A Reflective Journey Critical reflections and future directions on my pedagogy, workspace and intent as an educator in Aotearoa. By Jordan Neil

Entry One: My Community of Practice

It's funny when we opt in and make the subconscious connection that we belong to a new community, whether this is in a social or professional context. When it comes to teaching, I feel it's very easy to float between communities and often lose one's sense of pedagogical views and educational backbone. However, this is a conflict I'm yet to be faced with. In my five years teaching experience I have played key roles in three very different communities of practice. Alas, before we can dive into these strikingly murky and wonderfully diverse secondary school backgrounds, we must first break down what exactly a 'Community of Practice' is.

In 'Cultivating Communities of Practice: Making them Grow' Knox (2009) voices that a community of practice are a group of people that consist of both individual and collective skills, which challenge one another to cultivate, grow and expand. It is further broken down into three sections: community, domain, and practice. Within a community we naturally make social connections and are led to the importance of building and maintaining professional working relationships. Although Knox didn't offer explicit solutions on how to establish these, my 2016 experience at Rototuna Senior High School provided an invaluable lens for why the distinctiveness of community relationships should not be overlooked. We were employed in October 2016, Term Four of the secondary school year. It was initially odd to begin working at a school with no kids (we opened to Year 11 students in February, 2017). One could almost question why? Well, innovative environments aren't necessarily anything new; however, an authentic-collaborative environment certainly was to me. This directed my focus towards unpacking literature around collaborative teaching and practice for my earlier MindLab literature review.

Being part of such an innovative and driven community of practice is of huge influence on my pedagogy and views.

The opportunity to come together as a community of practice and share in creating, and bringing to life, the vision of our school (Rototuna Senior High School) was a unique and insightful experience. Knox (2009) speaks about 'differing layers within a community' and I was able to see these layers build, extend and transform. A key factor within my community of practice are our shared learnings, both past, present and future, coupled alongside the rich time we have had to carve out our values, intent and integrity in regard to teaching akonga. There were times in 2016 where we bumped horns over views, solutions, values and approaches towards teaching and the curriculum; however, due to the strong elements of community established, through ongoing manaakitanga and our shared whakawhanaungatanga, we were able to move past these and find common ground. We realised that building a school wasn't about us and our needs, but about keeping in mind the value for the participants- the akonga and their whanau.

To get a group of fourteen strangers, from varying educational institutes and geographical locations on board was no easy task. It was a task that required strong leadership and clear communicative channels. Our community of practice is founded on powerful direction and facilitation of three core figures: Natasha Hemara (principal), Sally Hart (deputy principal), and Megan Barry (deputy principal). In Wenger's 2000 publication 'Communities of Practice and Social Learning Systems' light is shone on the importance of having clear internal leadership, normally comprising of a few key figures. It is from this base layer that we have been able to grow the capable and inspiring layers of our community of practice.

Core Elements of My Community of Practice

  1. Rototuna Senior High School was opened to students in February, 2017 and has been marked as a Decile 10 school. It is located in Hamilton North and has an opening enrolment of 92 students, approximately.
  2. Our Community of Practice was established in October, 2016. Already since this point, we have evolved and adapted to suit the needs of our akonga to ensure we deliver the New Zealand curriculum with innovative practice and integrity.
  3. We consist of 14 teaching staff, ranging across subjects, and are led by three senior leadership figures. Staff moved from Germany, the South Island, Auckland and the United Kingdom to fill these positions. This pattern in itself highlights the shared values of colleagues and passion they had for 'new education'.
  4. As RSHS is a new school there is critical judgement in the wider community regarding the "effectiveness" of this teaching practice. As such, our community of practice has an acute awareness of the pressures and expectations that lurk in the shadows of our opening year. Notably, there is such a shared belief in our system and approach towards NCEA that this is not a daunting prospect but rather a motivating one.
  5. We practice what we preach and evolve around two philosophies: student centred learning and inquiry always.
  6. The Rototuna High School cloak is an acronym that reflects values shared by akonga and colleagues alike: C = Challenge our mindset, L = Learning is connected, O = Ourselves as learners, A= Ako always, K = Kindness and respect


Knox, B. (2009).Cultivating Communities of Practice: Making Them Grow.[video file]. Retrieved February 8, 2017 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhMPRZnRFkk

SkillsTeamHullUni. (2014). Reflective writing.[video file]. Retrieved February 8, 2017 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QoI67VeE3ds

Wenger, E.(2000).Communities of practice and social learning systems.Organization,7(2), 225-246 (Link to the article in Unitec Library).

Entry Two: Current issues in my professional context

As this is still a relatively ‘new’ experience of teaching, opening for instruction February 2, 2017, it is very early on to highlight issues. It is important to draw attention to this crucial timing as all critical reflection must be placed within a context, and this context is certainly very green. Working collaboratively to complete the blueprint of our school and bring life to the school culture is a unique position that I wouldn’t have received in another setting. The learning from this opportunity has provided a greater depth around the complexities involved in establishing a culture and evoking values within a group of people.

Stoll’s article on School Culture, published in 1998, highlights that “in early years of a new school, dominant values emanate from its “founders” and the school makes its culture explicit. It clarifies its values, finds and articulates a unique identity and shares these with newcomers, whether teachers, pupils or parents. Culture is the “glue” that holds everyone together, and can be seen as a positive development force.” However, it doesn’t unravel the complexities of establishing a concise, united culture when you throw in 90 students, of varying backgrounds (both ethnic and socio-economic) and the influence that feeder schools play on the existing culture students turn up with in their pockets.

To create a school culture is no easy task. But to create a school culture without the influence of the learner, is no culture at all.

We (my community of practice) placed explicit emphasis, in the opening orientation workshops for our senior students, on the role we all play in creating, feeding and enhancing our school culture. Students arrived from Rototuna Junior High School familiar with the RHS ‘Cloak’ values. The values of the cloak were highlighted in the first blog entry. These values continue into the senior high and act as a connecting bridge between our two schools. Another emphasis in the opening weeks was our strong connection and acknowledgement towards Tainui, our local iwi, and Wiremu Puke, a key stakeholder in ensuring our school wairua (spirit) reflects and honours the heritage of our land.

Our school is built on land originally known as Tunawhakapeke, which was later to be referred to a Rototuna as it was easier for people to recall. Historically, we are situated on Māori land that was once home to a great lake that housed tuna (eels). With this in mind, our school has been built to reflect its cultural origins. The ground floors of our building are earthy tones of brown, ochre, and orange with the intent that it reflects the soil and mud upon which it was built. Our second floor evokes the feeling of trees with bright greens and dark khaki to reflect the journey from the earth upwards. The new elements of the build have been finished in blues and white to complete the journey from earth to the sky. We place huge importance on understanding the story behind our school and our strong connections with local iwi and Hukanui Marae. This runs beyond the physical build of our school and transcends into ‘our shared language’ with learning spaces. We make an active effort to incorporate Te Reo into learning spaces, staff roles and school events. Our house system is built on the concept of a waka and represents our journey together, navigating the waters of learning. We refer to our two school houses as ‘iwi’ and our advisory classes as whanau. We are trying to embed the importance of acknowledging our cultural heritage and incorporating it into our day-to-day culture at RSHS. But, it’s not a quick process to pass over to students. Admittedly, I was slightly apprehensive (and if I’m honest, somewhat intimidated) at the prospect of remembering and recalling such rich, cultural knowledge and trying to make it a natural part of my teaching identity. Yet, four weeks later, it has been absorbed into my pedagogy and the value and appreciation I have for it is greater than what I could have expected. This is a promising sign for what the follow-on effect for students may eventually be too.

Personally, I believe that students are unsure on this rich cultural identity available to them as it doesn’t necessarily align with their own backgrounds. Currently, our school is predominantly European and has a low Māori enrolment. We are a decile 10 school and the socio-economic background of our community is relatively affluent. This is our opening year and our wider community continues to grow daily as there is a ‘strong demand in the high value bracket suburbs such as Flagstaff, Rototuna and Huntington’ (Malone, 2016). These are all of the areas zoned for our school. The upcoming census will provide greater data for our school to reflect on and consider in planning and aligning with the school culture. Our initial Education Review Office review will also illustrate opportunities to enhance our school culture or comment on its current form. Regardless of the infancy of our school, I sense we are creating a special culture that encourages differences (and inclusiveness), pays tribute to our kiwi heritage and indigenous New Zealand people, and voices strong expectations for all our learners.

Break Down of Potential Issues in my Practice

1. We are in the process of establishing our school culture through both controlled measures and elements of organic direction. We would act against our beliefs if we were to direct it without the influence of our learners and being responsive to their values too. Currently, I would describe our school climate as an inclusive, settled, and warm learning environment. The culture behind this is built on strong kaupapa Māori values of ata (positive relationship building), tuakana-teina (the shared role of experts in learning), and manaakitanga (ethos of care).

2. It's early days and issues are yet to rear their ugly heads; however, we are critical in predicting issues and barriers we may face. A key focus in our discussions have been our approach towards covering NCEA and the New Zealand Curriculum. We are aware of the importance to conduct accurate, formative, tracking to ensure we can report qualitative data to parents and the wider community. Stoll (1998) described our concept of learning as ‘balkanisation’ where teachers are neither isolated or work as a whole school, rather, they (we) work in small, focused teams. Learning through co-teaching is an incredible experience for learners and teachers alike but, again, there are some surface issues with planning, delegating tasks and ensuring all curriculum components are covered. We must be honest and respectful in our co-teaching pairs as our community of practice heavily relies on the power of authentic, professional collaboration. It is okay to be lost, but we must ask someone else to temporarily share their map with us.

3. There are strong expectations and (positive) pressure from the parent community for us to ‘deliver’. This is a blunt way of describing the weight our school carries (in its opening year) to highlight the power of this educational model, the value added to their (parents) child’s learning experience, and the 21st Century skill of growing adaptable, collaborative learners. This isn’t a Houdini model of learning but one founded on research, shared beliefs and a passionate group of educators.


Malone, A (2016) Hamilton house prices soar. Retrieved February 25th, 2017 from http://www.stuff.co.nz/waikato-times/business/82742740/Hamilton-house-prices-soar

Stoll (1998). School Culture. School Improvement Network’s Bulletin 9. Institute of Education, University of London. Retrieved February 9th, 2017 from: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B8swBIPJQ1N-eHJ1Z0MwdXdXSmc/view

Entry Three: Contemporary trends emerging in my practice and barriers they may face.

It’s ignorant to ignore what’s knocking on the front door of education. It’s almost as though some traditional institutes are hoping it’s an annoying salesman that will soon give up and try the neighbours’. But not all trends are like a salesman. I couldn’t handle the knocking. After spending a year abroad and seeing how education is approached in other contexts, learning more about digital technologies in education and later enrolling in Mind Lab: Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Practice, I not only answered the front door but stepped right outside and actively started seeking a new home. A home that valued integrated, digital learning, that held students’ interests, both pastoral and academic, at the center, and expected their teachers’ to grow and learn too. This home was Rototuna Senior High School.

Any career or area of expertise is often faced with trends and flavours of the month. After reading Global Trends: Alternative Worlds, published by National Intelligence Council in 2012 it became apparent why many businesses, and schools, have been instilled with a sense of fear in regards to the unknown. The megatrend on ‘diffusion of power’ was of personal interest due to the constant discussions around the relationship, and placement of power, between the “teacher” and the “learner”. A fear of the ‘diffusion of power’ is nonsensical as learning should be founded on tuakana-teina and ako. This connects strongly to kaupapa Māori theories of what works best for Māori learners and resonates with the Education Review Offices point that regardless of the number of Māori students on the roll, ERO would expect to see these aspects reflected in school planning and review in the nature of the curriculum policies, and in enacted classroom programmes (2013). Diffusion of power isn’t a threat, but an opportunity. It is naïve to assume that one person holds more expertise or knowledge over the other. Context and experience dictates which knowledge takes center stage. This trend is incredibly relevant to my practice in two key forms: the diffusion of power within co-teaching, and the diffusion of power across digital, modern learning initiatives.

For too long a focus has been on ‘delivering the curriculum’ rather than unpacking and understanding the intent behind it. The Education Review Office (2013) stated that considerable work needs to happen before primary and secondary teachers and leaders understand the permissive nature and intent of The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC), and implement responsive curricula in their schools. This view is shared strongly by the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) at my school. We spent weeks unpacking the NZC, ensuring we understood the depth, intent, outcomes and possible contexts in which learning could take place. It then led to our flexible, personal approach towards NCEA Level 2 over a two-year period (Year 11 and Year 12) that treated learning as an ongoing portfolio of personal understanding as schools must “engage in assessment and evaluation processes that are responsive to students” (Education Review Office, 2013).

The New Zealand Curriculum is remarkably powerful once unpacked and cleverly contextualised.

By unpacking the NZC and reframing possible contexts for learning we saw two international trends organically emerge within our practice. Firstly, the diffusion of power (as mentioned earlier) and secondly, the notion of individual empowerment (National Intelligence Council, 2012). In a school strongly founded on student-centered learning it comes as no surprise that we would see the rise of individual empowerment. But I’m critical in voicing that we should see this trend rise across schools in Aotearoa as “ERO encourages schools to develop systems, processes and connections that put students at the heart of learning and teaching” (Education Review Office, 2013). This expectation was published in 2013 yet, four years later, we’re still seeing a resistance against this approach towards the NZC and internal school systems.

By rethinking how we approach the NZC we have developed a flexible and personalised system that breaks down roles of traditional power within a school and gives freedom of choice and empowerment to the learner. We know that a square peg won’t fit in a round hole, so why bother assessing like that? Essential attributes individuals are going to possess when entering the ‘working world’ are their unique differences and values, resilience and grit, adaptable and collaborative nature, and ability to bring their own perspectives to help with problem-solving. Pretty diverse skill set, right? Yet people are still choosing to assess the same old way without putting any thought into the power that exists within unravelling and re-conceptualising the NZC. Quite frankly, this both shocks and saddens me to see “top” schools in New Zealand, judged purely on the outcomes of the internal/external results rather than the depth of learning and calibre of students that graduate, continue valuing academic outcomes rather than the integrity behind the key competencies and the need to acknowledge the 21st Century learning skills. Global Trends: Alternative Worlds highlighted that ‘some current education systems are NOT preparing young workers for globally competitive environments’ (2012) which I do agree with, but the issue within this is that these “education systems” aren’t, by paper or national standards, reviewed against how well they do this. The nationally publicised data is black and white, academic results, with no explanation of context and personal dispositions. Without explicit national instruction on what they should do, they lack motivation to create real-world learning environments that actually grow young learners with the skill sets they need to step out into a very different, ever changing, unpredictable work terrain. This is where strong leadership and a passionate group of educators can become the most powerful asset a school can possess. Thankfully, I am in a community of practice that recognises these factors.

Trends in a Nutshell

- Education today must step beyond the factory-based model we fell privy to in the nineteenth century. With other industries having to undergo rapid change and restructuring to keep up with the demand of the 21st century, so too must schools. It is a huge discredit to the learner to remain stubborn in the ways of delivering the curriculum. It is not that the curriculum is outdated, but rather individual’s approach towards it that needs to be redefined and employed.

- The diffusion of power is seen internationally across businesses and schools. There are examples of positives and negatives within this, but I believe the intent behind it and the framework in which we see power shift and transform creates strong opportunities for deep, engaged, empowered learning. It connects well with individual empowerment – a trend we must nurture, for if any individual is to be successful in the future world they need to have confidence in their own ability, personal value, and a resilient backbone.


Education Review Office (2012) Evaluation at a glance: Priority learners in New Zealand schools Retrieved February 22, 2017 from https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B8swBIPJQ1N-R3d0VS11ZDByWVE/view

National Intelligence Council. (2012). Global trends: Alternative Worlds. National Intelligence Council: US. Retrieved February 22, 2017 from https://globaltrends2030.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/global-trends-2030-november2012.pdf

Entry Four: Indigenous Knowledge and Culturally Responsive Pedagogy

“Ehara taku toa, he takitahi, he toa takatini” My success should not be bestowed onto me alone, as it was not individual success, but success of a collective.

We throw around many proverbs regarding raising individuals or growing success, without paying much tribute to the culture in which it derives from. We know that ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ but do we recognise that this belief, that spreads across continents, originated from an African tribe? Cultural knowledge is one thing, but authentic culturally responsive practice is quite different.

Indigenous knowledge is a term ‘used to describe the knowledge systems developed by a community as opposed to the scientific knowledge that is generally referred to as modern knowledge’ (Ajibade, 2003). Yet, for this reason, some people choose not to accept indigenous knowledge or beliefs. Whilst everyone is welcome to hold their own personal views on ‘knowledge’ it is utterly incompetent and indignant to enter the world of education with the belief that cultures do not come with their own views, beliefs, and passed-down knowledge. Earlier in my teaching career, whilst at Aorere College, I recall a conversation on the cultural commodities students bring in to the classroom. This can be defined as recognising the value of their cultural backgrounds and using it as a platform to build contextualized learning experiences from.

This discussion may have been connected to my background training in Te Kotahitanga whilst enrolled at Waikato University, and also on my first placement at Ngaruawahia High School. It was a steep learning curve starting in a school that was of high Māori and Pasifikā enrolment. If these students were going to learn, then they needed to be recognised first as individuals. It exposed to me the distinct need to build authentic, strong, valued relationships with my learners and unraveled the educational danger of getting kids to leave their culture at the gate. At that age, their culture is one of their greatest assets. For this reason, and many others that I’m sure were evoked within us when watching Russell Bishops Ted Talk, we must strive to build culturally responsive educators across Aotearoa that can grow successful Māori students, and all students in New Zealand schools.

Akongā walk hand in hand with their culture. As educators, we must too.

I believe schools are often not aware of the “dominant culture” that they showcase and the detrimental consequences this can have on those that ‘do not fit’ the dominant culture (Savage et al., 2011). We must identify students as ‘culturally located individuals’ which has been a key focus in our opening weeks at RSHS. Our professional development to date has evolved around the theme ‘Getting to Know the Learner’ which focuses heavily on their backgrounds and culture, whilst educating staff about cultural customs and views. As described earlier in Blog Three: Contemporary trends emerging in my practice and barriers they may face, our school has been founded on strong roots to its Māori heritage and acknowledgement of the tangatawhenua and local iwi. Although we do not have a large Māori enrolment, we do have firm beliefs that our indigenous culture holds distinct value in our learning environment, and proudly acknowledge Te Tiriti o Waitangi, including customs, contexts, and authentic Māori stakeholders in our school systems and goals. Guidance and counsel is sought in regards to our school vision and targets, published in our school charter, and we strongly promote Te Reo and tikanga Māori.

As a culturally responsive teacher, I have always resonated with the value of relationship-centered learning. Now that I have entered a collaborative learning environment, it has become more apparent than ever. Bishop’s outline of the ‘Effective Teacher Profile’ (2012) felt like a checklist, of sorts, in my pedagogy and practice. I have always been a cynic of unpacking the ‘care’ teachers can demonstrate (or not) towards their learners. Bishop’s division of these into “authentic care” and “artificial care” instantly prompted examples of manaakitanga I have witnessed throughout my teaching journey. It are the deeper values and reciprocity that emerge within an authentic relationship that build strong learning opportunities and foster a mutual respect between both parties (teacher and learner). There was a connection between this strength and the trend division of power. The whakawhanaungatanga we deliver and construct with our students, iwi challenges and various impact projects all act as powerful tools towards engaging and getting to know these priority learners.

A new perspective I took from these readings was that it’s far more than the consequent achievement and engagement of Māori learners and that it’s actually the practice of teachers that is of distinct importance. We must have mana motuhake- high expectations, always. It is crucial we ‘enable young people to learn, without sacrificing who they are’ (Bishop et al, 2009). The “wraparound” support noted across the readings is one that is clearly visible at my kura. From our partnerships with Wiremu Puki and the Hukanui Marae, the leadership of Natasha Hemara, and our relationship with Waikato-Tainui (in regards to Ko Te Mana Motuhake), we are a cohesive and supportive system that are on the same page with culturally responsive practice and the need to own greater teacher agency. By using the Te Toi Tupu framework, around ‘Participation, Engagement, and Achievement’ I can identify how our vision, mission, core policies and goals have been constructed alongside culturally responsive values. The authentic partnerships (described earlier) and strong relationships with whanau and akonga, through our advisory systems and modules, ensure that culturally responsive practice is an intrinsic thread that runs throughout our day-to-day life at Rototuna Senior High School.

'Six Guidelines towards Culturally Responsive Practice'

  1. Care for Māori as Māori.
  2. We must have high expectations (mana motuhake) and vocalise these regularly.
  3. Create a learning environment where Māori (and all cultures) can draw upon their own knowledge and find value in it.
  4. Manage interactions with reciprocity that provide depth of feedback and feedforward. The power of akō and tuakana-teina.
  5. Demonstrate a range of strategies and tools with purpose and control.
  6. Use evidence of student performance, and gaps, to guide teaching. Be responsive to the need(s) of the learner.

Russell Bishop (Edtalks, 2012)


Ajibade LT, Shokemi O .O (2003) Indigenous approaches to weather forecasting. In Asa LGA, Kwara State, Nigeria. Indilinga Africa Journal of Indigenous Knowledge Systems 2:37–44, Retrieved February 28, 2017 from http://infinitypress.info/index.php/jas/article/viewFile/72/64

Bishop, R., Berryman, M., Cavanagh, T. & Teddy, L. (2009).Te Kotahitanga: Addressing educational disparities facing Māori students in New Zealand. Teaching and Teacher Education, 25(5),734–742.

Edtalks (2012). A culturally responsive pedagogy of relations. Russell Bishop. [video file].Retrieved from https://vimeo.com/49992994

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: (Available to download from Unitec Library)

Te Toi Tupu. (n.d.). Pasifika: Participation, Engagement, Achievement tool. Retrieved February 28, 2017 from http://www.tetoitupu.org/pasifika-participation-engagement-achievement-tool

Entry Five: Legal and ethical contexts in my digital practice

Hayes posed the question ‘would this be right, all things considered?’ (2001). But more often than not, through social osmosis, we are living in a world where our conscious makes decisions quicker than we can reason with logic. Whilst this can offer benefits and an economical use of time, the robotic-like nature of acting without thinking can have dire consequences on ourselves, our futures, and those around us. It is a ripple effect that was previously unimaginable.

Ethics are of utmost importance when considering our digital practice and online footprint. They have traditionally acted as a beacon of guidance within the realm of education but now that this realm is blurred, asynchronous, and online there is the need, more than ever, for practitioners to be aware of their digital conscience and its relationship alongside the Code of Ethics. It had been a few years since I’d revisited the New Zealand Education Councils Code of Ethics which concerned me as I hadn’t explicitly thought about how this now influences interactions and practice online too. As Henderson, Auld and Johnson described, in their 2014 presentation at Australian Computers in Education Conference (ACMA), “students and teachers have life worlds outside of school that are characterized by complex identities, social practices and discourse”. I agree with this and recognise the value of this statement. We do have distinctly different life worlds, that should stay exactly that, a different world to our professional one. There must be some autonomy with our professional persona versus our private one. We could liken these “life worlds” to a venn diagram. Yes, they overlap, as they should with responsive, relationship-based pedagogy, but the barriers and lines must be clear. This metaphor links back to the need to have a comprehensive understanding of the Code of Ethics and raising our ethical consciousness (Soltis, 1986).

The ACMA summarized that although there are risks with social media in education, ‘it can have a valuable role in interpersonal relationships, identity building, creative activities and learning’ (Henderson et al.,2014). In 2015 I resigned from my teaching position at Aorere College to embark overseas. I had built strong professional relationships with colleagues and students and recognised the fact that they wanted to share in my overseas experience; however, I did not feel comfortable to share my private Facebook account or Instagram with them. When we look at the origins of creation and purpose for social media and education, it wasn’t a relationship that went hand-in-hand which needs to be recognised when purposefully combining the two. Consequently, I created a separate Instagram account and linked it to a public blog, posted via Weebly. This accommodated “boundaries” as outlined by Byron (2008) in ‘Safer Children in a Digital World’ as I was prepared to share and create discourse in a reciprocal manner regarding the content on these social platforms. Teachers need to consider what the implications are for co-habiting spaces that are designed to connect people and share information.

In my current practice, we are an online school that regularly blog (via blogger referred to as Te ia o te awa), tap in on Facebook as a communication channel and integrate shared online spaces in our day-to-day lessons. Traceability and public performance are aspects I had never considered in regards to students blogging. “When we ask our students to tweet, blog, post, share or co-construct their texts with the rest of the class, we are asking them to perform in public or semi-public arenas” (Byron, 2008). When students enrol at Rototuna High School, parents are asked to sign a consent form based on ‘Publishing Student Information’.

Use the link below to explore RHS policies and procedures. __________ Log in: RHS Password: RHS

Access Rototuna High Schools policies here.

A key factor within this information form is that our school will never publish a student’s full name (regardless of whether the consent form has been signed) to ensure we acknowledge the student’s best interests alongside the Code of Ethics to “protect the confidentiality of information about learners obtained in the course of professional service, consistent with legal requirements” (The Education Council Code of Ethics for Certified Teachers, n.d.). It also ensures the commitment to parents, guardians and whanau as it involves them in the decision-making of their child, establishes an open relationship and respects their privacy.

No matter how we intend on using social media or online platforms in the learning domain, there is one aspect that must stay at the forefront of our decisions. That is, “which stakeholder should be given priority on a case-by-case basis?” (Hall, 2001). It reverts back to high expectations and clear barriers within our practice. The online world is not a universal language and offers various interpretations based on the perspective users bring to the keyboard. These will differ between parents, students, and teachers too. When weighing up ‘would this be right, all things considered?’ there are certainly a lot of things to consider. The Code of Ethics is a strong ally in taking considerations into account and navigating effective, meaningful digital practice.

"Would this be right, all things considered?"


ACMA. (2009). Click and connect: Young Australians’ use of online social media. Canberra: Australian Communications and Media Authority.

Byron, T. (2008). Safer Children in a Digital World, The Report of the Byron Review.

Education Council (n.d.) Code of Ethics for Certified Teachers. Retrieved March 6, 2017 from https://educationcouncil.org.nz/content/code-of-ethics-certificated-teachers-0

Hall, A. (2001). What ought I to do, all things considered? An approach to the exploration of ethical problems by teachers. Paper presented at the IIPE Conference, Brisbane. Retrieved from http://www.educationalleaders.govt.nz/Culture/Developing-leaders/What-Ought-I-to-Do-All-Things-Considered-An-Approach-to-the-Exploration-of-Ethical-Problems-by-Teachers

Haynes, F. (1998). The ethical school. London & New York: Routledge.

Henderson, M., Auld, G., & Johnson, N. F. (2014). Ethics of Teaching with Social Media. Paper presented at the Australian Computers in Education Conference 2014, Adelaide, SA. Retrieved from http://acec2014.acce.edu.au/sites/2014/files/attachments/HendersonAuldJohnson_EthicalDilemmas_ACEC_2014_0.pdf

Kipnis, K. (1987, May). How to discuss professional ethics. Young children, 26-30.

New Zealand Teachers Council. (2012). Commitment to Parents/Guardians and Family/Whānau. [video file] Retrieved from https://vimeo.com/49804201


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