Student centred or Independent learning

One of the areas I have been exploring for the last three years is student centred learning aka independent learning.  I undertook PD sessions with an expert brought in by our VP Mark Quigley and have tried to build up resources to create student stations around the room.  Time pressures have meant that I have not developed the resources needed or redesigned units of work to incorporate this approach, which I saw as rotational, with students choosing what area they would focus on according to their needs or interests.  I had envisaged a games area, a grammar area, a vocabulary area, a listening area and a reading area.

Recently, I discovered that this approach may never have eventuated due to its size – it was just overwhelming to come up with the required resources for a year.  On impulse, with a small Year 10 class I asked students if they were interested in tackling a unit of work independently. They were keen, so I provided the resources and away they went.  The first part went well, but towards the end of two weeks, i.e. 8 lessons, it was obvious that students needed more structure.  Positives were that students were totally engaged, felt in control, enjoyed the learning and were able to take the time they needed to attain mastery of each small area.  Negatives were that some students lacked time management skills and so did not use the time effectively; some students used all the time in just learning vocabulary; some of the grammar areas were not covered as students saw them as optional; final product was a little uneven, although ultimately quite acceptable in terms of output.

Student feedback on their blogs was awesome.  They recognized the pitfalls, acknowledged the empowerment, asked for more, and highlighted the need for more direction and checkpoints.  I am trialing the second unit of student centered learning this term and will be interested to see if I have addressed the problems.  In fact, I will probably engage this small and able group in the final planning stage of the unit to better address the problems in the first unit. Update at end of term!

ILEP Scholarship Salamanca 2015

This year I was awarded the ILEP immersion scholarship for two weeks study at the historic university of Salamanca in Spain.  This scholarship requires participants to cover their own airfare, which being high season, and with insurance requires a personal financial investment of $4,000.  As opportunities to speak and hear the language are limited in New Zealand, I believe it is essential for us, as teachers of ELE, to make this personal investment to maintain our content knowledge, both linguistically and culturally.  The link below gives some details of the program and some images show the experience this year. Although the language aspect was disappointing (family homestay limited, no oral program at my level, grammar review rather than extension) overall the experience was interesting.  However, it was certainly not worthwhile PD in terms of cost benefit,  as it didn’t extend my language skills in the areas needed for more effective teaching.  In particular, it was a pity that the program, unlike previous Salamanca scholarships, no longer is pedagogically based, with teachers of ELE from all over the world participating, but is now part of international courses run for profit from the University largely for foreign students.  As with Mexico, I focused on cultural aspects to share with students rather than language, although I will be reflecting on the grammar as it was very old school, with lists of when to use what tense  for eg,rather than the more modern global approach.

IMG_1557 IMG_1564 IMG_1647 IMG_1692 IMG_1699 IMG_1733 IMG_1803 IMG_1855 IMG_1868 IMG_1871 IMG_6963 IMG_6978

A Teachers Voice: What is Evidence?





I engage in an appraisal of my professional practice against the RTC every year and the process I engage in helps me learn and grow professionally. As part of my on-going engagement in this process and based on the evidence I bring to appraisal discussions, my appraiser and I can be confident that my practice meets all of the criteria and I can therefore expect my appraiser to endorse my application for the renewal of my practising certificate.

This paper considers what that evidence for my appraisal could look like, who should collect it, and how it might be assembled and curated.

I start by thinking about two key ideas: ongoing professional learning and professional accountability. These concepts are both inextricably linked components of professionalism and evidence related to both is required for any reasonable demonstration of meeting the RTC.

I begin with the concept of professional growth because professional growth is central to who I am as a teacher. I want to learn and grow so that I can make the biggest difference possible for all learners, especially learners who struggle. Because I am serious about growth, I think about how I evaluate my practice, what aspects of teaching I am strong in and what aspects I think I can see room for development. This ongoing process of self-review and evaluation means that I naturally collect evidence of my practice in order to grow and develop as a teacher.

 Our Learning Journey Reflections

Professional Growth

Criterion 12: use critical inquiry and problem-solving effectively in my professional practice


RTC 12 requires me to demonstrate that I am engaged in meaningful learning about how to strengthen my teaching. What are the conditions that might be necessary and sufficient to provide compelling evidence that I am doing this? For this RTC it is not enough just to demonstrate that my ākonga are making progress or accelerating their learning. This needs to be connected to actions I have taken to strengthen my teaching. So, this means that I will need evidence of:

  • changes in learner outcomes that are directly related to the aspect of my teaching that I am attempting to improve
  • what I have been attempting to learn to do differently
  • how I have thought about and modified my planning and teaching in order to improve outcomes for my ākonga
  • my analysis of the extent to which my changed practice made a difference to my ākonga learning
  • my thinking and reflection about my own learning and my inquiry – which might be revealed in my planning

It is likely that the evidence I collect for my own purposes for a growth oriented inquiry will go a long way to providing all the evidence I need to also demonstrate the extent to which I am meeting the rest of the RTC.



The material that is gathered though my appraisal process must provide necessary and sufficient evidence that any reasonable person would consider a compelling case that the RTC have all been met. The terms ‘necessary’ and ‘sufficient’ to capture the essence of what is needed.

Firstly I need to understand what a picture of what ‘good’ teaching looks like that maps against our country-wide description of what professional teaching looks like – the RTC. Once I am confident that I have a sound understanding of ‘good’ I can then consider the evidence that I might gather to evaluate my own practice.

The first question I need to consider is how the appraisal evidence that I have curated over time demonstrate that I meet the RTC ‘what evidence is necessary in order to make a judgement about whether I have met the RTC?’

This question should easily be answered if I have engaged in appraisal that has allowed me to grow as a teacher, been thoughtful about my annual appraisal, and back mapped my evidence to the RTC.


Necessary and sufficient to meet the dual purposes of appraisal

The evidence that is necessary for me to participate in a meaningful appraisal that meets the dual purposes of appraisal requires me to have an inquiry minded approach to my practice. I must first consider the needs of my ākonga, and in particular my priority ākonga. I need to think about how my ākonga are going in relation to valued outcomes. I need to think about how my planning and my teaching practice impact on valued outcomes.

It is likely that I will have evidence of:

  • Learner progress and achievement across time and across the curriculum
  • My teaching practice
  • The way in which I plan to meet the learning needs of my ākonga
  • How I engage with my colleagues to solve learning issues

The idea of ‘sufficient’ puts bounds on how much evidence I need. My evidence needs to be compelling to me and to my appraiser. I need to have confidence that what I think is necessary and sufficient is also shared by other legitimately interested stakeholders in the profession. If I have all the necessary evidence, I don’t want any more unless I want to use it for my own growth and development.


Teaching-as-inquiry_referenceWhat evidence will be necessary and sufficient to demonstrate both the professional growth and the accountability purpose of appraisal?

My ākonga’s progress or achievement, especially the progress of ākonga who are struggling is a critical source of evidence about my practice.

My ākonga being able to demonstrate/describe the qualities that are expected of students learning within the whole curriculum – Te Whariki, NZC, NWRM is also important for me to evidence.  This is often described as ‘student voice’ and needs to be evidenced in ways that are relevant for my setting.

Ākonga, parents and whānau voices are also important sources of evidence and will indicate the extent to which I:

  • actively involve ākonga and build on what they bring to their learning,
  • respect and affirm ākonga and their whānau for who they are,
  • ensure that as ākonga enter and progress they can describe what they are learning, why it is important that they learn it, how they are learning it, how they know when they are making progress,

Additional, correlating evidence might come from other sources. The correlation of evidence will give me, my appraiser and the New Zealand Teachers Council confidence that I am engaged in ongoing meaningful professional learning and that my teaching practice meets the RTC.

Figure One encapsulates the range of sources for evidence and what that evidence might show.

My Evidence Shows Focus Sources Of Evidence
Outcomes Impact on child/student learning


Impact on the organisation’s culture

–        Assessment information

–        Child/student Voice

–        Parent/whānau voice

–        Colleague voice

Teaching Actual Teaching Practice


Interactions with other  staff, parents/whānau

–        Teaching/Lesson observation

–        Child/student voice

–        Parent/whānau voice

–        Teacher voice

–        Colleague voice

Planning Teacher conception

–        espoused theory of teaching and learning


–        espoused theory of professional relationships

–        Short and Long term planning

–        Planning for Teacher Inquiry or Self Review

–        Resources

–        Centre/classroom environment


Who gathers the evidence?

I am responsible for ensuring evidence is gathered and curated but how this is carried out will need to align with my centre’s and/or my school’s processes.

As part of gathering evidence I will request that someone (maybe my appraiser) carries out classroom observations, or analyses my video of aspects of my practice, so that I can get a better picture of the extent to which I am actually doing what I want to be doing … as a part of my improvement endeavour.

How do I organise my evidence?

It is likely that I have made some key decisions about how to organise my evidence. I have explored both hard copy and online options e.g. Google Site, One Note, Moodle, Blogger…

I will have discussed with my colleagues what to curate into my  package of evidence that shows how I meet the RTC and my learning journey overtime.

My evidence is likely to include:

  • Impact on ākonga (learning, wellbeing and engagement)
  • Relationships with my ākonga , parents/Whānau and colleagues
  • Inquiry into practice (my professional learning focus)
  • A record of my professional learning and its impact on my practice

As  a result of mapping my evidence to the RTC and Tātaiako I may see that I have goals that I need to work towards to better demonstrate how I meet the RTC. I may also notice what I could work on to improve my practice.

How does the appraiser become convinced by my evidence?

My appraiser will need to be able to talk with me about my evidence to validate it and we will need to reach a conclusion about the extent to which it shows how I am meeting the RTC. This validation process will happen through the quality of the evidence I provide, triangulated with information from agreed or incidental information gathering during the year:

For example, if I provide an analysis of assessment information about the progress and achievement of my priority ākonga, then the appraiser can clearly see and check the extent to which priority groups have made progress. This can be correlated with the evidence from student (and possibly parent) voice from those priority ākonga.

Part of the triangulation process will also happen informally over the course of the year. For example, appraisers may also observe things like the levels of akonga engagement, and how akonga respond to questions about what they are doing. Inevitably they will also notice staff interactions, contributions and collaborations.

The evidence I provide together with my appraiser’s observations and discussions need to provide enough evidence for me and my appraiser to endorse my practice and we need to be able to discuss any apparent discrepancies to the stage where we both agree if any other evidence is necessary before forming a final view.