Saturday 9 March 2024

COL Inquiry #2: Collaborate with school leaders and colleagues

Collaborate with your school’s leadership team and colleagues to identify areas where your inquiry will make a powerful contribution to wider school and cluster goals.

Today we met with our Principal, Deputy Principal in charge of Curriculum and our other COL leaders to discuss what our inquiries may be based on this year. I shared my possible inquiry and talked extensively about the links to our school wide goal on raising achievement and cultural visibility for our Māori students. I shared the fact that working with the Level Up team and literacy experts would help not just my inquiry but should support staff who are find supporting their learners in read difficult. I also shared the need for us to delve into Dr Russell Bishops writing of 'Teaching to the North East' as a support guide for our staff.

My presentation was received well my our leaders who offered support and advice for my inquiry. They felt is was important to support the literacy needs of our students and could offer PLD for our staff.

Here is my presentation:

Saturday 2 March 2024

COL Inquiry #1: Summarising, describe and explain the challenge of student learning

Question #1: Summarise the challenge of student learning you plan to focus on in this inquiry.

The challenge of student learning the I plan to focus on is around supporting my year 9 students to read.  I am thinking about my Māori students as a particular group to focus on.  A number of reasons for this are:
  • My focus has always been writing but I’ve learnt that kids can’t write if they can’t read
  • I have a new year 9 class with mixed abilities and ethnicities and I enjoy hearing their stories and where they’ve come from.
  • Reading is a key focus for our cluster.  
  • Our students arrive at our school well below the national norm.

Question #2: Describe how and why you have selected this challenge of student learning. Locate your inquiry in the context of patterns of student learning in Manaiakalani overall.

  • A key factor to succeed in Senior Social Sciences is the ability to critically think and comprehensively describe and understand key concepts.
  • In our recent cluster wide discussions, a number of groups are tracking well in reading but at our school, there is more work needed to be done with our juniors.

Question #3: Explain why you judge this to be the most important and catalytic issue of learning for this group of learners this year.

  • This year I teach two year 9 classes and have compared their term 1 PAT schools. One class has a number of students sitting at stanine 8 where as the other one has a number of students at below 3. I can see in the students' behaviour and engagement the impact of not have literacy (or numeracy) skills could impact on their learning. I believe it is important look at strategies which could support the wide spectrum of learners in each class as well as accelerate who are below the national norm.

Friday 16 February 2024

COL meeting number #1 2024

Today we had our first COL meeting for 2024.  It was good to reconnect with the other COL teachers in our cluster and to hear from our COL leader Russel the challenges that we face as a cluster.

We looked at our data from last year in PAT Reading and Maths and although some results were good, it was also a sobering reminder that we have a lot of work to do.

There were 4 cluster goals that our Principals have discussed and were relayed to us.  We want to:
  • Have 1.5 Years progress inside a year (big 3)
  • Improve Teacher Practice
  • Focus on Hauora
  • Focus on Attendance
These goals have led to two big ideas:  Acceleration and engagement.

Currently, our College faces the same challenges as many schools simliar to ours, in that students come to school behind in their literacy and numeracy levels.  We are struggling to get our kids to the correct learning levels as we have to accelerate their progress from behind. This challenge is something our inquiries can address through understanding the challenge in student learning. 

A focus for us is our student reading levels and our literacy experts and researchers have developed a Reading Practice Intensive to support staff in understanding, designing and implementing effective reading practices needed to our learners.  This programme will be something me or my team will be keen to do.  

Saturday 27 January 2024

Level Up! A Tāmaki College literacy and numeracy initiative

As part of an initiative to drive Literacy and Numeracy at Tamaki College, a group of HOLA's (Heads of Learning) banded together to look at ways to address the challenges.  In year 10 we started by offering level 1 credits before they expired which helped to put our kids on the board.  It was a successful programme which led to 95 of the 120 students achieving at least10 credits in literacy and 103 achieving at least 10 in numeracy.

We wanted to continue that moment into 2024 so formed a committee.  Recently we presented at our staff teacher only day to share insights into the initiative, ways to support staff and future goals we have moving forward.  

A key focus for term 1 in the junior school is reading.  At our presentation we discussed two key aspects we wanted to address in term 1:  PAT data and how to understand it.  There are two people at Tamaki who have excellent insight into what the data tells us and how we can use it and they are Marc Milford our literacy expert and Mele Suipi Latu who has a masters degree focussed on literacy and currently works with our ESOL learners.  We enlisted the help of these experts to show support for our staff.  Here is the presentation that we led, along which has accessible links on the presentation.

Thursday 9 November 2023

COL Interview 2024: Questions 2 - 6

2. What learnings from the 2017 - 2023 CoL teacher inquiries have informed or inspired your thinking.

In no particular order.  

  • Karen’s innovations in creating learning for the kids on social media platforms and her watching her create and trial the innovative teacher inquiry game 'Boost' with our staff.
  • Christine and Poto from Glen Taylor. We have created a strong bond and have connected in our knowledge of identifying the challenges and support needed for our Pasifika kids. 
  • I know that Christines supporting teachers and their pedagogy and being culturally responsive in our practice.  
  • Andrea who is currently building a Pasifika teachers network she is building is needed and important in building last.  

3. How would your work support Manaiakalani pedagogy and kaupapa?

  • Through ensuring that students and staff know that the Learn, Create, Share model is one of the ways we continue to be connected to each other.
  • I will continue to work and support Kerry and the Manaiakalani team through department discussions and secondary connected.
  • I will continue to challenge and question systems to ensure the appropriate voices are heard.

4. Which elements of the extensive Manaiakalani research findings inform or challenge you as you think about this?

Here are some of the findings that I have found useful, challenging and enjoyable in guiding my pedagogy and the pedagogy of my department.

5. How would you like to be supported in 2024 as you undertake this inquiry?

  • I would like to continue to work more closely with other COL teachers within our school but also across the cluster.
  • I would like to have a regular check in and talanoa with Fiona.  
  • I would like to book in and see Matt more to help with my workspaces.
  • I would like to meet Dr Russell Bishop and be led in a PLD by him.

6. How would you plan to support your colleagues in your school with their inquiries and/or teaching in the area you are exploring?

  • I would like to support teachers by inviting them to observe my classes.  I would like to allocate my time COL time once a week to have one on one conferencing with staff. 
  • I want to continue to present to our staff once a term with our COL team.

Me looking interested in library books

COL Interview 2024 Question 1

Because I talk too much, I've decided to break my interview questions into two parts.  This is part ONE.

1.  What achievement challenge are you considering as an area of focus in 2024 and why? Include in your WHY both evidence and your own passion/expertise.

The achievement challenge the I am focusing on is achievement challenge #1 Raise Māori student achievement through the development of cultural visibility and responsive practices across the pathway as measured against National Standards and agreed targets for reading Years 1-10 and NCEA years 11-13.

I am a year 10 mentor/tutor this year, its that year between being fresh at year 9 and feeling the pressures at year 11.  As the years progressed, we seeing the struggle to engage with the learning, to stay motivated and focused.  As of this week, the average attendance of our year 10’s was 53% for the year (including hybrid learning)

This term the school wanted to see if we could have them focus on relevant learnings that are worth credits.  So English, Science, Maths and my dept Social Sciences decided to offer at least 3 credits. I found a level 1 standard 4 credits.  I taught level 1 this year and decided I would try and rearrange the timetable so that I will be the one to teach all the year 10’s for 3 of the 4 periods of Social Studies classes each week.

To start the process, I looked at what the challenges and barriers were for learning. One of them was that not every student had a device.  When thinking about a framework as to how to create the environment for learning, I thought about the iceberg theory: the stuff you can see on top is the organisational stuff, below the iceberg is the shift in thinking that leads to a shift in teaching.

 ICEBERG THEORY:  Above the water

  1. No devices unless you need it to research
  2. Every child provided the tools to learn (black clearfile, worksheets, pens)
  3. Learning space - the school library


  • Building an environment of learning that is safe and comfortable.  
  • Learning through the values lens and using the language to guide the learning.
  • Setting high expectations (constant affirmations, you can do it, well done). 
  • Provocations that lead to critical thinker.
  • Showing passion and conviction ‘this is so important to know and I know you know it’.

Structure of lessons

  • Structured way of learning that is repetitive 
  • Feedback and feedforward:  Every weekend I’ve taken each box home and marked and put comments on every child who’s been present their folders and provided feedback.

So far the sessions have been going well but my next questions were: 

  • How do I keep the momentum going and allow now for the differentiation in learning?
  • How do I ensure that learning is deep enough and wide enough?
  • How do ensure that my Māori learners are engaged and can achieve success?

I’ve had some ups and downs so far.  Ups: Students seem engaged and I have received has been positive feedback.  Teachers have also accidentally observed me.  Downs:  It takes a lot to organise and I’m exhausted at the end of each day.  But I know the investment is worth it!

When talking with teachers who have observed me, they have shared how they have found the lessons engaging.  This leads me to think about leading learning for teachers.  

During one of COL meetings this year, our Co-ordinator mentioned Dr Russell Bishops work around teaching to the north east.  I was interested in hearing about the research and spent some time researching and looking at his work.  At my next department meeting, I put to my team, what is the biggest impact on Maori achievements in education?  The feedback interesting and Bishops studies found it was the teacher student relationship.  On the other side, the biggest barrier was deficit thinking. 

My next questions are:

  • What is my theory of teaching?
  • How does it guide my pedagogy?
  • How do I unpack my unconscious bias around deficit thinking?
  • Can I support other teachers to unpack theirs without being frustrated?

I have so many things to consider and will try and identify a more concise inquiry with more research.

Sunday 8 October 2023

The Challenge: Providing our year 10's with quality learning.

In my last post, I described what I did to set up my year 10’s to achieve a 4 credit standard we are offering at level 1 Social Studies so that students will have credits on the board before the new changes occur in 2024.  This is blogpost is about setting up the student learning.

Choosing the right topic

It’s hard to try and think of a topic that would keep the kids focussed.  It’s term 4, a busy time of the year.  Kids and staff are under the pump and most are just hanging on for dear life.  I had to think about a major Social Action that students could see had an impact in the past and today.  I thought about the Schools strike 4 climate change march back in 2019, where some of our students had attended.  I thought about inviting some key speakers who went to try and put a face to the action.  But it didn’t seem the right topic that would hook our kids into.  Then I thought about the historical Springbok Tour of 1981.

I talked to the two History teachers in my department about choosing the Springbok tour 1981 and both suggested it was a good idea as we are in the middle of the Rugby World Cup at the moment.  It is also part of the Aotearoa Histories curriculum as one of the pivotal times in our history and needed to be taught.  I wondered if it was too old as a topic but as I started googling and looking at it in depth, I found the themes of racism and racial segregation so relevant for a focus today, I decided to go with that topic.

All paper, no devices

This one was hard to decide on but I decided that student's would only use their devices for research purposes.  I ordered 150 clearfiles and big boxed containers for the staff to put them in.  They will remain in class with the teacher to be distributed during each period so that we won't have any fluffing around with devices.  I invested in lots of pens and pencils that I will keep restocking and big white boxes for the teachers.

Clear timetable for the term

I set up a clear learning timetable and will go through it with each class so they can see the big picture.  On it, I put each of the key events that are coming up like exams, film festival, due dates for the assessment etc.  They will have a print copy and I will share a digital copy as well.

Setting High Expectations from the Start.

I expect some of the students will find it hard to settle at first but I focus on setting up the culture of learning by referring to the values first and foremost.  For example the first tutorial, I will focus on the RISE value of Success as being a partnership and that me and their teachers are willing to give them the best opportunity to succeed and they can meet us half way by coming to class on time, coming prepared with the right attitude for learning.  I will always always praise their potential.

I am hoping some of these strategies will work.  

COL Inquiry #2: Collaborate with school leaders and colleagues

C ollaborate with your school’s leadership team and colleagues to identify areas where your inquiry will make a powerful contribution to wid...