Saturday, 2 July 2016

Week 32 - APC - Changes in practice

Wow - the end of MindlabEd November Intake 2015!
It has been a rollercoaster ride of wishing I had more time to delve even deeper, opportunity to test ideas over and over again with my learners and even more time to just share with ‘like minded’ people. Stretch the course over two years and it might have almost been perfect!

I never realised how much I love learning and sorting my ideas out in the form of a blog post or assignment. Posting them was just the promise to my wider community that I am going to take action. The choices for research projects and leadership I made were to useful because they gave opportunity unpack the things that interest me or that I am struggling with. Mindlab has given me the opportunity and skills to be more effective in developing my own teacher inquiry, which is an essential skill to have as an effective teacher in New Zealand. (Ministry of Education)

I have also loved being fed all the current readings and videos that a reflective should be interacting with. I know it will be harder to find them without Mindlab but my Twitter CoP are always feeding new readings and blog posts into the mix. This continual cycle of reading, implementing and reflecting is one that will continue in my professional life as Osterman and Kottkamp (1993) identify it as the way practitioners can be more self aware about their impact and as a result grow as a teacher.

So how has the last 32 weeks changed me?
Honestly… I knew about lots of things but was experienced in just a few. Mindlab was the springboard into buying a class set of Makey Makey, running a computer science course and unpacking the Agile Approach. I have learned that I am a leader and the way I draw in my stakeholders and the leadership style I use impacts the effectiveness of everything I do.

As a school we are looking carefully at reflecting on our practice, working backwards from our action to see where it fits into the Practicing Teacher’s Criteria (PTC) which is going to be exciting as I unpack my Mindlab learning. It will be hard to focus on just to of the criteria!

Criteria 4:
Demonstrate commitment to ongoing professional learning and development of professional personal practice.
Wow - 32 weeks of Mindlab was certainly a commitment of critical self reflection and changing how I do things - not to mention a vast number of late evenings and weekends! It was a chance to examine my motivations, prejudice and how effective I really am in the classroom and our wider learning community. (Osterman & Kottkamp 1993)

My blog posts in the past have been unpacking an approach or resource in the classroom. I am now beginning to actually interact with readings, other practitioner’s blog posts and question my actions, effectiveness and my assumptions. I still look for opportunities for PD such as the Coding Training with the University of Canterbury in July and and working through my Teacher Inquiry for 2016 based around the effectiveness of the Feuerstein Method in our school setting.

My PD does not rely of what is offered vis school but feeds directly out of the connectiins I have made through Twitter and my wider learning communities, which reminds me of a whakatoki about working collaboratively: "Naku te rourou nau te rourou ka ora ai te iwi” With your basket and my basket the people will live.

Criteria 7:
Promote a collaborative, inclusive, and supportive learning environment.
I had already begun this journey, which is why the Mindlab programme appealed to me, but there have been some changes take place as the course progressed.
I love the opportunity that Aglie’ gives me to support students in learning to code and managing their groups through an inquiry project. Those quick 5 minute ‘check ins’ at the start to establish where we are at, what we are struggling with and intend to achieve during the session keep us all on track and aware of what support is needed.

Students are collaborating on Google Docs, even running AKO training sessions in how to use Google Draw and other tools to support their writing and inquiry. Constructive comments are made on blog writing and buddy conferencing supports the writing of students at all levels. All of this maximises learning as there are 58 teachers in our team. I have even begun to let of of the control that I used to crave. My three writing students on an independent writing programme are amazing me with the quality and quantity of the work they are producing, just because the have been given agency and trust.

I could go on forever about the amazing work my students are doing  but need to identify...
Where to Next?
  1. Carry out my teacher inquiry based on the effectiveness of the Feuerstein Method in our school and report our results to all stakeholders, while building greater connections with our growing community of practice.
  2. Continue my training in Feuerstein so that I can teach the whole range of enrichment activities.
  3. Continue to develop a bank of planning and resources to support staff in our school as they begin to take the Feuerstein journey.
  4. Develop my skills in coding and unpack how this can be integrated across the curriculum.
  5. Go back and play around with how Agile can be developed as an approach to scaffold student independence.
  6. Make stronger connections with our marae and look at ways to strengthen my cultural responsiveness in the classroom - Roll on Maori Language Week!
  7. Spend some time going back over what I have been learning and embed it in my classroom:
  • Makey Makey
  • Coding
  • Augmented Reality
  • Collaboration
  • Student led workshops
  • Student independence in learning

It sounds like I am going to continue to be very busy, but for the next few days I’m going to just going to put my feet up and reflect on the ups and downs of the journey so far.


Freire, Paulo. (2000) Pedagogy of the oppressed /New York : Continuum
James, M. Agile Scrum Training Series (2016)
Ministry of Education (nd). Practising teacher Criteria and e-learning . Retrieved from
Osterman, K. & Kottkamp, R.(1993). Reflective Practice for Educators.California.Cornwin Press, Inc. Retrieved on 7th May, 2015 from


  1. I have enjoyed reading your posts and having an opportunity to gain a window into your classroom. You have truely made the most of the opportunity to put the ideas you are learning into practice. I would love to hear how the makey makey boards are going as mine have just arrived. Well done. Anne

    1. Ooooh - they are such fun. What age range are you using them with.

      We looked at figuring out how they work and rotated around stations to try a range. The next session was to test what materials conducted electricity so we could plan a maze based on a story premise. then we made the maze and tried to make it work using Makey Makey - the drums or a keyboard effect. Wish I could insert some images. Such fun and very engaging. It takes longer than you think!

  2. Sounds like an amazing 32 weeks of learning, one that as really sparked your curiosity to explore some areas more fully. I'm hoping mind lab will run their programme in central otago in the future, as all the feed back I hear is so positive. Look forward to reading more about your next journey of exploration. Steph Kitto 😀

    1. You might be in luck. They are running a course in Invercargill and Balcutha this next reound. E-mail them lots of times and get a few friends together, they might run it a bit closer to you guys!

      Definately great PD and with the schollarship - very good value for money!

    2. You might be in luck. They are running a course in Invercargill and Balcutha this next reound. E-mail them lots of times and get a few friends together, they might run it a bit closer to you guys!

      Definately great PD and with the schollarship - very good value for money!

  3. Kia ora Allana, your whakatauki is very relevant to the journey we have been on with Mind Lab. The fact that we have embarked on this journey without prompts from our schools, shows that we are meeting this criteria. It comes from our personal interests and passions. It's interesting because in school, we encourage our tamariki to follow their interests to help them learn however Ive seen schools contract this with their staff as they have imposed PLD that is chosen for staff by senior management. I think that from this journey we can all see that professional development is now at our finger tips. We can take our own advice and start to follow our interests! Thanks for your post. Caitlin


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