Great Pedagogy Trumps Ideology

“What do you think will change for schools under the new Labour Government?”

I have lost count of the number of times that I have been asked this question over the summer. The immediate response of teachers online was joy but it’s not going to be an open cheque, so really I don’t think much will change.

Political ideologies may have indirect impacts on schools by the social and economic policies they enact and the impacts these have on learners’ lives, but the pedagogical approaches of teachers have so much more of an influence in schools. Teachers and schools have always looked at the constraints placed upon us by governments and then continued to design curriculum and learning in the best way they see fit. Continue reading


What does Student Centred look like?

Student Centred is one of those vague buzzwords that is used regularly but never really defined in practical terms. This post (based on an Ignite talk I gave last week) attempts to paint a picture of what student centred practices actually look like, both in the classroom and from a leadership perspective.

For me, the key to student centred practices is empathy. Truly seeking to understand how students are experiencing their learning, where each student is at and what their individual needs are, so you can help improve their learning. Student centred practice is focused on doing what is needed to help each student understand and excel in their learning.


As I have written about previously, data is a great place to start in getting to know your learners, but there is a whole lot more to do if you want to understand them. Achievement data, personal data, surveys, observations and good old fashioned conversations should all work together to help you empathise with your students.

Student centred teaching is not just about what they like but about thinking how what they like/are interested in links with what they need to understand in class. How can their interests be used to help them understand the key concepts and skills from the curriculum. Continue reading

How Might We make the 100th Anniversary of World War 1 more relevant for students?

Monday August 4th 2014 is just a couple of days away. It’s also an incredibly significant day as the 100th anniversary of Great Britain declaring war on Germany so marks the beginning of World War 1.

Much of the plans around remembering this event in New Zealand are centred on the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli Landings on April 25th 1914. There are however some major events to think of before then.

Aug 29th 1914 forces capture German Samoa – the start of a long and storied relationship between New Zealand and Samoa.

Feb 3rd 1915 first time NZ troops engage in combat during WWI at Suez Canal against Ottoman troops.

The important part in bringing these (and other events) into the classroom is making them relevant for students. Rather than just lets have a minutes silence, draw a picture, write a diary entry – think about how you can get students thinking critically about events from the past and how they relate to today and in the future.

I have been lucky enough to be invited to join a group writing education guides/resources to prompt inquiry learning about the 100th anniversary of WWI. I am looking forward to getting the resources ready and accessible for teachers to be able to adapt for their classrooms.

In the meantime, check out the great NZ’s First World War Centenary website at and start thinking about what prompts you could give students.

Is it a celebration?

Is it a commemoration?

Would you sign up to fight in Syria today? How is that the same or different to signing up for WW1?


This post is my catch up post for Day 29 of my Questioning Quest.