Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Mind Lab Week 17 - Reflecting on Reflecting

Activity 1: My Reflective Practice
Create a reflective entry in which you critically evaluate your reflective practice.

Photo by Timea Willemse 28 April 2016

Reflecting on Reflecting:
Reflective practise has always existed in some way, otherwise nothing would have changed, ever. The cool thing about the last 20 years though, has been that the practice of every day teachers has been shared more publicly with advancements in (and growing acceptance of) on-line sharing platforms. No longer is it the domain of the guru in your field, nor does it need to be a lonely introspection. Now, your thoughts can matter to someone too!

I have blogged for years, sometimes to reflect, sometimes to share ideas with others, sometimes to teach, well before it became fashionable. It is now timely to reflect more critically on my practice and share that aspect openly. Why? The benefits are huge. The number of people willing to jump in and support or share is exponential and collaboration can happen across borders (real or imagined).

This openness does frighten some people new to blogging. I too was apprehensive when I started many years ago. Yes there are nasties out there who miss the point of critiquing and jump straight to criticizing, just as there are nasties in your real life too. But that is few and far between. Teachers have connected from across New Zealand and the world. Some have even contacted me, spending time discussing their programmes, asking for support or visiting my room to observe my practice. My blog even helped me to get an interview with my current school. Basically it has replaced my CV.

This week, Mind Lab has provided some interesting resources to support a critical evaluation of one's reflective practice.
North Carolina Teacher Reflection Model - links closely with the Hull Uni video content. Sourced from:

Reading, Finlay's paper about Reflecting on reflective practise confirmed for me that here is an aspect of professional expectation that again gets reduced down to formulae and recipes, to ensure standardisation (sound familiar?). Reflection becomes shallow and rote, simply fulfilling a requirement for ongoing registration.

In fact, critical reflection as a concept, tool, etc. should be researched by individuals in order to gain a personal understanding and relevance, based on where they are at the time. Reflecting critically on one's practice is a purposeful and transformative exercise that improves your practice the more you do it (Hull Uni, Reflective Writing Video). And the more you do it, the better you get at reflecting critically and more deeply, relating it back to research and theory. It is a complex undertaking and varies based in situation, time, emotional connection, experience...I could go on...

So, just start doing it. Committing my experiences and thoughts to text can be cathartic and reduces ruminations which can often be destructive, when involving negative events. Seeing it in writing helps me to distance myself enough to look at it objectively and be open to solutions.
Kolb’s Experiential Learning Model sourced from
Comparing my reflection practice against Zeichner and Liston’s (cited in Finlay, 2008, p.4) five levels of reflection, I would say that 
1) Rapid Reflection is a constant in my day. I teach students from Kindy to Year 6, all with widely divergent needs. If I wasn't aware of this every minute, it would lead to chaos. That is not to say its not exhausting, it is! and some days are better than others. But you get better at it and it becomes automatic. 
2) Repair is an easy one now in my current role as a specialist because not only do I need to respond to issues and repair when possible within the lesson, as I won't see that class again for another few days, but I can modify a planned lesson that has had hiccups with 1 class, before delivering it to the next class. For example, if the way that resources were distributed with class 1 caused a mob effect, I can alter that for the class following on from them. 
3) Reviewing happens when I make notes at the end of each lesson, including thoughts for that class' upcoming lessons, discussions with colleagues are almost daily around students, processes and management issues but not around curricula content.For that, I need to make an effort to visit other schools, or research on-line. I blog regularly when 'life' permits. I say 'life' because it is something that falls outside of work hours (as so much does for our profession). It is also often inspired by something I have seen or read on line or in my teaching day. 
4)Research is cyclic for me and based around what and how I wish to teach upcoming content and regular around practice at the moment due to being on this course. 
5) Re-theorising - I would say I have done this in the past through on-line PLN as new ideas have intrigued me. I am probably approaching the most radical one at the moment due to my research for the Mind Lab assignments as I move from teacher directed model of art lessons (with some limited choice) to more student directed art lessons, embracing the teachings of Choice-based learning and Teaching for Artistic Behaviour. My current mantra is - Teaching artists, not art!
Zeichner and Liston’s (cited in Finlay, 2008, p.4)
  1. "Rapid reflection - immediate, ongoing and automatic action by the teacher.
  2. Repair – in which a thoughtful teacher makes decisions to alter their behaviour in response to students’ cues.
  3. Review – when a teacher thinks about, discusses or writes about some element of their teaching.
  4. Research – when a teacher engages in more systematic and sustained thinking over time, perhaps by collecting data or reading research.
  5. Retheorizing and reformulating – the process by which a teacher critically examines their own practice and theories in the light of academic theories.”
In conclusion I'll sum up using images from my recent artistic explorations, into action art.

Read, watch, look up from your practice and be inspired by what is around you.

 Jump in and try things, have a go!

Sometimes it will turn into a mess and you'll think - what the heck have I started here!

But then...stop, reflect (critically as you grow and evolve), and try it again with a few tweaks.

Who knows, you may create something beautiful. But you'll never know unless you first try!

Finlay, L. (2008). Reflecting on reflective practice. PBPL. Retrieved from
SkillsTeamHullUni. (2014, March 3). Reflective writing.[video file]. Retrieved from 

With love, as always

Thank you for visiting,

Monday, November 13, 2017

Update on Little Hoot

Update on Little Hoot - He Ruru Aniwaniwa

Well, my prayers have been answered. My beautiful Y5 students returned from camp, full of magic this week and bounced into the room to complete their Little Hoot.
I think you'll agree, they have done an awesome job.

I simply trusted in the process and allowed them to design, collaborate and create it 100% by themselves. Totally scary for something so public and knowing that they will be exhibited beside school submissions where adults have 'tidied up' the student work.
Today we had tours going through the school while the last group was finishing up and they spoke so eloquently about what they were doing...proud mama moment right there! Sniff!

What are your thoughts about adults correcting children's artwork?
Interesting article on Art of Ed that I read earlier this week. Click this link if you're interested

And I love this image too. Have it displayed in my classroom. 
Would love to read your thoughts below.

With love as always

Thank you for visiting,

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Post-graduate study with Mind Lab

Hello friends,

This has been a quiet year for blogging reflections because I have not only renovated my house from top to bottom but also signed up for post-graduate study with Mind Lab - nutty as a squirrel, some might say :)

The Mind Lab explains the course on their website as follows:

Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Practice (Digital & Collaborative Learning)
This is a Level 8, 60 credit programme that consists of the following four integrated course components, each worth 15 credits

1.Digital and Collaborative Learning in Context – 15 credits
2.Leadership in Digital and Collaborative Learning – 15 credits
3.Research and Community Informed Practice – 15 credits
4.Applied Practice in Context – 15 credits
For further details you can check out their website at
I have just completed the first 16 weeks of face-to-face workshops and about to start the next 16 weeks which is taken on-line.

The first section included 4 assignment submissions and I will be posting those up as I reflect on my learning.

Hope you find some of these ideas useful or even challenging. Would love to hear about your perspective, thoughts or questions too so feel free to comment below.

With love as always

Thank you for visiting,

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Little Hoot for Child Cancer Foundation Part 1

He Ruru Aniwaniwa (the Rainbow Owl)
Earlier this year our school sadly lost a wonderful young man to cancer so this year the Little Hoot fund-raising drive is especially pertinent for us.
The school purchased our Little Hoot ages ago. He finally arrived at the end of T3 and sat in my classroom doorway, ruffling its feathers, waiting for its coat of many colours.


This term is crazy busy and I genuinely despair at how we were going to accomplish an exhibition worthy piece in 6 weeks particularly as I am currently working with little Y1 and 2 students in Visual Art Specialist time.
Our wonderful Y5 team came to the rescue - allowing me to steal students in small batches from each class. We sneakily wove it onto their inquiry unit about How We Express Ourselves and the students have risen to the challenge.

Their first designs were on a paper stencil supplied by CCF. After a quick meeting and brief discussion, students started their designs and completed them for homework. 2 days later we reviewed their ideas and selected elements  from everyone's plans to incorporate

The main themes coming through were to create an uplifting design that made people smile.

They based their designs on the rainbow because for them the colours each represent an idea, like red for love, orange for joy, yellow for caring, green for healing, blue for hope, indigo for peace and violet for courage. The cluster of hearts and vines on the front show all the people that gather to help a child. Traditional patterns (still to be added) identify with their New Zealand heritage and stars (also still to come) symbolise the value of perseverance.

It sure is an interesting experience and one where I have had to be 100 % hands off, as I am in the middle of post graduate study where student / young artist agency is my research focus. Great timing hey?

However the collaborative conversation and problem solving that I am privy to as I pretend to be 'tidying up' my classroom or cleaning brushes for them, is incredible. They are growing so much!!

Here are a few progress pics so far...

They are away at camp next week so we only have a week left to complete. Living on a prayer here!!


Thank you for visiting,

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A Year in Africa

Our school has elected to use The Lion King for our end-of-year production this year. As  you can imagine, my mind went straight away to how I can use this across the school with all of my art classes. Having lived in Africa for 20 years has left its mark on my soul and any chance to revisit it is grabbed with both hands. So, I went about my usual internet searches to see what was around and started to piece together some ideas for my units.

My other constraint was to focus on the element of Shape and Form with all my classes this year. Last year we focused on Colour Theory and the year before on Lines, elements we needed to review and expand on further.

Another first was expanding my current class levels of Y1-Y6, to also include Kindy and Y0, children whose ages range from 3.5 to 4.5 years. Another big learning curve I'll post about later.

2016 is also the year our school is due another IB (International Baccalaureate)  evaluation which is a time to reflect on how well my programmes encompass the principles and elements of PYP (Primary Years Programme).

All in all a year of great new learning ahead for sure.

Thank you for visiting,

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

2016 Sale at Teachers Pay Teachers

Dear Friends,
All the best for the New Year.
The entire One Teachers Journey store at TPT is on sale 20 - 21 Jan 2016!  CLICK HERE TO START BROWSING

Thank you for visiting,

Thursday, November 19, 2015

International Peace Quilt

Hello friends,
Recently I was asked to introduce the concept of the International Peace Quilt to my Y4-6 after school Art Club.

The main idea is to join with schools around the world in designing an International Peace Quilt. The aim for the designs submitted this year is for the quilt to be taken to the Rio Olympic Games.

I asked my students to think about peaceful experiences that they have, living here in New Zealand, in order to reflect our culture to the world. They planned their ideas and completed these in a variety of media.

Other requirements were to include a sentence about what peace means to them, the NZ flag and the school logo - how fortuitous that Kristin has the peace dove as it’s own.

A selection of examples from out art club participants can be viewed at this link, where you can also find out more about this organisation.

Schools International Peace Quilt Project

Thank you for visiting,
With love, as always