Summary Of My Postgraduate Learning Journey & Plan For The Future

Three areas of the Practising Teacher Criteria I believe I have met well over the past 32 weeks are:

Criteria 5: Show leadership that contributes to effective teaching and learning.

Criteria 6: Conceptualise, plan, and implement an appropriate learning programme.

Criteria 7: Promote a collaborative, inclusive, and supportive learning environment.

Over the past  32 weeks of my learning journey, I know that I have shown leadership that has contributed to effective teaching and learning at my school.  I have actively contributed to the professional learning of my learning community by initiating and running professional development sessions for teachers, primarily on and around blogging.  I have also shared professional readings/videos and shared ideas from the postgraduate course I am on.  

Screen Shot 2016-03-13 at 6.47.32 pm.pngI have introduced staff and students to Carol Dweck and what it means to have a ‘growth mindset’ to be an effective teacher/learner.  In my class, each student can tell you where their mindset is and where they want to shift it to.  Being able to know our weaknesses and be able to share them with others, is another way I have shown I am able to foster trust and respect among my ākonga/learners.

In recognition of our Maori learners needing to develop their student’s voice, blogging was reintroduced as one tool to help achieve this. With collaboration with professionals, both inside and outside of school, I was able to form the inquiry question:  

“Can blogging improve the strength of a student’s voice when given authentic opportunities to identify their interests, direct their own learning and receive feedback from peers and the wider community?”  (Hills, 2015)

Screen Shot 2016-03-13 at 7.07.23 pmThis inquiry was presented to members of the community for feedback and after review, it was agreed that blogging was to be embedded in our learning programme.  This inquiry was also reviewed by an academic who awarded me 92% due to the detailed and structured proposal put forward.  With the pedagogy available to support how blogging could support student agency, and a clear implementation plan put forward, they felt I had clearly identified how blogging would engage students, parents and teachers to improve levels of engagement (Hills, 2016).

Throughout the past 32 weeks, I have worked collaboratively with my peers, my students and outside providers, with the one aim, to raise student achievement for all.  I have utilised my social media network to help me grow my understanding.  I have started a discussion group on the use of Chromebooks on the VLN Network and made many new connections with professionals using Twitter and Facebook, as well as utilising my connections through my postgraduate course with The MindLab in Petone.  It has been a fun fuelled year and it does not stop here.

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My two main goals for my future development in direct relation to the Practising Teacher Criteria will be to focus on:

Criteria 3: Demonstrate commitment to bicultural partnership in Aotearoa / New Zealand.

Criteria 9: Respond effectively to the diverse and cultural experiences and the varied strengths, interests, and needs of individuals and groups of ākonga.

I feel like I have opened a door and want to walk through it in relation to my commitment to the bicultural partnership between Maori and Pakeha.  I want to hold a better understanding in my head about the history of this partnership that goes beyond knowing the three ‘Ps’ (protection, partnership and participation).  I want to at every opportunity make connections to similarities and differences, so students know their cultures and what makes them unique, but also how they can work alongside others with empathy and understanding.

I work at a culturally diverse school and feel I am only scratching the surface when it comes to responding effectively to the diverse and cultural experiences and the varied strengths, interests, and needs of individuals and groups of ākonga.  I will be asking my school to provide me with professional development that really hones in on implementing teaching approaches, using resources, technologies, and learning and assessment activities that are inclusive and effective for diverse ākonga/learners.  I have already shown I am able to modify my teaching approaches, so this type of professional development will really help me move my practice forward, benefiting the students that I teach.

What I have without a doubt learnt over the past 32 weeks of attending my course at The MindLab is the need to continually be looking for ways to improve and refine my practice while keeping an open mind.   I have also set a goal to complete a Masters in e-Learning so I am able to earn a specialist qualification in the use of digital technologies for teaching and learning purposes.


“Professional development processes share a common goal: improved practice.”  

                                                            Ostermand & Kottkamp (1993, p 12)

After completing my postgraduate Certificate in Applied Practice (Digital & Collaborative Learning) I can honestly say that the professional development has been rigorous and has without a doubt improved my practice.

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Click For More Information!




Hills, C.  (2016).  Develop a reflective portfolio: Identify and engage with relevant community or communities in the formation of specific research questions. Address the potential impact of findings. Retrieved on 12 March 2016 from

Hills, C.  (2015).  VLN:  Using Chromebooks to record student voice (26 replies).   Retrieved on 10 March 2016 from

Ministry of Education (nd). Practising Teacher Criteria and e-learning. Retrieved on 13 March 2016 from

Ostermand, K. & Kottkamp, R.  (1993).  Improving Schooling Through Professional Development.  Retrieved on 10 March 2016 from

Indigenous Knowledge & Culturally Responsive Pedagogy

My Views On Indigenous Knowledge & Culturally Responsive Pedagogy

My exposure during my upbringing and schooling years to any other culture than my own was minimal.  Both my parents worked, and with eight mouths to feed, money was always tight.  We went to church on Sundays and in my naivety, I thought people were pretty much all the same, had the same opportunities and values.  Turns out I was wrong.  It wasn’t until I became a teacher  in my early thirties that I was thrown into a cultural whirlpool, doing my best to catch up.   

Over the past 11 years, my knowledge around the Treaty of Waitangi and the part I play has become crystal clear, and this knowledge is shared with my students on a daily basis at it weaves it way through my practice.  I now know that ‘equity for all’ is my aim, and that this won’t happen by knowing it, I have to design opportunities in my classroom programme for students to reach their milestones.  This year has seen me and another teacher team teaching Tikanga and Te Reo on a Wednesday with the support of our student leaders who attend a Te Reo session in the morning with Whaea Claire.  It has been awesome being involved in the tuakana-teina taking place, and I know it has definitely improved my understanding of what it means to be Maori and improved my language skills. 

I will admit, I have in the past, fallen into deficit thinking about why some of my learners were not moving forward academically.  Yes it is a three-way relationship between the student, teacher and parent; and I realise now that my role is to facilitate this connection as highlighted by Davis, (2012). I have learnt the importance of developing stronger relationships with my learners to allow us to walk together towards goal setting and I am working on getting to know their parents.  I know these connections are important because Bishop, (2009) believes that teachers who have agency, and who are able to create connections and a context, provides opportunities for Maori themselves to be part of the learning conversations in the classroom.  This will often bring about higher levels of engagement, better attendance, which leads to higher achievement.  

My awareness around connecting with indigenous cultures was further highlighted by Tauli-Corpuz, (2012) when she raised the point that indigenous cultures have traditions that underpin their society.  I need to understand these more so those with this knowledge can play a bigger role in finding ways to celebrating  decision making of what goes on for their child’s learning.  This year especially I’ve been able to really embrace manaakitanga and whanaungatanga in my class thanks to a schoolwide focus on developing our Maori learners through the initiative of our lead teacher for Maori.  Her ability to introduce the tikanga that underpins what we do, has been beneficial to the students, as well as my practice.  I liken it to reading a book; you can sound nice when you read it, but if you don’t understand the message or take away meaning, real learning will evade you.

Evaluation Of Cultural Responsiveness In Practice At My School

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In 6 weeks over 2,900 people have viewed our learning. This shows we are connecting outside the school environment, making our learning available to families beyond the school gates.

An area where I think my school does well in, is the way we find ways to develop stronger relationships with our students and whanau.  We know that social interactions are important because studies have shown this. Bishop & Berryman, (2010, p.10) highlight that the acquisition of knowledge and skills through social interactions and activities, in formal and informal settings will support student learning.  In 2016, we reintroduced classroom blogging as a way to encourage interactions between student, teachers, parents and the wider community.  Using blogging in an innovative way gives our students a voice and the opportunity to participate in a different way; thus providing equitable opportunities for sharing learning.  For our Year 4-8 students, they will have their own blog by Week 7 of Term 1.  My class have been the trial class and they have loved it.  I have noticed that given a purpose and the ability to record learning in other ways than just a book, has seen an increased level of student agency.

I think like many schools, even with initiatives set up to support our Maori learners, they are still falling short in achieving the same academic milestones as their peers.  Hogan, (2012) raises the point that many schools meet the requirements of the New Zealand curriculum and do things that recognise their Maori learners.  So what is missing?  We often discuss different ways of connecting with our Maori community and have tried different things but are yet to find true success.  Do we really know how our Maori community want to interact with us?  

Ostermand & Kottkamp, (1993, p 12) state that before we can adopt new behaviours, before we can begin to introduce reflective practice as a professional development strategy whether in a university classroom, a school, or a school district, it is necessary (a) that we develop an awareness of our habitual actions and the assumptions that shape those actions and (b) that we consider the effectiveness of actions relative to intentions. I wonder what would happen if we brought in someone who was highly skilled in developing ways to connect with whanau?  If we were open to this and it worked, we would be in a stronger position to start building a culturally responsive environment that would develop  and lead our Maori learners to higher levels of success.  

Exciting thought… Watch this space……

To find out more about the Treaty of Waitangi please click this link.


Bishop, R. (2009).  A culturally responsive pedagogy of relations.  Retrieved on 10 March 2016 from:

Bishop, R. & Berryman, M. (2009).  The Te Kotahitanga effective teaching profile.  Retrieved on 10 March 2016 from:

Bishop, R., & Berryman, M. (2010). Te Kotahitanga: culturally responsive professional development for teachers.  Teacher Development, 14(2), 173-187. doi:10.1080/13664530.2010.494497

Davis, P. (2012).  Critical elements of raising Maori achievement.  Retrieved on 10 March 2016 from:

Hogan, M. (2012).  Culturally responsive practice in a mainstream school.  Retrieved on 10 March 2016 from:

Ostermand, K. & Kottkamp, R.  (1993).  Improving schooling through professional development. Retrieved on 12 March 2016 from:

Tauli-Corpuz, V. (2012).  Understanding indigenous worldviews.  Retrieved on 10 March 2016 from:

The Treaty in Brief. (2016). Retrieved on 13 March 2016 from: