Monday, 1 August 2016

I Failed Again Today

I failed again today and again it felt fantastic! Why? Because the more I seem to fail the more I seem to learn! Isn't that what we are trying to teach our students, that it is good to fail? Surely one of the best ways for students to understand and model a process or behaviour is to be around others that are role modelling it.

So what stops a person or more specifically a teacher role modelling taking risks and trying new things? What stops somebody dancing in the face failure? 

I believe it is the environment they are in for one, often people ego's make them behave meanly towards others. For whatever reason, it appears ego's come into it and another person may feel threatening when someone is trying something new and so they restrict them and make the opportunity to experiment and try new things difficult to implement or ridicule the ideas they may have. I'm guessing that we can probably all think of at least one situation we have been in were someone has done this to us. It's not nice and it is difficult to negotiate through, on the one hand you don't want the conflict but on the other hand you know that what you are doing is right for the students and you must push forward.

Reflecting upon this, I thought about the times I had the confidence to fail in public and not feel terrified by the prospect of making a fool of myself. Often, it has been at PD sessions, ones where the environment is supportive and encouraging and often I don't know that many people there. But the people there are also willing to put themselves out there somewhat and are always kind and encouraging.

This weekend I attended EduCamp in Auckland. It was Awesome! If you haven't attended one of these sessions I thoroughly recommend you put it on your 'to do' list and get to one in the very near future. I felt a bit out of my depth at the start and a little nervous about how much I didn't know and how much everyone around me seemed to know. It took me no time to realize I was in a supportive and caring environment and it was okay to not know the answer. Nobody was going to judge me, instead they were happy to have another 'tribe member' on the band wagon of pushing forward to giving students meaningful and authentic learning experiences.

On the Educamp session one of the things I failed at the most at was the "Makey" session that Michael Davidson kindly stepped out of his comfort zone to run. I failed time and time again trying to make an simple electrical circuit from sticky conductor paper, a battery and a LED. Each time I got a new bit of information from Michael and improved my makey project and eventually, I connected it correctly and the light came on. Success! From then on people were asking me how to do it and I was then able to help others to get theirs working.

Not a massive achievement maybe, but upon reflection it taught me so much more than being able to make an electrical circuit. It taught me to listen and watch carefully when someone was showing me how, It taught me how crucial it is to be in a supportive learning environment when putting yourself out there and saying 'I failed' and what can I do next. It taught me the benefit of learning how to do it myself as now I was able to pass that information on and help others.

It also made me realise that by modelling the behaviour you want your students to develop it helps others to feel it is okay to show our weakness in our skills or knowledge and to ask for help.

So turning it to my students I will now seek to create an environment and more situations where they to feel comfortable and safe to fail. I will share instances of my failures and talk in terms of it only being one step towards success. So enthuse was I by the whole session that on Monday I couldn't get to my principal's office fast enough to ask if I could start a "Makey" lunchtime club. She was supportive and encouraging and this has grown my confidence further to push forward to seek changes that I believe will lead to beneficial and meaningful learning for my students.

Have a great week everyone, and remember be kind, supportive and encouraging to both students and teachers so they may also feel brave and take risks and share and trial new ideas they may have.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Week 32 - APC - Reflective Practice - Putting it all together. Activity 8: Changes in my practice

Wow! I am totally in awe (and disbelief) that I am writing my last Mindlab blog and I have reach the end of the Mindlab experience. What a roller coaster of a ride! There has been the highs, meeting such friendly and enthusiastic people to collaborate with, laughing like 'billeo' during some of the hands-on sessions, what fun we had learning!

I have experienced so many 'penny drop' moments, successfully completing the assignments, getting to observe positive changes in students behaviour when implementing an initiative that has resulted from doing this course, gaining an amazing understanding of digital technologies and collaboration in education...the list goes on and on.

The low's, feeling totally overwhelmed from the workload of studying and working full-time as a teacher....the workload, the workload, the workload....did I mention the workload? The family and social time that must have been sacrificed by all those who have completed this course. It was enormous but to come out the other end just feels utterly amazingly. I did it! We did it!

Completing the Mindlab course has been an amazing experience. At the start of the 32 weeks I didn't even know how to use an I-Pad and now I been introduced to and had experience of using so many new and different digital tools and technologies. I have trialed a few this year and I am excited to now have time to go back and revisit others with the intent on improving my learning programs further for the benefit of my school and students.

Doing the Mindlab course has also given me the confidence to try new things and not to worry if they don't work and to critical reflect on why and what I could do to change things around. I have loved having a safe haven on google plus to ask questions and share ideas and I do hope we are able to continue to collaborate and communicate on this platform. I have also had the confidence to share ideas and things I have learnt during the course with others at my school, with both staff and students, and look for more opportunities to collaborate and offer students more suitable learning environments.

I have learnt about stakeholders and how to consider them when planning and who's doing what with regards to leadership style and theories....and what not to do! I have reflected on what type of leader I want to be, (I love the idea of being a servant/distributive leader) and what kind of peer-learning environment I want to promote and be a part of. I have become professionally aware!

I have learnt the difference between Inquiry learning and Teaching as Inquiry and I understand the true meaning of 'Applied Practice' and my students, my colleagues and I have benefited from this style of study.

There have been many changes in my own practice over the duration of the course but the two that I have chosen to critically reflect on are Practising Teacher Criteria (PTC) in e-learning 1 and 9. 

PTC1. Professional relationships - How do I/can I embrace e-learning to establish and develop working relationships with my ākonga, their whānau, and my colleagues to support the learning of those I teach?

My first DCL assignment was based on using a student run class blog to try to develop students communication skill. I was hoping that I would be able to encourage whanau engagement by having the students show what they had been doing in class and recording their progress. The students enjoyed keeping and writing the blog and it was a great way to keep evidence of their learning. However, I didn't quite manage to get the audience participation that I was hoping to achieve. I think with my next class I will try to make a connection with the parents of the students on the course. Maybe by sending out individual letters to try to connect to the families beforehand and encouraging them to comment on the blog more regularly.

PTC9. Response to cultural diversity -How does e-learning support me to respond effectively to the experiences, strengths, interests, and needs of individuals and groups of ākonga/learners?

Being from the UK I have always lacked the understanding and knowledge with regards to how to respond effectively to the diverse language and cultural diversity in New Zealand. Although I can observe that I am still lacking in this area of expertise during the course I was able to delve a little into this area and this has led me to having a little more understanding and awareness on why and how I can 'tailor' my learning programs that is more culturally diverse. At the start of the year, my year 13 class was just set up as a Unit Standard all learn say topic program. It became evident early on that this was not going to suit all learners. During discussions with the students we came to the discussion that the students would choose from a selection of individual unit standard and achievement standard modules, depending upon their strengths and interests. This had led to an amazing transformation where each lesson I spend individual time with students, discussing their progress and seeing how I could be of help to them. I am no longer a classroom teacher who teaches the same content to all class members but instead the tutor who checks in and helps each individual learner on their individual chosen pathway to success. It took a while to adjust and at the start it was rather manic, but the relationships that are forming and I know that students are developing the skills to manage themselves much quicker that when I teach as a whole group and they all had to learn the same thing at the same time. Being able to offer this type of learning environment would not of been possible without the use of digital technologies such as IPAD's and programs such as 365 and Google.

Where to from here?

I have applied for a TeachNZ study grant and I am hoping (and dreaming) that I will be able to complete a Masters Degree next year. I will find out in August if I have been successful. I am hoping to center my study around authentic learning programs and breaking down subject silos. I am looking forward to continuing my professional learning journey. I plan to continue building professional relationships with others, hopefully getting out and visiting other teachers and schools and getting more involved in other professional learning platforms. I also want to spend time reading and developing new ideas and tools that will benefit my students engagement, motivation and learning.

On a personal note, I want to show my family how much I appreciate the support they have given me whilst I have completed this course and lastly...I want to ride my horse!

Thank you to all those that have supported me at one time or another...and I would love to continue the friendships I have made from completing this Mindlab course so stay in touch :). Remember you are awesome and it is awesome to fail!



Osterman, K. & Kottkamp, R.(1993). Reflective Practice for Educators.California.Cornwin Press, Inc. Retrieved on 7th May, 2015 from

Ministry of Education (nd). Practising teacher Criteria and e-learning . Retrieved from

Week 31 APC Professional Context Activity 7: Crossing Boundaries and Making Connections.

A Mindmap showing my current and potential interdisciplinary connections. 

Identify two of the potential connections from your map as your near future goal(s). 

The first potential connection that I have chosen is Digital Technology. The second is Numeracy. Both of these connections are related to the progress that is being made with regards to Primary Industry and at moderation days, students low numeracy skills are always a key concern highlighted by employers. The use of technology, for example, the use of agricultural drones, computer programs to identify optimum crop production techniques and weather predicting tools, are becoming essential to building a profitable and sustainable business in Agriculture. If I teach Agriculture as I discrete subject then I am doing a disservice to my students as in the real-world they will need to make use of technology and relate more than one branch of knowledge to be able to work and run a business successfully. 
The second choice, Mathematics, has been chosen because many of my students struggle in the area of Mathematics and by trying to develop a interdisciplinary program of study it will enable students to see the relevance of Mathematics, for example, our students needs to be able to measure out correct quantities of chemicals such as fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides as well as gain the Mathematics skills they will need for their future lives. Failure to have some basis math skills puts them at a disadvantage within the industry. Students are expected to gain 10 NCEA Numeracy credits to pass Level 1 and this could be an opportunity to see the relevancy of gaining these credits as well as improving their critical thinking skills by offering them meaningful learning in real-life problem solving projects. I do a little of this already, students have to measure out and apply the correct amount of fertilizer to their garden, the paperwork from this is passed onto the maths teacher. They are able to use this as evidence towards the students numeracy credits.

Critically discuss the benefits and challenges of working in a more interdisciplinary environment.

The interdisciplinary approach has been defined by Executive Director of the Association for Integrated Studies William H. Newell and William Green (1982) as “inquiries which critically draw upon two or more disciplines and which lead to an integration of disciplinary insights” (Haynes, 2002). Some of the advantages of this approach is that we are able to bring different disciplines and ideas together which gives students a better understanding of how knowledge naturally exists in the real-world. At secondary schools, the normal has usually been to teach in distinct subject areas or silos. I believe this limits the students 'all round' understanding of a subject and also limits the development of higher thinking skills. By using a interdisciplinary approach, teachers and students are exposed to and gain experience of how their subject knowledge is related to other subject knowledge and how is it applied in context to real-life situation. It also gives them the opportunity to look at the same question or project from multiply perspectives, rather than just a narrow discrete individual subject view. This approach also requires teacher and students to work in teams towards a common goal. All of these experiences improves understanding and development of communications, collaboration and leadership skills by again allowing teachers and students to work in a authentic learning environment. Overall, all learners are allowed to experience, experiment and develop life-long learning skills which more closely resembles what they will experience in the real-world.
Some of the disadvantages of using the interdisciplinary teaching approach is that it can be very time consuming to develop a suitable program and difficult for teachers to get together to work on the planning in an already busy work schedule. One of the problems that I can see within my own school is that student choose different option lines or are split into different Math groups. This would mean that students who chose to do Agriculture may not all be in the same Math class. The logistic of this could make it difficult to implement the program but it is not impossible, just thought would need to go into how we could get around this issue. Maybe a whole school timetable solution? I think another issue, or disadvantage may be that some teachers are not keen to collaborate and often they are very protective with keeping their subject area as a discrete subject. I think you would need to pick your collaboration groups very carefully as if the workload was not shared fairly this could also cause some friction between teachers and limit the effectiveness of the program.



Hayes, C. (2002. Innovations in Interdisciplinary Teaching, West port, CT, American Council on Education ORYN Press.

Jones, C.(2009). Interdisciplinary approach - Advantages, disadvantages, and the future benefits of interdisciplinary studies. ESSAI, 7(26), 76-81. 

Lacoe Edu (2014, Oct 24) Interdisciplinary Learning [video file]. Retrieved from

Mathison,S.. & Freeman, M.(1997). The logic of interdisciplinary studies. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, 1997. 

TEDx Talks (2001, April 6). TEDxBYU - David Wiley - An Interdisciplinary Path to Innovation. [video file].Retrieved from

Friday, 17 June 2016

Week 30 APC Activitiy 6: Professional Online Social Networks

This crazy world we live in.......I am in the process of having a massive clear out at school. It's long over due and it has got me thinking about how quickly things have changed with regards to the use of digital technologies and tools in education.

When I first started teaching, maybe 14 years ago, I had a massive, cumbersome and dated computer on my desk at home and a basic printer to the side of it. I am not even sure I had internet access? Every week I would type up my lesson plans, print them off and report to work with my folder containing all my bits and pieces needed to engage and inspire my students in Science.

1946 The first all-purpose general computer - my first one was a little more advanced! (Source:

The digital revolution has changed a teachers life forever. We no longer need to keep physical folders upon folders taking up space at school (and in the garage, much to my husbands dismay). The digital revolution has allowed us to store everything in the 'cloud' or saved on a small piece of metal, known as a memory stick or hard drive.

Educational resources have been digitalised, instead of only being able to reach out for a book or a friendly colleague to help us we are now able to reach out to the whole world via on-line social media and educational networks. Professional development no longer needs to consist of a day out of school and a drive into the unknown.....or traffic, if it's in Auckland! No, one can educate and resource oneself right from the comforts of your own home. I can have a tea break, cook the dinner, walk the dog and generally make good time by being able to make use of my school issued laptop, home internet and the ooodles of professional online social network sites.


I love the flexibility, support and sharing of ideas that social media platforms offer. I no longer need to sit at a formal PD session which doesn't suit my requirements. I am not restricted by budget constraints, taking time out of school or gaining approval by the powers that be to attend a desired PD session. Instead, I can sift and rummage through on-line sites to find the deeper knowledge and understanding that is personable to me.

I have student choice - an important factor for the life-long learner that I am!

I can connect, share, support and collaborate with like-minded people or people I would not normally meet in person due to them working in different age groups or subject areas. The geographical location of my colleagues holds no bounds!

This extension of connectivity with my educator colleagues allows me to extend my students learning, engagement and achievement by seeking out advice, resources and knowledge from others, as well as sharing my own, and deepening my own understanding of my curriculum area that I teach.

At present, I seem to head towards Facebook as my preferred social media platform. I find the fact that I can join related educational groups and just 'listen' in on the live feeds or comment on resources or idea that may appear in the live feed really useful. It allows me to reflect on my own practice and keep up to date with new initiatives. I have found the Mindlab Google+ community has provided a 'safe' and informal place to ask questions and gain advice from other more experienced educators. I have also found the reflective blogging and the feedback I have received really useful in enhancing my professional development. It has allowed me to understand and develop a more inquiry and reflective practice approach. I have also developed a greater understanding of different concepts from the comments that people have made. Reading and reflecting on other teachers blogs has provided new ideas and kept me up-to-date with new initiative.

I do get email feeds from the Virtual Learning Network (VLN) and Twitter and am often inspired and interested in the topic choice. I have not commented..YET! I think the reason for this is just lack of confidence and a bit of worry that I will say something stupid in front of such a big audience. Maybe I need to have a little more faith in myself and this would be the perfect opportunity to jump on board the VLN and Twitter train.


Melhuish, K.(2013). Online social networking and its impact on New Zealand educators’professional learning. Master Thesis. The University of Waikato. Retrived on 05 May, 2015 from

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Week 29 APC Activities 5: Legal and ethical contexts in my digital practice.

Legal and ethical contexts in my digital practice

There is no doubt that the use of social media for learning has the potential to engage and motivate students to learn in a way that they can relate to. Judging by the amount of time some of my students spend on such networking social media sites it seems to be a good opportunity to tap into it and try to use it to our and the students educational learning advantage.

However, the use of social media as an educational tool is littered with potential problems and issues and as a professional teacher we have a responsibility to try to preempt some of those issues to try to prevent them becoming a serious incident that goes against not only our own personal ethics but also the teachers code of ethics that we are bound by. We also need to offer some type of educations to students on how to stay safe and the correct etiquette when using social media within, and outside, the classroom. As an avid Facebook user myself, I have come up against and considered moral dilemmas such as students wanting to 'friend you'. For myself, I don't think having students as 'friends' is appropriate. I think it is important to have that boundary, my Facebook account is mainly family and friends and I think it is an excellent way to keep in touch, especially when most of my family are in the UK or Europe. Even though I am mindful of what I write or display, I would not feel comfortable knowing that my account was being viewed by students or having messages from them. Although, I am sure that it is view by some students, as some have parents who are personal friends. This does make it tricky, but as much as possible, I try to keep a clear line in the sand, with regards to my school media platforms and my home and social ones.

As a professional teacher I believe I have a responsibility, especially under the code of conduct, to try to preempt some of these issues and also to behave in a way that is appropriate to keeping my students safe. The 'Code of Ethics for certificated teachers' governs my own practice, and all other certified teachers, by providing guidelines to the required minimal standard of conduct expected by a teacher.


This year I have been experimenting with a student-led blog. Before I set up the blog, I considered how I could keep my students safe from things like cyber-bullying. I spoke to the students about the blog and their responsibility to comment on the blog appropriately and what an appropriate comment looked like. I thought it would be a good opportunity for parents and the community to view what things the students were learning about at school and I also thought it would be an opportunity for the students to demonstrate their skills and show off the work they had been doing. 

I decided to run the blog from my own site, allowing students to write a class blog during lesson time. The reason I did this was so that I could manage the site, check that any messages that were added were appropriate for the audience and that no cyber-bullying was taking place and that the photos being added were appropriate. If some of the audiences comments added to the blog were inappropriate I was able to edit and remove the comment and deal with this issue without it spirally out of control with regards to school bullying or retaliation amongst the students. As well as taking into consideration my own students and their families. There were also times we had visitors and at these times I needed to make sure I had asked their permission to put their photos on our blog.

One particular potential dilemma that could of arose is that some children may need to be kept safe from others in the community and therefor you are not allowed to take photos of them and place them in public places, such as blogs or local newspaper. This is something I had not considered and could have become a serious threat to that child's safety during a young children group visit to our school. This potential issue could arise by simply having the child in the background of a photo shot or just not even being aware that the child is not be be photographed. 

At the beginning of the year students and parents sign a consent for their photos to be used in school magazines and other articles that are on view to the public. Often situations change and a school might not be informed of the changes. I think it would be much more beneficial to have the consent form renewed at the start of each year and also, for my classes in the future, it would probably be responsible to send an individual class consent form home detailing the initiative and explaining how it will work and giving the parents the chance to make an informed decision as to whether or not they want photos of their child circulating the internet for all to see. Hall (2010) highlights this and discusses the fact that once we put the photo out there we have no idea where it could end up. It is difficult to control or prevent all negative situations that may arise from using social media as a learning tool but using guidelines allows me to reflect on things that need to be considered and acted upon to try to keep the students in a safe learning environment.



Education Council. (nd). Code of Ethics for Certificated Teachers. Retrieved from

Hall, A. (2001). What ought I to do, all things considered? An approach to the exploration of ethical problems by teachers. Paper presented at the IIPE Conference, Brisbane. Retrieved from

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Week 28 APC Activities 4 : Indigenous knowledge and cultural responsiveness in my practice

When I first arrived in New Zealand I don't think I really considered the implications of not being a 'native' of the land. In my naivety and ignorance I thought, New Zealanders speak English, so it will be pretty similar, in comparison to maybe moving to Spain or Sweden to teach, both of which were on my 'crazy idea' list of things to do. I had been living in Wales for a few years beforehand and had become aware of some of the cultural issues and native knowledge barriers of living in a country that you had not been born in or were not fluent in the native tongue. 


I have always been keen to learn and develop my understanding of New Zealand and the people within it, I have often struggled with my lack of knowledge and understanding of Maori protocols, Te Reo and the significance of the Treaty of Waitangi. Even now, 11 years later I still lack knowledge, understanding and answers to some basic questions that I feel I should know. My pronunciation of Te Reo is weak and however much I desire, practice and try, I often fail at getting the correct sounds out  of my mouth to pronounce the words correctly. This presents a big stumbling block, especially with regards to my desire to pronounce all students names correctly. This frustrates me as I feel like I am letting the student down by not being able to correct pronounce their name consistently and with ease.
I often wonder if more support should be available to enable a firmer understanding of the indigenous knowledge in New Zealand, would this have enabled me to have a better grasp of how to provide learning opportunities and programs that better embraces my individual students culture?  And would this help to decrease the achievement gap between Maaori and Non-Maari students? I suppose it depends upon what school you go into, I have suggested a few times that the students could offer lessons to the non-Maaori teachers who would like to learn more.


Gay (2000) defines culturally responsive teaching as "using the cultural characteristics, experiences, and perspectives of ethnically diverse students as conduits for teaching them more effectively. It is based on the assumption that when academic knowledge and skills are situated within the lived experiences and frames of reference of students, they are more personally meaningful, have higher interest appeal, and are learned more easily and thoroughly. As a result, the academic achievement of ethnically diverse students will improve when they are taught through their own cultural and experiential filters".

In my classroom, I spend time trying to get to know each student and creating a learning environment that is caring and tries to embraces all students individual learning styles and the individual cultures they may have or be a part of. Culture includes ethnicity, beliefs, age, gender and sexual orientation. As with many countries, New Zealand is culturally diverse and I think it is important that we celebrate and support all students in an equal and non-bias way. During lesson time, we often talk about our different cultures and often try to celebrate and  learn something from other students in the class. Often the board is full of strange words from a whole host of different countries and we can be seen to be trying to learn the new words individual students have written up. I think it is important to try to make learning relevant to a student own culture. By getting to know the student I can use this information to make my learning programs more relevant to the individual student. When the students are given time to discuss things like what country someone is from, family history or traditions they may have in their own cultures this also allows other students to learn each other and also build positive relationships with each other. When program building, I reflect on ways that I can develop and involve the learner within the community, to further enhance their learning about culture diversity and embrace their own ways of learning and succeeding at school. For example, inquiry learning project of Matariki and students planting in the school garden.

Savage et al (2011) states that there is agreement that teaching practices should be responsive to the cultural identities of their students. However, the report also highlights effective strategies for implementation is less defined. A point Bishop et al (2012) also focuses upon and the fact he states that change will be limited if only relying upon individual teacher actions, instead reform initiatives need to be school-wide and involve all stakeholder for maximum effect to occur. 


We have recently had a change of leadership at our school and I have notice some changes in some of the initiative that are taking places with regards to culturally responsive practices. School-wide culturally responsive practices have started to increase, we have increase the amount of Te Reo Maaori that is spoken during our assembly and there are plans to increase the signage around the school to include more Te Reo Maaori. We have also appointed a Dean that is responsible for students who are in the Te Puawai group and also students who may need further support in school. This has also provided a more central point for parent contact and enables further support for both Whanau and students. In our morning notices, we now have a weekly Kiwaha. During PD sessions we also incorporate a Whakatauki that relates to the Kapapa. Communication has begun to improve between our community, teachers, students and college, we have a selection of presentation evening where students perform and sing and we shared a meal and relationships are beginning to improve. I think further time and effort are needed to make sure we embrace all cultures and provide responsive practices for all students. Improvement could also be made with regards planning and assessment. Little focus is spent on the students culture when a student is 'below' an expected level. Maybe by focusing on this and trying to provide opportunities and resources to classroom teachers, we may be able to encourage learning programs that take into consideration students culture, and this may improve student achievement levels. I think that often it is not linked during PD sessions how the way we are assessing is difficult or at odds with a specific students culture. Thus making it hard for some students to succeed. 


Bishop, (2012). A culturally responsive pedagogy of relations.

Gay, G. (2002). Preparing for culturally responsive teaching. Journal of Teacher Education, 53(2),106-116.

Gutschlag, A.(2007). Some implications of the Te Kotahitanga. New Zealand Journal of Teachers’ Work, 4(1), 3-10.

Savage,C, Hindleb, R., Meyerc,L., Hyndsa,A., Penetitob, W. & Sleeterd, C.(2011) Culturally responsive pedagogies in the classroom: indigenous student experiences across the curriculum .Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 39(3), 183–198

Friday, 27 May 2016

Week 27 - APC - Broader Professional Context: From consumers to creators

From consumers to creators

What work will my children be doing in 2030? Future State (2030) highlights this important question which came from public questions to the government. My own son will be 23 and writing this blog has allowed me the opportunity to reflect on whether or not what he is learning in school is really relevant to what he needs to be learning? Or whether what I am teaching in my own classroom is important and/or relevant to what those students really need to be able to survive and thrive in 2030? It also allows me to turn my attention to how does my role as a teacher and collaborator need to change to enable further changes to take place within my classroom, my school and the community.

Although we can haphazard a guess at what things may look like in the future it is hard to prepare student for jobs that don't actually exist yet and for futures that we can't actually see or comprehend. For example, if we went back 100 years and told them that they would be able to hold pieces of metal in their hands and chat with someone anywhere in the world, would they have believe us? Or even been able to visualize what we have now in this world?  So, anything could happen or be coming in the future? Imagine if technology no longer exists in 100 year? Can't imagine that? My point exactly! 

Some current issues that have been highlighted in reports such as, Global trends: The world is changing faster than at any time in human history (2015) and KPMG - Future State 2030 - Global Megatrends (2014), allow us to contemplate problems the future generations needs to be prepared for. The need to increase food production to feed the ever-growing population, estimated to reach 8.3 billion by 2030 (future state 2030) or the deficit that has been identified between water demand and supply, estimated to reach 40% by 2030. Will we all be eating insects and living under plastic sheets to enable the production of water through wide-scale condensation towers? Can't imagine that either?

The current initiative on rethinking our schools is a long overdue one in my own opinion, not just because of the speed of advances in digital technology in industry and the slow uptake by the educational system,  but also because so many individuals have been failed by the old style system - even when it was 'new initiative'. I for one, was one of those 'failures' - Labelled a disruptive student, I struggled to sit still in lessons, struggled to take in and understand what was being said when the lessons consisted of just 'teacher talk' 'blackboard learning' and boring book-work, and as far as my reading skills went...well my mother would love to tell you the story ......" you know Alison, at the age of 14 you had a reading age of 10 and look at you now".  Nobody picked up on the fact, that the teachers of my practical subject wrote glowing reports about me, it's rather ironic I ended up going back to school at the grand age of 27 to study Equine Studies, a primarily practical-based course, and in which again I received glowing reports from my lecturers.

Anyway I digress, what I am trying to get across is that things should of changed long again, to offer all students, and I mean all students, opportunities to learn in a way that best suited them. I love to see the transformation of my students belief in themselves when they arrive in my class after being labelled 'disruptive' in another class. I have the privilege to teach a practical hands-on subject and it is just heart warming when a student realizes that he is not disruptive, rather he has just not had the opportunity to learn in a way that suits his needs. If changes had been made long ago maybe we would not be in a situation where we have a big hulk of students being identified as priority learners? (ERO 2012). I suppose, hindsight is a wonderful thing and the important thing is that we are now addressing how schools need to change to allow all students the opportunity to experience success and to develop skills which will allow them to reach their full potential and contribute to the economy and society as a whole. Here's another thought... a student spends 40 hours learning how to write an essay correctly versus a student spends 40 hours learning how to grow vegetables properly.... going on the prediction of the food shortage in 2030 I know which class I would want my son to be in, that's not to say that being in both classes would be the preference and produce the most benefit to the learner.

As an educator, I am excited and motivated to provide students with individual learning programs that will cater for the diverse needs of all students. Although I have always been an advocate for relevant and authentic learning programs my own context of practice has begun to change and develop further over this year, thanks to Mindlab. I have implemented and trialed (and failed, and tried again) such learning initiatives as gamification, game-based learning, project-based and inquiry learning, digital tools, blended learning, digital assessment to identify learners progress and needs. These programs and initiative,  although at a primitive stage, embrace the opportunities that allow students to gain a deeper learning experience and tries hard to get away from the predominate 'old school' teacher talk/workbook style lesson.  I have also had student-voice comments like "I have learnt so much in this subject", "why can all subjects be taught like this". The overarching idea is to use new initiatives to try to enable students to take ownership of their own learning and for the learner to see the relevancy of what they are learning in a way that they can apply it into their own 'outside' lives, both now and in the future. Student should no longer be viewed as passive recipients instead I believe it is our responsibility to adapt and metamorphose our learning programs to enable students to take an active role in their own learning needs. 

The development of technology has provides a springboard to adapt our learning programs to better equip our students with a useful and future focused skill-set, improve confidence in their ability and provide students with a positive attitude that will enable them to take an active and informed role in their futures, coupled with a belief that they can make a difference. Not only this but it also enables educators to deepen their own understanding and knowledge to produce suitable learning programs and environments in which these leanings are uncovered, explored and embraced. The development of digital technology has also enable the educator to gain skills, to try and fail - and try again, to gain and offer advice, reflections and ideas by connecting across a variety of learning platforms and collaborative learning spaces and professional supportive groups that are now available. This has further driven the movement towards providing authentic, cultural responsive and curriculum-rich learning programs. Making use of technology that is now available to better suit our students learning needs of today is essential. It allows our students to experience and develop skills that will enable them to become life-long-learners and take an active role in their future. As well as this it allows the educator to develop their own subject and pedagogical knowledge and just as important, their own key competency skills, thus providing excellent role models to future generations.

..................Just keep swimming, just keep swimming

(Picture Source:


Evaluation at a Glance: Priority Learners in New Zealand Schools (2012)

KPMG Australia. (2014). Future State 2030 - Global Megatrends. Retrieved from

Pearson. (2013, April 26). Global trends: The world is changing faster than at any time in human history. Retrieved from

The RSA.(2010, Oct 14). RSA Animate - Changing Education Paradigms. Retrieved from

The NMC Horizon Report: 2015 K-12 Edition (2015)