My interdisciplinary connection map

Related imageInterdisciplinary Collaboration:

Andrews (1990) defines interdisciplinary collaboration as occurring “when different professionals, possessing unique knowledge, skills, organizational perspectives, and personal attributes, engage in coordinated problem solving for a common purpose”. Hardre et al ‘s (2013) study discusses many benefits in an interdisciplinary learning community. This includes innovative thinking, metacognitive awareness and critical practice.

My own practice:

Interdisciplinary practice is not something that has crossed my radar in my teaching career, so it was extremely interesting to read the articles in this weeks readings and reflect on if I had these connections in my practice and where to next to create this in my practice. As a primary school teacher, and specifically a senior teacher I have the chance to integrate and link curriculum areas together. Reading and writing has now become literacy where the links between reading and writing are taught, discussed and the purpose becomes the most important part. Literacy is also linked into our science, social studies and every topic that has is carried out. However, as the literature points out, interdisciplinary practice is so much more than just integrating and linking topics together.  To truly have an interdisciplinary practice I need to make sure that I am “combining two or more disciplines, pedagogical approaches, groups of people, and skills” (Mathison& Freeman,1997).

Below is a map that looks at my current and potential interdisciplinary practice related to groups of people and skills. The Red lines are Interdisciplinary_Connections

Near future goal:Conceptual model

A successful model of interdisciplinary practice needs 3 main criteria; attitudes, common goals and workplace conditions. A connection that I would like to explore is team teaching across the senior team. I have seen some fantastic examples of this practice in our school, with our Year 1 classes being team taught and also two of our senior classes team teaching this year.

For this to work I would need to have a shared vision, common goals and a similar attitude towards learning and teaching. Respect also plays an immense part in collaborating with another teacher as without this it would be extremely difficult to sustain. By finding someone in my team to collaborate with, it would help if they had also studied with the mindlab and had a understanding of the 21st century skills that we need to be integrating through our curriculum. Teaching with a collegue where the focus is on real life problem solving, innovation and project based learning would help create life long learners in the classroom.

After watching the video of Interdisciplinarity and Innovation Education, I think the benefits of interdisciplinary collaboration definitely outway the disadvantages.  through applying this in the classroom students tend to become more engaged as rather than just your three core subjects, students are able to see the connections and apply social and emotional learning to these as well. It provides meaningful learning which connects to the real world and students interests. However, I do wonder that if the focus is on connecting all of our learning, is there a chance that students might miss learning core important skills and knowledge. How do we make sure that everything is covered and that students are given the opportunity to learn new things rather than just the few that interest them.



ACRLog. (2015). A Conceptual Model for Interdisciplinary Collaboration. Retrieved from

Berg-Weger, M., &. Schneider, F. D. (1998). Interdisciplinary collaboration in social work education. Journal of Social Work Education, 34, 97-107.

Hardré, P. L., Ling, C., Shehab, R. L., Nanny, M. A., Nollert, M. U., Refai, H., … & Wollega, E. D. (2013). Teachers in an Interdisciplinary Learning Community Engaging, Integrating, and Strengthening K-12 Education. Journal of Teacher Education, 64(5), 409-425.

Jones, C.(2009). Interdisciplinary approach – Advantages, disadvantages, and the future benefits of interdisciplinary studies. ESSAI7 (26), 76-81. Retrieved from

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





Changes in my practice

Image result for end of journey meme32 weeks have flown by in a blur. It is hard to believe that mindlab is coming to an end but exciting to finish this journey of professional development. I feel that this has been the most worthwhile and inspiring professional development I have undertaken and it made me think and reflect on my own practice and continues to encourage me to try new strategies and experiment with new ideas.

As Osterman and Kottkamp (1993) have discussed in their article, Reflective Practice for Educators, Continuing learning is fundamental to keep one in a profession to be able to adapt to any change be it the new pedagogy. This has been one of the most important learning journeys that I intend to continue to develop. Reflecting is something that I have struggled with over my teaching career especially expressing these reflections in words to others. I tended to reflect constantly but usually in my head without asking for feedback or looking for research to build on my reflections. As someone who claims to be a reflective teacher, learning how to reflect on my practice and how I can work towards creating a better learning environment for my students has been extremely valuable. This meets  Criteria 4 of the Practicing Teacher Criteria; Demonstrate commitment to ongoing professional learning and development of professional personal practice.   This is because I am continuously reflecting and looking for professional development that help me develop this practice.

The other key change in my practice relates to Criterion 7; Promote a collaborative, inclusive, and supportive learning environment. There has been huge changes in education in the last decade with the increase in digital technology. This has meant a change in teacher led to student led learning where the focus is on student engagement.  As mentioned in Mindlab’s article,Transforming Teacher Education with Digital and Collaborative Learning and Leadership,  digital and collaborative practices have become an important part of our education and address the modern learning theories. With mindlab I feel much more confident and empowered to have a collaborative environment in my classroom.

The 21st century skills that we have covered at Mindlab has been a real eye opener for my teaching practice. Through looking at these rubrics, I was able to see that the most important thing that we need to be teaching our students is skills that will transfer into all of their learning and life. These include collaboration, communication, self regulation, and use of ICT. Without these skills, our students will struggle to learn and develop and eventually struggle to enter the workplace. I have taken this and had a huge focus on these skills in the classroom. We tend to choose to work in groups and have co constructed a rubric so that we have a good understanding of what collaboration really is. What I would like to do now, is look at the other 21st century skills in the classroom and break these down as a class. 

After Mindlab finishes, I intend to work towards a Masters of Education (unendorsed) so that I am able to explore a variety of areas in my practice which I wish to improve.


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

Parsons, D., Thomas, H., Inkila, M., Antipas, P. N., Valintine, F., Pham, T., & Vo, D. (2015). Transforming Teacher Education with Digital and Collaborative Learning and Leadership. International Journal of Digital Literacy and Digital Competence (IJDLDC)6(4), 30-48.

Using social online networks in teaching or professional development


Graphic of a signpost with social-media directions

Social media has been seen as a negative in the classroom as it is generally assumed that if we allow students to use these in the classroom then all they will do it tweet, facebook and snapchat in the class rather than remain engaged and on task.

This however is not the case at all, as social media platforms are becoming an asset to create  personalised learning  for students which they can complete anywhere, anytime. They are also able to share this learning with a wider community which can provide a wider audience for their work.

Social media platforms are also becoming an essential part of any teachers professional development and planning process. Teachers are now not restricted to coming up with their own ideas and spending their precious time making resources. With social media we are able to connect, share and provide knowledge to other teachers, there is now no reason to ‘reinvent the wheel’.

In New Zealand, we are seeing the development of the importance of the use of different technology with ultra-fast broadband, the TELA laptop scheme, and the focus on enhancing the e-capability of teachers and leaders (Melhuish, 2013).

Having always taught in an e-learning classroom and being part of developing the use of technology in our school, I have used many forms of social media as part of my learning programme. The most important of these is Google drive, slides and docs. The students are able to use these devices to collaborate with others. This is a huge focus in my classroom, where students often choose to collaborate and share their work with a partner or group. Students are able to work on this project in their own time and all have access to it. This also provides easy access to myself when checking their work and providing feedback as they are able to easily share their work. We are now also using Google Classroom to share assignments with students, or links to sites. This is proving useful as it is easier to share with the whole class and give each student a copy.


social media map

In the past we used blogger as an e-portfolio to show students work and share progress with parents. This provided the anywhere, anytime aspect to sharing work and also meant parents had a better idea of where their students were working and what they were working on. We have now moved to work with Google Sites where we are working towards creating resources to share our learning with others and teach others. This also has the added purpose of letting parents know what learning is going on in class.

An aspect of social media that I would like to incorporate more into my practice is the use of twitter and skype to communicate with other classrooms or professionals. This form of communication with different types of people is providing students with an important 21st century skill. However, having trialled twitter in the past there are a few problems that can arise. This could include monitoring appropriate comments, what is appropriate to share, and who we communicate with. The biggest challenge I think I will face with this is being able to keep students on task and making sure they are aware that their audience may be larger and therefore they need to be extremely careful about what they say/post.

As Fullan (2006) states, “Social network sites may be enthusiastically embraced as the newest innovation, but educators may then proceed in ways that fail to embrace the deeper learning or may drop the innovation once something new comes along”. 

Overall, I feel that my use of social media in the classroom is enhancing students development of 21st skills and providing a bigger audience with larger learning opportunities.




Fullan, M. (2006). Leading professional learning. School Administrator,
63(10), 10–14. Retrieved from ProQuest Education Journals


Melhuish, K.(2013). Online social networking and its impact on New Zealand educators’professional learning. Master Thesis. The University of Waikato. Retrieved on 05 May, 2015 from


Sharples, M., de Roock , R., Ferguson, R., Gaved, M., Herodotou, C., Koh, E., Kukulska-Hulme, A., Looi,C-K, McAndrew, P., Rienties, B., Weller, M., Wong, L. H. (2016). Innovating Pedagogy 2016: Open University Innovation Report 5. Milton Keynes: The Open University. Retrieved from





Legal and ethical contexts in my digital practice

The code of ethics is in place for all teachers and according to the Education Council is to:

  • promote the ethics of the profession
  • inspire the quality of behaviour that reflects the honour and dignity of the profession
  • encourage and emphasise those positive attributes of professional conduct that
  • characterise strong and effective teaching
  • enable members of the profession to appraise and reflect on their ethical decisions. 


    The new code of ethics which takes effect in July, mentions many instances in which we may have ethical dilemmas in regards to our digital practice. These include:

  •  not communicating and using social media appropriately.
  • not taking precautions to protect privacy and confidential information in electronic records, emails, documents, reports or any place where confidential information is stored.
  • disclosing personal information about them in public places or on social media
  • failing to take adequate precautions to protect personal or confidential information in electronic records, emails, documents, reports or any place where confidential information is stored
  • using information and communication technology inappropriately, illegally or irresponsiblyNetSafe - Digital citizenship venn diagram

While working in an E-learning classroom I find that the situations that are mentioned in Ethical and Professional Dilemmas for Educators are extremely prevalent in my practice. The one that really resonated with me were the use of social networks.

The first of these is how big social media is in our lives and now our students also have these platforms including facebook, snapchat and instagram. We also provide them with social media at school with class twitter, blogger, sites and youtube.




The first of my concerns with social media is the rise is cyberbullying and how this can affect students.


At Otonga we have a cyber safety treaty that each child needs to sign at the beginning of the year. This is co constructed with students and we work on teaching the values about how we communicate with others online. Students are all aware of the guidelines

and these are referred to often. However, what do we do when these forms of cyberbullying happen outside of school but still involve our students. Do we become involved? Do they have consequences at school? If it is not a school account, then is it the schools place to step in? These questions are becoming more common with a growing range of social media and students knowledge and capability, sometimes without the maturity.


My second dilemma with social media is students trying to friend or follow my own profiles online. I have decided that I will not allow a student or parent of my students to follow or friend my private profiles and have  also made this clear to all, especially my older students. I feel that the line becomes very blurred as soon as you have children able to access your personal information. My profiles are all extremely private, and I am also very particular with which I post. However, one year I had a student who decided that he wanted to connect with my social media and began to follow me on Spotify. This platform had not entered my mind as a profile that I needed to protect but I realized that my choice of music, the lyrics and meaning was now accessible to my student. After this I deleted my saved music and made sure that each time I made a playlist that it was completely private.



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

Hall, A. (2001) What ought I to do, all things considered? An approach to the exploration of ethical problems by teachers. Paper presented at the IIPE Conference, Brisbane. Retrieved from

Indigenous knowledge and cultural responsiveness in my practice

“If we look at a child’s colouring book, before it has any colour added to it, we think of the page as blank. It’s actually not blank, it’s white. That white background is just “there” and we don’t think much about it. When we talk about multiculturalism and diversity what we are really referring to is the colour of the children, or their difference from the norm, and how they don’t fit perfectly.” (Milne, 2013)

For students the most important thing is that teachers create a context in the classroom that is responsive to the child, the culture of the child.  This fits with Gay’s(2001, p.106)  definition of “Culturally responsive pedagogy is defined by as “using the cultural characteristics, experiences and perspectives as conduits for effective teaching”. Tedtalks mentioned key points that teachers need to have to excel at being a culturally responsive teacher:
1. care for maori students as maori and have high expectations
2. prepared for maori to be maori
3. create a learning context where young maori draw upon own funds of knowledge and bring to classroom
4. manage classroom in such a way where the pedagogy they use promotes interactions with young maori people which provide them with feedback and feedforward
5. Negotiate a co construction of learning where learners among learners prevails.
6. Teachers using a range of strategies and effectively
7. Use evidence of students performance to guide where they take their teachers
8. Students know about their outcomes in a formative way so they know where to take their learning.

As a teacher in a New Zealand school, where we are not only bicultural but are now multicultural, I feel that one of the most important traits that we can bring to the classroom is to be a culturally responsive teacher. This means that we need to take into consideration students culture and their knowledge and values that they can bring to the classroom. Research has shown that students value their cultural knowledge being included and the teachers that they found the most motivational were ones who were committed to their students and attended community events, weekend sports etc.

Success: Goals
This year our school has been working collaboratively to change our vision. We feel that at the moment it does not encompass our diverse school culture. What we keep getting drawn back to is the core Maori values especially whanaungatanga, manaakitanga, kotahitanga, and aroha. Our school song is linked to these values but our vision doesn’t reflect this at the moment. To start with we had our school staff decide what we thought our vision should be. We then are involving the students t as this vision affects them the most. After this we will then approach the community as involving family and the wide r community creates a feeling of ownership and belonging. 

We have also worked hard on our goals of helping raise the standards of our Maori students. We have done this through communication with community members, professional development through Te Rangihakahaka  and Noho Marae. This helped us learn more about the background and history of the Rotorua tribes, especially the Te Arawa tribe.

An area to work on: Learning Activities

Over the last four years our school has worked hard in incorporating Maori into our curriculum. We also have scheduled 45 minute lessons a week. This is however a work in progress as the first thing to fall off a ever crowded programme is topic and Maori. Also over the last few years we have had a strong focus with our project being driven by a committed leader. This year with changes in staff the same focus on our learning activities in the classroom isn’t as significant.


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

Milne, B.A. (2013). Colouring in the White Spaces: Reclaiming Cultural Identity in Whitestream Schools. (Doctoral Thesis, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand).Retrieved from

Trend influencing education in New Zealand or internationally

OECD (2016) discusses how trends are an extremely important part of education as itScreen Shot 2017-05-28 at 4.30.00 pm informs our idea the future holds and helps us better understand the changing face of education. It is said that looking at trends is not a science as trends that were once important may not be important in the future. Rather it is a way of broadening our horizons. They look at five different trends; globalisation, the future of nation-state, are cities the new countries, family matters, and a brave new world.

The trend that captivates my attention is mentioned by the National Intelligence council and the OECD, Technology. Technology development is rapid and unpredictable and has changed the way that we communicate, interact and learn. It is  to empowering to  individuals, small groups, corporations, and states. However, with the  positive impacts that technology provides us, it also comes with a range of dangers and risks; cyber theft, bullying, fraud.

How does this influence the education system?

There are many developments in technology that are starting to be adopted into schools Screen Shot 2017-05-28 at 4.15.59 pmand changing the way that we teach. These include maker-spaces, online learning. These are expected to give students ownership  of their own learning and give more opportunities to create. Robotics and virtual reality are also becoming an ever increasing form of technology that is being used in the classroom. These new aspects of technology influences the education system in 3 ways:

Policy: The need to create policy where teachers transition into a facilitator rather than a lecturer. There needs to be support for teachers to learn new technologies and adopt student-centred pedagogies.

Leadership: Ongoing leadership around solving problems of the achievement gap. Lower income students might not always have the same access to technology. New Zealand teachers help each other identify and address at-risk learners through the Ministry of Education’s Investing in Educational Success initiative, and the complementary Teacher-Led Innovation Fund supports the co-design of activities that improve student success. (Adams Becker, Freeman,Giesinger Hall, Cummins,& Yuhnke, 2016).

Practice:  School cultures need to allow teachers to experiment with new approaches and collaborate with colleagues to try these approaches. Learning needs to be personalised as technology allows us adaptive platforms are introduced.

How do we address technology in our school?
As technology is ever changing and developing I feel that this trend will have an immense impact on education and my teaching practice. How do we keep up with the changing technology and teach our students the skills that they need to live in a world that changes at such a fast pace. This is where our 21st century skills of collaboration, self regulation, ICT, real life problem solving, skilled communication and knowledge, become an extremely important part of our New Zealand curriculum and teaching programme.

In our school, we have embraced technology and implemented it in the classroom. However, the changes within education have not been adapted easily by all staff, which I believe is due to the change not being implemented with the right amount of professional development. Without the skills and practice, teachers are not able to implement technology into the classroom and use it as a way to make sure that our students are ready for the 21st century world. Through professional development at the MindLab, I feel that I have the knowledge and support to approach the changing classroom but without support and a culture where we are encouraged to experiment and try new things, it is not implemented school wide.

To embrace technology we need to move away from the data-driven way that National Standards enforces on us. Limiting our students to a standardised measure in reading, writing and maths limits our students creativity and life skills that they need in our technology driven world.


Adams Becker, S., Freeman, A., Giesinger Hall, C., Cummins, M.,and Yuhnke, B. (2016). NMC/CoSN Horizon Report: 2016 K-12Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium. Retrieved from

National Intelligence Council. (2017). Global trends: The Paradox of Progress. National Intelligence Council: US. Retrieved from

OECD. (2016) Trends Shaping Education 2016, OECD Publishing, Paris. DOI: (this publication can be read online by following its DOI’s hyperlink)

Current issues in my professional context

The school that I currently teach at in Rotorua was formally a decile 9 school but changed to a decile 7 school in 2015. We have a role of near 600 with a diverse culture. Māori students make up 25 percent of the school roll as well as a large amount of other English as second language speakers. Otonga was formally unzoned which has resulted in a diverse socioeconomic status at our school and means many children travel from around Rotorua to attend. Last year Otonga became zoned, as a result of overflowing class sizes.

Screen Shot 2017-05-24 at 2.56.02 pm

Socioeconomic Status

Screen Shot 2017-05-24 at 2.57.57 pm
Rotorua is considered quite a low socioeconomic area in New Zealand but Springfield is considered a desirable and higher income district.  The median income for Springfield is $35,100 compared to $26,900 for Rotorua. The unemployment rate for Springfield is 5.1% compared to 10% for Rotorua (Statistics New Zealand, 2013). The status of our community is quite high and therefore the expectations on our school are extremely high. Although only a decile 7 school, we compare ourselves and our achievement to decile 9 schools who have a higher socio-economic status. We have  many initiatives in place to try and help our struggling learners. This includes Numicon and ALIM groups for maths, rainbow reading and early words. There is also ESOL groups run for our English as a second language speakers, which mostly consists of Asian students.


School Culture

The culture that our school strives to have is a collaborative culture where we are setting our students up to have the skills to work in a 21st century workplace. We strive to give students a voice in their learning and where there is mutual respect between the community of practice. The issues that we have in our school culture is that although we strive to be collaborative, this is not happening school wide and therefore rather than collaboration, it is more along the lines of Balkanisation. This is when teachers are neither isolated nor work as a whole school, rather small collaborative groups form (Stoll,1998). This has been seen by some teachers team teaching by their own choice and the rest of the team teaching individually. Overview planning is done together then branches off into what the classroom teacher really wants to do. To overcome this, I feel that decisions need to have a shared goal which is co constructed rather than directed. There needs to be professional development around the ever changing face of education and with mutual respect their should be less Balkanisation. 

When looking at Stoll and Fink’s model  our school culture can be seen as cruising.  We are effective in affluent areas, pupils achieve in spite of teaching quality, we aren’t quite at a stage where we are  preparing pupils for changing world and we possess powerful norms that inhibit change. Looking to the future we need to change our school vision (which we are in the process of) so that our students and teachers “know where they’re going and having the will and skill to get there” (Stoll,1998).



Education Review Office. (2014). Otonga Road School – 28/07/2014. Retrieved

Ministry of Education – Education Counts. (n.d.). Retrieved May 23, 2017, from

Statistics New Zealand. (2013). 2013 Census QuickStats about a place:Springfield. Retrieved from

Stoll (1998). School Culture. School Improvement Network’s Bulletin 9. Institute of Education, University of London.