leadership is about what we take in any context.

Knowing who we are

Future Focused leadership, question to think about.

What Skills disposition and attitudes require for future focused leadership

Mere Berryman

Learning from Students

Education is the opening of identities


Power is shared between self determining individuals. – Ask the students what do they think?

Pedagogy is responsive and interactive – from where the students are here and now.

Develop relationships that show that you care but have high expectations

Activate all the minds in the room not to the whole room

Evidence based solutions are co-constructed. teachers and students

Louise Anaru – Principal Flaxmere College

Professional learning groups

Responding to individual learning needs – research ‘every child deserves a champion’

  • student mentoring – 1 teacher with 6 students – teachers need coaching
  • Individual learning plans – recorded on the SMS
  • Three way conferences are now student led
  • Student choose their mentor
  • Teacher mentor are students champions
  • Parents are informed and involved in this process so learning continues
  • Progress is monitored weekly with their mentor
  • Curriculum very broad and aligned to students interests and aspirations
  • Be flexible to changes in aspirations and interests as these change
  • Strong engagement is demonstrated in student and whanau voice

What are my beliefs about educational leadership?

I am a leader because I would like to develop ideas, beliefs and practices around the success for all learners with a particular focus on our Maori and Pasifika. This year I would like also include the success of boys in here as the boys in our school are not as successful as our girls and in line with the achievement of our Maori students.

You do not, do Kahikitia, you live it – Neil Couch

Russel Burt

In his context Acceleration is 1.5 in 1 year

Technologies is the leader for change, it can advantage those who are disadvantage, it changes pedagogy.

Remember who you work for – STUDENTS

The whanau needs to be apart of the technology change.

Key competencies are not any different to other learning progressions.

Open your work up to the public, you are paid by the public then what you do should be public.

All work at PT England is public – go to their website

Be true to yourself and be true

The Hard discussions – You can say no you can disagree as vehemently as you like but you can’t leave the room

Key Competencies for the future

What did I learn about myself and my leadership when challenged when creating my Digital leadership Korowai?

I learnt that my whanau are the most important thing in the world. My students allow me to grow as a leader because they are the very reason I am a leader. As Russel Burt puts it , I work for them. There are few adults that I have met that have influenced my leadership other than the members of my family. Those few adults outside my family who have influenced my leadership have qualities in them that I aspire to be – change makers, they demonstrate authentic whanaungatanga.

It is important to listen as much as you can without questioning because then you determine the direction of the conversations. Really important to remember when listening to our students and our teachers.

By doing the listening you are showing that you value what they are going to say.

Reflection – what local challenge is your inquiry into your leadership addressing and how will this address key challenges in NZ education today?

Modern Learning and the Leadership needed

Herman Brain Model to gauge how your teachers operates.

Collaborative teaching approaches

Teaching the students the skill of self regulation


Teach how to use the spaces

Trust and accountability of students

student voice gathered frequently

Allow your teachers and students to take risks and try different approaches.

Flipped learning – Rich tasks –

The Future of Education- Jane Gilbert

Why change is needed and what this means for school leaders.

1.Increasingly fast – changing world. ‘digital revolution’

  • uncertainty
  • unpredictability
  • complexity
  • exponential change

Here to stay!

  1. Equal opportunity for all  – we haven’t done this can we do it?

What should we do about this?

We need to prepare people, not for known or even likely outcomes,, but to be Intellectually AGILE enough to face any possibility. Connect/collaborate/think with diverse others ‘in the network’

The problems we face:

  • the thinking tools we’re using are out of date – the shift is from things to spaces between things. – connections/networks/relationships (not just social)
  • Knowledge has a new meaning – Too Big To Know – Weinberg –

What school needs to be for in the 21st century

clades (organism made on the bases of it relationships not shared features)  not clones

Diversity encouraged, because we don’t know what we need. If we create clones then we are stuffed because we don’t know what we need.

We need to:

  • think differently
  • engage differently
  • act with people and different networks

What does this mean for teachers and leaders?

We need to do some cognitive growth and challenge ourselves. a very different mindset and thought processes.

We don’t know what the future will be all we know is that it will be very different.

It is our job to create educations future together by working in positive engaged, thoughtful ways, with others.

Create self review systems with my team – Kaye

I live in Taupo and I affiliate myself to Mount Ruapehu. The Waikato river is important to me because it flows from my mountain to the south of Auckland, where I grew up in Mangere. I went to Mangere College, where some of the students here at NAPP are attending now.

My Father is Cornish, He was born and grew up in Mullion Cornwall.   He fought in the second world war and his only scars other than emotional and spiritual is one on his leg from a Camel kicking him.

In Cornwall, 1960 my family began its journey to Aotearoa. My mum, my dad and 5 of my siblings travelled on a ship to Australia, where my family grew by 2. There they started another journey with 7 of my siblings to our beautiful country where they had the best of the Matthews Clan of 9. My brother and myself the last of my immediate clan can claim Aotearoa as our birth place.

In 1996 I left Auckland for a change in lifestyle and headed to Taupo. There I have bought up my two children, Joshua and Hannah. They both live in Hamilton yet Taupo remains their home.

My name is Melanie Matthews I am first and foremost a mum, nana, partner and second to that I am very privileged to be a Leader in Education.

From Aspirational to Actual – Geoff Childs and Jill Lunn

The 5 characteristics of leadership.

empathy, integrative, collaborators, optimism, experimentalism

I need to share my inquiry with the staff and students.