Log in

Inviting your school community onto the modern learning practice (MLP) waka

Nau mai, haere mai te katoa!

This discussion is a pledged event for CEM and will be opened on October 1st and running for the entire month of October - and hopefully beyond!  All welcome - teachers, leaders, whānau and community members.

The kaupapa (theme) of this discussion is...

Modern Learning Practice: How do we take our communities, students, parents and whānau on the journey as we explore teaching and learning in a technology-enabled world?


In this VLN discussion I encourange participants to:

  • explore why schools are changing
  • discuss key principles of Modern Learning Environments and Practice
  • review key transitions for learners and how Modern Learning Practices may assist
  • share experiences, concerns, questions and journeys
  • explore strategies to engage teachers, students, parents, whānau and community

Firstly, let's take a look at what modern learning practice looks like in one particular New Zealand kura (school).

Modern-learning-practice from EDtalks on Vimeo.


I can't wait to 'meet' and kōrero (talk) with you online and would love to hear your thoughts-he aha ō koutou whakaaro?


Things to note:

I am co-facilitating a workshop on this exact kaupapa at ULearn 2014 in Rotorua on Thursday 9th October, 11.15-12.30pm, in the Rotorua Convention Centre, Mezzanine.  I will be sharing this online discussion with the participants in the workshop and will also be asking them to contribute their ideas too, to maximise exposure to this discussion and include a wide range of ideas, opinions and thinking. 


Finally, I strongly enourage the discussion to go live into the Twittersphere too so please feel free to use the following hashtags on Twitter...




And my own twitter handle is @mrs_tbell


  • Tamara Bell  (View all users posts) 22 Oct 2014 12:50pm ()

    Kia ora anō Michelle,

    You have asked a very relevant question and one that I hear often - 'what happens to our children when they go to High School and the High School is not on a similar journey but one of traditional teaching and learning?'

    This is a huge concern to both teachers and parents as no-one wants to see our tamariki engaged and immersed in a modern learning environment, underpinned by modern learning practice and pedagogy throughout their early and primary years only to be thrust into a traditional teaching model in high school.  Firstly, the environment is only one factor and there are many ways to be implementing MLP in our traditional, single cell buildings, so my advice would be to do your homework first.  Don't assume because the high school might have more traditional buildings that they are not on their own journey of MLP discovery themselves.

    If you do find that there is a disconnect between what the feeder primaries are trying to implement in their school environments and teaching & learning practices compared to what is happening in the high schools than this is something you should communicate about with them about.  In Christchurch, schools have been working collaboratively in Learning Community Clusters (read more here) and working as a cluster with ECE, Primary & Secondary leaders has offered amazing opportunities for these kinds of discussions to happen.  Supporting successful transitions and learning pathways for our learners, in our community has been paramount to all cluster discussions and planning, so naturally a shared understanding of the latest research, best practice and pedagogy and the what, why and how of MLP has been developed together over time.

    Working alongside our secondary colleagues will help, rather than either side preaching what they are doing is best.  Talk to your high school colleagues and develop a relationship with them so you can share ideas, ask questions and collaboratively inquire into what teaching and learning should/could look like in your community right from the early years level, to primary, secondary and beyond.  I have found that the only reason some secondary schools have not got their head around a shift to MLP is the fact that they have not yet been supported to understand what that means, the purpose and reason for change and how it could look at a secondary level.  We are all on this journey together, so reaching out and inviting our colleagues from different schools or sectors onto the same waka, is a great way to get some action happening!

  • Michelle (View all users posts) 20 Oct 2014 10:28pm ()

    Kia ora koutou

    We have just consulted with our Maori whanau at one of our whanau huis. It was a great opportunity to share ideas as a group and discuss what our Maori whanau would like for our tamariki. Our Maori community are very supportive and had lots of questions.

    One of the main concerns was 'what happens to our children when they go to High School and the High School is not on a similar journey but one of traditional teaching and learning?'

  • Tamara Bell  (View all users posts) 13 Oct 2014 1:28pm ()

    I have returned from a FANTASTIC ULearn14 and am now very happy to be able to share our presentation with you all on this kaupapa.

    Please find the main link to our presentation here:  Link to presentation

    I have also included some links to some of the resources we created to share with everyone in the workshop and to some key online resources that are available to you online.

    Please feel free to ask questions, share your thoughts or feedback once you have had a look, always keen to hear other perspectives, experiences and to share resources wider!

  • Jane Stuart (View all users posts) 09 Oct 2014 5:24pm ()

    Thanks for a great session today.  Really enjoyed it as we are just starting along this journey.  Looking forward to gaining some wisdom through the discussion:)

  • Michelle (View all users posts) 08 Oct 2014 10:13am ()

    Hi Jilena

    Our school has been exploring modern learning environments and pedagogy for the last 2 years and this is a complex process. We started by taking BOT and key staff on a visit to other schools. We were lucky enough to be able to take 2 BOT members (1 being the Chairperson and 1 being the Property person), Principal, Deputy and 1 team leader and 1 reluctant staff member to Auckland to visit schools that had already started the journey. 

    We came back excited and ready to develop a strategic plan with our community.

    Ensuring there is high trust in your community is vital and open and transparent communication with a clear vision for learning has supported leading change. Drip feeding information in weekly newsletters and utilising the BOT members to positively talk in the community about 21st century skills, knowledge & attitdudes and the school's vision for learning.

    Providing the evidence based research and the reason 'why' things need to change. Sharing youtube clips of 21st century learners made our staff really think about our current practice. Ensuring our staff, when asked by whanau, could articulate postively the changes happening in the classroom.

    We have spent most of our PD budget on releasing teachers, support staff & admin staff to visit other schools and talk to other teachers at other schools and then release time to talk about collaborative teaching and learning on their return back to school. BOT members and staff have been to many schools and many workshops held by CORE etc. This has helped ensure everyone is clear what our students need for the future and how our vision for teaching and learning needs to look like.

    Utilise the student voice surveys and share the data with BOT and then publish for the community. Student voice has been a huge benefit in 'shifting mindsets' of staff and community. The children are loving being in a more collaborative environment and they are seeing the benefits for themselves. The social and  'fun' factor is huge for them. 


  • Tamara Bell  (View all users posts) 13 Oct 2014 1:06pm ()

    Kia ora Michelle,

    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, you articulated very clearly your process and the key strategies you used to ensure engagement and alignment of thinking throughout the change process at your kura.  It sounds like all the hard work and thought and effort you put in to 'getting everyone in the same waka' has made a huge difference to the buy in from staff, BoT, whānau and community.  Ka mau te wehi!

  • Tamara Bell  (View all users posts) 03 Oct 2014 1:55pm ()

    My tip for today is to make you aware that there is a wealth of knowledge within the VLN and more specifically, related to this very kaupapa.  Some great discussion happening here around what collaborative planning looks like - don't be afraid to hunt out the gold online! Cool



  • Helen Cooper (View all users posts) 02 Oct 2014 11:30am ()

    Kia ora koutou, What a great discussion!

    When discussing with teachers how they have engaged whānau and community, the most common tips I hear are:

    Engage them early- the sooner the better, don't leave it.

    Provide multiple oopportunities to discuss, ask questions, observe, experience and explore ideas.

    Use the power of student voice – identify opportunities for students, including the very young ones, to share their experience and what it means to them. As a parent with a child in a school that has been prototyping this year, I know when I have asked her questions about her learning, and what the changes mean to her, I have been blown away with her response, and what a change it has made to her. Convincing stuff!..

    Callie's practice of asking for feedback continually sounds like a great way to show parents that there input is valued.

  • Jilena (View all users posts) 01 Oct 2014 8:42pm ()

    Does anyone have ideas or tips on how to get community buy in to modern learning environments and practice, both of which aren't too far from what we have/do already, but the community still view these ideas as far fetched and are nervous to take the leap (really a lady bird step)?

    As a teacher I am excited to see the school I work in head in this direction but am loosing enthusiasm the longer it takes to get the community on board.

  • Tracey Burgess (View all users posts) 01 Oct 2014 10:19pm ()

    Start small is what I am learning from my various visits to those embarking on the journey in an MLE. This means the teachers are more secure in what they are doing and can speak to parents with confidence and the parents can see change working and adapt and be more ready for the next introduction. 

  • mary jamieson (View all users posts) 02 Oct 2014 9:18am ()

    Hi Jilena

    Not knowing exactly what your school has in terms of resources or what you have already tried....some suggestions are:

    a parent survey- this can give you the opportunity to find out what they don't understand or 'buy into'

    student demonstrations at open evenings or other parent meetings- these are so powerful as it is the students who will sway pubic opinion when they see what they can do!

    sharing of student work via weebly, blog, etc

    authentic inquiry which involves connecting outside the school gates and requires authentic use of digital technologies

    providing a computer in the foyer or other easily accessible place for parents

    linking with local intermedate/secondary schools to see what the students are doing there and the skills, knowledge and understanding they need to transition into them

    strategic planning that always looks at how the community will be involved. For example, when looking at digital citizenship, some schools are planning programmes which they will roll out across the school, what provision is made for parents to learn about this too?

    These are just a few ideas...select or discard as you wish! It would be interesting to know what you have tried already and what sort of resistance you are encountering, if you feel happy to share this.Laughing

  • Diane Mills (View all users posts) 02 Oct 2014 10:03am ()

    Kia ora Jilena,  getting family in to see what learning looks like in a modern learning environment is obviously one of the most powerful drivers for acceptance and change.  One of the schools I worked with hosted such an evening, at a suitable time for families (earlier rather than later!); it was hosted by students, with students showing and talking about their learning.  I will put a link to their story here, which might help give you some ideas: Open Evening at St Mary's School.  Two of the key things for them were using a variety of ways to sell the meeting to parents: facebook, twitter, newsletters, word of mouth; and of course the part that many students had to play in the event.  The turnout, positive feedback and enlightenment of parents amazed the school.

  • Callie Ballara (View all users posts) 02 Oct 2014 10:21am ()

    Hi Jilena

    Don't lose your enthusiasm it's one of the best resources you'll ever have! You are lucky to have your school on board as this can be difficult, particularly when it comes to encouraging staff who have been teaching the same way for years to embrace change.  Last year I trialled BYOD in my year 2 class, and parents were very sceptical, asking things like 'will my child still learn to write?' It was a long journey, but by the end of the year the parent community were much more open.  I involved the parents as much as I could in the journey and emphasised the fact that I was learning too and that some things we tried would work, while others wouldn't.  I asked for their feedback continually.  What they couldn't deny is the children's level of engagement in the way they were learning, children would go home and continue work they had started at school and then upload it to the class blog (6 year olds!) I did and still do, find myself making sure there is sufficient 'written work' in books for when parents inevitably come to look.  It is not that we aren't writing, it's just that we are doing so more collaboratively, in meaningful contexts rather than always at our desks in our exercise books.

  • Tamara Bell  (View all users posts) 02 Oct 2014 2:34pm ()

    Kia ora Jilena,  

    I understand your position and I hope that this online discussion will provide lots of different ideas as to how to get community on board.  I will be posting plenty of links and resources to aid with this very kaupapa right throughout the month of October.  I am presenting at ULearn next Thursday and can promise you that after that many of the key ideas & strategies I share in that presentation will be linked back in here for you to access as well.  But to start you off, check out this fantastic Google site that a school here in Chch has created and shared publicly to support their community with the concept of becoming a BYOD school 


    It is a fabulous resource that is extremely thorough & readily accessible for parents anywhere, anytime to deepen their knowledge around BYOD and support their understanding so in turn they can support the school and their children with this huge change in their classroom. Keep in mind that this site was not the ONLY method they used to consult and communicate with parents, but just one method, but in my opinion it is a great example of harnessing the power of online support.  

    Consider how this could look if the kaupapa for the site was MLE/MLP rather than specifically aimed at BYOD (an aspect of modern learning practice for many schools anyway).

  • Megan McLellan (View all users posts) 05 Oct 2014 1:45pm ()

    Hi Jilena - You have had some great replies already, but here is what I think has had a great impact for our school when we were starting down this path.  

    Several staff and myself had visited a school that was teaching in a similar way that we were aiming to develop which was a great inspiration to us as teachers - but the BOT / parents had concerns.  So we sent a couple BOT members to visit the school as well and see for themselves the different attitude to learning that the students there had.  As these BOT members were also key community members their opinions held a lot of sway with the parents and when they saw what we were trying to develop in action we had great buy in and support.  

    I think it was also important that they saw it working in another context so they were reassured we weren't 'experimenting' on their children and that other schools were further down the same track.

  • Tracey Janes (View all users posts) 09 Oct 2014 10:21pm ()

    Hi Jilena,

    THere are lots if useful answers to your questions already, but one of the 'selling points' for our parents when we transitioned to an MLE was that there would be more similarities (to our current practice) than differences in the new environment. If you are already using modern learning practices, emphasise this to your community - much of the 'change' they are anxious about has already happened (eg new technology, emphasis on self management).

    Good luck!

  • AliciaNT (View all users posts) 01 Oct 2014 4:41pm ()

    Kia Ora Tamara- I have been lurking through the VLN community for a couple of months now but due to a busy schedule at school and at home this is my first time joining in on a conversation. The CEM events have got me really excited ;-) For me as a teacher and curently an ICT teacher it is the students that drive the type of teaching and learning that we do today. There is no doubt that issues of economics, politics etc (as mentioned by Derek) factor into this however for me because our students walk into the classroom everyday already knowing so much about technology that we have to make that change. We all know that technology is not a phase in education and if we havent started that journey than we should. There are many different ways that schools do this. My old school (international school) I feel did a phenomenal job driving the change. Throughout the year School leaders, teacher and parent community worked collectively to research why and how. The following year our whole platform was changed and teachers were given devices, apps and programmes to explore. The only expectation given to teachers by school leaders was to try things out, discuss, share, see what works, see what doesnt etc. Since our teachers were all on varying levels on the tech spectrum from beginner to expert this worked really well. Less than 6 month later devices were given to students with the same expectations. In amongst all that was parent community workshops and teacher pd -mostly inhouse as all of us were so willing to share what we were learning and able to do with and for our students. By the end of that year there was so much innovative teaching practice, learning and creativity going on across the whole school it was amazing. I'm forever grateful for that process as it marked the start of my own elearning journey.

    My current school (in NZ) is working towards MLEs and are probably at the beginning compared to what I've come from, but that is totally okay.  In my experience the opporutinites that arise from a MLE are situations where teachers and students are often exploring and going on a learning journey together, and quite often teachers are learning from students just as much as students are learning from teachers. If done the right way it doesnt take long for everyone to get on board and drive towards the common goal of success for students.

  • Tamara Bell  (View all users posts) 01 Oct 2014 10:44am ()

    Wow - what an amazing start to this discussion!  So lovely to see friends and colleagues contribute their thoughts as well as new connections to educators I am yet to meet.  All 4of you have added different ideas and perspectives which is fantastic.  I love how Derek has broken it down into some critical influences that are driving change in education.  I agree wholeheartedly with the statement "Teachers aren't failing us; instead, the system they're forced to work within is failing us and them".

    Thanks Anne for the link to Jackie Gerstein's blog too, your contribution really did give the feel of some of the excitement and possibilities all this change can bring to our teachers and tamariki!

    Phoebe - I connected strongly to your last sentence " a journey to success".  As you will see in the title of this discussion, I believe strongly in the idea of it being a journey.  First we need to understand why change is upon us, as Mary so rightly pointed out and the implications of this change before we can start to look at how this will influence our own practice and in turn the educational experiences of our learners.  It is a journey, not something that can happen overnight, in a term or even in a school year!  Many educators, leaders, teachers have been walking this journey for some time and just like many journeys, the course can change, we may get delayed, lost or even change our destination but it is the journey that is the important experience to have!

Join this group to contribute to discussions.

Connected Educator NZ-Aotearoa

Connected Educator NZ-Aotearoa

The home of Connected Educator NZ-Aotearoa in the VLN.