Robyn shears

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Changes in Practice – APC Week 32 Blog

My Mindlab Journey

And what a journey it has been. I have loved every part of it and seen my own knowledge and theory around current practices grow. Sure there have been points where I wanted to shut my essay and computer away forever but I persevered and got through it. Interestingly I have found the second half much more beneficial to me as a practitioner, spending time designing an inquiry and spending time each week reflecting on my own Community of Practice

I am lucky to have two other teachers on the course with me and another two half way through. We aim to have all our teachers through Mindlab by the end of next year. Even with only five of us undertaking the programme I can see the changes in language echoing around the staffroom and classrooms. We talk about Growth Mindset and how it has affected us, as we have become students once more. We now spend our days imploring students to fail and encouraging them to challenge their own reactions when they do fail.

I see in my own practice the willingness to let go, to let the students guide their learning, and to let them teach the class. I have been brave and started lunchtime clubs focussing on coding and 3D printing, areas I know very little about. I have learnt alongside my students and felt pride in my own little projects just as the students have.


Two key changes in relation to the Practising Teacher Criteria

PTC 12 Fully registered teachers use critical inquiry and problem-solving effectively in their professional practice.

Through Mindlab I have worked to improve my own inquiry process and how I problem solve issues within my teaching practice. Before the course I would say that I was a minimalist in terms of my weekly reflections and my appraisal targets. I would reflect in my head at the end of a busy week and maybe adapt my next weeks planning as a result. I would dutifully complete my appraisal and targets but never really have buy in with the process as a whole. My inquiry through Mindlab has showed how I have changed and how I am considering myself as the catalyst for my students to develop and make progress. I utilised Google apps when designing my inquiry, looking at how student and teacher voice could be collated electronically. My aim is also to improve my time management and task management by streamlining my appraisal where I can. My online blog for my appraisal now consists of links to my inquiry, planning, and assessment so that my appraiser can easily link in to what I am doing without having to repeat work for myself.

PTC 8 Fully registered teachers demonstrate in practice their knowledge and understanding of how ākonga learn.

Through the first 16 weeks and my literature review I gained more knowledge about how students learn and the different environments they succeed in. As a result I have been able to support other teachers who are moving into ILE spaces or simply developing more collaborative practice. Student voice has been gathered and as a result programmes such as Mathletics and Khan Academy are being more fully utilised in class and for homework. Teachers have been looking at learning spaces within their own classrooms and how to flip their learning space to allow learners to work independently or collaboratively; standing, kneeling, sitting or lying.

My dream regarding future professional development

I think very, very, few whole school PD opportunities provided by outside agencies work. I have only experienced one course or session (in the last five years), which challenged my teaching or engaged me to work harder or smarter. Too often these providers are employed by the school for a generic purpose eg Maths, when unfortunately there will already be practitioners in the school who are more qualified, more recently in class (ie. now) and more aware of the current situation in their school than anyone coming from outside. Schools and especially new principals are ‘encouraged’ to take on these whole school projects when I would like to see us using the strengths we have within our own culture of practice or at least within our own CoL.

At least in that way the PD provided should be much more specific and relevant to the individual school rather than a blanket course offered to many different schools throughout the year.

Ultimately no matter what PD is offered within my school or CoL I will continue my own professional learning through my Twitter connections and new friends made through Mindlab.



Crossing Boundaries and Creating Connections – APC Week 31 Blog

Mathison and Freeman (1997) discuss the idea that interdisciplinary practice is not a new term and has in fact been in circulation since the 1920s. Recent trends have focussed on four areas where interdisciplinary practice can support student learning:

1) Subjects working together so they align more readily with everyday experiences

2) Greater inclusion of prior knowledge and personal views

3) The importance of research and inquiry in curriculum development

4) That learning needs to be a series of connections and networks essential for success in the 21st century.

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Choose 2 potential connections as future goals

Community of Learners 

Our Waiuku cluster of schools has a CoL, which is in the final stages of being signed off by the Ministry. I am looking forward to watching and perhaps taking a more active role as the CoL becomes more active. I am curious to see how all the Principals will work collegially and how the concept of ‘improving educational outcomes for all students in our area’ will remain as the central focus – rather than the ‘all about my school’ model. I am also really interested to see what the role of the college is in our CoL. We have 8 primary schools and one college in our cluster. While they are the biggest they are certainly no more innovative than our primary schools. I wonder how the primary school teachers will feel about learning from high school teachers who are set within their one subject, and of course how the high school teachers will feel should a primary teacher be brought in to help them. I can see more benefits between the primary schools, but as I have talked about before, only if each school is comfortable in their own context and willing to allow others in to support.

First Time Principals

Over the next two terms I will have finished Mindlab but be continuing on my journey through the National Aspiring Principals Programme. I have to say I have been really slack in my NAPP readings because I have found the last part of Mindlab time consuming on top of the endless paper work and report writing which take place in term 2. Now that Mindlab has finished I will be able to dedicate the same time each week to catching up with reading and ensuring I fulfil the requirements for that course too. I am still undecided on whether I am a Principal in the making or happy as a 2IC. One thing I know is that the two courses have helped me build connections with other educators, which I know, I will continue after the courses have finished.

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

I have talked about some of the challenges above, particularly in relation to our CoL. In order for interdisciplinary connections to work, the individual must be confident in their own role, within their own context and be able to express this to others. They must be able to sell their own knowledge and understanding, while being able to receive the same from others. That is not to say they must change their own practice necessarily but they must be able to appreciate ‘why’ others do things differently. The challenge becomes when individuals (or whole groups/organisations) are not prepared to consider others views or try out alternatives. A collaborative approach will probably not work for these people particularly when including outsiders from their own culture of practice – unless you are open within your own known culture, it is highly unlikely you will consider the views of outsiders freely.

The benefits though do outweigh the challenges. The potential to work with like-minded and opposing view points can only enhance our own and our students understanding of people and how the world works. By embracing the idea that there are multiple solutions to problems and that failing many times not only helps us to become more resilient but allows us to build better solutions, we create students and teachers who are more ready to cope with the challenges of the future.



Mathison, S. & Freeman, M. (1997). The logic of interdisciplinary studies. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, IL. Retrieved from:


Professional Online Social Networks – APC Week 30 Blog

1 What are some of the potential challenges that teachers needs to be aware of when integrating social networking into teaching activities? Why?

I know that a lot of the blogs will focus on the permissions and privacy involved in using social media with students so I decided to focus it in a different way.

Every class in our school has a class blog. Some of these are updated regularly and some very irregularly. On top of this one of our year 5/6 classes has set up each child with their own blogger page where they are regularly uploading reflections and publishing work. This does not occur anywhere else in the school yet.

The challenge is how do we build continuity for these students and build capacity amongst teaching staff so that what we are doing in each class for digital recording and creativity is comparable? It needs to be comparable because our community is very tight knit and sees and hears what is happening in each class.

I love the idea of a blogger account for each student. They are easy to use and update, and it is a great way to build capacity with students around critiquing each other’s blogs. But what happens when next year the year 6 students move into our year 7/8 classes who haven’t set up a blogger environment yet? The likelihood is that the blogger accounts would cease to be used which is a shame. They are a simple way to build a portfolio of learning for students over time. They can be used in so many capacities: as a personal journal, to share with parents, to discuss with peers, to record learning, to use as evidence in parent-teacher-student conferences.

I guess the continuity of practice is something we can look into as a school later in the year. The year 5-8s are busy with production for a few more weeks yet but I think it will need to be discussed at the end of term 3 so teachers have time throughout term 4 to set up accounts and transition students into their 2017 classes.

  1. How do/would you use social media to enhance your professional development? Why?

I try to use a range of social networking to build my own teaching knowledge. It is interesting that I use SM for this purpose but not in my personal life. I have a FB account but haven’t used it in over a year and yet I am happy on Twitter everyday catching up on educational interests.

I started using Twitter in 2014 and while I am not a prolific user, I occasionally write my own posts and respond to others’ comments. I tend to use Twitter most often as a way of recording my thoughts during Professional Development courses, especially if it is a large course when there are often many others all tweeting at the same time. In the May holidays I was at a NAPP hui in Auckland and there were about 30 of us in the room of 200 tweeting all day. Some of us then met up at morning tea to put a face to the tweets. It also helped add another ten or fifteen ‘followers’ and ‘followings’ onto my account!

I have started to use the VLN following a couple of threads, which are relevant to current trends within my school. We are going through the BYOD journey at the moment and consulting staff and our community, so the VLN has a wealth of knowledge and personal experiences to share and learn from. I can see the VLN being an important tool for me as a professional if I move into a principalship or another deputy role. With the VERY limited time educators have, being connected can help us make decisions with greater self assurance as others’ have been there, failed, succeeded and shared their experiences.

I find it hard to make time for my own professional reading. I would love to read at night or catch up on other educators’ blogs but I am phenomenal at falling asleep (a great skill to have) . I think once I have finished my Mindlab course and the NAPP programme, I may try to keep one night for educational readings (especially blogs) as I find these both inspiring but often relevant too, especially when you have met the educators who are writing them.


Legal and ethical contexts in my digital practice – APC Week 29 Blog

The increasing nature of digital and online practice in schools isn’t new and yet continues to be an ethical dilemma, as the pedagogy in schools changes and technology becomes more visible to parents and whanau.

When I think about all the permissions I have needed to gather around the use of BYOD and Cybersafety I wonder how often in their personal lives students are asked these questions by their parents. The amount of time students spend accessing the internet (and primarily Google apps) at school in comparison to what they are allowed to use and view at home is often unbalanced. And while I despair at conversations with junior students who have been playing R rated computer games, this isn’t a new conversation. For decades children have been able to watch South Park (which is now 20 years old!) and other violent and adult themed programmes. And if I’m honest I was one of those South Park kids. I wonder why I despair at these conversations? Perhaps this is because my moral code says they are inappropriate and I worry about the effect they have on the students own moral development. And then I have to consider whether there is any evidence to support my own moral compass. Do violent video games lead you to be more violent? I have no doubt that students learn swear words or sayings from TV and video games as I hear them in the playground daily. But surely the harm or benefit to students from exposure to this type of adult entertainment only comes after an extended period of time?

Research into the field of videogames also seems undecided as to its merits or failings.

This term we have also had our Schools Police Constable in to talk to all students about being cybersafe and about the R13 rating on Facebook, Instagram etc. Unsurprisingly we still had a good percentage of our year 7 & 8 students with at least one type of account.

The teaching Code of Ethics is a set of principles that should be applied to situations, with careful reflection.

I think Section 3 of the teachers Code of Ethics along with some of Michael Fullan’s work on moral purpose sums up the dilemma here. We cannot monitor what students are exposed to online and on TV in their home lives, but can ensure that while they are at school they are viewing and are exposed to age appropriate content. Our purpose is to engage them in conversations, and particularly our senior students, about why these restrictions are in place and about what stereotypes and values are portrayed in these programmes and videos.

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 An ethical dilemma – Parental permissions for photos       

Not really a dilemma but a reflection on the nature of schools. This year we placed a huge emphasis on moving towards collaborative practice, the introduction of more devices in classes and forward thinking about BYOD. Our ICT group worked with NetSafe resources and designed new Cybersafety agreements for Juniors and Seniors and a BYOD agreement too. We sent these out for signatures and began our year.

It wasn’t until the start of term 2 when we discovered that the permissions for use of photos section (which we had previously bundled with cybersafety) had been omitted. Rather than considering it as a dilemma (it could have been had we had a complaint), it makes me think more about this situation on a whole school level. How do the structures we have in place ensure sustainability of practice? Often we have units allocated to teachers for a need eg ICT and then this disappears the following year. How do we ensure the new pedagogy and systems the ICT team implemented stay current the following year and beyond?

The BES ‘Teacher Professional Learning and Development’ looks at sustainability from a PD viewpoint but I think it can be transferred into everyday school life too.

“Sometimes the conditions that make for sustainability are not considered until the end of a PD programme – or even after it has finished.” (p. 218) This is why internal reviews and teacher inquiry must have elements of sustainability embedded into them. Maybe as part of a summary page when they present their inquiry to staff? This could then be kept by SLT and shared with BOT to increase visibility and accountability for this to be revisited next year. If not we fall into the dreaded trap of three years later, ICT is once again the subject with a unit of responsibility and the new team start again rather than building on previous successes.


Education Council New Zealand. (2003). The Code of Ethics for Certified Teachers. Retrieved from:

Fullan, M. (2002) Educational Leadership. Principals as Leaders in a Culture of Change.

Timperley, Wilson, Barrar and Fung. (2007). Best Evidence Synthesis Iteraction [BES] Teacher Professional Learning and Development. Retrieved from:

Image retrieved from:


Indigenous Knowledge and Cultural Responsiveness – APC Week 28 Blog

What are my views on indigenous knowledge and culturally responsive pedagogy?

I am really interested in the notion of personal culture being our history, beliefs, assumptions and family. As a New Zealander we often hear of culture relating only to ethnic and religious culture: being Pakeha, Maori, Asian, Pasifika. And yet culture is so much more. I attended a Treaty of Waitangi workshop last month, which helped to define culture and how each individual and family group brings with them their own combination of beliefs and values.

“Membership in a cultural group is based on your behaviour and beliefs, not on inherent characteristics such as age, gender, race, sexual practices, occupation, citizenship”

Gang culture in New Zealand has a strong visual presence and while most of the population would not agree with their values, for those inside the gang its beliefs are important to them.

Within my own setting we have a range of cultural perspectives that we have to consider when we plan our strategic aims, units of inquiry and when we think about whole school events. Our school is 139 years old and has been the corner stone of the community through two World Wars, the building of Glenbrook Steel Mill and huge changes in the use of land in the area. As we move forward into more collaborative learning and STEM approaches we have to consider how we keep our history relevant to our students.

Our traditional beach and farming community is about to undergo a major change with the building of 800 new houses in a subdivision down at the beach. As a school we are excited by this development, as we know it will bring a wealth of cultural capital into our school with a wider range of ethnicities likely to have purchased the properties than what is currently represented in our school.

What area do we do well in? Our vision, mission and core values

We have a strong bicultural perspective in our school. With only 10% Maori students our effort to promote the Maori culture could have been superficial to tick the ERO box. It has however become part of our everyday life at Glenbrook. We have excellent support from our local iwi, the largest KapaHaka group in Franklin (the whole school take part in Kapa Haka every week), and an expectation to build Te Reo into our daily practice

Our November 2015 ERO report reads:Screen Shot 2016-05-29 at 11.14.08 AM Screen Shot 2016-05-29 at 11.14.14 AM

What area do we need to work on?

As our school changes we will need to consider how our whole school events continue to engage our community. This week’s Mindlab notes talk about how the ‘social and cultural make up is changing as people become more mobile’.

Within the next three years we will have gone from a school of 250 where 60percent live on a farm or lifestyle property; to 500+ students where only 30% will live this way. The new 800 homes subdivision (which falls in our school zone) has section sizes only up to 600m which will change the way we run calf club.

Our challenge as a school and Board is how we negotiate these changes with our PTA and Calf Club committee who see the event as a traditional part of the school’s history. We would like to keep calf club but adapt it to suit the more urban families arriving into our area. We need to do this through consultation with our community and teachers about what is manageable and about how we can showcase our learning in class as part of the calf club tradition. For new cultures arriving in Glenbrook, the idea of raising animals may be completely new and against their cultural practices. I have been reading Michael Fullan’s article on the ‘Culture of Change’ which talks about 5 components of leadership which are crucial when making changes that will be sustainable. For me relationship building must be number one. Without it, change can create tension between existing groups, and apathy and lack of connection for new groups arriving at the school.


Glenbrook School ERO report. 2016. Retrieved from

Michael Fullan. (2002). Culture of Change. Retrieved from

Source: Edtalks.(2012, September 23). A culturally responsive pedagogy of relations. .Retrieved from

Teaching Tolerance( 2010, Jun 17).Introduction to Culturally Relevant Pedagogy.. Retrieved from


The New Zealand Herald. 2014. Tolley’s gang figures way off. Retrieved from




Contemporary issues or trends in New Zealand or internationally – APC Week 27 Blog

International Context – Our professional context is no longer bound in our local community.

This is a hard nut to crack. For decades, schools have worked in isolation and therefore so have teachers. We have used a competitive model to celebrate successes against other schools both academically and on the sporting field and often listen with interest (and perhaps a little enjoyment) when we hear of struggles they are going through.

With the introduction of Community of Learners and the push for more 21st century approaches to learning, teachers will need to be pushed or supported to move out of their own comfort zone. I reflect on our PD session yesterday with 60 teachers from around Franklin all attending a daylong workshop in our school hall. We were all there for the same purpose and yet for the most part sat in isolated bubbles of our own schools. For a lot of our teachers, before they can move into the wider context of other schools in the area, and beyond, we need to break down the internal walls (both physically and metaphorically) that exist in our own schools. In a single cell environment there can often be little collaboration and sharing of practice between teachers.

In my community we spend each staff meeting working collaboratively and in mixed teams aiming to strengthen the relationships and build a sense of trust. I would like to see much more honest dialogue around student progress which focuses on how teams will support the student rather than the one teacher:30 students mentality. The video from week 2 ‘What is school culture and climate’ reminded me of the importance to consider teachers as your constant variable: “Students cycle through…the staff is much more consistent entity to build culture and climate.”


New Zealand context: Assessment use for students’ learning

The 2012 ERO report Evaluation at a Glance: Priority Learners in New Zealand Schools identified three issues for improvement: assessment being one of these.

I feel like assessment is a constant battle with teachers and with my own internal thoughts around its use. Just this week I had a conversation with a teacher about how they use their GLOSS maths results to make their OTJ (overall teacher judgement) but nothing else. I feel like with the PD (over previous years) and the rhetoric my principal and I have with staff around the purpose of assessment it still isn’t always heard.

For example last year we, as a staff, decided to tweak our assessment schedule. We removed all assessment from term 1 (bar Junior running records and on entry data) as we expressed the need for staff to get to know their new class, to have fun, to build relationships. The data from term 4 and reports were enough for teachers to use and alongside in class observations they could adapt groupings. But alas, the start of this year rolled around and I walked into a class where the teacher was running a summative assessment in silence.

I need to reflect on why this is happening? Why do teachers not value their own insights from the hours and hours they spend with students in class over one hour long test? How do I as a school leader empower them in this area? How do I then ensure this ability to make a triangulated OTJ doesn’t disappear back to a single test again?

Within my community of practice I could look at sourcing external Professional Development for staff to attend. I like the idea of only ever sending staff in teams (minimum of two) to build collaboration and more drive when they return to school and I also like the idea of the team being made up of staff from across year groups. This enables the returning message to be accessed by a greater range of staff and also helps in subsequent years when teachers move classes. My issue with external PD (for all subjects) is that it often doesn’t hit the mark for our CoP. It can be very expensive and doesn’t always give staff the time to reflect on their own practice and assimilate it with the curriculum and inquiry model, which we hold in high esteem in our school. The battle as a school leader is deciding which priority to give funding too. In an era of ILEs and major cognitive change for teachers in how they deliver the curriculum, I can’t see myself sending out teachers for assessment PD.

So how else could I change practice? I think I need to look at our long term team/staff meeting schedule and look at how more collaborative dialogue could be achieved. Activities such as book looks across the school, which allow teachers to look at how other teachers structure activities, or a video of a teacher working with a group which we analyse and discuss what learning attributes and skills the student showed. Our school culture is good and I feel that most staff would be onboard for an activity like this, particularly if the focus is on the learner (for the videoing part). We have a heavy focus on the deliberate acts of the teacher in our Student Progress Plans so this activity gives a chance to focus on evidence from the student perspective.


I would love comments from others who battle the assessment dilemma each year, or perhaps their school doesn’t see it as a battle?



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

Education Review Office. (2012). Evaluation at a Glance: Priority Learners in New Zealand Schools. Retrieved 18 May 2016, from

Academy for SELinSchools ( 2015, Apr 28)What is school culture and climate? Retrieved from


Current Issues in My Professional Context – APC Week 26 Blog

  1. What are the challenges that you face in your community of practice? How would your community of practice address them?

Our current challenge is that as a successful CoP with a stable staff how do we continue to show dimensions of progress (Wenger, 2000) without becoming habitual in our actions?

Enterprise: We have identified through observations and assessment results that we do not need ongoing PD in maths, reading and writing so have moved into more individualised programmes to support teachers individual interests (TESSOL, Post grad in Maths, Mindlab, Te Reo papers). These choices have been made through gaps and interests identified in teacher/principal interviews. The Mindlab option keeps the school open to new directions and ideas.

Mutuality: I feel this is probably our area to develop further. We are working much more collaboratively and with increased dialogue within innovative learning teams but I don’t know if that transcends across all staff yet. When we do have whole staff meetings (twice or three times a term) our focus has been to work across teams and encourage everyone’s voice to be heard. The aim being that everyone gives and receives help from each other therefore strengthening relationships. We need to look at other ways to create collaborative networks across the school which celebrate learning and encourage the teachers to talk about expectations. This could be encouraging teachers to run inquiry topics between teams and then sharing student outcomes.

Repertoire: Because we are a rural school and 139 years old, there is a lot of history in our buildings, photos, prizegiving trophies and in the traditions that are upheld. We will continue to have open communication with our community about how traditions, like calf club, can continue when so many new houses are built around the school. Within our group of teachers, we must also reflect on the skills, traditions and language we use within our practice. Hattie (2013) talks about the ‘collective teacher efficacy’ which refers to the teacher’s belief that they are change agents and that they have a direct impact on student learning. We do this in our student progress meetings, usually completed in teams, which focus on how deliberate acts of teaching will impact on student learning. These conversations aim to have staff looking inward at their own practice rather than using a deficit model to look at the students. I would like to see these become part of the everyday language in the class rather than teachers needing to be reminded to complete them each term.

Hattie – Various Influences related to learning and achievement according to their effect size.

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  1. What changes are occurring in the context of your profession? How would your community of practices address them?

The biggest change in our profession is the move towards ILE new builds and the change in pedagogy towards more innovative practices (Osborne, 2016).

My CoP started this process by asking our parents (as part of a school curriculum redesign) what skills and values they wanted our students to gain while they were at our school. The ideas whanau came up with then became our 4 Values and 5 Qualities of Learning. By listening to our community we knew that their vision for their children was to be collaborative, critical thinkers, good at communicating etc, but we weren’t actioning this in the classroom whilst we taught using traditional methods.

As a leadership team we have created a plan to help guide teaching staff into ILE teaching and learning. This is individualised depending on the needs and wishes of the teachers. Some of our staff are on Mindlab now, while the remaining staff will come on board in the next intakes – always in groups so they can collaborate and share ideas.

We have planned school visits (in fact I went with my Junior team to Te Kowhai Primary today) and really focussed on challenging our teachers with those devil’s advocate questions

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(This came off the back of looking at the PISA 2012 tables which highlighted the large discrepancies WITHIN New Zealand schools not between them)

PISA 2012

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Hattie, J. (2011). Visible Learning for Teachers. Retrieved from

Osborne, M. (2016). Innovate Learning Environments. Retrieved from

Wenger, E.(2000).Communities of practice and social learning systems.Organization,7(2), 225-246


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My Community of Practice – APC Week 25 Blog

According to Wenger (2010) there are three characteristics of a Community of Practice

The Domain: My domain is education and a commitment to enhance teaching and learning for all students.
The Community: My community is predominantly within my school setting; talking, discussing, observing, learning, researching, and inquiring together.
The Practice: As a community we develop our own teaching resources, our own learning language specific to our school (values, qualities of learning). We have policies and procedures, which are developed collaboratively.

  1. a) What is the purpose and function of your practice?

Within my school community of practice I am a walking Deputy Principal. I oversee the Junior School (year 0-4), transition into school, SENCO and assessment. I teach in classes when teachers are on courses or sick which enables me to see each class regularly.

  1. b) In what ways do you contribute to the community of your practice?

My role is to help teachers achieve accelerated progress for all their students. To do this I try to ask questions and empower them to make their own decisions and to reflect on how their practice is helping their students. Through my own professional development and through working under different principals, I have seen my own abilities to communicate change. I am more able to challenge and question staff (in a supportive way), so that instead of always seeking help vertically, they are using their teaching colleagues as their first source. This year I am focussed on inquiry with my junior teachers to help them become more reflective on their own classroom practice. To gain buy in I have made sure that I have developed my own inquiry (using the Mindlab format) and discussed with staff how I have sourced data and made my own reflections open for them to see. I am actively trying to improve my use of learning language (Hattie, 2013), with staff, whanau and students. Often the students are better at expressing their areas of success and failure whereas staff can be more closed off or habitual in their way of communicating and thinking.


  1. What are the core values that underpin my profession? Evaluate you practice with regard to these values.

An interesting question to answer. Within my Community of Practice as a teacher I am accountable to the “Practising Teacher Criteria which describe the essential knowledge and capabilities required for quality teaching in New Zealand. They apply to all teachers in their everyday professional practice seeking to be issued with a full practising certificate, or renew full certification” (Education Council, n.d.).

However, within my Community of Practice specific to my school, we have another set of values which were written and decided on by students, the community and teachers. If I am to encourage the language of learning with my staff and students then these should be values that I aspire to uphold too.

Mana (At Glenbrook School we are respectful, strong and resilient):

I think I am a very resilient person – change is something that occurs so often in both small and large events that I live by the mantra ‘We can’t undo the change so how do we move forward from it?” I see this as a positive when working with staff who can become stressed by change. I know that because I portray being resilient and stress free I still need to remember to express to others that I am also feeling overworked and incredibly busy. The image of the duck paddling furiously underwater sums me up perfectly at times.

Ako (At Glenbrook School we are all learners):

This is an area of strength for me and one that I enjoy developing in my own time. My Mindlab studies have helped me to further see how the ability for teachers to continue learning will impact on their students.

One of my students asked me in 3D printing club on Friday “Miss Shears are you the cleverest teacher in the school?” I said ‘Why do you think that?” and she replied, “Because you teach coding and 3D printing”. My response was that actually I knew a lot less than some of the year 7/8 students about both topics, but I was interested to learn myself. My job isn’t necessarily to teach the students but to learn alongside them.

Within my CoP I support my colleagues who are all embarking in Post Graduate studies. I help to release them when large assignments are coming up and look forward to reading and giving feedback on their assignments. I seem to be the guru for APA referencing at the moment!

Whakawhanaungatanga (At Glenbrook School we work as a community together):

Perhaps key to why our CoP works is the way we work as colleagues to share practices. This has become a strength in parts of the school this year and through my own inquiry and those of my colleagues we have become much more able to discuss our successes and more importantly our failures openly. By being directly involved in the process myself enables teachers to include me in conversations rather than seeing me as just their leader and changing their rhetoric to what they think I want to hear.

Manaakitanga (At Glenbrook School we care and value people and the world):

I would like to think all teachers accept this value as why we became educators in the first place. I strive to encourage this value with staff when they think about their next term’s inquiry. The ‘act’ part of our inquiry model – how will your learning help others outside our community?


I’m really interested in the statement from Wenger and Trayner’s website:

Having the same job or the same title does not make for a community of practice unless members interact and learn together. 

…but what happens if members don’t interact and learn together…..perhaps this will be a another reflection at a later time.



Interview John Hattie, 2013. In Conversation Know Thy Impact; Teaching, Learning and Leading. Spring 2013 – Volume 1, Issue 2. ISSN 1922-2394. Ontario Ministry of Education.

Wenger, E.(2000).Communities of practice and social learning systems. Organization,7(2), 225-246

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R&C reflection – Week 17-24

Now that I have made it to the end, it seems like the last 8 weeks have flown by. It’s strange how your perception can change depending on how hard/easy you are finding your work and how much enjoyment you are gaining from it.

At the NAPP hui (April 2016), Rachel Bolstad @shiftingthinking talked about how everyone’s perception of the future changes depending on whether they are succeeding at school, going through a relationship break up, dealing with a death, or working in a job that they love.

Both Rachel’s talk and my own experience studying have really brought home the need to develop a Growth Mindset, but a realistic one. During my literature review I really had to sit down and make myself read – it was a not a natural or easy process for me. I wasn’t helped by the fact I chose a topic which didn’t have a lot of research attached to it, or more likely is that it was because my question wasn’t worded in the right way. I haven’t had my marks back for my lit review yet, so just aiming to pass.

The second assignment has been to create an inquiry plan which developed out of an idea from our lit review. I was lucky that my inquiry could also align with one I needed to make for my NAPP (National Aspiring Principals Programme). I thoroughly enjoyed writing my inquiry plan. I found that attending the session at Mindlab at the start really really helped out with how to construct my inquiry and how to consider the ideas from Kaupapa Maori.
My inquiry took just hours to write, because I loved doing it. I could see how it built up through data and observations. It helped focus my inquiry to consider the impact and how my learning community was going to be. Even though for our assignment,we didn’t need to carry out the inquiry, I feel lucky and perhaps felt more investment in the process because I am completing it. I am looking forward to how I will be able to reflect not only on the  outcomes but also on the choices in my planning too.

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Mindlab Assignments


The great thing about Mindlab is the opportunity it gives us to work collaboratively, both in class and in our assignments. Because I am not teaching in a class this year I chose to work by myself for my assignments will two of my teachers worked together. The rest of our teaching staff will complete Mindlab over the next year, always in groups of two or above to ensure collaborative practice.

I have really enjoyed attending the sessions, working within the Google+ community and making new friends, both professionally and personally.

Here are my assignments, marks not included! But each assignment was passed. Feel free to read them and use ideas to help construct your own assignments but please don’t just copy them. Please place feedback/comment if there is anything you like or have used. Thanks.

Digital and Collaborative Learning in Context

50% weighting


50% weighting    DCL 2 – Robyn Shears November intake


Leadership in Digital and Collaborative Learning

50% weighting   LDC1 – Robyn Shears Assignment Nov intake

50% weighting   LDC Assignment 2 – Robyn Shears November intake

LDC Assignment 2 Lean Canvas – Robyn Shears


Research and Community Informed Practice 

60% weighting    Robyn Shears Research Assignment 1

30% weighting    Robyn Shears R&C Assignment 2 5.5.16

The remaining 10% is contribution to online forums.


Applied Practice in Context

30%  weighting

70% weighting