Future goal mapping through interdisciplinary connections

Critically discuss the interdisciplinary connections in practice.

Within interdisciplinary instruction, students can become more involved in their learning and teachers can work towards eliminating discipline lines. Students can become independent confident individuals who learn how to learn and develop lifelong learning skills” (Duerr, 2008, p.177). These lifelong learning skills are necessary to teach and develop mindsets equipped to addressing complex, or, even, wicked problems, especially in a society that is rapidly changing due to technology. It makes sense to transcend disciplines so various ways of thinking and perspectives can be acknowledged and applied to different concepts, contexts or situations.

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Throughout my professional career I have made interdisciplinary connections which have occurred organically by the way of a learning journey.
Currently, through my learning journey, I have shifted back into the role of a learner more than a teacher. So, when addressing a future goal, I want to reconnect with an area of interest – Education for Sustainability, furthering my understanding of Place Based Learning, with relation to Disruptive Design and Systems Thinking.

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Created using Coggle – https://coggle.it/

My journey into EfS began when I became concerned with how ecological literacy was being taught in school. I began implementing an EfS programme into the school I was working in at the time, incorporating an integrative approach through an inquiry model. I met a variety of people from different sectors of the community who supported and challenged by thinking and helped the school in this implementation process.

The benefits of having these different sectors involved meant a sense of community was created and a diversity of expertise was being shared in the school environment. “In our interconnected world we need the power of shared insight and working together to effect long-term and significant change” (The Enviroschools Foundation, 2008, p. 11).
However, collaborating with and coordinating the different community sectors was time consuming. Frustrations were shared around workload pressures and the ongoing commitment to the programme. “Interdisciplinary curricula is time consuming and takes collaborative team work to create, which can seem like a hard and exhausting disadvantage” (Jones, 2009, p.5).

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Later, while overseas, I was teaching the International Baccalaureate curriculum at an international school. I gained experience developing units of inquiry involving transdisciplinary themes, working within a grade level team and collaborating with specialist teachers. Again, the same benefits and challenges as before rose in this process.

During that time, I was fortunate to attend the Green School Bali Educators Course. I met a man there, who has a background in transformational design and enterprise. He questioned the effectiveness of inquiry and interdisciplinary approaches to learning in relation to learner agency. He thought these were teachercentric approaches to learning without much consultation with students during the planning stages. “Currently, students are accountable to teachers (and parents). In the healthy model, students are accountable to themselves for meeting goals they set, with assistance from teachers and other mentors” (Eden, 2016).

I agree, even with an integrative approach, I’ve found there is an imbalance with the concept of “teachers and students as partners in curriculum design” (Mathison & Freeman, 1997, p.15). I’m interested to learn how a teacher effectively incorporates learner agency with obligations such as national standards and curriculum objectives into interdisciplinary units. As well as navigate issues like time, resourcing, up-skilling and collaboration. Do we need to look at a paradigm shift to achieve this?

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Taking this thinking into consideration, I’d like to connect with the educators at Green School Bali, educators and designers working in similar fields of expertise and past interdisciplinary connections to explore my goal (previously stated) further.
I can see the potential of such learning being of benefit to community based education programmes, where, possibly, the education system has failed certain students. This could, then, put teachers in the role of facilitators around concepts of interdisciplinary, integrated, integrative instruction.

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Duerr, L. (2008). Interdisciplinary Instruction. Educational Horizons, 86(3), 173-180. Retrieved from chrome-extension://ecnphlgnajanjnkcmbpancdjoidceilk/content/web/viewer.html?source=extension_pdfhandler&file=http%3A%2F%2Ffiles.eric.ed.gov%2Ffulltext%2FEJ798522.pdf

Eden, A. (2016). Assisted Accountability – The True Flipped Classroom. Retrieved from https://edunautics.com/2016/08/18/assisted-accountability-the-true-flipped-classroom/

The Enviroschools Foundation. (2008). Enviroschools Handbook. Hamilton, New Zealand: Fusion Print Group Ltd.

Jones, C. (2009). Interdisciplinary approach – Advantages, disadvantages, and the future benefits of interdisciplinary studies. ESSAI7, 7(26), 76-81. Retrieved from chrome-extension://ecnphlgnajanjnkcmbpancdjoidceilk/content/web/viewer.html?source=extension_pdfhandler&file=http%3A%2F%2Fdc.cod.edu%2Fcgi%2Fviewcontent.cgi%3Farticle%3D1121%26context%3Dessai

Mathison,S., & Freeman, M. (1997). The logic of interdisciplinary studies. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago. Retrieved from chrome-extension://ecnphlgnajanjnkcmbpancdjoidceilk/content/web/viewer.html?source=extension_pdfhandler&file=http%3A%2F%2Ffiles.eric.ed.gov%2Ffulltext%2FED418434.pdf

Becoming connected via Twitter


Critically discuss the use of social online networks in teaching and professional development.

In a world influenced by technology and becoming increasingly connected, it is important for a teacher to interact with social media. Elana Leoni (Office of Ed Teach, 2013) states “… it’s like the number one necessary thing to be a 21st Century educator, be connected.”

One area of social media that has contributed greatly to my ongoing professional development has been joining Twitter. Steve Dembo (Office of Ed Tech, 2013) talks about how most people have built a personal learning network have done so organically and realised that it is transformative once they started broadening and developing it. This was the case for me.

While working in a different field for an environmental and leadership organisation, I gained the knowledge to grasp the workings of Twitter to communicate information.

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Student practises giving peer feedback on a classmate’s e-portfolio.

Once returning to teaching I utilised this knowledge to start communicating learning and ideas through appropriate educational hashtags. I met people and organisations that were interested in my professional inquiries and I began building an online community. Looking at how others were communicating their professional development, I attempted this myself, e.g. creating an e-portfolio and blog. Through my personal exploration into this, it helped to introduce and teach these tools to my students to enhance and develop soft skills like self regulation. Timperley (2008) states “To engage in professional inquiry that makes a difference for students, teachers need to learn how to identify the pedagogical content knowledge and skills they need to assist their students to achieve the valued outcomes” (p.13).

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Science Learning Hub/TeachMeetNZ 2015 presenters.

Through my Twitter community I was invited to present at a TeachMeetNZ with the focus on science. Interacting with scientists and science educators via Google Hangouts helped me to bridge concepts between secondary and tertiary sectors, grow professional relationships, and reflect on my practice. Later, the invitation was extended to me to become part of the #SciChatNZ team which involves organising educational chats in science education via Twitter. This challenged me to develop my online identity, leadership and technical skills. Melhuish (2013) states “… the value of networking with educators beyond their own environment was considered a vital condition for experiencing divergent thinking…” (p.41).

As my online identity grows professionally through Twitter, I am concerned about the potential exposure this brings. Interacting in various professional learning networks means I open myself up for all to view. It is difficult/impossible to control how certain parties perceive my online identity and how the content I publish can be used. I have to be conscious around my own safety online and a certain amount of trust and faith is applied with each tweet/post. Melhuish (2013) states “There is a balance to be struck between total anonymity and the benefits of opening up one’s identity and sharing data as part of contributing to the network’s social capital” (p.47).
One incident involving work I published online was used to further another blogger’s agenda, taking what I had written out of context and shining a negative light on my identity. At the time, it was disheartening and I went into a process of reflection around the incident questioning my online presence, the professional danger involved, and considered withdrawing from social media. I confided in a colleague who was blogging about Teacherpreneurs. His feedback was not to withdraw as my voice was necessary in providing a balance of views and shifting mindsets around education. He writes “…they (Teacherpreneurs) take a risk that their ideas might fall flat. This may be… Teachers who speak up. Who are not comfortable with business as usual – who have a gentle ‘uneasiness’ that they can and should be trying to innovate…” (Ives, 2016). He was right, but every online step I take involves added caution now and this learning has been transferred to the students via cybersafety.

Teachers have to be bold and confident when engaging in social media, taking professional risks with sharing their learning online. If we are not prepared to interact online as educators and role model this, walking our talk, how do we expect students to?

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Ives, M. (2016). Zeroing in on the Essence: The Teacherpreneur. Retrieved from http://mattivesonline.com/2016/05/

Melhuish, K. (2013). Online social networking and its impact on New Zealand educators’ professional learning. Master Thesis. The University of Waikato. Retrieved from http://researchcommons.waikato.ac.nz/bitstream/handle/10289/8482/thesis.pdf?sequence=3&isAllowed=y

Office of Ed Tech. (2013, Sep 18). Connected Educators. . Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=216&v=K4Vd4JP_DB8

Timperley, H. (2008). Teacher Professional Learning and Development Educational Practices Series-18. Belley, France: Imprimerie Nouvelle Gonnet. Retrieved from chrome-extension://ecnphlgnajanjnkcmbpancdjoidceilk/content/web/viewer.html?source=extension_pdfhandler&file=http%3A%2F%2Fedu.aru.ac.th%2Fchildedu%2Fimages%2FPDF%2Fbenjamaporn%2FEdPractices_18.pdf

Ethics, Online Access and Activity

Critique and address issues of law, regulations and policy in practice.

The Situation/ Predicament
A student came to me enquiring into whether I had access into students’ Google Drives

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Digital Citizen engaging in online activity – Image: Emma McFadyen

and how often I check what students do online. The student started to share that she had been involved in an argument with her friend which had led to written abuse through email. She was aware of the school stance and the consequences in place regarding cyberbullying and was concerned if this would impact on her opportunity to go on camp.
When reviewing the student’s Google Drive, there were a number of back and forth email correspondence over a period of two weeks. The emails displayed unpleasant communication between the two girls.

Analysis of the issue
The central issue posing an ethical dilemma is that of Cybersafety, which comes under the School’s Health, Safety and Welfare policy (Te Hapara School, 2015). In this policy there is a section on Digital Technology and Cybersafety which states “We maintain a cybersafe school environment by: setting and sharing clear guidelines about acceptable and unacceptable use of the technology, and monitoring these guidelines” (Te Hapara School, 2015). In the same paragraph it states there being a “clear process dealing with breaches of policy or agreements, including incidents of cyberbullying”, and guidelines “for the surrendering and retention of digital devices.” The policy states that these guidelines apply to every member of the school community authorised to use the digital technology equipment (Te Hapara School, 2015).
When reviewing the Code of Ethics for Certified Teachers (Education Council New Zealand, 2015) in relation to the central issue and taking the School’s policy into consideration, there are two areas to consider:

  1. Commitment to Learners
    Teachers will strive to:
    f.) promote the physical, emotional, social, intellectual and spiritual wellbeing of learners.
  2. Commitment to Parents/Guardians and Family/Whānau
    In relation to Parents/Guardians and the Family/Whānau of learners, teachers will strive to:
    a.) involve them in decision making about the care and education of their children.
    d.) respect their rights to information about their children, unless that is judged to be not in the best interests of the children.

(Education Council New Zealand, 2015)

Having consulted the Code of Ethics for Certified Teachers (Education Council New Zealand, 2015) and school policy documents (Te Hapara School, 2015), it’s important to look at the stakeholders surrounding the issue and their interests.
Of primary concern is the students’ welfare with their well-being being at risk. Then, their parents or guardians who are the legal carers of them. Next, is the school who has a responsibility to the students and parents to ensure they are being looked after, but, also, that policy and procedure is being upheld to maintain a good school reputation.
Taking all areas into account when looking at the course of action regarding the incident, there is the immediate action and the long term action to consider.
The immediate action will require the following of protocols which have been put in place through school policy.
The long term action will involve the review of the policy relating to digital citizenship to prevent situations like this incident happening again.

Course of Action – How was this resolved
At the same time as I was notified, the teacher of the other student involved was notified. She immediately shut down the students access to their Google Drives while a review took place. The Principal and SENCO teacher were notified of the situation. They reviewed the online material and spoke to both students to hear their version of events. The parents of the students were notified and together all parties meet to discuss the incident. A contract had been signed at the start of the year by students, parents and the school stating they would honour school policy. Due to the behaviour choices of the students, consequences were put in place. The students’ school laptops were confiscated and a warning was put in place relating to attending school camp.

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Online User Guidelines poster – Image: Emma McFadyen

Reflection – Next steps
Due to it being the end of the year, there wasn’t the follow through to look at long term action relating to the incident. However, reflecting on the process, the school does a good job of teaching digital citizenship at the start of the year, but this can tail off as the year progresses and other events and learning become a priority. The school can look at ways to consistency keep digital citizenship in the minds of the students as a preventive measure to avoid situations like this occurring again.




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Education Council New Zealand. (2015). Code of Ethics for Certified Teachers. Retrieved from chrome-extension://oemmndcbldboiebfnladdacbdfmadadm/https://educationcouncil.org.nz/sites/default/files/coe-poster-english.pdf

Te Hapara School. (2015). Health, Safety and Welfare Policy. Retrieved from https://tehapara.schooldocs.co.nz

Culturally Inclusive Inquiry

Critique and evaluate how indigenous knowledge and cultural responsiveness inform practice.

Recently, I was fortunate to attend a Te Toi Tupu Primary Science hui. I had the privilege of hearing Dr Daniel Hikuroa speak about science and indigenous knowledge. He talked about using an inquiry driven approach which offered support systems, provided a relevant context, explored beliefs, methods, criteria for validity and systems for rationality. He suggested an inquiry incorporate Mātaurangi Māori and include Te Reo Māori. This is supported by Cowie, Otrel-Cass, Glynn, & Kara, et al., (2011) who discuss one of the major implications for teaching and learning science is “teachers building bridges and creating opportunities to connect the classroom curriculum with children’s and communities’ lived experiences beyond school” (p.2).

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Class brainstorm – Identifying the ways Maui was a scientist. Image: Emma McFadyen

Hikuroa’s insights inspired me and I decided to engage in a personal teacher inquiry. During the hui Hikuroa posed the question ‘Was Maui a scientist?’ The audience acknowledged Maui to be curious, creative, challenging and mischievous. All the elements of a great scientist. Hikuroa stated that it was important that when students think scientist they think Maui, broadening their understanding of the term ‘scientist’. This became the starting point in my inquiry and Maui became one of our class role models.

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A science inquiry into our local estuary connecting to a class cultural performance on the legend Te Ika A Maui. Image: Emma McFadyen

Through the exploration into developing culturally inclusive units of science inquiry, I started engaging with scientists, science communicators and science educators. We began discussing the issues of diversity in the domain and how the ‘Western’ view of epistemology (Barnhardt & Kawagley, 2005) is impacting on perspective in science, which isn’t an issue isolated to the science sector. Savage, Hindle, Meyer, Hynds, Penetito, & Sleeter (2011) discuss “so-called mainstream schools are not multicultural but actually mono-cultural in asserting dominant cultural values and ignoring, if not actively devaluing, minority cultural values” (p.184).

Around this time I moved to China and started working in an international school


School group testing the water quality of a pond in Suzhou, China. Image: Emma McFadyen

teaching the International Baccalaureate Curriculum. The IB Curriculum Mission incorporates the concept of international mindedness stating “The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect” (International Baccalaureate Organization, 2007, p.2). Coupled with experiencing my culture as a minority while living in China, I gained valuable insight into how minority cultures in a Western society might feel and how this can potentially impact their self-worth through these experiences.

I believe that indigenous cultures’ knowledge is a key puzzle piece to unlocking how we solve the complex problems facing our world, and requires necessary support for their voices to be heard in a range of disciplines. During an EdTalk (2012) Bishop states “the Māori population are an incredibly educable population and just as easily educable as any other population in society.” Bishop continues to discuss agentic teachers who are the key to making a difference, where students are being partners in the learning process and are able to bring their understanding and knowledge of the world to the conversation to achieve success for themselves.

By creating opportunities in the education sector where students see their knowledge as valuable to broadening the minds of others, creates engagement and deepens their value system in that context. The experience could be what sparks them to start specialising in a certain discipline.

In the bigger picture, this student’s voice is what will create diversity of thought and perspective in a sector, which is what is necessary in attempting to solve the problems facing us today and in the future.

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Barnhardt, R. & Kawagley, A. (2005). Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Alaska Native Ways of Knowing, Anthropology and Education Quarterly 36 (1):8–23. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.libproxy.unitec.ac.nz/docview/218130193?OpenUrlRefId=info:xri/sid:primo&accountid=8114

Cowie, B., Otrel-Cass, K., Glynn, T., & Kara, H., et al. (2011). Culturally responsive pedagogy and assessment in primary science classrooms: Whakamana tamariki. Wellington: Teaching Learning Research Initiative. Retrieved from http://www.tlri.org.nz/sites/default/files/projects/9268_cowie-summaryreport.pdf

Edtalks. (2012, September 23). A culturally responsive pedagogy of relations. . Retrieved from https://vimeo.com/49992994

International Baccalaureate Organization. (2007). Primary Years Programme Making the PYP happen: A curriculum framework for international primary education, United Kingdom: Antony Rowe Ltd.

Savage,C, Hindleb, R., Meyerc,L., Hyndsa,A., Penetitob, W. & Sleeterd, C. (2011). Culturally responsive pedagogies in the classroom: indigenous student experiences across the curriculum. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 39(3), 183–198. doi: 10.1080/1359866X.2011.588311 Retrieved from http://web.a.ebscohost.com.libproxy.unitec.ac.nz/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=1&sid=ef7ae91f-0e87-4b7a-8fde-c9bd6d474cc4%40sessionmgr4010


Global Trends & Key Implications for Educational Practice

Critique and evaluate practice in the context of different audiences (local, national and/or international) and their perspectives.

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them” Albert Einstein (Confino, 2013)

This statement made by Einstein relates to an article on changing mindsets to create a more sustainable society. When comparing this article to Global Trends and Key


Community initiative in Sri Lanka helping to get beaches clean – Image: Emma McFadyen

Implication through 2035 (National Intelligence Council, 2017) it aligns with a paragraph sharing the concerns about climate change, environment, and health issues, saying “a range of global hazards pose imminent and longer term threats that will require collective action to address – even as cooperation becomes harder. More extreme weather, water and soil stress and food insecurity will disrupt societies…” (p.6). This insight has implications for education. No longer can we rely on past models which focus on information and content, but, instead, require models which focus on skills and mindsets to address these challenges. This is one of the goals for International Education. Davy (2005) states “Children educated for tomorrow’s world must be equipped with the habits of mind that will allow them to act in meaningful ways, whether locally or globally” (p.1).

Already schools are looking at different ways they can cater for and drive this educational change.

The NMC/CoSN Horizon Report looks into the key trends accelerating technology in schools and how this is impacting on educational practice. These include:

  • Redesigning Learning Spaces
  • Rethinking How Schools Work
  • Collaborative Learning
  • Deeper Learning Approaches
  • Coding as Literacy
  • Students as Creators

At the same time, the report discusses the significant challenges impeding technology adoption in relation to educational practice which include:

  • Authentic Learning Experiences
  • Rethinking the Role of Teachers
  • Advancing Digital Equity
  • Scaling Teaching Innovations
  • Achievement Gap
  • Personalising Learning

(Adams, Freeman, Giesinger Hall, Cummins, & Yuhnke, 2016)

When reflecting on the global and educational trends, the situation can appear lofty and complex that attempting to take action or address any one of these areas can be perceived as ‘too hard’.


Green School Bali – Image: Emma McFadyen

When looking at various schools addressing the trends and challenges impacting on educational practice with a balanced approach, in addition to changing mindsets to become more sustainably conscious, Green School Bali are making great strides. They state “we educate for sustainability, through community-integrated, entrepreneurial learning, in a wall-less, natural environment. Our holistic student-guided approach inspires and empowers us to be green leaders” (Green School Bali, 2016). One initiative the school has to addressing trends and creating ripples of change in their community is LEAP Academy (Green School Bali, 2016).

When thinking of my own practice in relation to what Green School Bali are achieving and how I can attempt to take action, it is through Inquiry Learning. Through this process I can initiate discussion around 21st Century learning skills and develop units that allow for self-directed learning. These units have authentic contexts which relate to our school


Y6 students presents his book to Y2 students – Image: Emma McFadyen

and community’s needs and drive meaningful change for us. One inquiry unit involved Year 6 students creating online stories for Year 2 students to improve their reading levels and promote enjoyment for reading. The Year 6 students used a design thinking approach to engage with the juniors when developing the books. We used Trello to keep track of their learning goals and tasks as a group. The application Book Creator was used to make the books and the teachers developed an online library through the School’s Google Drive so everyone could access the books.

Using similar approaches, strategies and technology, I hope to start addressing concepts around mindset and behaviour change in the school and look at how to integrate Education for Sustainability into my programme. Green School Bali will continue to be the model I aspire to and I’ll be mindful in how I can incorporate the trends impacting educational practice into my own practice.

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Adams Becker, S., Freeman, A., Giesinger Hall, C., Cummins, M., and Yuhnke, B. (2016). NMC/CoSN Horizon Report: 2016 K-12Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium. Retrieved from http://cdn.nmc.org/media/2016-nmc-cosn-horizon-report-k12-EN.pdf

Confino, J. (2013, October 28) Changing mindsets is key to preventing social and environmental disaster. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/changing-mindsets-prevent-environmental-disaster

Davy, I. (2005). Promoting International Mindedness in Our Schools. Toronto, Canada: International Baccalaureate Organization

Green School Bali. (2016). Retrieved from https://www.greenschool.org/about/

Green School Bali. (2016, June 12). LEAP Academy 2016. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vlt2T_OQmME

National Intelligence Council. (2017). Global trends: The Paradox of Progress. National Intelligence Council: US. Retrieved from https://www.dni.gov/files/images/globalTrends/documents/GT-Main-Report.pdf

Supportive Learning Environments

Critically analyse issues of socio-economic factors, school culture and professional environments in relation to practice.

Around the time of the new New Zealand Curriculum being introduced I attempted to rewrite my pedagogy and through my exploration stumbled across the Ministry of Education’s (2007) Effective Pedagogy. The paragraph that stood out most was around ‘creating a supportive learning environment’ (p.34) as it identified a holistic view towards education. This has been the foundation to my practice and it is through this lens that I critique and analyse my own teaching and learning.

“Students learn best when they feel accepted, when they enjoy positive relationships with their fellow students and teachers, and when they are able to be active, visible members of the learning community” (Ministry of Education, 2007, p.34).

During the NZ Curriculum change, the school I worked at went on an exploration and conscious effort to develop their culture, looking deeply and exposing their hidden curriculum. This experience became the foundation learning around building group culture and climate for me. In the Academy for SELinSchools (2015) video, Warner states “the school culture and climate is very important… Ideally it needs to be its own climate but it needs to be a positive climate. It’s one that makes every student feel a part of it. The culture is something that runs more deeply. It’s how that school does things. What are its values? What kinds of traditions? How do people treat each other?” I spend the first term of every school year dedicated to developing this. We look into our identity and work on building mutual trust, respect and honesty. I incorporate aspects of ako and tuakana/teina models so students have an understanding that they can draw from each others strengths to support them in their learning. I focus on leadership and lifelong learning around the Key Competencies, 21st Century Learning skills, and individual learning outcomes. This sets us on the path as a successful classroom community for the rest of the year.

Effective teachers foster positive relationships within environments that are caring, inclusive, non-discriminatory, and cohesive. They also build good relationships with the wider school community working with parents and caregivers as key partners who have unique knowledge of their children and countless opportunities to advance their children’s learning” (Ministry of Education, 2007, p.34).

Interacting with the wider school community people have varying views on the idea of ‘school’ based on their own previous experiences. Gargiulo (2014) research into engagement and academic success of students from low socio-economic status supports these views. Of particular interest is his research into Dr Ruby K. Payne’s work regarding the hidden curriculum and rules discussing how education is developed and implemented by middle class society. He states “… an educated and qualified teacher is less likely to understand the perspective of a child from an impoverished background” (Gargiulo, 2014, p.4).
I would class myself as this stereotype and it got me thinking about the importance of knowing my own identity and how this can be a strength as well as a barrier regarding my perceptions, but, also, how my identity can be perceived by others. Fostering positive relationships is achieved through the ‘informal’ and my current school does this well. We have regular whanāu nights where we have barbecues with various activities and games. Through these evenings we can break down stereotypes to create the partnerships necessary for student learning.

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Students, Teachers & Whānau playing Big Ball Soccer – Image: Emma McFadyen

“Effective teachers attend to the cultural and linguistic diversity of all their students. The classroom culture exists within and alongside many other cultures, including the cultures of the wider school and the local community, the students’ peer culture, and the teachers’ professional culture” (Ministry of Education, 2007, p.34).

The most successful environments I’ve been involved in have been the ones where there has been by-in from all areas. During a TED-Ed talk (2013), Wilson states “to build a culture of success you need to have a vision… you need to have unity… a coming together, a collaboration, a vision of one person is just that… and there has to be empowerment”  Working overseas, I was part of a collaborative team. We all had buy-in to our vision and this is what kept us strong as we worked out the details of getting to know each other professionally, which was hard as it was an international space and we came from different parts of the globe. Once we had achieved this we developed a wonderful synergy and the culture we had built among ourselves had a ripple effect. We were able to draw on the outer environments bringing teachers from our secondary school sector, specialists, whanāu, and local community experts to engage and support our students in their learning. This empowered everyone involved creating a sense of achievement and strengthened relationships to build stronger learning opportunities for students.

To ensure students feel successful in learning it is vital as an effective teachers to be conscious of creating supportive environments which incorporate a holistic view towards education.

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Academy for SELinSchools. (2015, April 28). What is School Culture and Climate? [Video] Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-_NvhlcusQ

Gargiulo, S. (2014). Principal sabbatical report. Retrieved from http://www.educationalleaders.govt.nz/Leadership-development/Professional-information/Principals-sabbatical-reports/Report-archives-for-2007-2014/Secondary-award-recipients-2014/Gargiulo-Salvatore

Ministry of Education. (2007). The New Zealand Curriculum for English-medium teaching and learning in years 1-13. Wellington, New Zealand: Learning Media Limited.

TED-Ed. (2013, Jun 21). Building a culture of success. [Video] Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_8Bjz-OCD8&t=144s



Practice within a Community

“Critically define my practice.

When reading Wengers (2000) Communities of Practice and Social Learning Systems, it reminds me of an opportunity which had a profound influence on me. It gave me a sense of belonging and shaped my teaching practice.


ReGeneration Banner – Image: Emma McFadyen

I was invited to attend an event which was the beginning of a community of practice. The group were young changemakers who fostered the purpose of taking “collective action on addressing the challenges that young people face at a personal and global level” (Matheson, n.d.).

The way this community and social learning system (Wengers, 2000) influenced my practice can be identifed by three key areas:

  • Community
  • Domain
  • Practice

(Knox, 2009)

Before attending the ReGeneration event and creating a community, I had felt isolated in my beliefs and philosophy. I had tried to initiate discussions and projects within my current communities without much success. When meeting the group of people that would become ReGeneration and forming relationships, I felt a sense of belonging which developed my confidence and I attempted challenges knowing I was supported through the community. The journey helped to form and consolidate my personal identity and I was able to articulate why I chose to be a fellow change-maker and the reasons for the preferred field I worked in to achieve this change.

This personal growth contributed to the collective growth of the community as we were all learning about ourselves together in an organic process, which strengthened our community’s vision. This concept is supported by Wegner (2000) who says our identity is crucial to social learning systems for three reasons.

  • Identities combine competence and experience into a way of knowing.
  • Our ability to deal productively with boundaries depends on our ability to engage and suspend our identities.
  • Our identities are the living vessels in which communities and boundaries become realised as an experience of the world.

(Wengers, 2000, p.239)

With a few initiative under the concept of ReGeneration. The convenor looked at how to expand the group of young leaders to drive the project. This lead to a series of smaller gatherings which formed the ReGeneration Collective. As a group of core members, we engaged in shared inquiry and the key issues (Knox, 2009) that we saw in our individual communities, which weaved common threads between us and could be addressed collectively. This dialogue and shared inquiry process gave me an insight into how people in different fields addressed change. An example being the design thinking model being shared with me by a member with industrial design experience. I was able to utilise this knowledge and understanding to influence and inform my own classroom practice.
Being part of this dialogue within ReGeneration enabled me to see how my jigsaw piece might fit into the bigger picture puzzle and where my impact could be of the greatest benefit. “In most organisations, members of communities of practice contribute their competencies by participating in cross-functioning projects and teams that combine the knowledge of multiple practices to get something done” (Wegner, 2000, p.237).

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ReGeneration Collective – Image: Billy Matheson

Wegner (2000) states that when a community of practice is designing itself it should look at the following areas.

  • Events
  • Leadership
  • Connectivity
  • Membership
  • Projects
  • Artifacts

Evidence of these areas can be found on the ReGeneration website.

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Collection of work by ReGeneration – Image: Emma McFadyen

Being a contributor to building this collective body of knowledge has given me a variety of tools, life skills and resources to draw on. Rather than isolating myself to the classroom, I see my practice being able to foster cross-organisational networks to address change and deepen individual and collective impact (Support Centre Media, 2017). I continue on this path to see the areas and ways I can achieve this.


The people involved in the ReGeneration project decided to complete the journey in 2013. However, what was created and fostered within this community of practice impacted greatly on the individuals involved. Aspects of ReGeneration continue on through their actions and projects.

by 2This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Knox, B. (2009, December 4). Cultivating Communities of Practice: Making Them Grow.[Video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhMPRZnRFkk

Matheson, B. (n.d.). ReGeneration. Retrieved from

Splashroom Media. (2012, January 29). Emma McFadyen . Retrieved from https://vimeo.com/35828556

Support Centre Media. (2017, February 7). Practice Area: Communities of Practice [Video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-rWESR6Q2R4

Wenger, E. (2000). Communities of practice and social learning systems. Organization. 7(2), 225-246. Retrieved from