Thursday, May 24, 2018

Digital Passport

­­­ In March of this year I completed the Digital Passport through Mindlab and the Next Foundation. TheDigital Technologies Curriculum was launched at our school last year on June 7th 2017. The Mindlab Press Release explains clearly what the Digital Passport is.

“The Digital Passport is made up of four video-based workshops and 12 supplementary modules, and teachers are guided by experts through key progress outcomes as laid out in The Ministry of Education’s new Digital Technologies Curriculum. Each workshop and module is accessible for all educators, covers key topics in a real world context, includes practical examples of learning activities, can be consumed at any time and any place there is an internet connection, and is accompanied by downloadable resources.” 

By the end of March, I had registered for the online session and gone on and completed all the modules. I was excited to be the first educator at my school to receive my Digital Passport. 

Recently I was asked to consider the following questions in regards to what I learnt during the process and I thought I would share these with you.

How do you think education and teaching will change once the digital curriculum is fully implemented?

The use of the digital is fully integrated into learning and has shifted from using the tools for games. There is a shift from product outcome to design process and thinking.

The Digital Technologies Curriculum will ensure that learner agency is much more transparent in learning. Global citizenship is much more likely to be part of classroom practice rather than an extra. Greater connections between the relevance of learning and not just classroom learning but what happens in everyday life. There is a stronger focus on integration with other curriculum areas. There is a move away from consuming to creating such as using Minecraft or Osmo or Bloxel and there is an opportunity for the design thinkers to shine. The way the DTC is changing the curriculum is designing learners who can think, design, construct, create, collaborate, reflect, evaluate, trial, justify and share the process. They have the option of narrating their learning and are not afraid to share both the fails and successes

How do you incorporate digital technology into your school already?

Digital technology is fully integrated into classrooms, into teachers planning, into our strategic plan and direction. It has been one of our goals for as long as I can remember. It is about working collaboratively not just within our schools but across our schools, and across the world. It is about sharing our journey through a variety of ways such as through presenting or via social media. The staff have been open to the thinking and the embedding into the Newmarket way. 

- What were your favourite/least favourite things about doing the Digital Passport?

Least favourite or the challenges with the initial sign on was a setback. Trying to log in took a while to sort out. Then when I completed each module, the system stated that I had not completed the task, even though I had. So I had to redo them which was frustrating. I was thankful that the support from Mindlab helped me sort out the early issues with access.

Favourite: Completing modules Years 0-3 built my confidence because I knew most of what was required. Most sections were already familiar. I also though the DT was fabulous professional learning for building my knowledge of transitioning between levels and sectors so I could see where we are going with learning. I also liked how my own content knowledge was developed from completing the optional sections. I found relevant learning that I could do now such as with staff and with students. For example I loved the idea of the Kanban Board and I could see how I could implement this immediately in my work with learners. 

- What would you say to teachers who weren't sure about whether they will have time to do the Digital Passport?

Completing the Digital Passport is about personal development. I would rather be well informed now about what is required and how relevant it is to us. We already use digital technologies and apps and these are well implemented in our school of Newmarket. I believe it is to the teacher’s advantage to do this and it is asynchronous learning so could be done in bite sized achievable timeframes. Teachers don't have time to NOT complete this learning. It is like saying we don't have time to research for our Professional Learning Groups (PLGs). How do we improve our learning and how do we improve student achievement if our own learning is not up to date? As learners we should be learning all the time especially using online learning where we are exposed to the way our learners learn. 

- How has your teaching changed/Has your teaching changed at all since you've completed it?

My mindset is changing and how well the Digital Technology is integrated into the curriculum. I could make links between the relevance of not just classroom learning but what happens in everyday life. As leaders we would not ask our staff to engage/participate/complete any new learning if we were not willing to do so ourselves.

- Anything extra you can think of that might help others who want to know more about the Digital Passport?

The video tutorials were easy to watch and learn step by step at my own pace. There was a great flow of information and a regular review of what was covered. There was an overview of expectations and an application of the learning into our own situations. 

In summary, if I had not worked through the Digital Passport offered through Mindlab and the Next Foundation I would not be aware of the expectations required at each year level. This learning provided me with the opportunity to learn in my own time and pace. At Newmarket we make digital technology learning a part of our teaching programme. We ensure that all our learners have these learning experiences, to prepare them for a world where digital skills are increasingly valuable to the economy and wider society. The new Digital Technologies Curriculum emphasises the importance of people and how they communicate. I can see the importance of ensuring that our learners understand the why so that we can shift them from not just being consumers of digital technologies but to being creators. 

I think the positives of completing the Digital Passport online through Mindlab is that digital technology is getting our learners to think at a deeper level with or without using computers. 

If you want to know more about the Digital Passport then visit

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Monday, November 13, 2017

COACHING - “A Way of Being”

(This post is one of several that were collated into #EdBookNZ for 2017.)

When we think about coaching, most of us think of coaching in the context of sports and fitness coaching to life and business coaching.
By definition, a sports coach is ‘ a coach is a person involved in the direction, instruction and training of the operations of a sports team or of individual sportspeople. A coach may also be a teacher.’ Coach (sport). (2017
In a School Coaching model teachers who coach other teachers are visible. The teacher coach listens and questions and then listens some more which leads to further questioning in order to build awareness. This process allows and leads the teacher coachee to identify a goal or way forward.

IMG_1352.JPG“Leadership Coaching is a dialogue in which the coach and the coachee collaborate to unlock the coachee’s potential and maximize performance.
Coaching is a relationship that helps coachees to learn and enhances their professional effectiveness and on-the-job performance, ensuring accountability and support for
managing workplace issues, reaching goals and sustaining development.
… and also it is about transforming good intentions into great results.”
                                                                 (Growth Coaching International)       

Coaching is NOT therapy, training, mentoring (is a relationship between expert and novice involving the giving of advice) or consulting.
During my two days of training with Bernard Fitzgibbon, a certified GROWTH Coach, I walked away with an understanding of what coaching is and the benefits of choosing to use a ‘Coaching Approach’ in my Leadership. I learnt to use the GROWTH coaching process to structure coaching conversations and use key coaching skills to develop the coaching “way of being”.

My Journey
I have to admit that when I was initially asked if I was interested in undertaking a two day course around coaching I felt skeptical about how this could help me in my leadership. I believed that I was already using several strategies when having learning conversations and prided myself on already growing the teachers that I work with. However after the two days of sessions I identified the benefits of choosing to use a GROWTH Coaching approach.
As the year unfolded I heard myself using terminology learnt during the sessions and new ways of questioning which I have identified contributes to building a coaching culture.
Copy of IMG_4314.JPG
A collective and shared responsibility is required in order to build a coaching culture that maximises the potential of all.
Culture is about the way we do things at our school. This is not something that just happens but is created from the top down.
“Building a coaching culture is about embedding a conversational culture that contributes to the learning environment focused on constant improvement, where everyone feels confident and motivated in their roles.”

Our thoughts behind using Coaching at our school was to produce greater clarity, confidence and competence around our practice.
“Increased confidence and receptiveness to new ideas and growth bring with them a natural ownership of responsibility for self-development, for the necessity to effect change.” (Robertson, 2009: 44)

Coaching relies highly on a trust and honesty model, building a relationship, collaboration and open communication. Anyone who is involved in coaching is responsible for supporting and developing others. As a result there is a shift in your learning. The focus is CHANGE.

The GROWTH Coaching Model
This framework focuses on questions on key steps that will move the person being coached, the coachee, from where they are to where they want to be.


  • Setting goals (ISMART) - reviewing performance (both own and children’s).
  • Acquire the skills to select and use the appropriate technology and resources to support and enhance their learning.
  • Becomes a self-directed, expert learner who monitors progress and reflects on learning.
  • An effective form of professional development.
  • Helps with dealing with issues and concerns.
  • Provides perspectives and feedback on practice.

Everyone has a different approach and suits different questions to suit different registers.

How do I know if coaching has had any effect?

Our staff fill in a ‘Coaching Journal’ which they use to document their discussions with their coaches and reflect on the session.
A survey was filled in Term 1/2 and then again in Term 4 focussing on the 8 Key Coaching Skills checklist. From this I was able to compare and analyse data from the beginning of the year to the end.

The challenges of coaching
Time is a big factor when it comes to coaching. Teachers can perceive coaching sessions as another meeting, therefore the leadership team needs to be mindful about building this time in. We value the importance of coaching and how it plays an important part in what we do. Regular sessions were scheduled in on a three weekly cycle as part of our Staff Meetings.

Sometimes you might come across colleagues who are unwilling for help. This could be an opportunity for you to work your magic and use your coaching skills. Often colleagues don’t know what they don’t know. Or is it plain out pride?

Overcoming barriers
Coaching starts by establishing a relationship of trust and where strengths and weaknesses are discussed. Conversations might include mutual help.
Coaching can happen anywhere and at anytime.
Instead of focussing on what is wrong and what needs fixing, the coach focuses on what is going well and working on these strengths.
Often I do not realise I am coaching. How you coach and how effective you are comes down to the focus of your questions.
“The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution.” Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)
As a school leader I wonder if Coaching should be explored and built in by schools as part of professional learning. I can see the difference that GROWTH Coaching has made in the conversations between our staff and the shifts in their practice.


Bertrand Russell. (n.d.). Retrieved October 22, 2017, from

Coach (sport). (2017, October 10). Retrieved October 22, 2017, from

Growth Coaching International. (n.d.). The Growth Coaching Approach. Retrieved October 22, 2017, from

O Sullivan, G. (n.d.). Instructional Leadership and a Coaching Approach. Retrieved October 22, 2017, from

Robertson, J. (2009). Coaching educational leadership: building leadership capacity through partnership. London: SAGE.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Value of Professional Learning Communities

Belonging to groups of professional discussions are viewed as Professional Learning Groups (PLG), Professional Learning Communities or Critical Friends.
Wikipedia defines A Professional Learning Community (PLC) as:
“An extended learning opportunity to foster collaborative learning among colleagues within a particular work environment or field. It is often used in schools as a way to organize teachers into working groups.”

Being involved in a PLG recently got me thinking about how important it is to build this into our Professional Development as Teachers.
As stated in “Teacher Professional Learning and Development  - Best Evidence Synthesis Iteration [BES]” Helen Timperley, Aaron Wilson, Heather Barrar, and Irene Fung, University of Auckland, teachers need to take or make provisions to learn about new approaches to teaching, to share ideas for good practice, and to acquire new knowledge about areas of interest.
When there is any change in practice, we as professionals need time and the opportunity for professional dialogue and learn from others in order to implement or make change, therefore having strengthened pedagogy and practice.

In my role as Deputy Principal I chose to inquire and address an area of the school system around assessment.  “ As a school how do we make sure our assessment practices align to our changing environment?”
As I began sharing my goal and the actions I had taken to date and the results (evidence) in my Professional Learning Group (PLG) I felt quite at ease, I certainly felt a high level of trust.  In our PLG each educator was given the opportunity to question, re-evaluate, refine, and improve strategies and knowledge collaboratively with the support from group members.
In my case through the questioning from my colleagues I was able to reflect on the process, purpose and think through my next steps. My group provided me with the platform to investigate another aspect of my goal further.
What this learning conversation highlighted for me was the areas that I could delve deeper into - “how do I use the feedback from students to grow teachers understanding?” , to consider the levels of student agency and teacher voice. Does my goal link to our strategic plan? How? In what ways?
I have a lot of work to do!

So where to from here? Having the learning conversations with my colleagues in my PLG I am again back in the “Pit” -
Edwards (2016) wrote, “When we are introduced to new ideas, new content, new ways of thinking, our minds are puzzled. This is commonly called cognitive conflict or cognitive dissonance.”
His colleague Jim Butler developed a powerful model for this as can be seen in Fig 1.”
Several educators have been writing about ‘The Pit’ analogy such as James Nottingham. Even Sylvia Duckworth created a sketchnote about this model. However it is interesting to note that Edwards and Butler have been using this model of learning since the early 1990’s. Edwards and Butler emphasise that it is important to be in that cognitive struggle as this confusion is an essential part of learning.
Fig 1.

Edwards, J. and Martin, B. (2016) Schools That Deliver. California: Corwin Press.

Finally, I see PLG's as “added value”. As a leader I've taken the responsibility to embrace any opportunity to share and learn from others.