Archives for posts with tag: Education

220px-Elwyn_Richardson        He toi whakairo he mana tangata

          Where there is artistic excellence there is human dignity

Elwyn Stuart Richardson, QSO (July 8, 1925 – 24 December, 2012), was a New Zealand educator. He is best known for his book In the Early World a record of the development of his educational philosophy while teaching at a small rural school in Northland during the 1950’s. Over thirteen years, from 1949 to 1962, Richardson developed his own philosophy of education. He discarded the official syllabus and turned instead to the children’s lives and immediate environment for the basis of his curriculum. Using the children’s natural curiosity and interest, Richardson taught them how to look closely at the world around them and to observe and record their new discoveries and their own responses to these. From here, he developed a dynamic programme anchored in the children’s surroundings and real lives. Through environmental study, the children learned the basis of scientific method, and brought these skills to bear on studies that spanned all subjects. It was a revolt away from science as a separate subject to an integrated programme of arts and science often using Māori legend as a medium for learning. On the strength of his early work, the school is granted ‘experimental status’ by Clarence Beeby, Director of Education, a special consideration that allowed him to develop his own teaching methods and curriculum largely unimpeded by school inspectors. Richardson is considered a significant figure in New Zealand education because of his own work and educational writings and the critical impact of his educational philosophy internationally. (Thanks to Dr Margaret MacDonald)


The messages from this PLD were:

  • Art is a tool for enquiry – is it being used to its full potential? Art influences who a person is and how they develop. Our appreciation of the world is active and not passive and there are limitations of language as a medium for children to express their understandings of the world around them, and art provides an opportunity for children to create their own symbols. There are close connections between the natural world and art as a vehicle for learning.
  • Geographical links are a context to find identity, the use of art to express that identity launches children on journeys of imagination. Teachers often do not understand the theoretical basis of their visual arts programme, there is a synergy and contradiction between practice and curriculum – a flourishing and constraining depending on teacher understandings.
  • NZCER research shared: Supporting future oriented learning and teaching: A NZ perspective, ( Research suggests at least six emerging principles to foster creativity and imagination in the 21st century :
  1.     personalised learning – one-size does not fit all
  2.    diversity is a strength, plurality is encouraged, to move easily between two worlds is a benefit
  3.    using current knowledge to build learning capacity and support changes in thinking
  4.    rethinking learner and teacher roles; supporting students to solve their own problems rather than rote learning facts
  5. continuous learning, creation of learning organisations, professional learning and networked learning communities
  6. More visible partnerships between schools and communities; so communities can understand 21st-century learning and why it matters
  • A reflective question from this research is how will ICT connect to the 6 themes and support art practices
  • Teachers work is curriculum and when seeking to understand teacher practice the teachers own ideas and questions are required. Teachers should be listening for things they do not know from children. Effective teachers understand their own values, their image of the child and reflect on the arts curriculum in their context. They know, understand and control curriculum – they understand very well how to create relevant curriculum in their context for all children, they also know how to report it to agencies and whānau. To focus heavily on numeracy and literacy devastates the arts curriculum in education. What informs authentic, situational learning practices in your context?
in the early world

Elwyn Richardson’s seminal work – In the early world

The speakers were Janita Craw, Victoria O’Sullivan, Professor Helen May, Rachel Bolstad, Associate Professor Nesta Devine, Ian Bowell, Sarah Probine, Dr Joce Jesson and Dr Margaret MacDonald


I know Wikipedia is not a good primary resource  …  however sometimes you can find some pretty cool things on there

My early childhood centre is looking at our pedagogical documentation with a view to improving it. As part of my focus on improving my pedagogical documentation, I have been reading Margaret Carr and Wendy Lee’s book Learning Stories: Constructing Learner Identities in Early Education (2012). I have found reading the book has clarified and strengthened my understandings of this local form of assessment.

In New Zealand early childhood centres, assessment of child learning often takes the form of Learning Stories. The technique requires teachers to observe children and write narrative ‘stories’ to show the learning that is occurring in particular situations.

We use Learning Stories to:

  • help make connections with family/whānau
  • include children and family/whānau voices
  • tell stories about infants
  • allow children to dictate their own stories
  • to revisit children’s learning journey
  • to expand teaching and learning wisdom in our own context
  • to construct teacher and learner identity
  • to connect socio-cultural approaches to pedagogy and assessment and narrative inquiry

Blaiklock (2008) discusses a number of concerns about the value of Learning Stories for assessing children’s learning. His concerns stem from an earlier focus on assessing children’s dispositions for learning rather than describing their knowledge and skill levels. He considers teachers have difficulty with establishing the validity or accountability of Learning Stories, problems with making subjective interpretations based on short observations; a lack of guidance on where, when and how often to make Learning Stories; problems with defining and assessing learning dispositions; and difficulties in using Learning Stories to show changes in children’s learning over time.

Directions for Assessment in New Zealand (2009) argues that valid interpretations and decisions are based in descriptive (the observation part) and prescriptive (the ‘what next’ part) writing. The decisions and actions that flow from the observation – they must be defensible in their consequences. Validity is a consequence of both parts – if the ‘what next’ is detrimental to learning, if the descriptive observation misses the point … the assessment lacks validity. Strong assessment practices and understandings of the valid assessment strengthen the validity of interpretations and consequences of teaching and learning.

A learning story is a divergent form of assessment. The narrative of the learning story emphasises the way in which the child has engaged in what may be a new way of learning and acting; this legitimates the possible self.

You can read about Wendy Lee and her amazing learning journey at the Educational Leadership Project website. Just click on the link: Educational Leadership Project


Our new manager wants us to be a centre of excellence. However we have been working toward improving things over time. When I first started at this early childhood centre, Gaynor, our cook was working towards foregrounding healthy eating. It has taken time to establish vegetable gardens, a policy framework, and gain a gold standard Healthy Heart Award (Given by the New Zealand Heart Foundation).

Thanks to Daniel Goleman’s new book on Ecoliteracy for help with reflection and writing. It is still a work in progress so will change over time.

Pathways that began our change process:

  • We used reflection over time to move our practices from piecemeal to systemic
  • We made good progress due to dogged determination; in the beginning the process was driven by Gaynor (our cook) then other staff came on board
  • We feel food literacy equals sustainable educational practices and a healthy environment
  1. Policy Framework to support the initiative: Nutrition policy, Physical Activity Policy, Breast Feeding Policy, Lunch Box Policy, Wellness Policy (TBA)
  2. Teaching and learning: Hands on learning and growing, harvesting, preparing, and eating experiences grow knowledge, skills and attitudes about food, culture, health and the environment. Children assist with meal preparation peeling corn, peeling other vegetables, shelling peas and juicing fruit. Children also scoop Feijoa and Kiwifruit to eat. As well as healthy eating and food preparation skills, we believe this supports fine motor skill development and coordination.
  3. Whānau (family) Involvement: Sharing information through newsletters; inviting parent feedback to our menu changes. Our cook is flexible and able to change the menu when parents make positive suggestions or have special dietary requirements. Parents and family often ask for recipes, recipes from  are shared regularly in monthly newsletters. Parents bring excess vegetable and fruit from their gardens. When we have celebrations, parents bring a plate of healthy food to share.
  4. The Dining Experience: A welcoming safe environment that values an atmosphere of healthy eating and positive social interaction
  5. Procurement: Our menus prioritizes fresh, seasonal, sustainably grown food grown from local and regional sources
  6. Facilities: Our view of children as competent is reflected in our use of crockery and drinking glasses. We have a well-equipped kitchen with a Children’s Cooking Box containing peelers, squeezers and stirrers to ensure fresh food can be prepared and reinforce healthy food lessons. Children’s emerging interests can be planned for and supported quickly
  7. Waste Management: A mindfulness around the concept of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. We have a worm farm, compost bin and plastic recycling to help children to learn and understand the need to conserve natural resources. Paper recycling is the latest initiative.
  8. Finances: Strategic budgeting and care when choosing resources ensures viability and long-term sustainability of the programme
  9. Professional Development: SPARC, Healthy Heart Workshops, Vice-Chancellors Lecture Series 2011, Basic Hygiene Certificates,
  10. Marketing and Communication: The focus on Healthy Body, Healthy Mind has contributed to the advertised ‘flavour’ of our centre
  11. Centre Philosophy: The centre philosophy requires the addition of explicit reference to our focus on healthy food. The only reference is a focus on the holistic nature of early childhood education.

    Our focus is on providing for and nurturing the whole child, their emotional, social physical and cognitive skills. Our aim is that children grow as competent and confident learners, healthy in mind, body and spirit, secure in their sense of belonging and in the knowledge, they make a valued contribution to society.

  12. Centre Culture:   TBC                 


ü  Changing thinking takes time, patience and a firm view of our centre philosophy

ü  Building long-term sustainability into the culture of the centre

In New Zealand, teachers need to be Registered through the New Zealand Teacher’s Council. After finishing training, teacher must take part in an induction and mentoring course for a minimum of 2 years or until they meet the Registered Teacher Criteria. When previously registered teachers come up for re-registration (every 3 years) it is expected that they have also evidenced practice against the Registered Teacher Criteria. So all teachers have to evidence practice regularly.

Some of our teachers use eportfolio and create learning windows around a provocation, some use journaling and some use a combination of both. I have shared this format with some provisionally registered teachers about what is required to evidence practice.

All teachers seeking to gain and maintain full registration are required to meet the Registered Teacher Criteria. The Registration process involves evidencing practice. You are articulating your pedagogy as a teacher through your documentation. This involves clearly linking your practice to the Registered Teacher Criteria. The suggested format for mentees to create learning windows is below. Those who are journaling would be looking at a provocation and journaling it in a similar way to using a learning window. Please take the time to read, reflect, and work towards these targets.

Create Learning windows (3 monthly)
PRTs will be expected to complete a learning window around a provocation every 3 months. This will mean that ideally over a period of two years you will be able to demonstrate your learning journey through the creation of six learning windows. Link each learning window to different Registered Teacher Criteria so over two years all criteria are covered. Although there is a lot of thinking, collecting, reflecting and dialogue for each learning window, which will occur over the 3 months, it is expected it would take up to 8 hours minimum of technical work to ‘build’ each Learning Window over the 3 months. It is important that you spend time every couple of weeks to build your teaching portfolio – so that emphasis is on the learning process rather than a final product. Those who are journaling will also be looking at a provocation and documenting it in your journal every three months.

Written Peer Feedback (3 monthly)
Enlist collegial support, we all work in teaching teams. The expectation is PRTs, mentors and colleagues provide critical feedback to each other, this involves taking time to read and reflect on the Learning Windows or journal entries shared, and writing up feedback. There is huge learning benefit in this, not only in learning about the learning window focus, but also to give and receive critical feedback from a peer is very powerful. I would expect this to take approximately two – 2 ½ hours to provide online feedback. For those who are journaling – having a transparent path for feedback on your learning is important.

A fortnightly reflective journal entry of approximately 150 words is essential to document an ongoing learning journey as you build your learning windows. These journal entries can be a reference point to reflections, or can be included in the Learning Windows. We would expect this to take around 1 – 2 hours each fortnight.

Regular dialogue with mentor – f2f/online

A presentation of a Learning Window (eportfolio): to celebrate learning, a presentation to the teaching  team, which could lead into presenting to their wider group? Those who are using journaling could show their learning to their peers as well in a similar manner.

Plan for PD opportunities that support your long-term learning goals and aspirations, rather than one off stand-alone workshops

Reference points: The Code of Ethics, Te Whāriki, Registered Teacher Criteria, your centre philosophy, your personal teaching philosophy, staff appraisal and self-review documents.

Our new manager wants a centre of excellence – so after feedback from parents who attend our centre, we are focusing on improving our pedagogical documentation. In many early childhood centres in New Zealand, pedagogical documentation usually takes the form of a portfolio. Portfolios usually contain documentation the community considers as evidence of child learning. An official view is that Pedagogical Documentation is content and the pedagogy is process. The use of documentation such as portfolios is to mediate understandings of adults and children; it facilitates learning and teaching by making thinking visible. Portfolios, when pedagogically used, are a tool to inform teaching, learning, and mediate understandings of children in their own diverse social, cultural and historical contexts (Alcock, 2000).

After a discussion at a staff meeting, we found we had some ‘contested terrain’ about portfolio documentation that showed child learning. There are sixteen staff members at our early childhood service – we all come from different backgrounds and places, our views of quality documentation are therefore different. Some of us write from an activity base, some from a dispositional viewpoint; some believe the links to curriculum should be explicit; others refer to the links implicitly within the text of their narrative. To resolve the issue and ensure staff buy in to any changes that may occur we brainstormed as a group what we thought quality documentation consisted of.

At a second meeting, we matched what is actually in our portfolios with what our brainstorm said we should have. We found a few inconsistencies in our original brainstorm. After discussion, the re-writing of these is to ensure we are focusing on quality practices. We will re-match what is actually in our portfolios with our brainstormed perceptions of quality.

In the meantime, I am taking each brainstormed point and expanding on it to clarify what it means:

Learning Stories: A Learning Story is primarily a story. It tells a tale to the child, to the family, to guests, and to us as teachers of children. There is not one right way to do it. However, it does begin with the child’s initiative and progresses through the subsequent stages of engagement (becoming involved) and intentionality (causing something). It is always about “good” things.

This is taking a bit longer than I thought ….we had a large brainstorm ….


A discussion with the new manager led me to mention I like symmetry, order and listing – she likes asymmetry. Do we complement each other well or are we just different. I wondered if I could ‘make’ myself more creative …I began reading about Edward De Bono’s ideas about lateral thinking. I think this is the beginning of a journey rather than a destination.

The Six Thinking Hats (or modes)

  • The White Hat
  • The White Hat calls for information known or needed.
  • The Red Hat
  • The Red Hat signifies feelings, hunches and intuition.
  • The Black Hat
  • The Black Hat is judgment — the devil’s advocate or why something may not work.
  • The Yellow Hat
  • The Yellow Hat symbolizes brightness and optimism.
  • The Green Hat
  • The Green Hat focuses on creativity: the possibilities, alternatives and new ideas.
  • The Blue Hat
  • The Blue Hat is used to manage the thinking process.

The word Eportfolio fills me with a little trepidation as I am concerned about privacy. Everyone else seems to go with the flow – don’t worry they say, however if I am commiting my private thoughts to an online journal for attestation I think I am right to be concerned about privacy. My reflections sometimes contain things that I don’t want floating about in cyberspace – accessible to others. I don’t for a moment consider cyberspace to be my own private space – even if I have clicked the private or draft only icon.

In New Zealand, the professional and regulatory body for teachers is the NZ Teachers Council ( .

Their purpose is to provide professional leadership in teaching and to contribute to safe, high quality teaching and learning. The Registered Teacher Criteria describe the criteria for quality teaching. All teachers seeking to gain and maintain full registration are required to meet the Registered Teacher Criteria. There are 12 criteria and reflection and evidence of practice is required to support each criteria. These criteria are often used as a basis for examining practice at staff appraisal time.

On the website to help those of us of sluggish mind after a 40+ hour week with fifty 2-5 year olds, the Teachers Council does provide some help. There are key indicators, examples of reflective questions, examples of what may constitute evidence and strategies that may help. In the tool kit they also provide ideas of what centre or service processes and what a mentor or appraiser may look for. There is even a portion for future goals.

There is also a section on what to look for when providing evidence

What might my evidence look like?

  •  List of professional development undertaken (including in-centre PD).
  • Notes on opportunities taken to learn or practise skills in teaching in different styles  (including reflection and/or feedback)
  • Examples of changes made to planning based on individual needs of different children
  • Examples where staff, children, parents or the local community have appreciated my involvement in extracurricular activities
  • Evidence of feedback from children and their whānau (written, oral e.g. documented in the context of learning stories, perception data)
  • Evidence taken from Self-Assessment Tool (SAT)
  • Evidence taken from in centre appraisal processes. All observations demonstrate teachers working with children at their level and continually empowering children by offering choices.
  • Teaching stories demonstrating respectful interactions with children/parents/whānau.
  • Code of ethics and reflections sighting examples of how you have upheld these
  • Active participation of all centre meetings, events and reviews. You should record some of your contributions or have your manager document some of this.
  • Knowing who the support agencies are within your community and why the agencies needed to be contacted and your contribution to gathering information required. E.g. CYFS, GSE, Plunket
  • Examples of engaging with parents/whānau and reflections showing the benefits of this to children.  Evidence can be in the form of parent/whānau contribution to assessment, organising and participating in parent/whānau information evenings.
  • Times that you have had to deal with a sensitive situation, describing the incident, your response and changes you may make in the future to ensure the best outcome.  Examples of these could include a child disclosing abuse, suspicion of child abuse or neglect, an incident where you feel a colleague has acted inappropriately (include specific feedback you gave).  You should use reference material as further evidence.
  • Examples of changes made to planning based on individual needs of children.

I am pretty sure I can come up with specific examples along these lines – so maybe I do not need to be fretting about the appraisal process and what it means for me!



Oh dear, our staff appraisal is coming up and our New Manager has mentioned the exemplars on the Teachers Council Website and when I look at the work others have done, I feel a little overwhelmed.

It all seems to be aimed at a level way above me – all done by amazing over achievers. How can I show the quality of work I do when – yes I am a slow and careful writer – it all takes so long. Others just seem to whiz through their learning stories and reflections. I wondered what examples I could share of how I work.

After some thought yes, I have reflections about professional development and readings, yes I have examples of planning and yes I have learning stories linked to my planning. Is that enough??? I think not

Then after browsing the Teachers Council Website I found the Registered Teacher Criteria Self Assessment Tool – yaay at last some tools and reflective questions to guide me. A focus on the reflective questions that accompany the criteria may help my teaching journal.

I feel a little more confident now and luckily I have 2 months to write and reflect so should be able to wobble through quite nicely.