Sunday, March 5, 2017

Activity 6: Using social online networks in teaching and professional development 

“We are constantly challenging our students to be life long-learners. Educators need to consistently and constantly educate themselves. The tools for education today lie in the technology.” (T Whitby 2013) I guess that is why we are on the Mindlab journey. Challenging our thinking about pedagogy, the power of collaboration and the use of digital tools to enhance our student’s learning.

The digital era has seen social media popularity expand across sectors and at different levels. In education, social media has been increasingly adopted to enrich the learning environment. Pearson’s survey (Seaman & Tinti-Kane, 2013) shows that there was an increase of 21.3% from 2012 to 2013 in social media use in teaching. This is a clear indication that teachers see that changing their delivery of the curriculum and encouraging pupils to connect with others is really happening and is valuable.

We know that social networking allows freedom and autonomy to construct and to develop one's own understanding while collaborating with others. As responsible educators we must teach core values and instil in our pupils an ability to discern, if we are going to engage in the use of social media and digital tools in the classroom.

Technology accessibility and the pace of advancement to all communities both local and international has resulted in changes to aspects of the general education system, including the professional learning medium for educators (Melhuish, 2013). With this in mind I challenged myself to think whether I act as a life-long learner and how I use social media to construct my own learning. Twitter was my first experience of a social online network. I readily grasped the concept of using it to expand my knowledge and connect to other educators. I am very grateful to the friends who patiently sat with me back in 2009, helped me upload a photo so I wasn’t an egg and taught me how to tweet.

Facebook was a second platform as I didn’t quite understand the purpose of it but blithely joined the bandwagon regardless. It is now my preferred social media for personal connections and with the advent of the New Zealand teacher page this has replaced my initial use of Twitter. Twitter is where I still look for serious debate as I value the opinions of the educators I have followed over time as many of them are experts within an educational context and often a simple question will lead me to other experts, websites or research.

The pupils in my classes have only benefitted from my use of social media where they have allowed me to access and use resources in the classroom and have improved my pedagogy. Therefore, inadvertently not actively.

Youtube has been an invaluable tool for me in the classroom. It has been used to view content on a regular basis but has also been a vital tool when connecting with parents. I have used Youtube for example, to encourage the children to explain the different strategies they were learning in Mathematics. The whãnau really valued this as their children were the stars and learning was explained in a Khan academy style of presentation with an interactive element. These were added to our blog.

Blogging has been a way I can involve our families other classes in New Zealand and break open the four walls. There is a genuine audience for children’s work and comments have meant that interaction has had a sense of connectivity. I have learned the value of understanding settings on various social media through the use of Classdojo. I inadvertently invited parents to view their child’s behaviour progress. This connected parents with the classroom but was not the purpose of my use of this tool.

I would like, as Melhuish (2013) states, to use social media that will “enable collaboration, connectivity, openness and information sharing” I am keen to explore KidschatNZ and Chapterchat which both use Twitter as the social media. The challenges facing the use of this in the classroom will be addressed primarily by having a class account rather than individual ones. Etiquette can be modelled and issues surrounding privacy and access will be explored. How to be Cyber safe and act as a global citizen will be taught and revisited. Ignoring the use of social media and the power it has to connect us is far more detrimental than embracing it with some regulation.

Melhuish, K.(2013). Online social networking and its impact on New Zealand educators’ professional learning. Master Thesis. The University of Waikato. Retrived on 4/3/2017, from

Office of Ed Tech. (2013, Sep 18). Connected Educators. [video file]. Retrieved from

Seaman, J., & Tinti-Kane, H. (2013). Social media for teaching and learning. Retrieved from,0

Friday, February 24, 2017

Activity 5 -  Influence of Law and Ethics on professional practice.

The ethical dilemma I would like to address is one governing the use of the popular Social Media site ‘Facebook’.  

Our school has at its heart the governing principles/ ethics that we should at all times provide our school community with:

1.     Professionalism at all times
2.     Quality teaching. Every child. Every day. Everyone responsible
3.     We are here to serve our children and our community

The Code of Ethics for Certificated Teachers governs our practice and as a profession we must abide by these. They are governed by four principles:

Autonomy (to treat people with the rights that are to be honoured and defended).
Justice (to share power and prevent the abuse of power).
Responsible Care (to do good and minimise harm to others).
Truth (to be honest with others and self).

Digital technologies and social media are now an integral part of society and are developing at a rapid pace. Their role in our daily lives and how we interact with one another are being determined before laws and ethics can safeguard societies use of them. We have a role and responsibility as educators to ensure all stakeholders are aware of the ethics that govern what we do. 

Our staff use ‘Facebook’ for a variety of reasons. I personally cannot go past many days without logging in, lurking and commenting, and I love the new emoticons. It is part of my daily ritual and one that makes me feel more connected with oversees friends, past colleagues, current friends and I delight in acquiring new friends. I am very aware of the Code of Ethics set out by the Teachers Council and feel I am responsible in my use of Social Media and always think before I post. I fear that colleagues and friends in the teaching profession are not adhering to the Code and are opening themselves and their schools to serious consequences.

Our school policy states that:
Anyone using social media needs to be aware that any information published, including images, becomes public and out of your control; it can be shared, reposted, altered, and exist forever – the internet never forgets...
In their use of social media, teachers have extra responsibility in preserving confidentiality, and maintaining professional standards.
Using social media in your personal life:
Teachers' personal use of social media must also be governed by confidentiality and professional standards. Teachers must:
·       Keep privacy settings appropriate, and make sure you understand the terms of service of the social media platforms you use, specifically, how your posts may be accessed, re-used, or republished.
·       Maintain a professional boundary. Consider:
o    whether it is appropriate to extend or accept friend or connection requests with parents, students, or others involved with the school
o    using a separate email address for your social media interactions
o    how material or images posted of you reflect on you as a professional associated with the school.
·       Avoid personal use of social media during school hours/time.

I believe that these are good guidelines and are probably similar to policies in other schools. However, I believe that in New Zealand we are becoming very lax in our use of Social Media and that lines are blurred in what is acceptable to post. A recent visit to England highlighted this for me as I was not allowed to take photos of any pupils from my past school (fairly obvious for privacy reasons) but I also could not take photos of the school building to post on Social Media. The fact that many staff, parents, teacher aides etc. view posting images to ‘Facebook’ of children at events as harmless is quite alarming. Many teachers have parents as personal friends and therefore see friendship on ‘Facebook’ as acceptable.

As a school community it is crucial that we address our current use of ‘Facebook’ at the personal level for all stake holders before we even consider creating a ‘Facebook page’ for our School Community. Our community has a high proportion of Smart phone use and would therefore benefit from posts about school events. As one of the Digital technology team members I am very hesitant about creating and then policing the content of the page. I’m sure that this is an issue in many schools.


Ministry of Education. (2015). Digital Technology: Safe and responsible use in schools. Retrieved from

Research New Zealand. (2014). Report: Digital Technologies in New Zealand Schools. Retrieved from

Education Council. (n.d). The Education Council Code of Ethics for Certificated Teachers. Retrieved from…

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Activity 4 : Indigenous knowledge and cultural responsiveness in my practice

In New Zealand, disparities exist between the indigenous Mãori and New Zealand Europeans whose culture dominates the education system (Penetito,2010; Shields, Bishop & Mazawi, (2005). Plain and simple. This needs to change.

To address this inequality in achievement in education the document Te Kotahitanga was created. Professor Russell Bishop whose research in relationship-based learning has been proven to have significantly improved outcomes for indigenous and minoritised learners is key to understanding how Mãori can achieve as Mãori.

As part of our participation in Culture Counts, Weymouth Primary School collected a range of voices from individuals representing key stake-holder groups of students, parents/families, and teachers. The data was collected through face-to-face interviews in the school. This methodological approach is aligned with Professor Russell Bishop’s technique where interviews are conversations about students’ classroom experiences and the meanings they make of these experiences.

These collated voices became the focus of robust discussions about creating culturally responsive practices in particular embedding a family-like context for learning. Relationship areas such as, agency, care and trust, high expectations, a consistently well-managed learning environment, and a shared knowledge of what the student needs to learn.

What we struggled with was, what does this look and feel like for us as teachers in our daily interactions with students? This formed the key learning for us as a group of teachers, as it is our thoughts and beliefs that need to be challenged, to begin the move forwards towards genuine, culturally responsive practices. Having Kapa Haka in the hall at lunchtimes and creating Kowhaiwhai patterns for visual art is a long way off embedding a culture. Steps we took to clarify just what inclusive culture in the classroom looks like are as follows:

1. Rejecting deficit explanations for students’ learning. Looks likeAgentic talk is articulated, students are encouraged as they succeed. Prior learning - Using activities that require learners to activate what they know already, what they may need help with, what they want to learn. Teachers use this information and other assessment data with students explicitly to inform the learning intentions and the pace of the learning.

2. Caring for and nurturing the learner, including their language and culture. Students can bring their own cultural experiences to the learning. Students’ prior learning is utilised. Looks like - Formative assessment: Feedback, feed forward. Learners are able to practise their learning and request feedback as they learn. They can articulate where they need support. The teacher is able to give feed forward – precise responses that guide the learner to their next steps in the task and indicate what might help them to check that they have been successful. Co-construction: Teachers provide models and exemplars of successful learning that support learners to deconstruct tasks and to co-construct success criteria. Learning tasks involve the learner bringing their understandings and perspectives to the learning in order to make sense of their learning.

3. Voicing and demonstrating high expectations. There are high expectations of student learning and behaviour. The classroom interactions include talk about student capability to reach short-and long-term goals. Looks like - Power-sharing - Students work co-operatively to learn. Teachers and students have opportunities to learn with and from each other. This helps create a non-dominating relationship between students and teachers.

4. Ensuring that all learners can learn in a well-managed environment. Looks like - The lesson is well organised with clear routines for students to interact and learn individually and as a group. The teachers know their subject knowledge. There are models and exemplars to support learners to know what success looks like.

Opportunities to create a family-like context for learning need to incorporate these principles otherwise we are creating token gestures and only scratching the surface and pupils are merely learning about different cultures. We knew we needed to bring a sense of our tamariki bringing their own experiences and cultural understandings into their learning and allow for engagement in learning conversations that are genuine.

As Bishop states: “It is agentic teachers who are the key to making a difference for our Maori students.” This was a new terminology for us at Weymouth and one we are moving forward with. As a school we are fortunate to have developed many positive practices through the professional development we have received. As a team, committed to change, we are continuing to develop and collect student voice in the classroom and listen to all stake-holders. We are currently in the process of promoting ‘power sharing’ as good practice and genuinely co-constructing learning. We have a way to go, but challenging our assumptions and helping teachers to ‘better respond to the reality of diversity in the student population, rather than continuing to teach to a hypothetical mainstream or ‘normal’ group of students.’ Timperley,Wilson,Barrar and Fung (2007) is our goal.


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

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