Ethos Community

Who are the stakeholders in my professional community? In what ways do they influence my practice?
The community I work with sits inside the wider school community and because of its unique population it has its own vision that sits under the whole school vision;
"Our students will be successful, powerful learners who are active and responsible citizens. Our professional and highly motivated staff will challenge thinking and grow knowledge through inquiry and quality learning programmes."

The Centre's vision " a facility where students with disabilities can grow emotionally, socially and cognitively in a challenging and supportive environment...."

This community is somewhat influenced by more macro factors from outside this community such as the structure of the wider school and its vision and purpose and the imposed government driven policies, systems and procedures.
When defining the school community I realised that we each see something different because of who we are and where we sit in the school community and we have many different perspectives which I need to gather to get enough information to make good decisions in regard to my practice.

The stakeholders from the Centre include;
Students with special education needs
Parents of students
Special education teachers
Learning support assistants
Other outside agencies representatives

What is important for this community to achieve its vision, is the actual participatory practices and relationships amongst its stakeholders. My curriculum is driven by the needs of the students in consultation with their families/whanua developed during the meeting known as the Individual Education Plan of which all stake holders are represented. My teaching practice is driven by good pedagogy combined with sound data and the essence of inter-professional practice which is a team of people working collaboratively to include problem solving, co-creating knowledge, sharing evidence and ideas to provide better outcomes for the students, and through this true student centred learning is achieved.

What are the core values that underpin my school community and how do they underpin my practice?

As a school community we have high expectations expressed through our values.

Overarching Values

Manaakitanga through uplifting, fostering and nurturing the mana of each person.
In my classroom I treat the students as adults and in return expect them to take responsibility as we provide opportunities and support for them to take risks with dignity and have the right to failure.

Whanaungatanga through fostering relationships and cherishing diversity, seeking the support of parents, families and whānau and making good connections between people.
We all need to understand that students, whanau and colleagues have their own values and beliefs and it is important to respect this. Building positive relationships with the students and their families is the most effective strategy. Developing my professional knowledge to understand why and how things are done is essential to building those positive relationships.

Core values

Excellence through aspiration, creativity, persistence and resilience.

As an ethical and reflective teacher improving student competencies is an essential practice and teaching requires me to consider a multitude of factors that my students bring with them.

Responsibility through ownership, participation and leadership.
The opportunity for this is deliberately made available to my students as they plan for our class camps that occur in term 2 and 3. They are responsible for planning the camp which involves planning the menus, rosters, activities, shopping and cooking the meals. The students take on leadership roles when planning the camp. The students I work with are use to attending camps run by organisations outside of school, where everything is planned by adults and run by adults.

Respect for self, others, and the environment through acknowledgement, tolerance and celebration of diversity. Empathy through listening, kindness and service.
Students are supported and encouraged to take advantage of the opportunities provided to all students at the school to develop interpersonal skills through such programs as peer mediation training, sporting, cultural and performance activities.

What key theories underpin my practice and how they influence the way I work?

Yes i have a background of working with students with special teaching needs but to me inclusive education means All, everybody.
Inclusion is about ALL of us
• Inclusion is about living full lives - about learning to live together.
• Inclusion makes the world our classroom for a full life.
• Inclusion treasures diversity and builds community.
• Inclusion is about our 'abilities' - our gifts and how to share them.
• Inclusion is NOT just a 'disability' issue.

Universal Design for Learning is a set of principles for curriculum development that gives all individuals equal opportunities to learn. UDL provides a blueprint for creating instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments that work for everyone--not a single, one-size-fits-all solution but rather flexible approaches that can be customised and adjusted for individual needs. The key word in UDL is options and technology allows me to make learning for the needs of every student in my classes easier. It has taken away the hours that I can spend preparing resources so that I can differentiate my teaching and everybody will gain from the task that they are doing.
Let me give you an example; a student in our Centre who has the gift of being able draw cartoon characters and his Y12 English class had to present their work to the rest of the class. The other students used PowerPoint for their presentations, he didn’t want to do that, in fact he didn’t want to do the assignment at all. The teacher knew he loved to draw cartoon characters as he did many in class while she is teaching. She said to him you can present your work how you want to. So he used an online comic strip application to do just that.  This tool enabled him to produce a presentation to show to the class. I explained to her about the principals of UDL and how this could mean that she could have taken this one step further and given all students the opportunity to present their work in the way they wanted.

It was not a substitution but a redefinition of the way of presenting and that leads me onto the SAMR model of integrating technology into the classroom. ;

The SAMR Model provides a framework to support me in creating and evaluating optimal learning experiences for my students, that in turn will enhance their learning opportunities. Learning activities that fall within the substitution and augmentation classifications are said to enhance learning, while learning activities that fall within the modification and redefinition classifications are said to transform learning. This model has led me to push the boundaries and deliberately try to make the activities I do with my students transformational.
I use this models to support the learning needs of ALL my students because I know my learners, I know what those needs are but I keep this in my mind....
The Outcome is determined by the pedagogical shift that occurs as you understand and apply the SAMR model, not the technology you chose to use.

What are the challenges I face in my practice?

  • To continue to be a life long learner 
  • To continue to develop my curriculum to meet the needs of my learners. 
  • To continue my professional development in the area of Autism as this is the biggest population growth in our Centre in the last five years, now comprising of nearly 50% of our enrolments. 
  • To encourage everyones contribution - and especially Tino Rangatiratanga - (The Principal of Self-determination) and a chance for the students with special education needs to control their own aspirations and destiny. 
  • To practice Ako - (The Principle of Culturally Preferred Pedagogy) the teaching and learning practices that are inherent and unique to the students with special education needs. 
  • To have at the forefront the importance and value of the contribution of Whānau - (The Principle of Extended Family Structure) to their sons/daughters education and my responsibility and obligations as the teacher to nurture and care for these relationships. 
  • To manage the cross pollination of ideas and the connection of diverse perspectives contributing to the building of Ata - (The Principle of Growing Respectful Relationships). 
  • To keep up-to date with changes and initiatives that occur in the other ministries that can effect the choices and lives of the students I work with once they leave school. This includes the Ministries of Social Development and Health.

What changes are occurring in the context of my profession? How do I address them?

One of the goals of education has shifted from content knowledge to developing the skills the students need to be successful in the 21st century; problem solving, creativity, thinking analytically, collaborate, communicate, ethics, action and accountability.
Using the professional learning and teaching and learning dimensions of the e-Learning Planning Framework, I reviewed the way e-learning is integrated into my practice and teaching inquiry. I plan to go back to these dimensions and review again to see if I have moved towards an empowering teaching style where I work alongside students to create personalised real world learning that is enhanced by technology.

The Ministry of Education's Statement of Intent for 2014-2018 talks of raising the quality of teaching and strengthening the capability of teachers and school leaders to integrate the use of digital technologies with effective teaching and leadership practices. One way of doing this is the proposal to lift the quality of teacher education by introducing new postgraduate qualifications. To increase the quality of my teaching as I move towards implementing a 21st century pedagogy, I chose to complete the Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Practice with a focus on digital and collaborative learning and leadership.

Also in the report is mention of improving the range, quality and use of information available to the public that will build understanding of the progress and achievement of students. I am the director of E-learning for the whole school and I have been part of the innovation to develop a parent/student portal where they can see assessment results.
Sitting alongside this is the mentoring, tracking and reporting program where I work with a group of mainstream Y11 learners and their families to support and encourage the students to manage their own learning. This is inorder for them to maximise their own potential, develop their key competencies and improve their learning and achievement outcomes. Mentoring is a partnership where learning, dialogue and challenge is prevalent in the relationship.

The report refers to increasing retention and achievement, and to make transitions to further education, training and work more effective and sustainable. This is the primary focus of the work I do with my students and involves interagency collaboration and networking to make sure the students take advantage of such programs as Youth Guarantee, Supported Employment and Community Participation.

MRGS Values, (2015). Retrieved from:

MRGS Mentoring Programme, (2015). Retrieved from:              

McClure, M., Jukes, I., & MacLean, R. (2011). Getting it right: Aligning technology initiatives for measurable student                     results. Vancouver BC: 21st Century Fluency Project and Corwin

Puentedura, R.R. (2013, May 29). SAMR: Moving from enhancement to transformation [Web blog post]. Retrieved                       from: Blog: i

Ministry of Education, (2014). Statement of Intent 2014-2018. Wellington, New Zealand: Ministry of Education

Te Toi Tupu Consortium, (2014). e-Learning Planning Framework (2014) | Unpublished Paper. Wellington, New                           Zealand: Ministry of Education

Smith, G. H. (1990). Research Issues Related to Maori Education, paper presented to NZARE Special Interest         Conference, Massey University, reprinted in 1992, The Issue of Research and Maori, Research Unit for Maori Education, New Zealand: The University of Auckland: Retrieved from

Universal Design for Learning. (2009). Retrieved from:

What is inclusion? (1990) (Retrieved from:

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