Everything is nothing with a twist…I am not a non existent teacher who just lets students go!

everything is nothing

Everything is nothing with a twist…

Even after a wonderful performance by the All Blacks this morning, I cannot get out of my mind this article in stuff.co.nz re: modern learning. Riddled with assumptions and possibly fuelled by an agenda to fight MOE changes to classrooms of the future, I feel to stay quiet on the article would be to agree in a passive manner. Here is the article… http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/73042309/Top-schools-give-multi-million-dollar-classrooms-a-fail-grade

I never judge a colleague, a practitioner, a teacher, a learner, by what school they are in. I never make judgements about what might be happening in a persons classroom, how they are helping their learners to grow. I never make judgements about how school communities are trying to ensure positive student outcomes, academically, socially or emotionally. I always assume that no matter where a person in education works, both in and outside/alongside the school community, that they have the best interest of the students at heart.

So… how is it when it comes to modern learning environments that many choose to make assumptions and generalisations about what is occurring. As I said in the title of the blog, I am not a non existent teacher who just lets students go! I feel that I need to stand in support of my colleagues working in a modern learning environment and challenge what has been said.

This is my 20th year in education, I have taught in a variety of decile schools and have seen quality practice in every school I have ever worked in. Passionate colleagues who have the best interest of the students at heart. Teachers who have put the students at the centre and personalised learning for them, working with them and not doing education to them. Personalised learning is not therefore just letting go and letting students go. There is a power shift required. However, this is nothing new, this has come in educational theory for years…see this old post on going old school in a new school. https://sallyhart72.wordpress.com/2013/10/20/going-old-school-at-a-new-school/

Colleagues at HPSS are shifting education for sure, however, they are excellent practitioners, who are differentiating and connecting learning more than I have ever seen before. As I say, not to take away from any other school or setting as I believe there is good practice everywhere. Yes we allow students to explore, make sense, focus and more… (aspects of our learning design model, that allows for cohesion in the language of learning across the school) see post by Steve on this in more depth… https://stevemouldey.wordpress.com/2015/02/22/empowering-language/

Teachers are getting also to deep learning at school rather than just surface. Teachers are working to make learning visible and meaningful to their learners. https://sallyhart72.wordpress.com/2015/05/30/what-are-we-really-learning-making-learning-visible/

Oh of course a teacher in a MLE is going to say these sorts of things…they must not believe in assessment, they will never get in the league tables, do we care about that? No. Do we care about positive student outcomes? For sure! What are those? Now this is something up for debate? Who decides what positive student outcomes are “we do!” our school, our community, our learners, our whānau.

I believe that I have a good handle of curriculum, assessment and pedagogy, here is a link to my MEd (1st class honours) http://researchcommons.waikato.ac.nz/handle/10289/8984 show off putting that here! No proving that there is depth and an understanding of education to be challenging the view points put forward in the article. Also working as National Assessment Moderator for NZQA for 5 years, I also have a reasonably good handle of what is required to achieve success as is currently measured. We are looking to shift things and transform things in our context. However, we are well aware of constraints and work to see these in different ways, how can we collect naturally occurring evidence? How can we align curriculum, assessment and pedagogy and ensure that assessment is not the main driver?

It is not a dichotomy… modern learning vs traditional learning. Maybe it can be seen more as a dialectical relationship for your Marxists out there. Where hegemony and counter-hegemony work against each other to create a new hegemony. Where things do need a radical shift, but not to throw out the old, but to truly re-vision what success in education is and can be? It does not have to be a dichotomy…


I want to paint a picture…I am currently teaching collaboratively in a module with Tanya, who has many years under her belt as a Mathematician, she is an amazing practitioner differentiating more than she has ever done before. Working hard to put her students at the centre and achieving not only depth in learning, but also extending her learners more than she has ever before. Yes it is in a MLE, however, she is pushing herself as a practitioner more than she has ever done before, scaffolding and supporting along the way, not just letting go…however, that will come more as the students move further along the school pathway. She is also connecting with HPE, who would have thought that! Here is a write up on that module and the awesome social action taking place within it by @Sarvnazz http://attitudelive.com/blog/sarvnaz-taherian/opinion-exploring-disabilities-gain-empathy

Then we have https://twitter.com/CbwynnWynn our awesome SCT (specialist classroom teacher) who supports SCT across the region, has been an advisor and also a National Assessment Moderator for Biology. An amazing practitioner in any setting. She always has the student at the centre, more than any other practitioner I know, she always has, no matter where she has taught, she personalises learning constantly. However, she too scaffolds, supports, differentiates all the way. She is responsive to the learners and listens to their voice. This is good practice whatever school you are in.

I could go through all my colleagues at school and give you a brief on them and their teaching and learning programmes in their classes in the same manner. They are awesome practitioners, constantly inquiring into their own practice striving for positive student outcomes. I could have also done this when I taught at Onehunga High School, Takapuna Grammar School, St Cuthbert’s College and in London. Why, because I always see the best in my colleagues, I don’t run down other schools for what they are doing, I don’t see education as competition, I see it as collaboration to get the best for akonga/students across the nation. For allowing schools to work in their context in their way, with their communities, akonga/students, whānau to work out the best way to achieve “positive student outcomes” in line with their vision. If we are all working towards the same goal only then… Everything is nothing with a twist…