Sunday, 8 March 2020

Research and Community Informed Practice 
Applied Practice in context
Assessment Research 1 and Practice

Reflective entry 1  

As a team (June, Ernest, Monica, and Cindy) identified our research topic of increasing teacher knowledge for designing student digital outcomes from the New Zealand Curriculum level 1.  We have applied the principles of reflective writing as described by SkillsTeamHullUni, (2014) by asking ourselves the main questions of why we decided to choose this topic? As well as what would be the implications of our new learning on our students?  

The justifications for focusing on this particular research topic relates directly to improving our own teaching practice specifically with digital and collaborative learning. During our shared reflection,  us four teachers acknowledged our limited knowledge around the digital outcomes learning area of the New Zealand Curriculum. Consequently, impacting directly on our teacher capabilities to facilitate digital and collaborative learning within our classrooms and amongst our communities.  The Ministry of Education’s directives to implement digital and collaborative learning within classrooms during 2020, from our perspective was an added pressure for teachers to be upskilled immediately. 

In reflection, taking this mindlab course was our first action to make a positive change for us four teachers.  The first assignment enabled us time and space to acknowledge and reflect upon the common issue which was our limited knowledge.  We have learned how the curriculum can be taught digitally and collaboratively using virtual reality tools, robotics and the application of a myriad of applications along with diverse styles of learning modelled by facilitators.  The ongoing weekly courses have raised our awareness to be research-based practitioners and the importance of evidence within our practice. We have shared our learning with our principal and within our own individual classrooms through virtual reality tools and applications such as blogging, zoom, screencastomatic, PowerPoint presentations and also shared documents.  We reflected upon the fact that time constraints were difficult but being able to work in a group balanced out this particular weakness for us. A future action of development for us would be to share our learning during teacher professional development sessions and of course within our own classroom programmes to gain sustainability.

Secondly, as a cohort of teachers, we reflected upon the fact that students were keen to use digital devices and applications but once again we were limited by knowledge.  All four teachers required upskilling and increased knowledge capacity. Furthermore, justifying our research topic. At our school, us teachers have been given the opportunity to learn about Hapara and classroom blogs as a means of using digital and collaborative technology. However, the new learning was only surface deep and once again the effectiveness of using this system was left to the side, we reflected upon the fact that it was the beginning of collaboration within the class using technology. We required more than what was shared. As we reflected on our research topic, we realised that we would have to be realistic with our expectations of time and a deeper understanding of the research topic. We needed to start somewhere so we decided to focus on level one of the student digital outcomes. In time, we would transfer our effective learning strategies done at level one across the other levels.  Our ongoing, long term actions would be to gain teacher capability within level 2 (Taumata 2) and level 3 (Taumata 3).

Thirdly, learning about research-informed teaching and the positive outcomes for students across the digital curriculum were inspiring as described by Underwood, (2009). The Ministry of Education, (2013-2017) identifies the importance of accelerating Māori success for learners with the use of digital and collaborative learning. Positive shifts for students include motivation, engagement, independence and interaction Wright, (2010). In reflection, specifically with the tamariki in our whānau, it was important for us to raise engagement and independence across the curricula through the vehicle of digital and collaborative practices as described previously.  We learned that progress outcome 1 referred to contexts where students develop, manipulate, store, retrieve and share digital content. Our students were motivated and excited to write within literacy using google documents, Arapū, Kupu, Tipu te reo Māori, and Aki applications. Through increasing our own teacher knowledge around digital learning, we are improving our teaching practices and capabilities. This reflection illustrates different aspects of our research topic and how digital and collaborative learning are central to us improving our practice.  

Reflective entry 2  

Our research topic of increasing teacher knowledge of designing student digital outcomes from the New Zealand Curriculum level 1, must be analysed from different perspectives to gain deeper reflection and insight. Brookfield, (2017) provides a useful changing room analogy to highlight the importance of perspectives and the uses of mirrors to gain different viewpoints.  This correlation provides a parallel understanding of us and our research topic. This analogy supports our understanding of our research topic and how we have to multifaceted in the way our topic is viewed by different parties. 

During our group reflection conversations, we were convinced that our research topic must address different audiences.  We have applied Brookfield’s model to identify different perspectives in relation to our topic. These audiences include local perspectives such as students, colleagues, the community and personal viewpoints.  From a teaching staff perspective, our research topic encourages us as teachers to be diligent, proactive and committed to upskilling ourselves and then using our learning to support teaching in the classroom. As a result of our group reflection conversations, we have upskilled ourselves by not only taking the mindlab course but also engaging in research, theories, methodologies, and evidence to support our inquiries and to also strengthen our digital knowledge. We are linking our new digital and collaborative knowledge with other theories such as culturally responsive and assessment for learning practices. As staff, we are able to make relevant and valid connections from a digital and collaborative point of view with other pedagogical approaches. Intertwining the main ideas of these practices and innovatively creating a whāriki which represents different whenu (strands of practice) but forming part of a whole. The ultimate purpose of the whāriki is to gain positive student outcomes.

Our School Strategic plan 2020 presented data about students, colleagues, the School Board and our community voices which showed that there was a significant need to  increase digital knowledge. This strategic plan provided another perspective on our research topic. These voices were collected using an open question, a multichoice survey as well as interviews. Babione, C. (2015) explains that questionnaires and surveys are useful in providing information through the use of questions. Babione also describes the validity of  interviews and how they can be conducted to obtain information such as feelings, motivations, experiences and thoughts on a particular issue. We recorded these interviews with the Board, teachers, students and the community as evidence of our data collection. We discovered that all three data collection methods highlighted the desire  of our students to gain more digital learning and the use of devices to enhance learning and sharing practices within our classrooms. The parents, whānau and the School Board’s needs were similar to the students but included safety with technologies. Our students and whānau explicitly supported the need of teachers to be upskilled and to be involved with relevant professional development. 

The Ministry of Education, (2013-2017) and the Kia Takatū initiative is part of the national landscape to upskill teachers and is evident within the 12 schools within our kāhui ako.  The Ministry of Education, principals and kāhui ako are adamant in updating teacher capabilities in the area of digital outcomes for students. This is a priority learning area along with Māori achievement within our community of learning.  In reflection, us four teachers attended a community of learning night which involved six different schools within our community of learning. The purpose of this professional development was to highlight pathways designed for learning and exploring the digital technologies curriculum content.  Activities included coding, bee bots, creating scenarios to introduce coding activities which could be transferred into the classroom. Once again, a wider community of learning perspective provided opportunities for us as teachers to learn and reinforce learning done during the mindlab course. As next steps, we were to implement these activities into our own classrooms as an initiation to our digital and collaborative learning journey.

From a local and national perspective, whānau and the community expect high-quality education with te reo Māori and tikanga Māori as the vehicles to achievement.  Kaupapa Māori theories and research deriving from Te Tiriti o Waitangi as described by Smith, G. (1990) have formed the basis of Te Kōhanga Reo, Kura Kaupapa Māori, and Wharekura. Rumaki Reo Māori and bilingual education stem directly from the research, theories, philosophies and values of these educational initiatives.  We ask ourselves, How does this perspective relate to our research topic? For us it is obvious because the learning environments that we teach in are based upon kaupapa Māori. Learning and teaching is underpinned by te reo and tikanga Māori. As teachers, we have to balance traditional (taonga tuku iho) with contemporary digital and collaborative knowledge in ways that enhance our student’s and our own life-long learning journeys.

As teachers we believe that research sourced locally, nationally and internationally can present multiple perspectives to a research topic.  Robertson, J. (2015) resonates and affirms for us as Māori teaching practitioners that we are innovative and risk-takers in the way we implement the curriculum within our Māori learning contexts.  As Robertson and Coe, R. (1999) suggests Māori teaching practitioners have to cross boundaries, be creative and experiment by trying different things to inform practice. This particular point was highlighted previously where we have to align and match more  traditional Māori knowledge and skills with present-day knowledge. Our research topic exemplifies exactly this point of trying different ways and giving it a go within a kaupapa Māori framework. We have to be masters of manipulating the new with the old knowledge. Contemporary digital technologies with traditional te reo Māori me ōna tikanga.

Reflective entry 3 

Indigenous knowledge is derived by Durie, M. (2004) as the relationship of indigenous people with their natural environment, whakapapa, generations and traditions.  The notion of indigenous people being inseparable to their environment and that traditions through indigenous knowledge are emulated through waiata, karakia, whakapapa, pūrākau, tikanga and kawa.  Durie explains that indigenous knowledge can be applied to contemporary times and other knowledge systems. Māori education is an example of this fusion. We reflected upon our own daily teaching and learning practices within our own whānau which emphasised indigenous knowledge of karakia at different times of the day, the use of our natural environment as a holistic approach to hauora (health and wellbeing), meditation, healthy eating and the learning around our 
mārakai (gardens), learning te reo Māori, tikanga Māori, enhancing Māori belief systems, pūrākau (iwi truths) and also waiata to transmit knowledge.  All of these components set the culture of our whānau which reinforces part 1 (relationship teacher’s profile) whereby a family-like context for learning is created Bishop, R. (2019). Like Bishop, our classes are foundationally based upon the whānau philosophy of caring, being agentic and having a family environment therefore culturally  responsive practices reinforce and build upon what is already apparent for us. It is nothing new for us as teachers and for our students. 

Battiste, M & Henderson J. Y. (2009) reinforces  the notion of indigenous knowledge being derived from indigenous learning, language, learning styles and cultures.  As discussed previously, indigenous knowledge is validated within kaupapa Māori research and theory. The whānau and Te Aho Matua philosophies reinforce the fusion of Māori with their natural, social, physical and spiritual environment.  Indigenous knowledge within our teaching practice is invaluable, traditionally driven and is continuously linking our students to their natural environment, whakapapa, whānau, hapū and iwi. These teachings shape, sculpture and embody the essence of what, why and how we do, what we do.  In reflection, the indigenous knowledge which underpins ako (teaching and learning) is organic and we try to keep it authentic. There is an explicit blend between the use of indigenous knowledge, kaupapa Māori and culturally responsive practices (family-like contexts, caring, nurturing and student’s language, culture and heritage).  These all inform our every day teaching practices.

Bishop & Glynn’s, (1999) research which is underlined by kaupapa Māori theory, highlights the positive relationships of students and teachers which in turn validates indigenous knowledge implemented into schools.  This theory and practice enable the aspirations of language and cultural revitalisation within communities. Berryman M, Lawerence D & Lamont, R. (2018) identifies cultural relationships for responsive pedagogy as being achieved through effective relationships and equal power (mana ōrite).  Being responsive teachers requires the belief in students, dialogue, cultural connectedness, expertise with adapting to different situations, legitimising different views on knowledge, sharing learning and empowerment. Once again, kaupapa Māori theory along with culturally responsive practices aligns and reinforces our daily teaching practices. 

Smith states the importance of respectful relationships. Berryman, Lawerence, and Lamont. (2018) advocate effective learning relationships as foundational, understanding the learners as well as the concept of mana ōrite (equal power) .  Bishop, R., and Berryman, M. (2006) support power-sharing, excellence for Maori, strong relationships of students and teachers as a pedagogy within learning environments. Bishop, R. (2019) consolidates the notion that Māori students were clear about the good relationships of student/ teachers and how positive relationships  had the greatest impact on their learning. Their families supported this particular point too. Bishop highlights power-sharing strategies such as cooperative learning, learners as co enquirers and the use of narrative pedagogy. Learning is seen as reciprocal. During our shared reflection, we thought about how these culturally responsive practices and indigenous knowledge inform our practices? Within our daily teaching, we use ako (reciprocity) in all areas of the curriculum, tuākana/teina relationships are prevalent and integrated teaching programmes promote power-sharing. Bishop’s research reinforces the importance of teachers teaching to the North-East.  This means for us as teachers we have to be highly supportive and have high teaching skills which then advocates indigenous knowledge and cultural responsiveness practices in our learning contexts. 

Pohatu, T. (2011) mauri model describes mauri ora as a person who is engaged in positive relationships with others, feels a sense of belonging, is spiritually and emotionally strong, is positive and energetic.  For Māori and especially the tamariki we teach, this means that success enables them to walk confidently and with mana in the two worlds of Aotearoa New Zealand. From our own perspectives, the fusion of kaupapa Māori and culturally responsive  practices have a complementary position within our whānau. All of the values and concepts have already been embedded within Māori learning contexts through the whānau philosophy, mātauranga Māori, ako, te reo Māori and tikanga Māori. 

Reflective entry 4 

Research topic
How do we increase teacher knowledge in designing student digital outcomes from the New Zealand Curriculum, level 1?

Initially, us four teachers could not find a starting point for our research topic. We spent at least three weeks trying to think of the most significant research question that would move us forward with our teaching practice using digital and collaborative approaches.  The digital curriculum was a new document to us, so trying to teach our children was near impossible. We brainstormed and did a mind map relating to different topics. Research topics included, designing reo Māori applications, using different devices within the class, implementing student digital outcomes for literacy, designing a student profile/portfolio and  teaching researching techniques for inquiry. Reflecting back, we discovered that we wanted to teach a lot with our students but fundamentally we did not have the knowledge at all to achieve these aspirations. We had to “strip” back our inquiries which revealed that our weaknesses were not knowing the curriculum document. We thought that researching all of the levels 1-3 was going to be an impossible challenge within the timeframe so we decided to unpack level 1.  All teachers decided to begin their inquiries at level 1 which made perfect sense to us. 

As teachers within a Māori learning context, kaupapa Māori is the foundational philosophy.  According to Smith, G. (1990) this philosophy stems from Te Tiriti o Waitangi and is encapsulated as a principle of Kaupapa Māori.  These principles of kaupapa Māori underlie the essence of Te Kōhanga Reo, Kura Kaupapa Māori and in turn rumaki reo Māori and bilingual education. Smith reinforces the thinking of kaupapa Māori as research/theory with Māori, for Māori, by Māori.  Battiste, M & Henderson J. Y (2009) describe Kaupapa Māori and indigenous educators as holistic practitioners of indigenous knowledge. Kaupapa Māori theory which involves the community is the status quo within our whānau. During reflection, we realised that we had to take our research topic which we all devised to our whānau (parents, caregivers and stakeholders and the wider community) through a hui.  As Māori researchers, we had to ensure our research was for the benefit of our Māori students and the aspirations of their whānau as mentioned previously. We used the data gathering methods of open questions and interviews to gain insight into our research question.  

The Kaupapa Māori principles as set out by Smith acknowledges taonga tuku iho (cultural properties), ako, whānau, kaupapa and kia piki ake i ngā raruraru o te kāinga (resolving family conflict).  All of these principles to different degrees form the basis of Māori education. Reflecting on our topic, we are entrusted to uphold the principles of Kaupapa Māori while taking on new learning such as our research topic.  Te reo, tikanga, and mātauranga Māori are taonga tuku iho which must be nurtured. As Māori teachers, all of these principles are naturally apparent within our daily teaching/learning within our classes. The principles of whānau and kaupapa drive the aspirations of Māori ensuring a common vision for students, whānau, hapu, and iwi.  Moeke-Maxwell, (2015) reinforces the ideas of Māori participation, partnership and the protection of Māori if it is truly kaupapa Māori. The two hui held each term within our school, whānau, and community is a strategy to enforce whānau engagement and whakawhānaungatanga. It provides the most appropriate and timely method for us (teachers)  to keep our students, parents, and community informed about our research topic and it’s progress.

The principle of ata or growing respectful relationships as highlighted by Smith,  links to the discussions of cultural responsiveness and kaupapa Maori. We acknowledge the research and apply our own teaching experiences to the positive impacts on teaching practices.  In reflection, the Kaupapa Māori approach along with community priorities is a whāriki for our learning environments. Our expertise as teachers must weave new learning such as digital outcomes into the frameworks, philosophies, values and knowledge systems.  Indigenous knowledge, culturally responsive practices, and kaupapa Māori approaches are the foundations of our entire learning environment. For us as Māori teachers within a Māori learning environment, we are invested in traditional knowledge, pedagogies, and systems. We are taking on the challenge by applying contemporary knowledge such as digital and collaborative practices to bring together two worlds for our students to be successful as Māori. 

Reference List: 

Babione, C. (2015). Practitioner teacher inquiry and research. USA: John Wiley & Sons.

Battiste, M., & Henderson, J. (. Y. (2009). Naturalizing indigenous knowledge in eurocentric education. Canadian Journal of Native Education, 32(1), 5-18,129-130. Retrieved from

Benseman, J. (2013). Research-Informed Teaching of Adults: A Worthy Alternative to Old Habits and Hearsay?. Unitec ePress. Number 2. Retrieved from ernative-to-old-habits-and-hearsay/ 

Berryman, M., Lawrence, D.M., & Lamont, R. (2018). Cultural relationships for responsive pedagogy: A bicultural mana ōrite perspective. 

Bishop, R. (2019). TEACHING TO THE NORTH-EAST. NZCER PRESS. Wellington. New Zealand. ISBN: 978-1-98-854261-4

Bishop, R. & Glynn, T. (1999). Culture Counts: Charge Power Relations in Education. Dunmore Press Limited. P.O. Box 5115. Palmerston North. New Zealand. 

Brookfield, (2017). Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated. 

Coe, R. (1999). Manifesto for Evidence-Based Education. Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring, Durham University. Retrieved from:

Durie, M. (2004). International Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 33, Issue 5, October 2004, Pages 1138-1143, 

Ministry of Education (2013-2017). Wellington, Ka Hikitia-Accelerating success p.10 

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Robertson, J. (2015). Think-piece on leadership education in New Zealand. Wellington: Education Council New Zealand. Retrieved from 

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Smith, G. (1990). Research Issues related to Maori Education, paper presented to NZARE Special interest Conference, Massey University. 

Underwood, J. (2009).The impact of digital technology: A review of the evidence of the impact of digital technologies on formal education. BECTA. 

Wright, N. (2010). e-Learning and implications for New Zealand schools: a literature review. Wellington: Ministry of Education.