Thursday, 5 March 2015

Why would you? By Natasha

As soon as I heard about Akoranga o Naenae I was 
interested to find out more! The thinking that sat behind
the idea resonated with my reflections on my practice, professional material I was reading at the time, and my recent Professional Development opportunities. The idea of working collaboratively alongside other teachers was something that scared me and excited me at the same time. My desire for control and organisation made me feel slightly apprehensive and my belief in the importance of learning from each other, challenging boundaries, and provoking rigorous professional discussion enticed me. 

My experience at U-Learn 2014 challenged me to think hard about beliefs that underpinned my teaching. Listening to Quinn Norton and readings on the Maker Movement had encouraged me to think about the learning spaces within own my classroom, about the social construct of a school with single cell classrooms and bells that dictate when it is time to start and stop. For some students schooling as we know it is not having the ultimate impact we desire, that is, to spark a passion for learning that surpasses boundaries of the school walls and is long lasting. For some students their first experiences of learning are not interesting or motivating. For some students after a very short time at school they have developed a belief that they are 'not good at x, y, z.' Why is that? 

A key idea I was mulling over was rethinking the role of teachers and learners. When students truly direct their own learning we get engagement. When we get engagement we get students who think deeply about their learning; students who make connections with each other, with prior learning, and to possible future learning. With this in mind I started to wonder: do my students truly direct their own learning? Honestly… some of the time, yes. But they do so within the constraints of a timetable, learning objectives and learning tasks set by me. So, who is in charge really? What might it look like if they had more of the control? 

It was this thinking that led me to apply to be part of Akoranga o Naenae. Now that the first round is about to begin I have some wonderings...

  • What might teaching, planning, assessment look like if the Key Competencies were used as a starting point, rather than a by-product or an add on to other learning intentions? What if the Key Competencies were the main road instead of a side street? The Key Competencies go across all learning areas but what does this look like in practice?
  • If the skills involved in being an active learner are explicitly taught and valued will this transfer in all contexts, i.e. from AoN to home and school. Are there instances where this is or is not the case and what are the key factors at place in these instances? 
  • What are the benefits and challenges of working in a collaborative environment?

At U-Learn Quinn Norton spoke about the Red Queen 
Philosophy – that we areat a point in education where you have to run as fast as you can to stay where you are. It certainly feels like that but isn’t that exciting in a way? If we are not learners ourselves then how are we modeling the love for learning we want to inspire in our students? If we aren’t prepared to take a risk ourselves then how can we expect our students to? 


  1. Interesting comments re the key competencies. It made be think about the key capabilities in science and I wonder where they sit in helping the students practice the types of thinking, questioning, and actions needed to become informed citizens.

    1. Hi Mary, I was lucky enough to attend some PD on the Science capabilities recently. Really interesting! Natasha