New Beginnings

A change in my career has been something I have been searching for, for some time now and here I am. New job, new team, new students, new learning environment and a new office.

2014-08-08 11.42.36It has been a wonderful start to my new journey. With many bumps and potholes to navigate, I have never felt like I was on my own. Student achievement and engagement is at the core of the schools focus and planning and not just achievement but accelerated learning.  My only nagging thought is, we possibly need to put more energy into our school Vision of POWER with the students. They say it, know it but do they own it and use it?

I have always believed that our key competencies are at the core of achievement and learning and they are they elements which will drive student’s success not a stanine 9. Why don’t we focus on them more? Why do teachers think that writing in books and worksheets are measures of learning and success? Are passive learners the results of this thinking? How do we change this?

Ponderings on my learning program:

Things I will continue doing in my literacy class:

  • Word work – rainbow words, water words, dough words.
  • Planned reading group discussions (learner conversations)
  • Whole class structured writing focus (work on writing)
  • Daily teacher reading (listen to reading)
  • Independent reading (reading to self)
  • Focus on Key Competencies
  • Students teaching others how to create photo stories as a platform to publish writing.
  • Recording students writing as a form of publishing.

Things I would like to change/include:

  • Word work using digital technologies
  • Reading using digital technologies
  • More independent choice in writing and reading
  • Student driven reading and writing workshops
  • More reflection time on goals
  • More digital published writing

The lack of digital technologies in my teaching program this term has been down to lots of technical issues. We have fibre in our school ready to plug in but our infrastructure is not ready for it….mmmm…….. Yet another ponder chapter!

As a passionate user of digital technologies, I have introduced engaging students in the use of Microsoft photo story to publish their stories using their photographs and voice.

It was a real labour of love, with all the issues around technology that I was up against. It really surprised me that many of the students were not motivated by using technology except to play games or go on study ladder. Being creative wasn’t something they valued. As the term was coming to an end it soon became obvious that the power of technology was engaging more and more students as they saw and heard finished and unfinished projects. It was on the last day I remembered why I valued using eLearning so much. It engaged the learners in their own product in a unique way. They could hear their own voice, which, without a doubt will motivate better writing and engagement in the process. One student already reflected that her new writing goal would be ‘to write something I can be proud of’. The engagement of a new audience to the students writing was empowering.

Things that make you go mmmmm……..

New Start!


This is a post I wrote in February. I was waiting for permission from the artist of the illustration to include it in my blog. I received permission but neglected to post to my blog. Hope you enjoy it dated as it is!  

I approach the start of a new school year full of excitement and nerves at the anticipation of new students and new ideas. I often start the year with things I want to do different. This year was no exception.  I spent a lot of time in the holidays reading blog posts and books about digital learners  and listening to Ken Robinson on ‘Out of our Minds’.  It is a time of great change in our approach to pedagogy – the science of teaching – due to the needs of our learners. I approach it with a keen, green interest. 

My first week was WOW! This year I have been given the opportunity to work with 13 students in a year 5/6 group which is amazing because I normally start my year with 25 plus and last year I ended with 33 students.  Therefore the WOW!  

Our school wide theme for term one 2012 is Kotahitanga. This is about belonging, unity, harmony and oneness, a recipe for a great team of learners. We spent our first two days ‘Getting to know each other’ which is a key ingredient for Kotahitanga.  Our learning became all about creating our own personal narrative through a number of cooperative and learning buddy activities-

After reading a blog post from Allanah King    II thought ‘what my teacher needs to know about me’ would be a great way to get to know my new students so I set this task for home learning. The following morning after setting the task I was pottering around the class talking to the students when one of my boys asked if we could share our 5 things. When I asked had anyone else completed the task they all handed me their books.  The student’s ideas really struck a chord with me because it was evident that some of the ideas I had been reading about over the holidays was thriving in my students.  Check them out for yourselves

I wrote my own thoughts on what my teachers needed to know about me:

 1. Get to know me.

 2. Involve me.

 3. Share me with the world

 4. Give me time

 5. Encourage and support me to take risks. Mistakes and failures are my friends.

My keen, green ideas have led me to start my year with a project to base the learning tasks and activities around.


To design and create an ideal learning environment inside and outside the classroom that is inclusive of all individuals and groups.

This design will include a resource that can be used by the Broadlands and Global Communities to enable a better understanding of Kotahitanga in our world community.

I have made this change based on a few of the ideas I have been exposed to over the holidays. I don’t know if it is the correct thing to do but I am willing to challenge myself and find out what will work for my students.

 Our ingredient for Kotahitanga next week is going to be Managing Self. This, I believed fitted in well with the students becoming independent learners as they make choices about the tasks they are going to complete during independent learning time. I envisage the independent learning time becoming a big part of their day as they work through tasks, by choice, based on our project and those set by me, based on next learning steps and individual needs.

Is anyone else starting with fresh ideas and challenging themselves with how they approach the learning this year? I would love to hear from you. 

Photo by  Thomas Lauterbach

KOTAHITANGA means ‘coming together, be one’ .

A painting I did in the 90’s, when there was a desperate need for change in attitude in regards to race realations. But New Zealand since has come a long way as a country – and we have to accept, that we still have a long way to go. But race relations have improved – we are on our way to KOTAHITANGA.

naureira tenei te mihi ki a koutou, mihi mai – mihi mai – mihi mai