Tag Archives: Te Reo

Curriculum Guru

10 Aug


Curriculum Guru

Curriculum development is an ongoing process which requires collaboration, conflict-resolution and reflection. Too often, schools approach curriculum development as a product to be created. During my current role in 2015 I have developed a real passion for curriculum development.

Curriculum design and review is a continuous, cyclic process. It involves making decisions about how to give effect to the national curriculum in ways that best address the particular needs, interests, and circumstances of the school’s students and community. It requires a clear understanding of the intentions of The New Zealand Curriculum and of the values and expectations of the community. For some reading this is a good place to start.

Here are some thoughts:


Classroom teachers decide what every student should know and be able to do, then they should be involved in the curriculum development process. Unpacking the standards, curriculum mapping, unit development, writing generalizations, developing essential questions and creating common formative assessments are each opportunities for collaboration.

Conflict Resolution:

Conflict is often avoided when teachers discuss curriculum development. When teachers debate which skills are essential and what content can be omitted, curriculum development becomes a matter of conflict resolution. When teacher teams embrace conflict and encourage conflicting opinions they are supporting student achievement. Open conversation is where professional develoment occurs.


When teacher teams reflect on the written, taught and assessed curricula, they will improve pedagogy and curriculum design. When teachers develop curriculum and fail to assess its effectiveness, it is difficult to know if the curriculum is meeting the needs of each student.

Some Questions For Curriculum Developers:

  1. Does our school have a ‘robust curriculum’?
  2. Is our curriculum aligned?
  3. Do teachers have a tool or method for communicating the strengths and weaknesses of the curriculum’?
  4. When teachers develop common formative assessments, do they use the data generated?
  5. Are teachers meeting on a regular basis to reflect on the written, taught, and assessed curricula?

If curriculum drives the work of teacher teams, then schools must create time for teachers to collaborate, engage in conflict and provide time during the school day for reflection and revision. Curriculum development should be a priority in schools, rather than something that is handed to teachers as a top-down product. When teachers collaborate to develop the curriculum, they will have co-workers who support them when they come to a fork in the road in instruction.


Learning Te Reo

20 Nov

This year one of my goals has been learning Te Reo at the local learning institution. It has been an insight. Learning a new language is always both fascinating and frustrating at the same time. Fascinating because a whole new world opens up, and new connections are made. Frustrating because even though I am soon starting to understand some sentences in the new language, I am still far away from speaking fluency, and I know from experience that it will take a long time before I get there.

It occurred to me that learning always seems to follow the same pattern, no matter what we are learning, language or something else. First you gain some basic ideas about the topic (or language), and try to wrap your mind around it. Then you try to produce something from you newly learned knowledge. In language learning we call these receptive and expressive language skills. And language teachers have long time known how important it is to get students started with speaking on the target language from the day one, to keep the expressive threshold low for them.

Language teachers also know how important students’ talking in the class is,  when we want to help them get fluent.  It is equally important for students to externalize their thoughts and individual understanding about other school subjects to gain the necessary depth of learning. This is easily done by providing every student an opportunity to verbalize their understanding – and because we have limited time in the classroom, it must be done in short pair or group discussions. Every day. In every subject.

Being a Top Principal

27 Jul


While meeting with my critical friend this week we got into an interesting discussion about being a principal. I have been in girls’ schools for some eight years now after nine years in boy’s schools. I must admit the experience has made me a better practitioner and leader. I believe that men and women can be equally as effective as school principals. I have noted that at times women work harder to prove they are the equal of men.
I believe that a good principal is a gentle principal. I have developed my own understanding of “Gentle”, in the development of my idea of Gentle Leadership. My own servant leadership beliefs meet well with this. I see my own leadership like well-tanned leather. The metaphor in this is that well-tanned leather has an external surface that is tough, resilient and flexible. The right thing is done for the right reasons. Gentle leadership has none of the brittle nature of glass, nor the inflexibility and sharpness of steel.
Gentle leadership implies that the leader listens to all, considers well, considers the philosophy and background of the context and then tries to develop solutions with wisdom and sensitivity, combined with determination to challenge those who want the wrong things for the wrong reasons. To me, this kind of leadership is not gender specific. It requires a personal philosophy, empathy and a solid dose of determination. Men and women are equally capable of this kind of leadership.

My New Years Teaching Resolutions

1 Feb

I am now officially done with my summer holiday as I prepare to stand before the school and welcome them back to the new year. In my first blog of the new year  I am ready to post the goals that I have set for myself for 2014

 I will continue to be a lifelong learner by..

….completing my Level One Te Reo course.

This has been difficult but a true learning experience. It is hard to be put outside your comfort zone.

I will teach…

…to each individual student according to my learning plan.

I am a firm believer that to reach equality in the classroom everyone must be treated differently. Look at the data. What is it saying about the students in front of me.

…with  drive.

I want my students to build their own thinkers toolkit as the year progresses of knowledge, skills, learning approaches, thinking styles, reflective tools and ways of questioning. I want to help them scaffold answers and be the best they can be.

…and make connections.                                                                                  

Twitter and the VLN helped me become a better teacher in 2013. I want to build on this.

…with innovation.

Building on the above idea of connections. As technology moves along I wish to move with it, not two paces behind. I want to look into augmented reality as a way of getting students to share their learning with visitors and peers.

…and never forget the passion.

My students deserve the best and I shall give them that.

Continue to evaluate and analyse how I can do things better.

…in the 21st Century global village.

No walls here students. I am also open to listening to their ideas. Students have the best ideas.

As per usual I have my other resolutions which include reading 104 books this year, completing a half ironman and no iDevices on Wednesdays.

Wish me luck.


On a celebratory notethis blog is now one year old and this is the 100th post! Yay!



Te Reo

10 Dec

This week’s reflection is one I found from earlier in the year during Maori Language Week and while our Year 9 students were planning their Marae trip. At the same time we were looking at Tataiako as a staff.

First some facts. Māori language week was set up back in the 1975. Part of the reason that the celebration was instituted was due to New Zealand almost stamping the language out. Kids got the strap for speaking Te Reo when my parents went to school. During the 1980s various Māori language recovery programmes were instituted including Māori immersion schools. Still during my time at school I can’t remember it being taught.

I remember my sister was advised that learning Te Reo was a waste of time because it was dead language but she embraced it at university. I only wish I had done the same instead of those dusty old Middle English papers.  That was only 25 years ago. It is a shame there’s still large pockets of Pakeha New Zealander who don’t want their kids to learn Te Reo.

In my educational journey I have enrolled in a Level 2 Te Reo course next year. I wish I had learned more as a younger student especially when going overseas. Overseas I found Kiwis embrace Māori culture and language as part of our identity. I still remember leading a haka while teaching in Papua New Guinea. I’m just glad it was before the era of Instagram or Facebook!

This year, while studying educational documents like Ka Hikitea or articles like the  Issues of Culture and Assessment in New Zealand Education pertaining to Māori Students by Rangimārie Mahuika and Russell Bishop I have realized the language is so rich. So even though my own knowledge of Māori is pretty poor, I could still help my students by empowering them. One of the most powerful things I did was to get the kids to identify my learning need. They helped me also prepare Powhiri. What the kids came back with was nothing short of amazing. This was an illustration of the professional learning network at its best. The students saw me as a lifelong learner.


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