Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Learning Journey So Far and What's Next...

The last nine blog posts have been about my learning through The MindLab over the past 32 weeks or so (a little bit longer for me as some health issues interrupted my usual full steam ahead approach!) This last post in the series requires us to reflect on our learning journeys and to set some goals for future development in relation to the 12 Practising Teacher Criteria as set out by the Education Council New Zealand.

A lot has changed during this time.  My students and I created the most amazing Makerspace - The Creator Ops STEAM.  It's not just about the environment thought, it's about the thinking and pedagogy behind it and we've all worked really hard to learn about this.  (You can see this for yourself on the students' blog they curate).

In August last year I graduated from the University of Otago with a Master of Teaching (Credit - the former second class honours), and spent a large part of Term 1 as Acting Principal at my wonderful school.  Unfortunately a serious recurring health issue has meant that I've resigned as Deputy Principal and am now thinking about what's next if I am not able to return to the classroom.  So, in light of this, I have applied and been accepted into the University of Otago Doctor of Education programme.  Nothing like a further learning challenge!  I've always had the philosophy of being a lifelong learner and I am not about to stop now.  I am sad about not being able to continue the learning journey around STEAM and Makerspaces with my students but I know they've made a strong start and they, and the other teachers, will carry the passion forward.

3 of the PTCs I've Met Well

The three I've chosen to focus on are Criteria 4, 7, and 11.

Criteria 4

Demonstrate commitment to ongoing professional learning and development of personal professional practice 

Key Indicators
i. identify professional learning goals in consultation with colleagues 
ii. participate responsively in professional learning opportunities within the learning community 
iii. initiate learning opportunities to advance personal professional knowledge and skills

My learning goals for the past year have been part of my appraisal and ongoing learning particularly in my areas of passion - STEAM, Literacy and eLearning.   As the lead teacher for our professional learning it was important for me to put my money where my mouth is and continue my own learning journey.

Growth Mindset Crowd Sourced Resource

I have now completed The MindLab postgraduate certificate along with my Master of Teaching and have loved contributing to discussions both online and in face-to-face conversations during the face-to-face sessions at The MindLab.  I've also been part of our learning community at school and in several online and face-to-face learning opportunities such as Educampnz and the Global Education Conference.  We also create many crowd sourced resources on Google Slides to collaborate on our learning and share resources and ideas.  A recent one on Growth Mindset has 37 slides to date.

The next stage of my own learning journey began years ago with the goal of completing my EdD 'at some stage'.  It wasn't set in concrete when I would begin it but the opportunity has now risen so I will grab it with both hands.

Criteria 7

Promote a collaborative, inclusive and supportive learning environment

Key Indicators
i. demonstrate effective management of the learning setting that incorporates successful strategies to engage and motivate ākonga 
ii. foster trust, respect and cooperation with and among ākonga 

My students and I are always teachers and learners in our learning environment and we take our roles very seriously.  The students run workshops on what they've learned so that they can teach and learn from others.  All students have individual blogs on which they can share their learning both inside and outside the classroom - both equally as important.  The students are also authors on the class blog which holds a great deal of responsibility and they are the curators of The Creator Ops STEAM - the blog about their learning journey they've been in charge of in creating the Makerspace.

The students are in charge of the Literature Circles programme in the classroom and are motivated and engaged in reading - some for the first time in a long while.  The teacher never choses the books for them or leads the discussion.

Students are able to choose how they learn best and with whom they learn best.  They have a right to do this and it is part of the beliefs behind ako but they also have a responsibility to be focused on their learning.  It's all about trust and high expectations, both me of them and vice versa.

Students collaborate via Google Apps for Education (GAFE), both during school time and outside of school time. They write and communicate collaboratively through Storybird, Edmodo, ePals, etc both locally and globally.

Criteria 11

Analyse and appropriately use assessment information that has been gathered formally and informally

Key Indicators
i. analyse assessment information to identify progress and ongoing learning needs of ākonga 
ii. use assessment information to give regular and ongoing feedback to guide and support further learning 
iii. analyse assessment information to reflect on and evaluate the effectiveness of the teaching 
iv. communicate assessment and achievement information to relevant members of the learning community 
v. foster involvement of whānau in the collection and use of information about the learning of ākonga

Assessment information is always shared with the students and together we create the next learning steps and goals.  Students are also able to choose how they show what they have learned or are learning most of the time.  They are confident in sharing this information on their individual blogs. 

Feedback is provided via the blogs and face-to-face.  It is specific and follows the criteria for effective feedback which was part of my research in 2011.

Effective Feedback from Justine Hughes / Deputy Principal/ Teacher

Assessment information guides my teaching practice.  If a student isn't learning as expected, the first area I look at is my teaching and what I can change to meet that learner's needs.  Clarity in the Classroom (Absolum, 2006) guides a lot of what I do in this area.

Assessment information and learning progress is shared with whanau through the blogs, individual learning conversations and Parent-Teacher interviews and reports.  We also share learning progress with the Board of Trustees through curriculum area reports and specific reports on Maori achievement.

2 Main Goals for Future Development

The two goals set out below relate directly to the research I hope to begin as part of my Doctor of Education studies this year which begin in July.  My research is around improving engagement, motivation and achievement in writing using a communities of practice approach with a strong digital component.

Criteria 8

Demonstrate in practice their knowledge and understanding of how ākonga learn 

Key Indicators
i. enable ākonga to make connections between their prior experiences and learning and their current learning activities 
ii. provide opportunities and support for ākonga to engage with, practise and apply new learning to different contexts 
iii. encourage ākonga to take responsibility for their own learning and behaviour 
iv. assist ākonga to think critically about information and ideas and to reflect on their learning

Criteria 12

Use critical inquiry and problem solving effectively in their professional practice 

Key Indicators
i. systematically and critically engage with evidence and professional literature to reflect on and refine practice 
ii. respond professionally to feedback from members of their learning community 
iii. critically examine their own beliefs, including cultural beliefs, and how they impact on their professional practice and the achievement of ākonga

Both of these criteria will have a strong impact on my research which is still in the process of being developed and refined.  The goal from the research is to find answers to the following questions:

  • Why don't our students like writing?
  • What can we change to create a motivation for writing and engage our students so that they want to write?
  • Why are our students not achieving as well as they could in this area?
The research will involve a great deal of peer feedback and review which comes under Criteria 12.  I am hoping to conduct my research in a range of learning environments - both culturally and socially and am working towards refining this part of the research during the July Residential week in Dunedin.


Education Council New Zealand. (2015). Practising teacher criteria.  Retrieved from

Hughes, J. (2011). The impact of feedback on writing motivation and achievement.  Retrieved from

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