Friday, 23 March 2018

This is me! - Key change in my professional practice. Mindlab Activity 8

What: The key changes in my professional practise link to the Teaching Standard (Standards for the Teaching Profession, p20, 2017.)
Figure 1. Teaching standards (Standards for the Teaching Profession, p20, 2017.)

The Mindlab course was the perfect vehicle to launch my explorations into methods of teaching Visual Art that aligned with current pedagogical understandings. Investigations into the use of digital technologies to support differentiation for learners, and guiding development in leadership skills, helping me to implement innovations around student agency. Affiliating with like-minded learners inquiring into future trends in education gave me confidence to scale innovations school-wide and run staff PLs.

Now what?
Using the Reflective Practice Experiential Learning Cycle (Osterman and Kottkamp (2015, p.70)

Stage 1: Problem Identification.
School art shows revealed teacher-directed learning to be the norm throughout our junior school. As I was developing student agency in my specialist subject area, a dissonance with the way art is being taught in classrooms, appeared. When students are being affected by contradicting expectations, it is time to drive school-wide change. The potential for a flow-on effect whereby students transfer agency learnt in this subject area, across to other areas of learning is valuable. Furthermore, teachers experiencing this way of teaching in their own classrooms, can potentially incorporate these characteristics across other areas of their teaching.

Stage 2: Observation and Analysis.
Observations of my lessons and interviews with my students have revealed that those experiencing agency were more engaged and easily follow their own inquiries, collaborate with others, show confidence to take new risks and felt ownership of their creations, which were personal, original and age appropriate.

Walk-throughs of classrooms showed a contrast in the teaching approach. Uniform sets of artwork hung on walls and in some cases, teachers had modified student work to ‘improve’ it for display.
Figure 2. When You Do It For Me (Wall Poster, nd).

Stage 3. Abstract Re-conceptualization
Figure 3. Clark Fralick and Clyde Gaw (Block Paper Scissors Podcasts, nd)
Figure 4. Bergmann and Sams (Flipped Learning Worldwide Podcast, nd)
Mindlab has encouraged me to further expand my participation in CoPs and CoLs online, where I continue to explore resources and practitioner exemplars on teaching for student agency. By collating and using a range of teaching techniques to develop the 21C skills of Complex Problem Solving, Creativity and Critical Thinking (World Economic Forum, 2016), I am further expanding on my learnings from this course. The Design Thinking Challenge lecture (week 14) initiated further explorations for me and I developed a process for our school to follow, which I introduced at staff Professional Learning (PL).

Photo 1: My junior Design Thinking Process (DTP) posters introduced to Y1-4. (Willemse 2018).

Photo 2: My senior DTP posters introduced to Y5-6. (Willemse 2018).

Stage 4: Active Experimentation

Two questions that initially came back from teachers were around time and prototyping. Invitation based follow-up sessions with planning teams have helped me to analyse both the understandings and misconceptions they had arrived at from the whole-staff PL. I used ‘Teaching for agency’ principles with planning teams to devise their own solutions during our meetings, to help them take ownership of the teaching aspect.

Working through the DTP, teachers realised how they had owned the first 5 steps in the process and were only inviting students in at the ‘Make’ stage, and they particularly liked the ‘Rest’ or ‘Incubate’ stage. DTP was noted to support other learning, areas like writing and inquiry. Now teachers have started using it here too.

Walk-throughs have now revealed changes in classroom practices in the Arts. Below is a display sample of before and after from the same Y1 classroom, 2 months apart.
Photo 3: Before - early February (Willemse 2018).
Photo 4: After - late March (Willemse 2018).
Another connection to this teaching approach has been Mauri Ora or Relationship teaching and learning (week 31). Valued contributions from our culturally diverse group of students and teachers has been a rewarding development, as we all learn more deeply about each other than when we use teacher-directed models.

3. What next?
Future developments to explore include relevant assessment practises that reflect this change in teaching focus. Looking into Hack Education’s ideas about the future of education in New Zealand, these changes begin to address the individual learner in a contemporary world.

The role of technology and how it can support choice and differentiation in a specialist subject, is my next focus as I create content for students and teachers in video format. Where possible, recordings will be of students at work to model concepts - students learning from other students.

Photo 5: Our Art Blog search menu - site access restricted to school students due to privacy policy. (Willemse 2018)

Photo 6: Our first few posts - site access restricted to school students due to privacy policy. (Willemse 2018).


Bergmann J., & Sams, A., (nd). Flipped Learning Worldwide Podcasts. Retrieved from

Brown, T. (2009). Change by Design – How Design Thinking Transforms Organization and Inspires Innovation. Harper Collins, USA

Design Thinking for Educators (nd). Retrieved from

Education Council. (2017). Our Code Our Standards.Retrieved from:

When you do it for me (nd) Wall Poster. Retrieved from

Fralick C., & Gaw C. (nd). Block, Paper, Scissors Podcasts. Retrieved from

Ministry of Education (nd). Our code, our standards. Retrieved from

Osterman, K. F., & Kottkamp, R. B. (2015). Reflective practice for educators : professional development to improve student learning.(2nd ed.) New York: Skyhorse Publishing.

Rolfe et al.'s reflective model, (2001). Adapted from: Rolfe, G., Freshwater, D., Jasper, M. (2001) Critical reflection in nursing and the helping professions: a user's guide. Retrieved from

Willemse, T. (2018) Photo1-6

With Love,


Thank you for visiting,


  1. Kia ora Timea

    Very interesting. I always enjoy reading your blog as you challenge my thinking on learning. I like the way you try different things in your classroom and with your team based on research. I would love to come in and spend some time with you at some stage to look at what you are doing in your room and within the school.

  2. Thank you Katie for your kind words. You are most welcome. Once our new principal has started in May, you could make contact with her and set up a visit with your objectives. We are always happy to connect with fellow educators :)