PPTA Te Wehengarua Education Conference 2023

During 17-18 April, I attended the premier event for Aotearoa New Zealand secondary education kaiako, Education Conference 2023 held in the Aotea Centre, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland.

The event was organised by PPTA Te Wehengarua and the focus was to exchange ideas and learn from peers and education leaders. This year’s Conference Convenor was Dr Helen Finn from PPTA Learning and Development Centre.

The conference began with a whakatau and Tainui were the tangata whenua who welcomed the manuhiri into the room.

The speeches highlighted Tāmaki Makaurau and made connections between the four  whānui with the different hapū and iwi.

The manuhiri responded to the welcoming speeches and affirmed the reason for this conference. The conference was officially opened with karakia.

The sessions began with Chris Abercrombe-Acting President of the NZPPTA introducing the conference and the first speaker.

Hon Jan Tinetti

Minister of Education

Jan Tinetti alluded attendees to the education news that would be announced today and this Stuff article was published soon after.

Class sizes to decrease by one for years 4 to 8, requiring an extra 320 teachers.

Honourable Minister Tinetti spoke about  the importance of Honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the Curriculum Refresh beginning with Mathematics and Literacy.

She reminded us about the recent disruption to learning caused by COVID and that great disruptions provide learning opportunities for us as educators. As educators, we have the responsibility and capacity to make a big difference for our learners.

Tinetti touched on Wicked Issues for learning and not narrowing the curriculum.

Wicked issues are a social or cultural problem that’s difficult or impossible to solve because of complex and interconnected nature.

The Minister for Education alerted us that attendance continues to be an issue for learning because non attendance equals no learning. Our young people need to be engaged in their learning and for us educators to build our school systems to move around and support our young people.

Read more about the Minister’s announcement here.

Rosemary Hipkins

Confessions of a “lifelong learner”

Rose shared about her learning and the markers in her learning life that disrupted her thinking. Some of these included the ‘The great chain of being’ which  is a hierarchical structure of all matter and life, thought by mediaeval Christianity to have been decreed by God. The chain begins with God and descends through angels, humans, animals and plants to minerals.

She also shared about metaphors from biology that created images in our learning.

When she unpacked her formal philosophy she highlighted a big idea from philosophy; Epistemology: how we know what we know.

Rose provided us with an opportunity too to reflect on our own vocational threshold that changed our own thinking.

Dr Hipkins spoke about the parallel between indigenous knowledge and complexity science. How as a textbook author, it was important  to be part of the system by positioning within writing as a learner.

As a researcher she noticed that if resources were not equally shared then there were issues with gender inequalities, social inequalities and a myriad of other inequalities. Life rested on the environment and what happened when resources become unbalanced.

She concluded with: ‘Which set of eyes and heart do I need to teach with?’ Do we teach as if we are outside systems looking in (an ‘objective’ view)? Or as if we are inside systems and complicit in how they are and how they can be?”

Pasi Sahlberg

Left to their own devices: Equity issues in growing up digital in New Zealand

Pasi shared research from the ‘Growing Up Digital Global Project’.


Some interesting numbers.

His session was peppered with discussion questions such as “Should governments ban smartphones in secondary schools?” which generated discussion between us all. Some of the highlights were highlighted at the end of each block of time so that we could hear what the general feeling was from the audience.

“It is easy for governments to issue a blanket ban on smartphones in schools. It is much harder to implement that in practice. It is also problematic because practically all young people use these devices for many useful purposes, including learning.”

Pasi shared his slides with us.

Link to Slides

Rōpata Diamond

Tikanga Māori i te Kura (Tikanga Māori in a School Context)

Rōpata began with making a connection with the audience. He unpacked ‘Whaka whanau tanga’ by breaking up the term into smaller root words. We carried out an activity that clarified the difference between Whakatauki and Whakatauākī.

Rōpata then took us deeper with highlighting Tikanga: The correct way of carrying out cultural protocols.

I loved hearing that Manaakitanga trumps everything EG: if it rains

Rōpata stressed the importance of Kawa: Processes that cannot be changed.

He shared with us the difference between powhiri and whakatau and to be clear which one we were doing in our school.

Tikanga Pōwhiri.

  • Wero
  • Karanga
  • Whakaeke
  • Waerea/ Karanga Whakahoki
  • Hongi/ Harirū
  • Whaikōrero
  • Waiata
  • Koha
  • Kai

Tikanga Whakatau

  • Whakaeke
  • Hongi/ Harirū
  • Whaikōrero
  • Waiata
  • Kai

If we were unsure then to return to the protocols of the hapū and iwi of the area.

Be cautious about ‘Dialling a Māori Expert’ versus developing relationships with a critical friend.

When Māori protocols take place – then the space becomes tapu: sacred. As schools: What have we put in place when we ask our children and kaiako to step up and take the lead in protocols.

He questioned us changing our school name to Māori, but do we understand the why. He stressed the importance of being compassionate to hapū and iwi and understanding capacity issues. EG: we are one school in Tāmaki Makaurau out of how many who want the same support from our local hapū and iwi.

Rōpata repeated the importance of “Understand the why.”

A clear understanding was needed when requesting translation and reminded us that translating a four page document takes more than five minutes. He stressed that not all Māori are experts in Te Ao Māori.

Moeke thanked Rōpata and shared how it was also important  as educators we have the power to raise Mana or lower it .

Dr Paul Wood

From Adversity to Advantage

Paul shared his life story and decisions he made that affected him as a human. He drew on his own journey from adversity to excellence.

He asked us to continually reflect on:

  • Am I present?
  • Am I open?
  • Am I doing what matters?

Paul shared about ‘Post Traumatic Growth’. Personal Growth is when something positive comes from adversity with having learnt from the experience and moving on.

Rome wasn’t built in a day but bricks were laid every hour. He reminded us that doing what matters is making space for discomfort and still sharing our story.”

What is your prison and what is holding you back from having the life you want?

Welby Ings

Professor filmmaker, author and disobedient thinker

Disobedient Thinking: Intelligences that dance beyond assessment criteria

As an educator I found Welby’s session question some of my beliefs around learning. For example Mathematics and Literacy is not learning because the thought process through reading and writing and calculation is not enough. Classroom planning with the focus on Literacy and Mathematics is redundant to life learning.

We need educators who are courageous enough to think differently to the system.

The freedom to think creatively and to encourage creative thinking.

The internet is the world’s most magical library surrounded by the world’s toxic dump.

Our current testing does not test the ability to solve wicked problems and as educators we must lead away from this narrow method of determining intelligence. 

He reminded us about the ‘The Myth of Learning Styles’ -that took a hold in our systems and yet how research showed weak research design.

Ings showed us some Artificial Intelligence examples using ‘Deepfake Image’. How the images seemed real until further investigation highlighted how fake they truly were.

Welby questioned the current debate around pausing ‘Artificial Intelligence (AI)’ development. Then reminded us  AI is not the ethical tool but the human beings behind it. Education as it currently is continues to appear surface and probed how we were teaching deep and critical thinking.

Welby asked us about truth and how we verify what we see and read.

He stated that sophistication thinking happens in an embodied context and It does not happen in planning or report writing.

He asked us ‘What don’t we reward?’ and that we do not reward the space that grows around learners.

He reiterated that tests measure some isolated skills which are the least significant aspects of learning. Our system of measuring understanding learning, fails our children. Most of our learners have skills that are not measured. The gift we as teachers give to our students is the freedom to think, and to be courageous enough to think differently from you.”

Current school measurement is an illusion of success. He challenged us to push back on comparison and diagnosis. That time and space are the two great elements in the room. He commented that testing forces schools and teachers to be morally corrupt. Ultimately our learners pay the price. As educators we must celebrate failure because it is part of the thinking process. We must celebrate our Non Linear Thinkers by seeking ways to fill the spaces between is the essence of our programmes.

Unfortunately our assessment system assesses and rewards  linear thinkers

Welby Ings (Part2)

Invisible Leadership

A leader is someone who influences change

They support others around them to influence change.

Welby asked us to highlight what three traits that a negative leader would look like for someone like me. Everyone was asked to do this activity.

  • Micromanage and continually checks to see if I am following through (trust)
  • Does not appreciate my pathway of doing my job my way
  • Under anticipates requests on my time

Reverse of this would be

  • Trusts that tasks will be completed (respect)
  • Trusts that there is not one way of doing something (supporting)
  • Gives me reflecting time and affirmation (mana enhancing)

All ideas that came from the audience discussion are about growing humans.

  • Growth and value.

The general school leader is a heroic leader.  (The current school leader role- sucks the oxygen from the environment)

Curent traits

  • Singular visionary
  • Problem solver
  • Fearless
  • All knowing task assigner
  • Command- control- coerce

Yet wounded hierarchy happens when there is no growing Humans.

  • High levels of reporting happens and there is a fear of doing wrong. This becomes a toxic work environment and one sign is high staff turnover.
  • As educators we develop the Protege Model when guiding new teachers.
    • I will guide you
  • Developmental model is the better guiding model.
    • What can I do to help
    • What can I take away to make your job better
    • Asks and listens

Communities are relational.

Watch the children -which adults do they trust in the school?

Welby finished his session with a quote from Lao Tzu: “A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.”

He reminded us that it does not matter how many badges are pinned on the blazer, it does not make you a leader. It does not matter what your title is, it does not make you a leader.

Jacinta Grice

Guidelines on “How to write an ORS application”

Grice, J. (2023) How to write an ORS Application PPTA PPTA Conference Auckland April 2023.

Jacinta shared some of her learning with filling in ORS applications.I was proud of how she planned for and delivered this session.

I learnt about the challenges of completing an ORS application and I learnt that the most important part of the application was the skill of the writers to paint a picture of the child.

Jay Pressnell

THE TIAKI PROJECT – An interactive audio-visual project aimed at preserving and archiving local narratives and histories

I chose this session because I have an interest in preserving local stories.

I was awed by the motion specialist effects using overlays of art to create a story. I was fascinated with the multimodal approach to this project.

Creativity happens before assessment and then assessment is highlighted in the completed project.

There were interactive ways of story telling and sharing of people’s history and Turangawaewae Narratives

100 voices project 2021


Ngati Tamaoho


https://www.trnio.com/ an app that allows 3 dimensional creativity to be used.

Metaverse- virtual version of the world, similar to second life, or minecraft

Jay challenged us to know our history, know our whakapapa.

Stephanie Tawha, Machelle DK, Davika Wilson

Nga Oho ake: Nga Mokopuna, Tamariki, Rangatahi, Whanau and kura. To awaken and re-engage ‘Mokopuna, Tamariki, Rangatahi and whanau in education

For a child to be successful they must have a 90% attendance rate that equates to one day per fortnight or twenty days per year.

Jehan Casinader

The power of stories

We are the main character and author of our own stories. The people who tell hopeful or redemptive stories don’t necessarily have easier lives, but find a way to tell the story in a way that facilitates hope and change. Ask yourself: How can I tell a different story with the same facts?”

School have narrative poverty meaning that there is a lack of the story that reflects the students lives.

TikTok is not your therapist: the rise of self-diagnosis among youth

Jehan shared that “What happens in life is less important than the story we tell about it.”  How can I tell a different story with the same set of facts?

Finally Te Aomihia Taua-Glassie, the Māori Vice President shared her personal story about the people who shaped her life as an educator. I particularly made connections with this story because of the number of strong women who helped shape her journey.

The conference finished with a karakia and a waiata.

This reflection are from my notes taken during the two days. I had a really good time learning and have missed networking with colleagues. Several years have passed since I have attended a national conference. I especially thank my friend Jacinta Grice who encouraged me to join her at the conference and her PPTA colleagues who made me feel welcome. I felt honoured to make connections with colleagues in the secondary sector. I was particularly interested in Te Ao Māori  workshops to continue growing my personal understanding. I was humbled to hear such inspirational speakers and Rosemary and Pasi continue to inspire me in my own learning. All the other keynotes and workshop presenters were new to me and enabled me to reflect on what was happening in my own school. Yes I took heaps of photos and have only shared a few here. Jacinta and I had the opportunity too of catching up with Penny Ashton, conference MC, and reminise about our first school where we taught together, St Joseph’s Papanui.

Thanks to Rose for this final quote that sums up my experience. “Professional learning that makes sense of the complex changes that are happening all around us transforms our *being* in the world.”

A special mention here of Johnny who helped me phrase my introduction.


Tupua Tamasese (2007) stated that ‘ A search for peace is a search for harmony’. Tupua goes on to explain the four facets of harmony and when these facets align then peace prevails.

Why write about peace?

2023 is the UNESCO International Year of Dialogue as a Guarantee of Peace, (2022).

Education is a key ingredient in building a culture of peace.

As we begin the school year in New Zealand, our themes for learning are planned.

Part of this is ensuring our school values are revisited.

I have written before of our school values, (2019).  But I had not developed enough in my understanding of how the values are closely woven together and I return to the word harmony. 

What is harmony? 

Harmony is like a Tōtika (Balance) or an alignment. Harmony is usually not seen but generally felt like the space between the nodes. The space that cannot be seen. Harmony is how we treat others the way we want to be treated. 

Our school values

Unesco emphasises the importance of teaching values and at our school we have Kindness, Respect and Perseverance. UNESCO also emphasises the contribution of learners in advancing a culture of peace. In particular the importance of prevention and resolution of conflicts and in activities that promote a culture of peace. At my school we have been part of the ‘Mitey’ way during 2022. Mitey is part of our professional learning to develop a school-wide mental health strategy.

All awareness-raising activities related to peace are very important. Educating our learners about our school values is fundamental to keep advancing towards a more balanced and peaceful school. Through the Mitey Mana Model we are learning to develop activities which show respect for what is happening in the world, respect for our environment, respect for each other and respect for oneself. The Mana Model of Student Wellbeing (2023) comes from world class research by leading New Zealand academics. 

Creating a harmonious and peaceful school

Developing harmony for our school staff by ensuring:

  • New staff have been greeted by the senior team and getting to know their teaching teams;
  • New staff have access to all their teaching tools and accounts;
  • Communication channels are open, accessible and transparent;
  • An understanding of our school history as part of local curriculum;
  • Planning for functions for staff;
  • Identifying opportunities to build strong staff relationships;

Developing harmony for our families and whānau by:

  • Pronouncing each of our children’s names correctly;
  • Greeting our families in their home language;
  • Understanding the cultural diversity in our school and begin by acknowledging the Chinese New Year and highlighting all the language weeks;
  • Informing the whānau about the upcoming events each week and each quarter of the year;
  • Communication channels are open, accessible through ease of translations and are transparent;
  • Inviting our families and whānau to a shared picnic early in the school year;
  • Planning for and hosting 3-way conferences;

For developing harmony in our learning environments by

  • Identifying areas of maintenance and upkeep both inside and out;
  • Ensuring all learning systems are set up;
  • Setting up a welcoming classroom;
  • Pre ordering school stationery so that it is ready for distribution;
  • Proving advanced notice the year before of which class the children will be a member of;

Education is critical to creating a school that builds peace by developing a comprehensive program. The Mitey Mana Model teaches our learners how to interact with others, how to nurture their own emotional wellbeing and those of others, and how to avoid unnecessary aggression. A key Mitey finding was that children thrive when they can develop their innate mana.Thus preventing violent incidents from occurring. If our learners have a peaceful mind and are emotionally healthy with a respectful heart then they are better equipped to face the challenges that life brings. 

Kirwan, J. (Ed.). (n.d.). Mitey affirms and develops mana. Mitey. Retrieved January 13, 2023, from https://www.mitey.org.nz/about-mitey/the-mana-model

Tui Atua, T.T.T.E. 2007. “In Search of Harmony: Peace in the Samoan Indigenous Religion”. In Tui Atua, T.T.T.E et al (eds), Pacific indigenous dialogue on faith, peace, reconciliation and good governance. Apia, Samoa: Alafua Campus Continuing and Community Education Programme, University of the South Pacific. Pp.1-12.

UNESCO (Ed.). (2022, December 6). International Year of Dialogue as a Guarantee of Peace, 2023. International Years. Retrieved January 14, 2023, from https://www.un.org/en/observances/international-years

Van Schaijik, S. (2019, October 19). Our school values. Retrieved January 13, 2023, from https://sonyavanschaijik.com/2019/10/19/our-school-values/

The practice of teachers is changing.

Alongside an understanding of planning and assessment there is a growing expectation within education to normalise use of Te Reo Maori. 

Under NELP Three: Quality teaching and leadership – quality teaching and leadership make the difference for learners and their whānau learning. 

Priority 5: Meaningfully incorporate te reo Māori and tikanga Māori into the everyday life of the place of learning

Within The Education Sector Logon system I noticed several more tools have been included such as Whiria-Te Ahu o te Reo Māori. https://takueducationnz.force.com/whiria/s/

Te Ahu o te Reo Māori means the future pathway of te reo Māori – a pathway that seeks to inspire improved te reo Māori proficiency, acquisition and use across the education sector. It also provides opportunities for te reo Māori to be normalised, and Māori identity and culture to be shared and embraced.

As we move towards 2023 and school reevaluate their strategic plans. 

The revamped curriculum has the long view that each student’s ultimate learning success is more important than the covering of particular achievement objectives.

I am interested to see what steps the schools in our Kāhui Ako take in terms of developing Te Reo Māori strategies as they address our Tiriti obligations.

Te Ahu o te Reo Māori supports teachers in developing competency in te reo Māori (specifically pronunciation and use of te reo Māori), tikanga Māori and improved understanding of local stories. Check out the 7 levels that can be attained.

The evaluation of the pilot recommends supporting multiple staff to attend Te Reo learning from the same school/centre.

Check out the evaluation on Education Counts.

Leadership from an ASL perspective

(School Pepeha)

Ko Maungawhau te maunga

Ko Ruareoreo te awa

Ko Te Ti Tūtahi te wāhi

Kei Tāmaki-Makaurau ahau e noho ana

Ko Newmarket te kura

He kaiako matua hoki i te Kāhui Ako o ACCoS

Ko Reynolds tōku hapū

Nō Hāmoa ahau

Ko Sonya tōku ingoa

Nō reira tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa

Malo le soifua ma le lagi e mama, talofa lava.

Leadership from my ASL perspective.

For me leadership is about service and growing others. Leading others focuses on actions that will shape the culture of learning more powerfully and develop the professional capital of teachers as a group and not just within our Kahui Ako. Leading others also implies that I have followers. In my current situation the followers are the ISL and other teachers that I work with. In this leadership reflection I am influenced by the leaders I admire and their research on leadership and learning. These include Alma Harris, Michael Fullan and John Hattie. However historically I am also influenced by my discussions with Tupua Tamasese, Patisepa Tuafuti and of course our own Pam Hook. The last three know me well and have a way of pushing my thinking deeper by encouraging me to peel away my layers of thinking.

Characteristics of my leadership style

Recently as an Across School Leader (ASL) in the Auckland Central Community of School (ACCoS)) Kāhui Ako, I was asked to complete a Clifton Strength Assessment.This tool helps individuals discover their top five strengths. I have simplified the feedback received and have focussed on aspects of how I contribute to ACCoS.

  • According to the Clifton Strength Assessment, my top five strengths are

1. Achiever:  I help others achieve more and break down ideas into Milestones

2. Learner: I see the world as things not yet learnt

3. Strategic: I am always firing and considering a path forward and obstacles to overcome. I understand when I need to go back and explain the process and give people time to understand the next step forward.

4. Connectedness:  I find ways to keep informed on what is going on around us and I make and see links between events in the community and our work.

5. Responsibility: I see our work (mahi) is about making progress because we made a contract when we said yes to the ASL role. I am the accountability partner because I  have the eye for the commitments that the group has made and know who is counting on us to ensure we follow through.

I would also like to include awareness as a skill too. Awareness that we are part of a larger networked system and so I continually seek ways  for the collaborative development of leadership. I identify conditions required to enable us to work with each other, across sectors and with related agencies regionally, nationally and globally in ways that enable learning and development for all akonga . In the current climate of COVID, this includes embracing synchronous and asynchronous ways of working. Some educators call this Hybrid Learning. By using the Clifton Strength Assessment I have used the opportunity to reflect where I am on my own leadership journey and using the information gained will help ACCoS improve our work culture and performance.The results are not enough if we do not reflect on them. 

Leadership Values 

I have several values that I think about in my mahi and continually look at ways I am including them. They are Tautua, Va Fealofani and Faamanuiaga and these values come from my Samoan language.

Over the years I am continually guided by the alagaupu or proverb.

“ O le ala o le pule ole Tautua which means ‘The path to leadership is through service’.”

 I am conscious of Tautua or service to lead others. 

Maori have a word ‘whanungatanga’ and in Samoan it is  Va Fealofani. Put simply whanaungatanga is about respectful relationships and at the same time whanaungatanga is much more than that.

Manaakitanga is about the care and responsibility we give to people around us. It is about hospitality in our environment. In Samoan we say Faamanuiaga or the blessings we bestow on others.

Success as a Leader

My success as a leader is my service to lead others. I evaluate success on how I make people feel and contribute. I thrive when the people I work with succeed.   I fly high when I see learners gain confidence and grow. I believe in transparency and output and have often said if we cannot see the product then it does not exist. 

The relationship between ASL leadership and ACCoS

Overall  ASL must look for ways to maximise interaction between themselves, the In School Leaders that they work with and the senior leadership teams of the schools they work with and their community. In addition they go beyond themselves and cross sectors and identify related agencies regionally, nationally and globally in ways that enable learning and development.

We must develop our own leadership capabilities in order to be effective in terms of developing professional leadership and any form of leadership development programme should operate within the network. We must not work independently from Kāhui Ako regionally and nationally.  We must continue to look for ways to connect with other learning communities globally to learn with and from them.

Implications for mentoring ISL in their leadership roles

I believe that as ASLs in  ACCoS, we must share our learning and regularly reflect in a transparent way. Yes this includes putting our work out so that it is accessible nationally and globally. Some of these ways can be via social media, through blogging and presenting. We must hear all voices in our community and actively seek ways to create dialogue particularly with the In School Leaders that we work with. The mahi that we do is based on changing our own practice and to develop networked system leaders for New Zealand schools.

Coaching has enhanced my leadership development

In the ACCoS Kahui Ako the ASLs are regularly coached by a certified leadership coach. I look forward to these sessions as they help me with accountability and output.

Regular coaching helps me reduce the gap from where I am to where I want to be. The coaching process enables me to clearly see the process of what I still need to do and therefore enhances my professional effectiveness and my ASL performance.

Currently I work alongside two other ASLs in the Leading Local Curriculum Initiative and coaching with our leadership coach enables me to utilise the skills of all to clarify and develop a pathway forward in the mahi.  What I have learnt the most about coaching is the idea of building trust. That what I hear and say out loud ensures a clarity of my own thinking and the conversation is based on what is going well. The GROWTH framework used supports the thinking process and highlights the structure of success in ensuring there is a factor of accountability without being threatening. 

When I first began coaching I think I used it as a way to correct what needed doing. However as I was coached and learnt the process of coaching I now see coaching as a way of understanding about changing my own practice in order to coach others to do the same. As an ASL I have learnt how to phrase my coaching statements in a positive and non threatening way and how to respond in a non defensive manner. I have also learnt to take on learning conversations by being prepared using the GROWTH coaching framework.

Learning in Endemic Management

As a school we are preparing for the inevitable that we will be hit with the Omicron variant. It is not a matter of if but a matter of when. Part of preparation is understanding what endemic management is when talking about learning. Covid 19 disease has reached the endemic stage in New Zealand. This means that the  virus continues to exist in our community but is becoming manageable as immunity builds. As a school we have looked back at what worked when we were in pandemic lock down and what we have learned on the journey that we have been on together. The greatest learning is the systems and processes we have in place and that the whole school cannot rely on one person. Everyone has to rise to the challenge and help with the workload. The other important factor is not having all knowledge with one person but sharing and communicating so that if one member goes down, there is someone else who can pick up the baton and carry on.

The new norm involves wearing masks to school and therefore students miss out on facial cues from peers and the teacher. Many of our families have been anxious about their children missing out on normal life experiences. There are ongoing concerns about the increase of using screens for learning  and about growing up in a socially distanced face to face environment. Keep in mind that not all screen time is equal. Not all synchronous learning online is equal. A classic example is a teacher streaming a video during an online lesson. The video lagged.

I continually struggle with some expectations that online learning is synchronous. That teachers pick up their video cameras and live stream a ‘normal’ lesson. How many of you have registered for a training session in real time but not attended. You waited for the video link to become available then fast forward in 1.5 times? Even better if they used youtube as a hosting platform, then the text can be quickly read.

Schools are a stabilising force for our families. In this time of uncertainty our school is there to anchor and support our families. Each day we return home grateful and hoping that no one was sick today.

The greatest impact of moving into the endemic stage is on learning.  Our school returned after the Christmas holidays to what the new normal is becoming. However we cannot return to how we have always done ‘learning’. In some ways we have put into action the learning we have carried out on what learning at home is.

How can we successfully teach online if we have not taken part in being an online learner ourselves. To do this step successfully meant ensuring that our teachers and support staff were equipped with the devices and the digital online tools to support our learners in the new normal. We have a school expectation that our teachers will learn how to use the online tools for learning and be certified in this process. A key strategy was encouraging all our teachers to be online learners themselves. They do this by completing the Hapara Champion Educator training. I believe that the greatest learning space is between the teacher’s ears. If teachers have not experienced being an online learner themselves then they will be continually challenged to provide the online learning for their students. This is evident in sparse workspaces for some classes. They are full of learning activities and omit the purpose and assessment criteria.

I have been watching the word Hybrid Learning brandied around as if it is a new concept. I have read that online learning experience should be as near normal as the face2face learning as possible. However maybe I still have much to learn because I query this even from great business models such as Amazon. Amazon does not have a storefront where you can go and preview items for purchase. I believe that the most effective teachers are those that have a vast knowledge of instructional strategies, technologies, tools, and resources, and can masterfully build meaningful relationships with students in-person and through a screen. We do not need to add the word Hybrid to learning or to teachers to have a ‘new way’ of learning.

The purpose of learning virtually and face2face

Teachers must be clear about the purpose of synchronous and asynchronous learning. 

Are we ready for those who are immunocompromised, uncomfortable or unable to return to in-person learning due to potential COVID-19 risks? Currently we can feel the push for remote teaching as well as traditional brick-and-mortar classroom teaching during endemic management. Can teaching in person face to face and virtually at the same time work?

There are some really good youtube videos to watch from teachers overseas who have successfully managed to do both.

Some of the tips reinforced include

  • Focus on running your total class digitally online with a focus on student participation rather than watching the teacher. Therefore shelf those synchronous Zoom/Meet/Team lessons.
  • Virtual students watching a teacher in class does not work. No matter how many cameras are used to help. Therefore do not try to replicate that reading or writing lesson for virtual learners.
  • Ensure a well set up workspace with learning intentions and assessment criteria using rubrics. Make sure this is easily accessible to the students.
  • There needs to be a home site where all spaces link off from so that students and families can find everything they need in one place.
  • Leverage all our online tools so there is consistency in how we operate.
  • Highlight asynchronous teaching and keep building and developing skills already learnt during previous lockdowns.
  • Other teachers have already been through the process so talk to colleagues on social media. Most are willing to share how they managed the process.
  • Keep creating those hyperdocs and choice boards that the students can complete entirely on their own.
  • Make use of paid tools such as seesaw and reading eggs with lessons and activities already created.
  • Make use of other teachers’ lessons and examples on Flipgrid and Book Creator. These can be easily adapted for our classes.
  • Make use of collaborative tools to encourage cocreation of learning such as Book Creator, Padlet, Jamboard, Google Apps.

If schools continue to push for synchronous lessons, then we will continue to be challenged with late comers or stopping the lesson to solve access issues for some students.

Remote teaching as well as traditional brick-and-mortar classroom teaching synchronously is extremely difficult to pull off. Speaking from a TeachMeetNZ experience I needed to take my learners through 4x times in order to produce a simple 3 minute video presentation in real time.

The message I read from our overseas colleagues is:

Always start with a whole class activity that is transparent and encourages participation. Use Jamboard or padlet or a shared file so that students can contribute in real time. At the same time this does not have to happen every day. Provide most of the instructions asynchronously. Be cautious about delievery of instructions. For example I have seen pages and pages of written instructions for our families to follow and I have seen a simple video with screenshots. Keep synchronous instructions to a minimum and use these as a check in rather than for learning.

Plan horizontally so that students do not rely on a sequential completion of order of activities and set up the online classroom for virtual and face2face students as asynchronous stations.

Once students have moved through all the stations, then move to an independent activity. Allow stations for peer collaboration. Face2face as well as virtual. The tools are available for coconstruction and collaboration.

Use workspaces to ensure you can jump in and out of students’ folios. Seeing your whole class deck in real time is of vital importance and again Hapara does this so well.

Seesaw and Hapara allow you to give feedback and to send work back for revisiting or if incomplete.

Spend money on high quality instructional programmes especially if your school is at the stage where every student has a 1:1 device. Just a note here and remember to have some way of monitoring activity in real time.

Choose not to spend money on cameras and mics etc as this focusses students on observation. Choose not to spend time on synchronous lessons. Teachers are not at the front. The focus is student participation. They participate via stations of learning. Have students show and explain their learning using digital whiteboards like Jamboard. Flipgrid is fabulous too for the students to explain their learning.

Continue to invest money in teaching teachers to use the technology and encourage them to complete their certification in becoming a more adept user of the technology by building skills in how to use them through certification.

Before the endemic management we were in the pandemic lockdown for home learning. We rolled with the expectations and upskilled at an exponential rate. In those earlier online lessons with teachers I remember the horror of what was expected from them. As the pandemic days stretched into weeks our teachers and students rose to the challenge and I was so proud of what was achieved. 

In this next endemic management stage we cannot return to just face2face learning. Everything is uncertain but what is certain is that learning must continue. I believe we can use this opportunity to finetune what we already do so that we can cater both for our virtual students as well as face2face students. This begins with a well designed workspace.

What am I still wondering

What does this learning workspace look like for our junior learners?

How will our special needs learners cope?

How do we ensure our workspaces are built effectively so that as the students complete tasks that the next level of the workspace opens up?

Where will we host the home page so that all workspaces link to the home page?

What feedback have we had from families reagrding supporting students accessing learning virtually?

What other forms of online professional learning should we consider? Suggest to providers to also come up with stations of activities for participation so that not all learning is attending a Zoom as this focuses on observation.

Question Generator 
Link to the online app. (cost and worth every cent because using the app saves me so much time and always helps clarify my thinking)

Define & describe school endemic management (EM)

Where did the term originate?

Key feature of school endemic management?

What steps led to EM?

How would we organise EM?

How does EM affect learning?

What opportunities does EM provide?

Short term outcome for EM?

Practical applications for EM?

Before EM what did we do?

Consequence of EM? 

What is the essence of EM?

What I still do not know??

Whose voice can I not hear?

What possibilities need to be eliminated with EM?

‘Is’ is such an important word

 SOLO Taxonomy helped me teach writing to a deeper level. From that I have come to the conclusion that ‘is‘ is an important word. I place it in the same level as ‘because‘ when I work with writing. 

‘Is’ defines something just as much as ‘because’ allows you to link and connect your ideas.

When I wander around classes and sometimes pick up my students books I think… Where is ‘is’ hiding? or,  If this introduction had ‘is’ this would be such a stronger piece of writing.

If children are writing a narrative or a story then I also look for was or were.

At extended abstract level, I look for personal voice. EG: ‘I really like sharks because….’

or ‘I believe sharks are important because…..’

Currently I am looking at our writing data and again I see ideas and sentence structure pulling the overall data down. Using SOLO Taxonomy would help as the learner would begin with a map of ideas and then identify the vocabulary to support the concept of sentence structure. 

If you want to know more I have curated some downloadable resources here. 

Learning remotely

Four weeks have passed since I last posted and already it is May. May is generally an important month for me as I usually associate May the 1st as the date I launched TeachMeetNZ.  It has been a couple of years since I have run a Google Hangout for professional learning. However the skills I developed running online learning for teachers have been invaluable as I have supported our teachers during ‘Lockdown’ acclimatise to leading learning online with each other and with their own learners.

I have observed the thinking that teaching face to face can be shifted to online learning with little thought to the challenges that surface when teaching the upcoming ‘TikTok’ generation. Those of you who have explored TikTok will know the speed that media moves. Trying to replicate any of those skills is a challenge in itself to maintain the learner’s interest.  TikTok media snackers are used to swiping up when they are not interested in what we are trying to teach them. 

Personally the aspects that I struggle with with remote online learning is when video conferencing is used for face to face teaching via ZOOM as there are much more effective ways of ensuring learning happens. I observe our teachers undertaking the challenge and I wonder how many of them have been an online learner themselves? How many of them have sat in ZOOM classes or Google Meets themselves listening to an online teacher in real time? 

Some of the excellent online courses I have undertaken only use real time face to face to make connections or to celebrate with an end product. In one of the courses, I never met my teachers face to face in real time except the option was there if I needed personal support. 

I have never sat on a face to face virtual lesson to learn how to do something. That is what Youtube is for and more recently what Tiktok is for. At least in Youtube I can speed up the video when it starts to drag and in Tiktok I can swipe up when the content does not motivate me. I do feel for the learners having to sit and listen to their teachers ‘teach’ virtually and in real time. Our teachers need a strong understanding of cameras and of online tools for editing in order to do something like this effectively. 

With all the technology available to us, I continually search for ways of having the learner share what they can do. I am particularly interested in any tool that opens up for collaboration. Some of my favourites are FlipGrid, Book Creator, Wevideo, Seesaw and even good old google tools. If teachers need to teach, then create self help videos for the students. At least the learners can speed up the video or slow it down to suit or even revisit for clarification as a reference point. Even better they can choose to sit and watch if they are really that keen.

Probably my greatest challenge with using ZOOM for real time teaching is not recording when the children are on.Teaching in real time takes our teachers and our students into each other’s homes so it’s important to consider privacy. As teachers we must also remember that we are like a guest entering our students’ home. Student safety comes first and how many of our teachers have spent time teaching their students how to blur their backgrounds when in real time.  

When teaching in real time, I think, ‘Is this the best way that our students learn? How much would our students benefit from this type of delivery? Are we not supposed to be leading the balance in using screen time for learning?  Would it not be better to record a lesson using ZOOM, Youtube, Flipgrid, or Wevideo? Then at least there is a recording that can be repurposed across the team, with another class.’ Also teaching videos would cut down some of the instructions I have seen in text form, especially some of the long instructions I have read on Seesaw messages for families. There appears to be an expectation that families would then translate these instructions for their children.

I look at all these upcoming scheduled teaching sessions taking up parent devices and think surely these ‘small group lessons’ would be better prerecorded and the actual scheduled times used for full student social connections, just like we would at school at least once a week. Kind of like a team assembly. Also a great way of checking in with colleagues and ensuring staff well being.   Oh and have a colleague host the session. They can deal with muting mics and letting in any late comers. Then again offer a second opportunity for scheduled check in times and make use of real time chat boards, that can be locked down when not in use. I suggest Padlet. I was super excited when one of our young teachers agreed to trial a real time chat board with her students. I showed her how to lock it down when she was not online. Creating a real time chat board allows other students to see if their question had also been asked.

I would be really interested in hearing from schools using video as prerecorded lessons for learning. What have you noticed and are they successful for supporting learners? 

Leave a comment below.

NOTE: while searching for examples of teachers teaching in real time via video conferencing This very good article from ISTE popped up. 10 strategies for online learning during a coronavirus outbreak 

Home learning at Newmarket School.

#NPSFab Teachers

What a week we have had??

At Newmarket School we have been preparing for online learning for several years. This past couple of weeks have thrown us all into that learning whether we are fully prepared or not. Personally I needed just two more days and I would have felt better about our processes and systems  for home learning during our lockdown period. I had begun preparation a few weeks earlier by checking how robust our systems were and whether our teachers would be ready to enter this new phase of teaching and learning. I had already sent out a home questionnaire and one key idea was using video to help maintain effective social relationship between learners and their teachers. Families wanted to see videos of teachers reading and maybe sharing lessons. This did not have to be in real time.

Then I read Danielle Myburgh’s Tweet, and spent a few days pondering some of the questions she had on the graphic.

‘Is your School Really prepared for Lockdown.’ Danielle Myburgh

  1. To what extent do you think your school has prepared all students for managing their own learning at home?
  2. To what extent do you think your school has prepared students and staff for managing rapid change and volatility?
  3. How will your school ensure equitable learning outcomes for all students during lockdown periods?
  4. How will your school be supporting vulnerable and physically at risk students during lockdown?
  5. How will your school support students with special learning needs during lockdown?
  6. To what extent will your existing policies need to be adjusted should lockdown processes continue for longer than four weeks?
  7. How prepared is your school to support teacher well being and personal circumstances throughout lockdown periods?
  8. What do you anticipate will be your biggest challenge should lockdown continue for longer periods of time?

At Newmarket School below are some of the online tools and systems we use.

Hapara is the system that sits behind Google Apps for Education and has been fabulous for ensuring learning is accountable. At the end of last year, our records showed that most of our year 3 and older teachers had completed their Hapara Champion Educator Certification. So with a little encouragement our next cohort completed theirs by March. They were our newer teachers. 

For home communication, we use Seesaw and this platform has been particularly useful for our predominantly migrant families as it has the ease of working easily on any device and is accessible via smart phones, Seesaw also has a facility for quick translations for our families. At our school nearly all of our teachers are Seesaw Champions and this has made a tremendous difference in taking advantage of all features of Seesaw and in using the platform for teaching and learning.

Our other paid for Apps include WeVideo for creating movies online and Reading Eggs which is an online system that helps reading. 

 We also have been delving into a few free tools for chrome books.

Last year we explored FlipGrid which has been great for capturing learning in real time and for capturing student voice. This year our year 3 and older teachers have embraced the platform. 

Last year we explored Book Creator and our year 3 and 4 teachers embraced the platform for writing. This year our year 5 and 6 teachers took it on board to learn how to use for teaching and learning. During this lock down period Book Creator have opened up their free introductory system to the paid level of collaboration and so we have made use of this free upgrade. 

Last week I undertook to learn Zoom an online virtual meeting platform and this has proved valuable for hosting meetings. Last Monday our Pandemic team met via Zoom and together we finalised what would happen in event of school closure. After school we had a quick training session with all the teachers.

The last few days

During our final few days, we checked our systems and had sent a form to all families in preparation for closure. The data gathered helped identify students who needed a device. We also identified  which families might struggle with access to WIFI.

However we did not ask if there were any children who would be in a different lock down address to their normal home address.

Level 3 Lockdown.

When the news hit us late on the Monday afternoon, the unrest had already begun at our school because we had so many children away. Our management team made the decision to send all school devices home as well as the letter of agreement for its use and asked for these to be emailed back to me. On Tuesday many more families arrived to collect their bag of learning which included a device and letter of agreement signed for on the spot.  On Wednesday, we locked down devices remotely and sent a reminder message that I was still waiting on agreements from families. We were successful in doing this, because we received 90 responses via email. 

On Thursday we held our second Zoom Staff meeting synchronously and this was successful because everyone managed to get on in time and we had no problems with the tool. Thank goodness for all those years running TeachMeetNZ. This gave me the skills to pull this learning quickly and easily. One clear message from our senior management team was how to support teachers’ well being and personal circumstances during this period. We agreed that we would continue to work in teams online and that all planning and access to all spaces continue to be shared by all. If anyone was sick, then the team picked up the pace with monitoring. We agreed on hours of work when we would be available to our learners. We agreed on locking down devices over the holiday period because the children were using school devices and school systems and so if they were open, teachers needed to be actively managing them.

Support staff.

During this trial period we prepared our support staff too. They all have access to both a chromebook and a school iPad. I ensured they also had training with Zoom and we then met online on Friday to find out how they were coping. On Wednesday with the children online, we identified hot spots of learning and so on Thursday I placed support staff in strategic places to support teachers with monitoring. The time spent moderating on Superclubs plus helped me anticipate areas we could find challenging. 

Strategies I have learnt from being a Global educator

  • Plan
  • Track
  • Communicate
  • Anticipate 
  • Record
  • Adjust 
  • Reflect
  • Share

We had an issue with communication across the school that we have since dealt with. One way of ensuring that miscommunication does not happen again is to use our group text communication. We told families that school devices would be locked down overnight as a trial, but had not told our teachers. The test happened with our senior team but our middle school team was swamped with seesaw messages and this affected them working effectively during their first full day of managing home learning.

What have we learnt?

How important it is to manage school devices remotely which we do for our school chromebooks via Google Management System, our students log ins, via Hapara Student learning system and our iPads using Meraki.

Teachers recorded reading using youtube unlisted using their school account, however when sharing, chromebooks had the link blocked. Teachers sharing FlipGrid videos via Seesaw had a blocked message. Then we received a message from LIANZA reminding us about copyright issues when recording teachers reading a story and sharing this online.

So a quick reminder was sent to all teachers reminding them of their obligations when reading books. A lot of this is just good teacher pedagogy.

  • Introduce yourself and where you are from.
  • Introduce the title, author, illustrator and publisher.
  • But if we used a hidden link on youtube, then our learners cannot hear the stories read by their teachers  on a chrome device.

My principal reminded me that we pay print copyright fees, but we are both unsure of how this new way of sharing is affected.

We have tried to focus on the positive such as our principal asking the children and parents via email to send her photos of home learning happening.  Photos of the joy or silving lining each day brings.

Over time, we know that children will test the systems and how we deal with this is of vital importance. So we screenshot and follow up any incidents. Warn using Hapara Highlights, or we change their passwords and alert parents. We utilise support staff with monitoring and tracking. I get them to add a heart on Seesaw. I have placed two support staff to support teachers in highlights, one for each team.  They have alerted me to a few unusual activities. 

But most importantly we are all being kind to ourselves, and celebrating the huge step up that our teachers have undertaken. 

School Values
During this period of uncertainty, our school values become even more important and guide our school and home learning. 

  • Kindness
  • Patience
  • Perseverance

Where to next

Currently our system is locked down for the two week break. We have encouraged all our families to focus on non device activities and to spend time with each other when they can. Teachers will continue to meet via Zoom and plan the next two weeks. They will spend time familiarising themselves with unknown tools and also take some time to spend with families and look after themselves.

Right now I am in the process of collating data for the Ministry of Education as to where our children are living in this Stage 4 lock down period.

Myself, I have been gardening, walking every day, and working online finalising a few last minute school tasks to ensure that both teachers and students have a positive experience when learning from home.

A big shout out here to all those providers who have opened up their systems for a longer trial period. An extra big shoutout to Newerait our technical team who work to ensure our systems are operational and to N4L for the high speed internet access provided to us at school. My home WIFI is a tad slow and I really notice this when I am uploading learning.

I also give an extra big shout out to the staff, children and families at Newmarket School. They are absolutely #NPSFab and have taken to home learning with enthusiasm and growing excitement.

My final shoutout goes to Wendy and Ginny our senior management team for being the first to create video messages for our children.

Our school values.

 E iloa le tagata i lana amio ma ana aga. (Samoan)

You can tell a person by their deeds and actions, and the way they treat others.

At our school, our three core school values are kindness, respect and perseverance. We have a Maori version too but remember that translating the Maori core value back into English can have an impact on meaning. 

This week I was in one of the junior classes and for their writing the children were describing our school values. Each day the teacher modelled one value using shared writing strategies. In addition she provided the children with sentence starters to help them frame their writing and support them depending on their abilities. Then the children went and wrote their own version. What the children wrote about our school values left such an impression on me that I thought I would also have a go but write them from a teacher perspective. So what I have done is put the values  together and used the Maori version to help strengthen the English value.

Manaakitanga is the process of showing kindness, generosity and care for others.

At Newmarket School kindness is one of our school values We teach our children the importance of being kind. As teachers we model being kind with our words and actions. We show empathy for each other by choosing the words we use when we are together and are conscious of the impact of our words. We are role models for our children and for each other by upholding a high standard of what we say and how we say it. We show kindness by taking pleasure and pride in our team work and produce great lessons that our children remember. We show kindness by building relationships with our children and their families and take the time to greet them using eye contact and remember their names and where they come from. Kindness is important because kindness is central to who we are at Newmarket School. We value people above all things and in doing so, we are ourselves uplifted. The very act of talking and writing about kindness encourages our children and us to be kinder. Let us make kindness visible. We can smile at people and ask how they are. We can make an effort to connect and act in kindness. We can practice being approachable by being gentle with words and actions. Kindness sits at the heart of well being.

Whanaungatanga is the sense of connection and belonging. It is about building respectful relationships through shared experiences and working together. It develops as a result of rights and obligations. It also extends to others to whom one develops a close familial, friendship or reciprocal relationship.

At Newmarket School respect is another one of our school values. We teach our children the importance of being respectful with a focus on manners. As staff  we highlight respect beginning with greeting each other, our children and their parents whenever we see them. This year we have spent the year unpacking belonging and what this looks like in learning. The concept was developed by our student curriculum leaders. As a staff member of Newmarket school I am conscious of my rights as a person and also my responsibility to our children, my colleagues and our families. One major responsibility we have with our children is to build that reciprocal relationship with their families. At Newmarket school we have a history of creating shared experiences for our children. Their favourite event, as was highlighted by our leaving year six children, is our annual camp. This major event sees a huge input from our families and staff to ensure a safe and memorable event for our children. Respect is important because it serves to strengthen each member of our school group.

Kaitiakitanga is about guardianship, stewardship, trusteeship, trustee. 

Our third Newmarket School value is perseverance. We teach our children that perseverance is about never giving up, giving things a go, trying one’s best. However we must also remember that  perseverance is also about duty and not just the playground grind. It is more like service and for us at Newmarket School it is about acknowledging our historic motte, ‘Not self but service.’ Perseverance is about knowing our heritage through storytelling and sharing our story. Again this was an area highlighted by our curriculum student leaders in their planning for learning for 2019. Our children wanted to know more about our school’s history. Perseverance is important because it is about guardianship and looking after our surrounding environment sustainably. It is about building a legacy for future learners. It is about leaving our school in a better place. 

Overall in today’s climate of learning, it is important for schools to have a core set of values that underpin all that they do and are communicated clearly with all involved. Often when we design learning ,we focus on what we can see and yet the greatest learning space is the space between the ears. When we focus on values, we focus on actions and again we focus on what we see and yet the greatest action is how we treat others.

By communicating our core values with each other and our children, we build citizenship and make a difference. I have written before about citizenship and presented my understanding about citizenship here.

Maori say, ‘He aha te mea nui o te ao?  He tangata! He tangata! He tangata!’ What is the most important thing in the world?  It is people! It is people! It is people!

If you have written about your school values, can you please share this with me?

Note; Nikki @Nikki_From_NZ thanks for reminding me about revisiting our school values. I look forward to seeing what you do with these in your classroom.

Our Journeys to New Zealand.

Belonging has been our overarching theme at Newmarket School for 2019.

The concept was developed by our student leaders in the curriculum development team.

I wanted to share some exciting developments that happened with the team I worked with this term. 

I had been playing with Book Creator and was impressed with the ease of creating and wondered if I could persuade the team to use it as a platform to develop writing.

I created a writing unit framed using SOLO Taxonomy and the key idea was to have our children write their migrant journey to New Zealand or a close family member. 

When I first approached our teachers with the idea, I suggested that in order for the project to work, they themselves must also create a migrant story about themselves or a family member. They must also use book creator to craft their story so they could experience that challenges their learners might have with the app. I shared my own journey to New Zealand that could be used as a model by both teachers and children. 

Link to my story

I applied for and gained book creator ambassador status and this opened up further ideas for collaboration. 

Another idea was for each teacher to share the code to their class library so that all teachers could learn from each other. This they did.

Teachers used Seesaw to communicate with families. Most of the images came in this way for the children. Some teachers created a page in Google Docs and saved the families links there. That was so the children were then able to access their images. For art the children created patterns from countries that they associate with and this was also included in their books. They also included a reflection on the art process.

All in all, the unit of work was successful. We learned so much about who we all are, belonging, and the diverse cultures that make up our school.

Our families gave us positive feedback because the children came home and asked so many questions that conversations around family photo albums were animated and exciting.

In addition several families needed to contact extended families overseas for further clarification for some information.

When the books were completed, we printed out one paper copy for each child and also shared the digital copies with families in a hidden link via Seesaw. 

As an added bonus, I was also able to cocreate a story book with some of the children about the area that we live in. They created all the images using the new drawing tool. The book is called ‘The Patupaihere of Tāmaki Makaurau’ and retells the story of how the mountains appeared in Auckland.

The children created Patupaihere using the new drawing tool.

Where to next: I cannot stress enough the importance of going through the learning yourself first as a teacher. Two parts of the learning included: ‘How to write a recount’ and ‘How to learn to use Book Creator’. In addition, be really clear about driving the learning deeper and I do this using SOLO Taxonomy. Finally remember to leave time to reflect on the process. I can hear Ginny now, “Where is the SOLO Taxonomy rubric?”