Teachers on Facebook and School Websites

At every school I have worked at I have seen teachers post photos of their students on their personal Facebook pages. I think using a student’s image on anything other than a school related or professionally related website is inappropriate. Also adding students as friends on your own personal networking page is also just asking for trouble.

On the TKI website it outlines how social media and social networking can help schools by:

  • direct your parents and community back to more information on your website
  • respond quickly to incidents and manage risks
  • weave the school messages through online spaces that your community uses in ways that are relevant to them
  • grow your understanding of how people use online tools to help you manage inappropriate communications or privacy settings.

All the schools I have worked at have a school Facebook page to post videos and photos daily these did not directly link into the school’s website. But, this leads me to question if Facebook really is an appropriate space for a school site. Is there really much difference between the school website and Facebook in the way of ethics and professionalism?

I think Apiti School has set up a well-designed online professional platform for parents, students, teachers and the community to engage with. In this clip the principal takes you through how they use their school website set up on Weebly. http://elearning.tki.org.nz/Ministry-initiatives/Connected-Learning-Advisory-service/Social-media I think how Apiti School has chosen to engage with the community brings together many things that I have tried implementing such as a classroom blog and Seesaw.

I think it’s important for schools to embrace social media as supported by the New Zealand Teacher Council here in this clip. https://vimeo.com/49216519. I think if set up properly where it is legally accessible by parents and students then even its better.  I believe the age for Facebook is at least 13.

If I was to set up a page online to communicate with parents to share notices, events, reminders and students work I think a well set up school website can do this. I think a well thought out and designed school website is an appropriate place for communicating with the community.

From this website I do think using blogs for sharing student’s writing is a great tool to make their writing purposeful and is a great way to engage parents and students.  These blogs can also have privacy settings on here for students to decide who they want to share it with.

I think having the student portfolios shared on this space as well as their reports (private of course) will also bring parents to this space and provide up to date evidence of their progress.

Teachers can share student’s photos and videos on their classroom blog. Some schools have this open to the public and others have an invite only option. Better than sharing photos of students on a classroom blog that is set up in a professional space as opposed to a Facebook page.

Culturally Responsive Pedagogy. What does it mean?

I initially thought that to be culturally responsive teacher you only needed to include lessons and visuals around Maori language, Maori history and Maori art into the classroom programme. On reflection culturally responsive teaching is about using the strategies their parents and communities use to teach them life skills and basic concepts long before they come to school and out of school time.

Zaretta Hammond, in her book Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain, talks about 3 key concepts on this topic. The first one is gamifying. Upon reflection I have found gamifying key concepts I want students to learn gets their attention and requires their minds to start active processing.  I have tried using Kahoot in the classroom and turning math concepts into card games. I have found it engages the children to have fun while they are learning.

Across the junior school we have discovery time and students are free to explore hands on activities across the junior classrooms. This is part of keeping it social learning as Hammond explains is important for cultural responsiveness. During discovery time students are learning through experimenting and working alongside one another.

Hammond talks about ‘storifying’ learning. It’s common knowledge in New Zealand that Maori and Pacific Islanders have strong oral cultures. They use the memory strategies to make learning sticky, like connecting what needs to be remembered to a rhythm or music or by reciting in fun ways like a song.

I think what supports this is also including those thing I mentioned earlier as well. Including teaching children basic Te Reo, Maori customs and history. Teachers underwent Te Kotahitanga training in the Culturally responsive pedagogies in the classroom: indigenous student experiences across the curriculum report (Savage,C, Hindleb, R., Meyerc,L., Hyndsa,A., Penetitob, W. & Sleeterd, C. 2011) and their students positively described the impact in their classroom, evidenced by the use of Maori language, curriculum content and Maori knowledge, and improved teaching and learning relationships. They appreciated teachers learning Maori vocabulary and phrases in the classroom as positive evidence of embracing things Maori. 

The School’s Journey

This year a Maori Parent Engagement Group has formed with two lead teachers from the school.  The goal is to show a commitment to consult and engage our Maori whanau in school decisions that impact the quality of education provided.

We have discussed how getting in touch with the local kaumatua and the local marae would greatly improve our connection with the local Maori community. Finding the contacts for these has been more difficult than anticipated.

We also discussed setting up a Maori Council group run by the students. This would span across the years from 1-6 with the older one mentoring the younger. We talked about how the students could decide on how we could start becoming more grounded in Maori Perspectives on certain areas of the school such as the programme we run, the places around the school and the practices we have. These ideas were born from the Enviroschool’s kura.

We aim to create a space and time to plan together with an open door policy. It is understood that to create and maintain effective parent engagement is a process that requires both the will and skill to form relationships with parents and community that are long lasting focused on academic success and mutual respect.


Hammond, Z. Culturally Responsive Teaching and The Brain.

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, 39(3), 183–198:

STEAM learning and Digital Badges Musings

The amount of technology that I have had available for my students to use in the classroom has changed a lot in the short five years that I have been teaching. When I first started teaching there was a computer lab that we predominately used as a word processing lab and we had overhead projectors in the classrooms. The school had two projectors that we had to book in advance to use. This year I am in a classroom with an Ipad, 6 laptops and an interactive whiteboard.

The Mindlab has inspired me to look at integrating technology into my classroom programme. As part of this week’s blog we are to look at trends and issues that are influencing New Zealand education (NMC Horizon Report > 2015 K-12 Edition”, 2016). 


ScreenHunter_26 Jun. 07 21.10

Discussion with my colleagues at the Mindlab brought up the following:

  • Short Term trends (Less than 1 year) – makerspaces and BYOD
  • Mid Term Trends (2-3 Years) – 3D printers, adaptive learning technologies (learning suits every learner’s needs on a digital platform)
  • Long Term Trends (4-5 Years) – Digital badges (gamification), wearable technologies
  • “The experts agreed on two long-term trends: rethinking how schools work in order to bolster student engagement and drive more innovation, as well as shifting to deeper learning approaches, such as project and challenge-based learning.”

As overwhelming as it seems for me I agree with Will Richardson (“Adaptive Learning Technology: Why Teachers Must Adapt”, 2016) who says teachers need to update their own knowledge of modern learning technologies.

STEAM, PBL and Makerspaces

STEAM education has become a focus where I currently work. I hadn’t heard of it before and thought initially it was another name for inquiry learning. In the afternoons I have begun posing problems for the students to solve collaboratively. An example of this is during Book Week we read Jack and The Beanstalk. Without a space reserved as a ‘makerspace’ instead I used the classroom to have the students solve the problem I posed. They had to design a parachute that would float down from a determined height at the slowest rate. There was a range of materials provided and we watched how to make simple parachutes prior on YouTube. After the children made their initial prototypes we had a test run. Students then reflected on their designs and some had a go at redesigning theirs before the final run.

I’m not overly sure if this is STEAM learning but its a start.

Another example of myself attempting STEAM education is when we made Balloon Cars this term. We watched this video first https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QzY9RH_JnL0. The children had the aim which was to work out how to make a balloon car that would travel the furtherest compared to their peers. We found the car with the longest straw inside the balloon went further than one with a shorter straw. The students also experimented with blowing their balloons up the most to see if that would send their car over the finish line first.

Here is a student putting the finishing touches on his balloon car.

These students are experiementing with different materials for the balloon car.

Another example is when the students had to work together to create the tallest beanstalk with only the 4 pieces of newspaper, 20 cm of tape and 10 cm of string.

Gamification and Digital Badges

I am currently studying at Mindlab and I am working on the #edchat MOOC. These two courses are online (aside from the first two Mindlab papers of 4) and both allow me to complete the work at my own pace. The students in my class use Seesaw to upload their learning with a reflective statement and comment on others class members posts. Here is a good explanation of what Seesaw is about here http://www.edutechchick.com/seesaw-makes-digital-learning-journals-a-snap/

In my classroom it is expected that each child uploads at least one post to their learning journal each week. I think with the introduction of digital badges integrated with Seesaw would be beneficial for my students. I think it would encourage them to improve their posts and view examples of those who have achieved a badge for their efforts. For example, each completed post could earn the student a number of points that go towards each badge. These badges could recognise their accomplishments. Different badges could represent different achieved competencies.


Adaptive Learning Technology: Why Teachers Must Adapt. (2016). Online.stu.edu. Retrieved 26 June 2016, from http://online.stu.edu/will-richardson-why-learning-must-adapt/

NMC Horizon Report > 2015 K-12 Edition. (2016). The New Media Consortium. Retrieved 26 June 2016, from http://www.nmc.org/publication/nmc-horizon-report-2015-k-12-edition/




My Professional Community and School Culture

The school I currently work within provides a positive learning environment for its community. This is big part of what I enjoy about working at this school. Since the beginning of this year I have learnt how this school achieves this. The school has a behaviour management system that is ‘WARM Hearted’.  As a ‘WARM Hearted’ school what is valued is Working hard, Acting safely, Respect and Making good choices. The school supports The Positive Behaviour For Learning system that offers a school wide framework that provides a culture of positive support.

As discussed by Academy for SELinSchools ( 2015, Apr 28) the personality or climate of the school is apparent as soon as you walk in. It’s the feeling you get from the place. The culture of the school is what runs deeper and are the values and how we treat each other. This culture sets the tone for what happens at the school and the community.

This WARM Hearted system sets up a deliberate positive culture that supports adults and children to feel safe. Without a positive climate if its left to default then the students minds can revert to a focus on survival. As an educator in a low decile school I believe we are achieving excellent results with the children. It has long been recognised that a positive climate is of critical importance to provide a healthy, safe, and supportive classroom and school environment.

As discussed in the Academy for SELinSchools  ( 2015, Apr 28) clip the school climate is also created by those who are in it more permanently.  As the oldest school in the area we have a lot of families who have had several generations pass through the school. For example, the person who cleans the classrooms after school is in her mid fifties and she use to attend the school as a child, her children have been through the school and most likely her grandchildren will also attend the school. Also adding to the physical environment is the grounds keeper who has lived on the school grounds for over 20 years and keeps the environment immaculate. These components add to the climate of the school making it feel valued by those who work at it.

The Board of Trustees (BOT) reflect the diversity of cultures represented on the school roll. The BOT are very visible and approachable at the school. They are there everyday and are helping out in classrooms or available to talk with the teachers in the staff room. I believe this reinforces the culture of support from the local community.

In the classroom formative assessment underpins our teaching practices and is the vehicle for teaching practices for effective learning at this school. The teachers encourage inquiry learning and the students have active involvement in their own learning and co create learning goals. The students are encouraged to recognise their interests and unique strengths to guide learning in the classroom.

Ken Robinson discusses how children are diverse and for them to learn their curiosity needs to be ignited. To return to my previous point I think children also need to feel like they in a supportive and safe environment. The culture and climate with in a school and classroom are fundamental to teaching and learning. I especially agree with his view that the teachers role is to facilitate learning. He says we can be actively involved in a task but not be achieving the end result. I think what helps you achieve the result is by setting the right tone for learning in your community of learners. He comically compares teaching to the task of dieting whereby someone can be involved in dieting or teaching but not achieve the results needed.


Academy for SELinSchools ( 2015, Apr 28)What is school culture and climate? Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-_NvhlcusQ