Welcome to my blog…

This is the post excerpt.


This site is about my personal reflections on education and educational practice.

A garden of practice.

To help make sense of the 32 week programme, I compared my experience to gardening. Each week The Mindlab planted a handful of seeds (new knowledge) in the garden of my professional practice. Coupled with these seeds, experiences were provided in the form of classes, readings, webinars and assignments. These served as instructions to help me (the gardener) give new seeds the best chance of establishing themselves inside my garden.

Growing the garden.

The rate in which these seeds (new knowledge) grew varied. Some seeds are in Mauri Ora (Potahu, 2011): they have flourished into plants, already baring fruit. One such plant is the SAMR model (Puentedura, 2010), which changed the way I use digital technology in the classroom.  Previously, I measured the success of web-based technology solely on student engagement. The SAMR model now enables me to explore the added value of technology so I can implement it more effectively as a tool for learning. For instance, in exploring the increased functionality of Google docs, it has developed into a platform for my students to collaborate together and share their knowledge with other classes instead of being just another word processor. This example of change in my professional practice in e-learning reflects Criteria 4 of the PTC.

Gardens require nutrient-dense soil for plants to grow.

I think of the nutrients in the soil as the skills and attitudes I’ve learned during this course. These are things like collaboration, resilience, social and emotional intelligence, leadership, and critical reflection. Combined in their totality, these nutrients form a healthy bed of soil for new knowledge to grow and be applied in practice. The most important change for me on this level is in how I practice collaboration as result of the increased self-awareness I learned.

Some colleagues found me to be cynical in the past. So, in examining my collaborative capacity against Goleman’s components of Emotional Intelligence (2003), I was able to improve my interpersonal skills by becoming more aware of the manner in which I communicate. Aside from Goleman’s research, others emphasise successful teachers possess excellent social skills. The Tu Rangatira model of leadership (Ministry of Education, 2010) iterated that effective leaders, “project kindness, approachability, and understanding.” The verb ‘project’ indicates that body language is as an integral part of communication. When interacting with colleagues, I take care to ensure I am positive in my demeanour, as well as dialogue. I believe that through engaging in critical, research informed reflection of my practice, I have learned to be a better collaborator. In developing a higher state of self-awareness through actively engaging with peer critique, I have promoted a collaborative and supportive learning environment (PTC #7).

Overall, the practical nature of this course has transformed the creed of lifelong learning into a tangible and achievable entity instead of a lofty ideal. Though some seeds of knowledge lie dormant in their Mauri Moe state, I am confident in my developing skills as a research-informed and critically reflective practitioner in cultivating them in my burgeoning garden of practice.


Goleman, D. (2003). What makes a leader. Organizational influence processes, 229-241

Ministry of Education. (2010). Tū Rangatira: Māori Medium Educational Leadership. Retrieved from http://www.educationalleaders.govt.nz/Leadership-development/Key-leadership-documents/Tu-rangatira-English

Potahu, T. W. (2011). Mauri – Rethinking Human Wellbeing. MAI Review, 3, 1-12. Retrieved from http://www.review.mai.ac.nz/index.php/MR/article/viewFile/380/680

Puentedura, R. (2010). SAMR and TPCK: Intro to advanced practice. Retrieved from http://hippasus.com/resources/sweden2010/SAMR_TPCK_IntroToAdvancedPractice.pdf

Interdisciplinary connections


I am interested in establishing an interdisciplinary relationship between Te Reo Māori and Classical Studies. Though a range of connections between the two subjects is available, I am choosing to focus on developing a unit in the context of mythology.

Ancient Greek and Māori mythologies are fundamental to Western and Māori share striking similarities. For instance, the mythologies involve similar narratives, themes and characters (e.g. Gaia and Papatūānuku are both mother earth figures who birth a race of gods; Persephone and Hine-nui-te-pō are both goddess rulers of the Underworld, etc.).


“You can begin to understand their horizon as well.” – Joyce Thomas (2011).

A benefit of the relationship between Te Reo Māori and Classical Studies is the potential for students and teachers to develop empathy for Western and Māori cultural heritages.

“Previously unconnected connections are made.” – Dr. Deana McDonagh (2011).

In learning about the connections between Western (Pākehā) and Māori myth systems, this context has the potential to foster a sense of unity (kotahitanga), which is important considering New Zealand’s fragmented past. Through exploring the similarities and differences between the two mythologies, it is possible to provide students with a learning experience that will build their own cultural identity within the bicultural context of New Zealand.

Mathison & Freeman (1998) iterated that interdisciplinary studies promote positive attitudes towards subject matter. The topic of mythologies is a rich context in which students can explore similarities between two cultures that are often seen as inherently different. In seeing the connections between Western and Māori mythologies, students could develop a more positive attitude towards other contexts which involved Māori and Pākehā, such as, the Treaty of Waitangi.


While the development of empathy is desirable, how the teaching and learning programme is designed must provide clear pathways for students to not only establish, but see value in the connections between Greek and Māori mythologies. Working with the Te Reo Māori teacher in achieving a cohesive interdisciplinary unit could prove difficult. For example, Mathison & Freeman (1998) pointed out teachers struggle to abandon old pedagogies and content they are familiar with. Yet, by establishing common goals and parameters to work within, we could provide students with the opportunity to develop empathy and cultural identities, while still maintaining the academic integrity of both subjects. Mulligan & Kuban (2015) provide one such model for guiding interdisciplinary collaboration, though despite being based on literature and practice, does come across as simplistic (i.e. the need to have a compromising attitude and equity for all involved feels pretty mandatory given the circumstances).

Recognising that the beginning of an interdisciplinary relationship will get better over time is important in overcoming short-term issues that may arise. While I agree with Thomas (2011) who pointed out the need for a shared language to be developed to facilitate interdisciplinary cohesion, McDonagh’s (2011) claim that “not being experts is an advantage” in working with a discipline outside our expertise felt too optimistic. Being an expert is always an advantage! Yet, I acknowledge that she was simply perpetuating a mind-set that might be helpful to adopt.



Mathison, S., & Freeman, M. (1998). The Logic of Interdisciplinary Studies. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED418434

Mulligan, L. M., & Kuban, A. J. . (2015). A Conceptual Model for Interdisciplinary Collaboration. Retrieved from http://acrlog.org/2015/05/14/a-conceptual-model-for-interdisciplinary-collaboration./

ThomasMcDonaghGroup. (2011). Interdisciplinarity and Innovation Education. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDdNzftkIpA


Social media connects teachers

I belong to a Facebook Group hosted by the New Zealand Association of Classics Teachers. In joining the group, I have been able to connect with other classics teachers from all over New Zealand. Membership has enabled me to build collegial relationships with teachers I have never met face-to-face. We do simple things like share resources, discuss classics related content, critique and give feedback on assessment material. I discover further professional development opportunities that are often advertised on the Group feed. For instance, a colleague from Auckland posted a link to a site advertising positions for classics graduates to study abroad. This group is also useful for learning about the latest archaeological finds or academic breakthroughs that are happening regularly in the field of Classics.

While any of the benefits I have mentioned are good enough as standalone reasons to join this Facebook Group, in their totality they deliver a unique and rich source of professional development for Classics teaching that I could not obtain anywhere else at present. More importantly, because Facebook is ubiquitous, I have been able to connect with a large group of peers who share my passion for the ancient world in a way that I have not been able to since finishing my BA at university. Knox (2009) emphasised that a successful community of practice is energy driven: our membership’s shared passion for the ancient world binds the group and promotes a sense of belonging.

While the Facebook Group is an incredible source of professional development, active participation by way of posting and commenting appears to be driven by a small fraction of the group’s total population (which is over 200). Lave and Wenger (1991) argued that peripheral participation – in this instance, reading the Group feed – is a legitimate form or learning, but Melhuish (2013) pointed out that it is difficult to gauge how many members actually fall into this category. The opportunity cost of passive participation among a large portion of the membership deprives the community of ideas, experiences of individuals, and opinions that could add value by bringing more diversity into to the community.

There are a range of ways to foster engagement among more passive members. For instance, more active members or administrators of the Facebook Group could engage those on the periphery by tagging them in posts as a subtle way of inviting responses.

Furthermore, appealing to the community’s shared passion for ancient civilisation in a more deliberate, direct manner could boost engagement and collaboration. For instance, linking a twitter feed similar to @RealTimeWWII (cited in Sharples et al. 2016), but in the context of eye-witness accounts to famous events in ancient Greek or Roman societies could provide a fresh approach in provoking interest and responses by dormant members.



Knox, B. (2009, December 4). Cultivating Communities of Practice: Making Them Grow. . Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhMPRZnRFkk

Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge university press.

Melhuish, K. (2013). Online social networking and its impact on New Zealand educators’ professional learning. Master Thesis. The University of Waikato. Retrieved from http://researchcommons.waikato.ac.nz/handle/10289/8482

Sharples, M., de Roock , R., Ferguson, R., Gaved, M., Herodotou, C., Koh, E., Kukulska-Hulme, A., Looi,C-K, McAndrew, P., Rienties, B., Weller, M., Wong, L. H. (2016). Innovating Pedagogy 2016: Open University Innovation Report 5. Milton Keynes: The Open University. Retrieved from http://proxima.iet.open.ac.uk/public/innovating_pedagogy_2016.pdf

Unpacking e-plagiarism


While marking a student’s NCEA assessment, the teacher discovered most paragraphs are copied and pasted directly from a range of websites. No citations are provided. Students were informed that work submitted must be their own. At the time the work was submitted, the student signed an authenticity statement. When the teacher notified the student about the plagiarism, they responded they were “taught to write that way” (i.e. by copying and pasting from the net) from their parent, who “did it all the time at work.”

An obligation to act.

NZQA expects schools with authority to assess to maintain integrity of assessments. Plagiarism is unacceptable. If the teacher ignores the e-plagiarism and it is discovered (i.e. through moderation), they risk losing authority to assess. Also, their credibility and reputation might be damaged.

How might school policy and The Code of Professional Responsibility inform appropriate action?

The school’s policy on plagiarism states, “Intentional efforts to pass another author’s work as your own is dishonest,” and, “Plagiarism will be subjected to disciplinary action.” Policy requires informing the overseeing SLT member.

4.1 of the code requires the teacher to protect the student’s right to privacy when dealing with e-plagiarism issue. If knowledge of the student’s plagiarism became public they could lose face with peers and teachers or be labelled a cheat.

2.1 of the code states teachers are obliged to protect students from harm. If the teacher did nothing and the student continued e-plagiarising, this could lead to unwelcome consequences in future, such as, legal action.

In accordance with NZQA policy and code, the teacher should maintain that e-plagiarism is ethically unacceptable. Yet, the scenario is ethically complicated by the parent’s influence on the student’s moral perception of e-plagiarism. By maintaining the approach that e-plagiarism is unacceptable, the teacher risks breaching 2.1 (the very article they’re trying to uphold) by undermining the trust the student has in their parent. The teacher must not place an emotionally important relationship for the student’s well-being under strain. Reconciling the tension between these obligations requires careful consideration.

Additionally, Article 3 of the code requires building professional and respectful relationship with parents. The parent might feel humiliated by any attempt to address their said condoning of e-plagiarism. The parent might even disagree with the school’s position on e-plagiarism. Lai & Weeks (2009) reported some people feel information on the net belongs to the public. Mismanaging this situation could result in the parent laying a complaint against the teacher.

Planning a way forward with the SLT member is a good idea to obtain support and safeguard the teacher. One solution might be for Teacher X to contact the parent to inform them of the student’s e-plagiarism and they will work to support the student in developing skills in citation. Making the conversation about the student’s learning, rather than focusing on the parent’s role in the scenario could help maintain a respectful relationship with the family and allow the parent to save face.

What are some proactive measures to minimise e-plagiarism?

  • Revise the plagiarism policy. It could include a definition of e-plagiarism plus ways to avoid it (Lai & Wakes, 2009).
  • Encourage student involvement in promoting ethical assessment practice, such as, in the creation and posting of videos about e-plagiarism on school broadcasting platforms.
  • Educate students and the wider community about e-plagiarism.
  • Provide an anti-plagiarism checker for students.



Education Council. (n.d). The Education Council Code of Ethics for Certificated Teachers. Retrieved from https://educationcouncil.org.nz/content/our-code-our-standards

Lai, W., & Weeks, J. (2009). High school students’ understanding of e-plagiarism: Some New Zealand observations. CINZS: LTT21(1), 1-15.

Understanding indigenous knowledge and cultural responsiveness

Māori underachievement in New Zealand’s education system demonstrates the Crown’s failure to honour the “rights and privileges” Māori were guaranteed in Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Bishop (2012) believes this institutionalised trend of inequity that has accrued over generations is tantamount to a significant societal debt. We must collectively recognise and take responsibility for educational inequity in order to provide a system that is responsive to the needs of all learners, especially Māori. In New Zealand, culturally responsive pedagogy is an educational practice that seeks to address the disparities faced by generations of Māori in our education system.

Bishop (2012) iterated that culturally responsive pedagogy is where the teacher is focused on cultivating relationships that promote learning. Some characteristics he outlined are:

  1. Communicating high expectations.
  2. Teachers facilitate learning.
  3. Reciprocity (i.e. Ako / tuakana-teina principles where students teach and teachers learn).
  4. Student-centred learning.
  5. Identity and culture is celebrated and fostered through meaningful learning contexts.
  6. Knowledge and expertise that learners bring are used to enhance learning.

Culturally responsive pedagogy means shifting from the traditional western model of education that is mainly academically focused, to a model that is human-centred. I see a culturally responsive teacher as one who weaves the above characteristics into their practice to create an organic learning environment.

The following examples of culturally responsive practice are evaluated using the Mauri model (Pohatu, 2011).

Communication methods

For one evening a month the whanau of the Māori community can come into school and discuss anything school related. The meetings aim to establish a relationship between school and whanau to support Māori learners – to create Mauri Ora. Sadly, hardly anyone attends. Especially teachers. This initiative is at risk of reinforcing “negative elements of neglect, hurt, and sorrow” (Potahu, 2011) that define the darker, inactive side of Mauri Moe. Māori community members who attend might feel a lack of warmth and value due to the non-attendance of many teachers. Cowie et al. (2011) state that, “A person who is visible in the community is more likely to be respected as having a commitment.” Yet, getting staff to attend Whanau Hui in more numbers is challenging. If they had time, teachers would attend. Alternatively, the school could incentivise teachers to attend these meetings.

Learning activities

We introduced a subject in 2017 called, Ako. It is inquiry-based. Students pursue their own curiosities individually and collaboratively. This subject features at various levels of the Mauri Model from being Mauri Moe (dead) right through to Mauri Ora (actively engaging). This is because some teachers are embracing the pedagogical shift that requires power-sharing, while other teachers feel inquiry learning is a waste of time and struggle to abdicate the power years of teacher-centric practice has entrenched.

My Ako classroom is mainly on the Mauri Oho level. While I provide some cultural responsiveness, I have not woven all the characteristics in. I find it difficult to tap into the “funds of knowledge” students and whanau can bring to the classroom. Cowie et al. (2011) showed some effective strategies, such as, home learning books to “initiate home based conversations” about current learning, which provided ideas on how to build this aspect into my practice in future.



Cowie, B., Otrel-Cass, K., Glynn, T., & Kara, H., et al. (2011). Culturally responsive pedagogy and assessment in primary science classrooms: Whakamana tamariki. Wellington: Teaching Learning Research Initiative. Retrieved from http://www.tlri.org.nz/sites/default/files/projects/9268_cowie-summaryreport.pdf

Edtalks. (2012, September 23). A culturally responsive pedagogy of relations. Retrieved from https://vimeo.com/49992994

Potahu, T. (2011). Mauri – Rethinking Human Wellbeing. MAI Review, 3, 1-12. Retrieved from http://www.review.mai.ac.nz/index.php/MR/article/v…

Climate change implications for education in Marlborough

Updated 9/10/2017.

Climate change is here.

The National Intelligence Council (2017) demonstrated that climate change is a challenging global trend facing humanity. The earth is heating up and so are the ramifications. For, instance, extreme weather conditions will challenge agriculture, bring famine and force populations to migrate in search of food and water.

Why climate change?

My connection to the environment is fundamental to my identity. From an early age, my grandmother taught me how to fish in the estuary of Kāwhia. I want future generations to be able to have a similar experience.

What relevancy does the trend have to my practice?

During a meeting three years ago, a teacher proposed a Sustainability course. The purpose was to produce environmentally aware students with skills to become future decision makers. Yet, because it blended Science and Social Science, two separate silos, it was resisted. Within a year, Sustainability disappeared from the curriculum.

Education is a catalyst towards a collaborative and sustainable future, but this story about a forward-thinking colleague presents a reluctance to adapt. Embracing cross-curricular opportunities to address long-term issues like climate change is important.

In a rush to be seen to be doing 21st century teaching and learning, an authentic concern about climate change has been missed at my school. Our vision features ‘resilience’ and ‘collaboration’. Yet, these values aren’t applied to real-world issues consistently enough to instil in students.

Unless educators prepare students for climate change issues, Marlborough will suffer because the region’s economy is dependent upon the wine industry, which employs 10% of Marlburians and attracts tourism (NZIER, 2015).

What impact will climate change have on Marlborough?

Climate change is predicted to have mixed outcomes in Marlborough.

The Royal Society NZ stated, “Rising sea levels will lead to inundation of low-lying coastal areas, rising water tables and salination of fresh water.”

The MOE (2016) stated that while warmer temperatures in the future could result in longer growing seasons and fewer frosts, which bodes well for our viticulture industry, these opportunities could be challenged by the increase in frequency and intensity of extreme weather (i.e. drought) and biosecurity threats.

How can the community respond?

To tackle climate change issues in Marlborough, a coordinated effort between schools and the wine industry is required. Waters and Diezmann (2010) found that partnerships between schools and community groups foster innovation in students. Furthermore, Rahm et al. (2003) showed that successful school-community connections enabled students to work with industry experts to solve authentic problems. The wine industry is the economic backbone of Marlborough. Its agricultural nature means climate change will impact the way grapes are farmed in future. By working with schools, the wine industry could benefit from the innovative thinking of students in dealing with issues like rising water tables, while simultaneously providing students with real-world learning contexts that help prepare them for their future.


Ministry of the Environment. (2016). Climate change projections for the Marlborough region. Retrieved from http://www.mfe.govt.nz/climate-change/how-climate-change-affects-nz/how-might-climate-change-affect-my-region/marlborough

NZIER. (2015). Economic contribution of the wine sector. Retrieved from http://www.wine-marlborough.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Economic-contribution-of-the-wine-sector-2015.pdf

The Royal Society of New Zealand. (2016). Climate change implications for New Zealand. Retrieved from https://royalsociety.org.nz/assets/Uploads/Climate-change-implications-for-NZ-2016-report-web.pdf

Treverton, G. F. (2017). Global trends: paradox of progress. National Intelligence Council, Washington, United States.

Rahm, J., Miller, H. C., Hartley, L., & Moore, J. C. (2003). The value of an emergent notion of authenticity: Examples from two student/teacher–scientist partnership programs. Journal of Research in Science Teaching40(8), 737-756.

Watters, J. J., & Diezmann, C. M. (2013). Community partnerships for fostering student interest and engagement in STEM. Journal of STEM Education: Innovations and Research14(2), 47.

Balancing technological change with the socioeconomic status of the community: The importance of resilience in school culture.

Community, culture, and environment.

Despite a healthy decile rating from the Ministry of Education, there are considerable gaps between “the haves” and “the have nots” that my school endeavours to bridge in a variety of ways on a daily basis. We have a discrete foodbank for hungry students; a multitude of clubs and support groups, which are often student-led; we have an outstanding pastoral guidance suite that provides holistic support for all students who need help.

The school’s vision on being a community of lifelong learners who are empowered, engaged and successful drives our culture. Staff and students alike promote respect, resilience, reflection and responsibility through their interactions. There is a strong school-wide focus on inclusion and celebrating diversity. Gluing this environment together is the popular school-wide theme of mana wāhine that encourages students to become young women of courage and service to others.

What happens when we do not get it right?

The introduction of BYOD (“bring your own device”) classes undermined our aforementioned utopia. Concealed beneath they hype that occasionally clouds new educational initiatives, BYOD revealed – with startling lucidity – the socioeconomic divide between rich and poor. Some rightly labelled it as discriminatory. APA (2016) state that students from higher socioeconomic status enjoy higher educational achievement. It is no surprise that the educational achievement of the BYOD classes are better than their “pen and paper” equivalent.

Did the school set out to discriminate by implementing BYOD? Of course not. Rather, this issue of inequity was an unfortunate by-product of an initiative intended to enhance learning culture.

So, what went wrong?

Arguably, more thorough planning and foresight would have enabled the school to avert the issue in the first instance. Evidence of the digital divide in society is well documented (Zickuhr & Smith, 2012). Moreover, a school up the road faced a community revolt after telling parents that they had to fund the cost of a device for their child to support their learning at school. Perhaps, instead of a thorough preparation process with careful consideration for how the initiative might affect our culture and environment, other issues, like trying to sort out decent Wi-Fi, and new pedagogical strategies that accompany BYOD distracted us from what seems like an obvious issue in hindsight.

Resilience matters.

Yet, the school culture is resilient. When measured against the norms of improving schools outlined by Stoll and Fink (cited in Stoll, 1998), I can honestly say we do pretty well against the 10 indicators. Albeit, some indicators are more evident and stronger than others listed. Staff are encouraged to take risks and learn from making mistakes. Though we did not get the implementation of BYOD right initially for our community, the school has funded devices to loan students who cannot afford to buy one to reduce inequity. This demonstrates commitment to inclusive education and commitment to improvement to support all learners in our community.

In summary, having a responsive school culture is important to help resolve inequity caused by socioeconomic status. What I hope this reflection iterates is a simple, but important caveat for others: When launching new initiatives, carefully consider the impact change might have on your community and culture. Do not get caught up in the ‘hype’.


APA. (2016). Education and Socioeconomic Status. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/pi/ses/resources/publications/education.aspx

Stoll. (1998). School Culture. School Improvement Network’s Bulletin 9. Institute of Education, University of London. Retrieved from http://www.educationalleaders.govt.nz/Culture/Understanding-school-cultures/School-culture

Zickuhr, K., & Smith, A. (2012). Digital differences. Retrieved from http://www.english.illinois.edu/-people-/faculty/debaron/482/482readings/PEW_Class.pdf