The Year That Was

A reflective post

inspired by

learner voice

written in collaboration with

my learners’ feedback and supported by readings and quotes.

Change starts with the ‘WHY’.

My why is fired by my need to learn and the obligation I have to the kids in my class.

My why has also been fuelled by experiences my own children have had at school.

They have inspired me to ask myself everyday “would I want to be a student in my class”? To think about this:

The why of changing the way things happen the classroom started for me at the beginning of 2013.

Initially influenced by this report:

Supporting Future Oriented Learning and Teaching: A New Zealand Perspective

and this book:

Passionate Learners by Pernille Ripp

Changing the focus in a classroom from teaching to learning is about mindframe.

Empowerment over compliance.

courtesy of George Couros post: ‘An Acronym Leading to Empowerment for Schools’

Student centered over teacher centered.

Over the years many readings and books have helped to mould my frame of mind so I could give the classroom back to the kids.

The Nature of Learning

New Zealand Education in 2025

A Rich Seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning

Books like:

The Innovator’s Mindset

Disobedient Teaching

A Learners’ Paradise

What I know is this …

New pedagogies do not need new spaces.

New Pedagogies need educators to understand the why and then be prepared to make some changes to the way things have always been done.

This recent post by Pernille Ripp sums up my thinking too when she writes

What good is flexible seating if we don’t also have flexible thinking?

Success, however, is best heard from the kids …

“I love how we can choose where to sit  and how we can learn about things we want to learn about. I also like how people will be there to help us when needed.”

“Having choice has been an amazing experience because it’s making me take charge of my learning, being more confident, making me stronger as a leader, and helping me make my own decisions.

“Doing my own timetable is an awesome way for me to be even more responsible for my own learning, and it’s helping me to be more organised and to be able to fit things in that have to be completed.”

“Something that surprised me was I was able to complete things at my own pace without having someone telling me what to do and how it has to be done at an exact time. But now I’m able to enjoy my learning and put more thought into it without having to rush everything to get it done on time.”

I have learnt a lot of stuff like how to connect with others by using our chromebooks and websites like Flipgrid and Edmodo.”

The power of Flipgrid to amplify student voice has been phenomenal.

The learning coming from using this platform tells a story.

“Something I really like about learning in an ILE is having two teachers, no desks, lots of learning space, learning tribes (learning groups that introduce learning with different peeps), being our own boss, setting our own time tables, and learning groups (free range, out in the yard and close grained etc. “

Below is Jada’s #storyhui where she shares her learning success about adapting to the ILE

“Something I learnt this year is how to jump in the pit and take risk and challenge myself.”

And then there is this …

I also really like that everybody including myself has fun when they’re learning.”

And we were described like this …


#NZreadaloud continues to be a vital part of our learning programme.

“During #NZreadaloud I have learnt to take notes and learn about things that I never thought existedThis is an example drawing of a language feature I really liked and it’s a simile the language feature is “his eyes were as black as the night” 

These interpretations were other favourites …


#booksnaps and sketchnoting were favourites for many; providing opportunities to be creative.


“This has helped me to understand the story because it helps me think deeper into the story and learn about the more hearty stuff other than the not so interesting stuff that lies on top.”

“During #NZreadaloud I have learnt to show my learning in pictures and to do personal inquiry into a topic of interest.”

“In my writing I have been learning how to use language features, and make my writing more addictive to read so that the reader has something to predict and look forward to as they carry on the story.”

These #storyhui tell of learning successes selected and shared by the kids …


This is just a snapshot of the good stuff.

It was a year of incredible learning for all of us in the ILE which included:

Innovation is about mindframe not space

Genuine collaboration which involves mutual respect is powerful AND empowering

Kids thrive on ‘being their own boss’ and those who are still learning enjoy the process

Embedding a Growth Mindset culture is crucial if we want kids to unlearn and relearn what it means to learn.

There were things which have been reinforced this year too …

Creating and not just consuming must be a focus.

Our curriculum vision is for learners to be actively involved.

And we should think about this from our learners’ perspective.

How can you do this?

Change is necessary because every learner is different.

Personalising learning can be what makes the difference.

Creating a thinking culture in our spaces is a good start.

Let your learners make some decisions; show you trust them.

Basing our pedagogy around questions models inquiry thinking.

This helps create an inclusive culture; the prior knowledge and experiences of each student can contribute to the learning outcome.

Moving forward my goal is to continue to develop the 7C’s of innovation within my practice.

Cultural Sensitivity

I aim to think carefully about white spaces and how I can ensure my Maori learners can succeed as Maori.

Culturally sustaining pedagogy means considering these important ideas:

continually questioning purpose

empowers cultural identity

refuses to use comparisons

not solely focused on closing achievement gaps

recognises the holistic nature of learning

learners are not put into categories

Learners are on a continuum of unrecognised to unlimited potential.

Community & Collaboration

I aim to continue to connect my learners locally, nationally, and globally. It is important my learners understand they are part of something bigger than them.

Kids from around the world shared their thoughts about connectedness on this Flipgrid 

I will continue to collaborate as much as possible with other educators; #NZBFC630 will continue as will #NZreadaloud.

I also have plans for a global collaboration with @NZWaikato, @creeinstructor1 and @vanderwalc in 2018 looking into the differences / similarities of indigenous people – NZ Maori and Canadian Indians.

Curiosity & Critical Thinking

I will continue to encourage my learners to be curious; to go and inquire into things which they want to find answers to. I will provide opportunities for wondering and will trial ‘Wonder Cafe’ as a strategy to encourage student led discussions around thought-provoking and challenging questions.

I will continue to develop the use of SOLO as a tool for deeper reflective thinking.


Providing opportunities for creativity (be it online or in the physical sense) is another priority. Sometimes the importance of giving time for this gets lost on the ‘other stuff’. I aim to infuse opportunities for creativity into what we already do; so it becomes a part of the ‘other stuff’ (a bit like how sketchnoting and #booksnaps are part of literacy).


Open, trusting relationships with learners means communication becomes natural. I will continue to make time for discussions with students when they need it. Restorative practice puts this at the forefront.

I aim to continue to be in communication with whānau; this will take place via email, Facebook, and Seesaw.

So. That. Was. The. Year. That. Was.

I will treasure the learning I did alongside my co-teacher in the ILE this year.

Ngā mihi nui Rochelle.

Kia kaha, kia māia, kia manawanui.


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