‘Practicing Change’


changeThe theme of this last reflective post is Change. The 32 weeks of professional development has created change on many levels. The old adage that states ” you don’t know how much you don’t know” comes to mind.  Teachers are task rich and time poor; they are often faced with a myriad of tasks, professional responsibilities plus the nebulous challenge of inspiring our clients to “Reach Beyond” (which is this year’s Waimea College motto). A progressive example of our school’s culture. Stoll (1998). Adding to these vocational requirements is the question of lifestyle balance, where “burnout” can shorten the career of a teacher.

One of the many benefits from this year’s pedagogical pathway has been the time and guidance to “think big” (not like Robert Muldoon). The Mindlab’s  Tuesday evening sessions have provided the opportunity to be exposed to a wider and more in-depth exploration of the tenets of Education.


The busy lifestyle (described above) does not allow for this quality of cognition. The structure and requirements of this professional development created a prioritization of time and practice that has been challenging and liberating at the same time. Enjoying and embracing the new 21st Century learning approaches has been a personal pathway toward the criterion number 4, which demonstrates commitment to on-going professional learning and the development of professional personal practice (Ministry of Education (nd).)


The liberation has resulted in the examination of “Old School” practices where content focus has been the centre of student learning and assessment. As a digital analogy of this form of education it would be a ‘copy and paste’ type of process. Information is delivered (one way), committed to memory (often only in short-term memory), then replicated to be graded. The correct answer was the one most in keeping with the information being delivered. Somewhat devoid of creativity and collaboration and absence of critical thinking.


It seems almost unreal that teachers who are immersed daily in education are part of a system that relies on knowledge that was attained in an institution (for many of us) a long time ago. The Mindlab course exposed the trend that teachers in New Zealand and most other developed countries were more influenced in their pedagogical practice by the way they were taught, rather than research informed practice. Clearly, the need for a more adaptive and collaborative approach is required, (Osterman & Kottkamp, 1993) & (Timperley et al, 2014).


An education paradigm change is needed by both staff and students. The participants on the Mindlab course may be the “Innovators” of change identified by Rogers in 1962. The setting up of the Waimea College wordpress public site (see below) can be a marketing tool described by Roger’s theory to help spread the message of change right down to the “laggards” in our profession. (Rogers, E. 2003). The students challenge is to unshackle themselves from the NCEA influence typified by the catch cry ” Is this worth any credits?”.


My next dream/challenge is to incorporate the new changes that research informed practice has shown to be more effective (Benseman, 2013) in my own practice and share this change with my department as a Head of Department. (Criterion 5: Ministry of Education (nd). I look forward to continuing CHANGE.


Marcus Swain


Benseman, J. (2013) . Research Inform Teaching of Adults.  http://www.unitec.ac.nz/epress/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/RBT-Article-Final.pdf

Ministry of Education (nd). Practising teacher Criteria and e-learning . Retrieved from http://elearning.tki.org.nz/Professional-learning/

Osterman, K. & Kottkamp, R.(1993). Reflective Practice for Educators.California.Cornwin Press, Inc. Retrieved on 7th May, 2015 from http://www.itslifejimbutnotasweknowit.org.uk/files.

Rogers, E. (2003). Diffusion of Innovations. (Fifth ed.). New York; Free Press

Stoll , L. (1998). School Culture. School Improvement Networks Bulletin 9. Institute of Education, University of London.

The Adoption Curve.   https://app.themindlab.com/media/47784/viewWaimea College word press public site.  https://waimeacollege.wordpress.com/



One thought on “‘Practicing Change’

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  1. Hi Marcus, I have enjoyed the Mindlab course due to the same reasons that you have outlined, the challenge of reflecting on our craft in terms of how we should be teaching to the children that will inherit the future, contrasted with the knowledge that we bring from our past experiences. How can we align our teaching, and bring our practice up to modern thinking and ideas. I too am looking forward to making changes and becoming an old dog with some new tricks. Your cartoon resonated with me in terms of how we are constrained by the system and how we might be able to change the system to allow change and innovation to occur.

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