EA Blog

The micro-skills of effective dialogue

When working with school leaders and teachers to improve their coaching skills, we find there are usually a few big ‘aha’ moments. These moments often happen when we work on identifying the micro-skills involved in actively listening and asking questions in ways that don’t make people feel like they are being interrogated. These micro-skills consist of: Listening:...


Tags: leadership leading adult learning

How dialogue and coaching build teacher agency

Educational leaders are well aware of the importance of enabling teachers to take charge of their own learning in their professional settings. In essence, teachers having agency as learners. Through our work with various leadership teams in schools, we have been reflecting on what it takes to effectively coach teachers and empower them to take responsibility for their own professional learning....


Tags: leadership leading adult learning

‘The poor get richer’: Vocabulary knowledge and enrichment in Aotearoa NZ secondary classrooms

‘The rich get richer and the poor get poorer’. We’ve all heard of the Matthew Effect. Students who read more become better readers. Those who read less (or not at all) do not. It’s a no-brainer. The Matthew Effect was referenced in the vocabulary context by Aaron Wilson who co-ordinated the Secondary Literacy Project back in the day. He described the ‘vicious...


Tags: literacy

Standing the test of time - questions to guide assessment

I have recently reflected on what has shaped my learning and practice around assessment throughout my 40-year career in education. The theory-to-practice loops throughout my  career have caused me to keep refining and shaping my thinking and my practice. From being a student at school, learning to be a teacher, being a teacher, teaching people to be teachers, teaching teachers and...


Tags: assessment for learning

Tō mātou ingoa Māori hou - Te Huinga Kākākura Mātauranga

Tēnei rā te mihi maioha ki a koutou i runga anō i ngā tini āhuatanga o te wā. For some time now, we’ve been working on something really exciting, and today we are thrilled to finally announce the ingoa Māori for Evaluation Associates: Te Huinga Kākākura Mātauranga. Launching our name Evaluation Associates Te Huinga Kākākura Mātauranga is an important milestone for us...


Tags: leadership

Learning Intentions & Success Criteria: Less Stress and More Success

I'm a country girl. So when I turned 18 and moved to Auckland, it took some adjusting to. One of the biggest challenges was trying to navigate the place. It was huge. I can remember many times driving around, not really knowing how to get to my destination, but hopeful of spotting something familiar, a street name or a landmark. I often got lost, and when I did I would just head towards the sky...


Tags: assessment for learning

School wide systems for success

To achieve success, each school in Aotearoa has the autonomy to design and develop their own school-wide systems. But how can we define what success means for a school? A school is successful when it has systems that: Ensure equitable outcomes for all tamariki, where every child makes constant progress over time to reach their potential. Cultivate a positive...


Tags: leadership leadership advisors

The importance of self-reflection as a school leader

‘How can I know who I am until I see what I do? How can I know what I value until I see where I walk”? Weick, 1995, p 25 (quoted in Leadership for Learning, Issue 1 Winter 2016/17, p4.) I think back to the time I knew I wanted to make a difference to kids as part of a senior leadership team. When I finally pushed away those niggling doubts that whispered I...


Tags: leadership leadership advisors

Leading the learning of others – how ‘learning-focused’ are you?

In my travels around schools during the years I’ve worked as a facilitator, I can’t think of one school leader who didn’t want to make a difference. I have seen incredibly dedicated and hard-working principals, DPs, HODs, team leaders and tutor teachers who strive to improve teaching, learning and achievement. These leaders and I might have occasionally had different ideas...


Tags: opentolearning leadership leading by learning

Lockdown learning – the new entrant virtual classroom experience

Ko Titirangi tōku maunga  Ko Uawa tōku awa  Ko Kerry ahau  Kia ora koutou. I'm Kerry Tetupu and I have very recently joined the team at Evaluation Associates. As the news was announced that we were going into Level 4 lockdown, my first thoughts went to all the classroom teachers out there. I knew you would...


Tags: assessment for learning professional learning and development learning focused relationships

Nothing Compares 2 Ur Learning Focused Relationships

As I stood in front of my class, sweetly crooning “It's been seven hours and 15 days, since you took your love away...” I thought “How did I get here?” and “Where did it all go wrong?” and my mind drifted back to the day a week before when my Year 10 Social Studies class slumped dispiritedly into my room. “Miss, we’ve got a MATHS TEST next...


Tags: assessment for learning professional learning and development learning focused relationships

PaCT in the post-National Standards world

PaCT, the Progress and Consistency Tool, was not readily accepted by the education sector during its early life, because of the link to National Standards. So, how is it faring now in this post National Standards world? The Learning Progressions Framework (LPF) and the Progress and Consistency Tool (PaCT) are now grouped together as the ‘Curriculum Progress Tools’....


Tags: pld pact assessment tools professional learning and development

The importance of creating a learning culture

Cromwell Leading Adult Learning to Improve Learning for All 2020 Educational leaders know the importance of creating a learning culture and building a sense of community within their ECE centres, schools, Kāhui Ako and organisations. Through our work with various leadership teams, we have been reflecting on what it takes to do this. At Evaluation Associates we value our...


Tags: leadership leadership, leading adult learning

We know 1 + 1 = 2 but are there other ways to look at this equation?

If you are a mathematics fanatic, like me, you may also enjoy it for the logical and methodical way problems are solved. There are a clear set of rules and procedures to follow to get to the right answer. An example of this is 1 + 1 equals 2. There are no two ways about it! More complex addition examples can be questions such as 45 + 25 or 112.6 + 13. However, there is a limitation...


Tags: pld professional learning and development classroom practice student-centred learning active learners

Considering the three Cs of Professional Growth Cycles

Professional growth cycles (PGC) create an opportunity for leaders to review how teacher professional growth is promoted. Open conversations about what staff value when considering professional growth, and what further support might be appreciated to further develop their practice, are required. Such conversations can ensure PGCs are planned and created ‘with’, rather than...


Tags: appraisal leadership professional learning and development

Three ways blended learning can enhance active reflection

As I am new to the Evaluation Associates team, I am drawn almost immediately to Michael Absolum's touchstone book 'Clarity in the Classroom' where the Archway of Teaching and Learning Capabilities is thoroughly explored.    While each capability in the archway is hugely significant in our mahi building the bridge between teaching and learning, I would like to focus...


Tags: activelearning pld activelearners assessmentforlearning reflection assessment for learning professional learning and development classroom practice student-centred learning active learners active learning

Setting real boundaries in a virtual world

There's no denying that the ubiquitous nature of modern technology has opened up a whole new world of possibilities when it comes to accessing information. Whether it be looking up the name of what you think might just have been a jellyfish that you accidentally stood on while taking a stroll on the beach, scanning through to find how many calories were in the chocolate bar you just had to...


Tags: activelearning pld activelearners digital tools professional learning and development classroom practice student-centred learning active learners active learning

5 Tips for Teachers in Innovative Learning Environments

Innovative learning environments (ILE) are popping up all around Christchurch. It is becoming increasingly rare for a teacher to work in a “single cell” classroom space with one group of students (Keehan and Forbes, 2020).  ILE require teams of teachers to work together with a larger group of students. Prior to joining Evaluation Associates, I was a middle leader and...


Tags: activelearning pld activelearners professional learning and development classroom practice student-centred learning active learners active learning

Assessment for learning – “Learning is the thing”

What do you think of when you see the word ‘assessment’? Is your first thought that assessment is a function of teachers? Isn’t it the teacher’s role in assessment to look at the data that is collected and presented in graphs or tables, and make decisions based on this information? In my view, it’s very easy to fall into the mindset that assessment...


Tags: assessment learners learning assessmentforlearning leadership assessment for learning assessment tools assessment strategy assessment literacy learning, leadership, assessment,

Growing the vocabulary kete of our junior scientists

“The limits of my language mean the limits of my world”- Ludwig Wittgenstein. In science, ākonga are expected to understand and use vocabulary that describes, explains, and defines both the practices of science, knowledge, and understanding produced about the natural and physical world. Just think about what is meant by ‘investigate’, ‘experiment’,...


Narrowing the NCEA literacy pathway

I, for one, am heartened by imminent changes to the NCEA literacy assessment requirements. I’ve always been uneasy about the current expansive pathway, with hundreds of tagged achievement standards from a wide range of subjects, most of which assess content knowledge, with no literacy-specific criteria. NCEA Review conversations have now been had, revealing similar concerns. As one...


How culturally responsive is your digital practice?

Technology is not neutral.  I love to create things. Whether it be in the physical world doing things like taking photographs, sewing, playing guitar, making handmade cards, or in the virtual realm where I pass some of my time playing interior decorating games or dabbling in some graphic design. I love to just get stuck in and watch things unfold. As with anyone else who has ever made...


Behaviour Matters

Behaviour and learning are inseparably linked. Supporting young people to develop the skills to manage their behaviour in positive ways benefits everyone - learners, teachers, support staff, whānau and families. It allows a solid foundation to be built and creates optimum opportunity for learning and achievement to occur alongside the development of skills to enhance future employment options....


Kohiko Mai – ignite the learning spark

In the last couple of years I have been privileged to work with schools on Kohiko Mai. This project was funded through the Ministry of Education’s Innovative Foundation Learning fund and focused on students in Years 7-10 who were at most risk of disengaging with learning and education. I wrote a blog about aspects of the pilot in October 2019, and I’d like to now share some of our...


Nau mai, haere mai Leading by Learning

We’re excited to launch Leading by Learning—a partnership between Evaluation Associates and Viviane Robinson Consulting.  We recognise in the current education system the long-standing issues with disparity of outcomes for the ākonga we serve. Many of us strive to improve learner engagement and outcomes, yet time and again we encounter situations that prevent...


Tags: pld leadership adult learning professional learning and development partnership leading by learning

Getting Started with the Aotearoa NZ Histories Curriculum

So, you’re going to teach Aotearoa NZ histories… The Aotearoa New Zealand Histories draft curriculum was released in February this year to great interest in the history teaching community. As a history teacher of many years standing, I was excited to see what was in it and how it would guide us to develop effective history teaching and learning for our ākonga. The...


Learning through modelling

Have a think about the last time you deliberately had to learn something. What did you do to help you learn? What helped? What was most useful? The COVID-19 lockdown period in March and April 2020 was a time when people looked for home-based activities to keep themselves busy. Being a fishing enthusiast, I turned to my fly tying box. I couldn’t go fishing due to the lock down...


Tags: assessment for learning modelling

Te Tiriti o Waitangi in our schools. Was that Participation? Partnership? Protection? Or… Consultation?

School Leaders, principals and Boards of Trustees (BOT), have an obligation to honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Often, we hear the term ‘consultation’ in Aotearoa New Zealand. This term is used for interactions where iwi are invited to take part - by local and regional councils; government departments; and our education system. And then what happens? School...


Tags: leadership partnership te tiriti o waitangi

Supporting new school leaders – what we have learnt in the last four years

I have had the privilege over the last four years of leading the project team that provides timely, targeted, responsive and planned support for principals across the country for their first two years after appointment.  It has been an incredibly rewarding journey, rich with learning. Along the way, we have reflected on our experiences and gathered feedback from over 900...


Tags: leadership beginning principals leadership advisors principals

Making assessment the bridge between teaching and learning

A few years ago I visited a school for the first time and a teacher asked what my job was. I told her that I was a facilitator and a lot of my work in schools was supporting teachers and students with assessment for learning. “Ugh… assessment,’ she replied. “If they would just let us get on with teaching!” It was a wonderfully honest response, which demonstrated...


Tags: assessment assessment for learning student agency active learners

How strong is your professional leadership network?

No-one prepared school principals for leading their school communities during the Covid-19 crisis and yet our Kiwi resourcefulness, resilience, and a willingness to do what it takes to get the job done really came to the fore. One of the strategies school leaders employed was connecting with colleagues online to share practice and problem-solve collectively. While many principals are able to...


Tags: leadership leadership advisors principals

Six ways into local curriculum design

Local curriculum design is the process of interpreting national curriculum entitlements to reflect what matters to your local communities. Why six ways? When school leaders discuss developing their local curriculum, these aspects are most likely to be raised. This list is not meant to be exhaustive; there are many ways into local curriculum design....


Tags: curriculum local curriculum design curriculum design

Insights from learners in lockdown

In our new world of virtual meetings, Zoom calls and other digital connections, our ability to share ideas still remains a constant. A few weeks back during a virtual morning tea, I heard from members of the Evaluation Associates’ marketing team that they were thinking of creating a short video of learners talking about their experiences in lockdown. While there were prolific sound bites...


Tags: learners learner agency student-centred learning covid-19 home-learning wellbeing learnervoice

Working with your senior leadership team through COVID-19

Communication sits at the heart of every effective leadership team. This belief is truer today, in the midst of the COVID -19 pandemic, than it has ever been. Now more than ever, leadership teams need to deliberately act in ways that ensure communication remains effective. It can’t be left to chance. This blog highlights some important areas that a leader and leadership team should pay...


Tags: leadership leadership advisors principals covid-19

Building Effective Kāhui Ako

In 2017- 2019, the Ministry of Education offered Expert Partner support to leaders of Kāhui Ako as they built collaborative practices and took action to meet their achievement challenges. Expert Partners acted as critical friends to strengthen evidence gathering practices, critical data analysis skills, problem definition, and evidence-informed action planning. This support was designed to...


Tags: leadership kāhui ako assessment for learning expert partners

Home learning in the junior school - what do our littlest learners really need?

Over the last couple of months it seems there has been a tsunami of information, advice and resources available for teachers as they navigate a new way of schooling from a distance. New Zealand and overseas social media and educational websites have been full of the great and sometimes aspirational things happening for learners in their homes. Amongst the plethora of information available,...


Tags: learner agency student-centred learning community junior school covid-19 home-learning primary wellbeing

Engaging the disengaged

As educators, we have all heard inspiring stories of the teacher or mentor who changed the direction of a disengaged student. For me, it is the story of Marcus Akuhata-Brown that remains and resonates in my head and heart. Marcus was born in a small town on the East Coast of the North Island. He became a school principal at 21 years old and has been a social worker, diplomat, and...


Tags: learner agency active learners active learning engagement

Exciting Developments Across the Learning Support Sector

It is widely accepted that children with disabilities and additional learning needs could be and indeed should be, better supported in our schools. The Ministry of Education’s Learning Support Action Plan, 2019-2025, which builds on its Learning Support Delivery Model, outlines exciting new developments for priority learners in early childhood centres, schools and kura throughout...


Tags: learners active learners learning focused relationships active learning learning support inclusion

We’ve only got one planet: Let’s re-think school science

There is now widespread agreement in the scientific community that unless we reduce carbon emissions substantially, and quickly, the planet is likely to become uninhabitable in the not too distant future. Our current practices are destroying the lives of our children. Recent events, such as the School Strike 4 Climate, and the activities of Extinction Rebellion, suggest more and more...


Tags: curriculum science curriculum design future focused integrated curriculum primary science secondary science

School-led learning at home: Voices of parents of Māori and Pasifika students

Last week, like many parents, I was faced with supporting my children with their school-work at home, while also trying to work and manage the expected anxieties of living through a global pandemic. My daughter Makere (10) developed her own system for getting my attention, as shown below. Many of my friends were posting on Facebook about what was happening in their homes, with their...


What is a local curriculum?

Local curriculum is causing a buzz around many schools and I hear many leaders and teachers talking about what it means and what they should be doing. I firmly believe that every school has the main elements of their local curriculum alive and kicking within their walls – however, sometimes it is not recognised as such. An easy to remember definition is that your local curriculum...


Tags: curriculum local curriculum design leading curriculum

What next for appraisal

Over the past week, we have fielded several calls and emails about appraisal, mostly as a result of the Teaching Council’s correspondence clarifying their expectations about appraisal. If you haven’t seen this, then you can check out the clarification on their website and read their FAQs. Evaluation Associates has been asked by school leaders to provide advice on what next....


Tags: appraisal evaluation leadership teaching as inquiry

The Learning Progression Framework for Writing – a great starting place… But then what?

The Learning Progression Framework for Writing is a fantastic tool for describing and showing the significant stages a writer progresses through as they develop independence and control over how and what they write for different purposes. Through targeted and focused PLD, teachers and leaders see value in having writing across the curriculum illustrated with clarity. It has been a welcome...


Tags: writing assessment pld professional learning and development assessment literacy learning progressions framework

A recipe for success in secondary school PLD

It’s Monday afternoon and teachers are slowly and begrudgingly making their way to the staff room for the fortnightly “PD session”. It’s winter, cold, dark and wet and as the crowd grows, so does the atmosphere of reluctance. Meanwhile the deputy principal in charge of PD, who has spent the day sorting out a dispute between a group of Year 10 girls that started on...


Tags: feedback professional learning and development pld, secondary, kahui ako, ,

School stories of support for established principals

Evaluation Associates is providing specific support for established principals as part of the Leadership Advisor contract with the Ministry of Education. We've spoken with three principals who have been supported by our team. Their stories below reflect the ways in which we can walk alongside established principals. Vignette One The teaching principal of this small rural school had...


Tags: learning leadership specific support leadership advisors principals

A shift of focus: new PLD priorities

Professional learning and development acts as a significant driver in school improvement. Leaders in schools, kura, and Kāhui Ako know this and ensure that PLD is well-designed to meet the changing needs of their ākonga. The Ministry of Education have proposed new priorities for English-medium and Māori-medium locally-focussed PLD. These are important to know about because...


Tags: learning 'professional and development' 'moe funded pld' 'curriculum' 'pld'

The power of a conversation

Schools are busy places. Classrooms are even busier places; it is all too easy to get through a day without having an informal/non-subject-focused conversation with a student. Sure, we may talk to them (and don’t get me wrong most teachers I speak with say that they feel like they talk all day) but have we really stopped and had a conversation with our learners? A conversation...


Tags: curriculum assessment for learning learner agency classroom practice active learners learning focused relationships

Raising achievement and reducing disparity - The story of Evaluation Associates

2019 is a big year for Evaluation Associates Ltd. Not only are we continuing to work with hundreds of schools, kura, and Kāhui Ako across New  Zealand who are committed to improving outcomes for their learners, we are celebrating 20 years of doing so, and doing it well.   I sat with Michael Absolum, the founder of Evaluation...


Tags: assessment for learning student agency assessment literacy

Science capabilities: What is their potential to refocus science education?

According to the New Zealand Curriculum, students learn science at school so that “they can participate as critical, informed, and responsible citizens in a society in which science plays a significant role” (p17). The quick way of saying this is that the purpose of school science is to develop scientific literacy. Traditionally, school science has focused on the delivery of...


Tags: curriculum classroom practice active learners science questioning

Beyond WALTS and SC: Strengthening student assessment capabilities to increase learner agency

Learner agency is a phrase that is discussed, inquired into and developed by many educators across the world. It is inspiring and humbling to read and view teachers’ experiences of their mind shift and the challenges and successes they met as a consequence of increasing student voice, choice and ownership of the learning in classrooms from Year 1 to 13. We as educators have been...


Tags: assessment for learning student agency assessment literacy

Assessment for learning - essential for the modern learning environment

I am the new kid on the block at Evaluation Associates. I'm writing this in my ninth week as a PLD facilitator after being a deputy principal at a primary school for 14 plus years. In these few weeks I have had the absolute privilege of watching skilled facilitators in action, working with some amazing teachers, and have had the chance to catch up on reading that is next to impossible to do...


Tags: assessment for learning innovative learning key principle of learning

From classroom teacher to staff room teacher: the first day at school all over again

I began my career as a secondary English teacher in Nottingham in the UK in 1993. I was full of idealistic good intentions and saw teaching as a way of promoting social justice and equity. I began work in a school with plenty of opportunities for promoting social justice and equity as it was located in an inner city community that had, historically, been one of the poorest in the country. I...


Tags: pld professional learning and development classroom practice student-centred learning facilitation

Now is the time to start planning for your 2022 professional learning needs

The current model for schools and Kāhui Ako to access professional learning support through MoE funding has been in place for sometime now and many schools are valuing the tailored support from their chosen PLD provider that the model provides. One of the issues that we’re hearing from schools is that it can be tricky to get the timing right to start PLD. Many schools like the...


Tags: pld professional learning and development moe funded pld teacher only days

Newly certificated teacher on your staff?

Many new teachers are taking their first steps into their professional life as a teacher. It can be a scary but exhilarating time for these newly qualified teachers. For the schools they have joined, there is a heightened need to ensure the best support and guidance is in place for these new teachers. Inducting a newly qualified teacher not only into your school but also into the profession...


Tags: leadership newly certificated beginning teachers well being induction

Reflections from Kelly Bicknell, Principal of Galatea School

Introduction from Danny Nicholls, Leadership Advisor to beginning principals in Bay of Plenty/Waiariki I’m delighted to introduce this blog post by Kelly Bicknell, Principal of Galatea School in the Bay of Plenty. I‘ve been working with Kelly since her appointment to the role in Term Two 2017. We have worked collaboratively on developing her leadership practices since then,...


Tags: leadership beginning principals

Top 5 tips to get the most out of Arinui in your first year

We've asked some of our Arinui schools and kura what top tips they'd give others as they embark on their first year with Arinui. We know that each school/kura decides how they are going to use Arinui but these tips are too good not to share with others. We hope that they will help make educators' first experience with Arinui really powerful. 1.    Clarify...


Tags: appraisal arinui

Listening to culture

O tu, aganu’u, ma agaifanua a le tamaititi o le a le mafai ona ulufale atu I le potuaoga sei vagana ua fa’atauaina me faaulufaleina muamua I le loto ma le agaga o le faiaoga. The culture of the child cannot enter the classroom until it has first entered the consciousness of the teacher. Samoan proverb This summer one of my former students, Keiko, returned to Aotearoa...


Tags: student-centred learning culturally responsive pedagogy culture

Where to now with assessment, post National Standards?

We are living in times of changing education policy. The mandatory use of National Standards has been removed, and a review of NCEA is underway. While the removal of National Standards is welcomed by some schools and teachers, others will find it unsettling and some will be distraught. Whatever your position on it, it will mean change. This is an ideal opportunity for you to thoughtfully...


Tags: assessment national standards assessment tools assessment strategy progress and achievement

A fantastic opportunity to learn more about principalship

During the October term break, over 200 beginning principals gathered in Auckland with the Evaluation Associates leadership team and invited keynote speakers for the 2017 Beginning Principals National Hui. The hui organising committee was led by Geoff Childs with the support of six Leadership Advisors from around New Zealand. This core team developed the programme during a...


Tags: leadership beginning principals national hui

Collaborative, evaluative inquiry for school improvement in literacy

Where to start? What and how much do we need? Questions schools are asking about Literacy support. For many years, I have been working closely with school leaders and teachers to support them as they undertake school improvement in literacy practices. For most schools since 2010, this PLD has been spearheaded by their national standards reading and writing data or from a current inquiry...


Tags: leadership literacy leading literacy learning leading change teaching as inquiry

The Forgotten Years - using the Learning Progression Frameworks for literacy learning in Years 9 and 10

Whenever I see or hear the phrase “forgotten years” two things play through my mind: if I’m honest the first thing is the Midnight Oil song, closely followed by the enigma that is teaching, learning and assessment in Years 9 and 10! It seems a bizarre combination at first glance – one a song about the years between two wars, and the other an important growing and...


Tags: literacy in years 9 and 10 cross curricular literacy literacy secondary

Improving appraisal: considering the evidence

As I work with teachers to improve their understanding of appraisal I continually reflect on their interest, questions, and concerns about evidence. How much is enough evidence? What is the right sort of evidence? What’s the purpose behind collecting the evidence? Who is responsible for collecting and storing the evidence? These and many, many more questions continue to be asked by...


Tags: appraisal evidence for appraisal

Māori achieving success as Māori – what’s your community’s vision?

The vision of Ka Hikitia is that Māori learners enjoy education success as Māori. While many schools have recognised that this vision is important and worthy of attention, success as Māori has proved an enigmatic notion for many schools. What does it mean, to enjoy success as Māori? What does it look like and how would we know if it’s happening or not? Quite understandably, a...


Tags: leadership culturally responsive pedagogy culture community

Celebrating leaders who foster learner agency in the adults they lead

Schools are increasingly focused on placing their learners at the centre. And there is plenty of research that tell us this is a very good thing! Teams are reflecting on the roles of ‘teacher’ and ‘learner’ and inquiring into the ways they keep learners at the centre. They’re asking questions such as: Who makes the majority of the decisions? And...


Tags: leadership adult learning learner agency collaboration

Musings from my experiences of PaCT implementation

I have had the privilege of being the Evaluation Associates project lead for Progress and Consistency Tool (PaCT) implementation support across the country in 2017. We have worked as the Consortium for Professional Learning alongside our partners, the University of Auckland, to provide support to individual schools and Kāhui Ako. We have also used the expertise of the mentor schools, who are...


Tags: learning progression frameworks progress and consistency tool pact lpf progress and achievement

Amplify the magic of assessment for learning using digital technology

There’s excitement in the air as teachers in large cities and small rural schools realise how to enact the New Zealand Curriculum in its full glorious intent by developing a student-centred approach to teaching, learning and assessment. This lies at the very heart of the New Zealand Curriculum. From the OECD’s Centre for Educational Research and Innovation to remote New Zealand...


Tags: technology assessment for learning digital tools portfolios

Closing the feedback loop

“A healthy school is an improving school.” Agreement rippled through the group of principals, then silence fell. Although it wasn’t just silence. It was a group of committed leaders reflecting on what had just been said. How healthy is our school? Is our school an improving school? How do we know? This blog looks at one small but significant element of a healthy...


Tags: feedback loops kāhui ako healthy schools feedback

Ramping up in the wait…

I live in Auckland and in my work as a facilitator I have the exquisite pleasure of waiting in traffic while on my way to schools. A typical morning for me is a 6:30am queue at Greville Rd on-ramp, crawling for 30 minutes to get onto the motorway, watching the muesli eaters, texters and make up appliers . I am continually intrigued: the confidence and composure, no residue in inappropriate...


Tags: leadership reflection leading change

A new digital technologies curriculum?

It was the mid-1980s and my grandfather had passed away a few years earlier. Since his passing my grandmother had taken up two new pastimes. The first thing she took up was the 80s phenomenon of jogging and for her that meant training for and running marathons. Often the oldest competitor in the race and often arriving at the finish line hours after the front runners, she was very much an...


Tags: curriculum technology

Getting to the heart of the vision – leading the why and the how

Working in two separate schools this week led me to pondering how leaders find a balance between the “why” and the “how”. It is great to have a vision but the real challenge is bringing the vision into fruition. Earlier in the week I was working with a senior leadership team around their approach to appraisal. These are senior leaders who have been reasonably...


Tags: appraisal leadership vision

Encouraging active learning at school and at home

There is a strong focus in education on connecting learning between school and home. The general understanding, backed by research, is that students gain confidence, enthusiasm and expectations of success from parents and whānau who follow and support their learning. An example of the focus is the revamp of the cycle of inquiry in the NZC (2007) to the spiral of inquiry (Timperley, Kaser,...


Tags: assessment for learning student agency active learners community partnerships partnership

On the road with a Leadership Advisor

Since the beginning of term two this year I have been privileged to work as the Leadership Advisor for beginning principals in the Bay of Plenty region. I am really enjoying this opportunity and over a series of blog posts will outline the type of work I am doing, the role I am fulfilling with the principals in my region and other interesting observations from my travels! Previous to...


Tags: leadership

Arinui: Reflection on our first year

This month Arinui, the appraisal tool developed by Evaluation Associates, turns one year old. And as with any first birthdays, we are celebrating some milestones. For so long, Evaluation Associates had heard frustrations from teachers and leaders about how to use appraisal for improvement, not just compliance. They were often overwhelmed with piles of evidence to generate and...


Tags: appraisal arinui

Use hacks for innovative curriculum design with students and teachers

“Design Thinking can be a powerful vehicle for deeper learning of content, more divergent thinking and building the thinking skills capacity of learners.” – Ewan Macintosh New directions require a fresh approach. Too often we focus on working together to produce a ‘product’, rather than focussing on the impact of our work or the changes that we wish to...


Tags: curriculum design thinking

9 key things to consider when choosing an e-asTTle writing prompt

There are a number of reasons why your choice of e-asTTle prompt is important. I have outlined 9 of these below. I know from my work with schools that many of you do have questions regarding this assessment tool. Questions I am commonly asked include: Does the writing purpose matter? Can we use the same prompt or do we use the same purpose but different prompt?...


Tags: e-asttle assessment

Empowering learners: sharing the locus of control

“You don’t have to be frightened about learning. You just have to be prepared to ask lots of questions . . . to find out what you don’t know. I like helping the others too . . .” Derek - Year 6 ‘priority learner’  Confident, connected and actively involved life-long learners The New Zealand Curriculum requires us to produce these...


Tags: students assessment for learning active learning locus of control

The power of teaching as inquiry

I love visiting Year 1 classes. I’m always in awe of the skill and enthusiasm and energy of Year 1 teachers who provide students with their first experience of learning at school. I find it especially fascinating how these teachers teach students to ‘break the code’ of reading and writing – to create meaning out of lines and squiggles on a page. It is amazing and...


Tags: students teaching as inquiry

Developing and encouraging active learners

"If we position our students to be successful, they will be successful." Pauline Gibbons  Active learners – learners who are able to take ownership of their own learning – are becoming successful lifelong learners. Active learners believe in themselves as learners and understand that they are able to exert control over their learning. They know that if...


Tags: assessment for learning active learning

12 top tips to make the most of the new PLD system

The world of Professional Learning and Development (PLD) is changing dramatically – signalling a really exciting opportunity for schools. The Ministry of Education will no longer contract providers to deliver set programmes and allocate schools to those programmes. Instead, each school or CoL will determine the areas they need to focus on, and design a professional learning programme...


Tags: pld leadership professional learning and development

How to create a 21st century assessment and reporting system

Empowering students to lead their own learning … online The days of traditional assessment and reporting are numbered. Hour upon teacher hour of assessment and report writing, at nights and in weekends, making decisions in isolation from the students … why not create a system that deeply involves the students in the process, and harnesses the benefits for their...


Tags: assessment reporting

How to make the most of teacher appraisal

There’s lots of talk about appraisal in schools at the moment. ERO are auditing 10% of the practising teacher certificates that are renewed each year. Schools are understandably trying to ensure that their systems meet requirements. This ‘compliance mind-set’ can mean lost opportunities – it takes the focus away from appraisal as an invaluable process for...


Tags: appraisal

Making a difference through teaching as inquiry

Teaching as inquiry, in my mind, is a relatively simple concept that has been made more complex and less effective by the perceived demands of compliance. From my point of view, if teaching as inquiry is effective then the classroom teacher: has the goal of improved student learning as the main and central focus is professionally curious is a practical, pragmatic and yet...


Tags: teaching as inquiry

Evaluation Associates welcomes Chief Executive

Evaluation Associates is excited to announce that Anna Sullivan has joined the team in the new position of Chief Executive. Anna’s appointment reflects the growth of Evaluation Associates and she joins current directors Michael Absolum and Mary Chamberlain in leading the organisation. Anna is an experienced education leader and professional learning and development specialist and she...


Coding for kids

Should all children learn to programme a computer? asks Ian Stevens from our Wellington office. I was recently asked if I thought if it was a good idea for all children to learn to code, as in, programme a computer. My answer was yes, although I did point out that I also believe all children need to learn to climb trees, dance, hit a ball, make friends, swim,...


Tags: curriculum students

Who's doing the thinking?

Much has been written about the value and power of effective feedback on student learning. We know it helps students improve their work and can enable them to get past the ‘hard bits’ of learning. Feedback is something that is highly valued by students, and it works. However, can teacher feedback actually be doing a disservice to the student? One of the most quoted phrases from...


Tags: feedback active learners self assessment

And you finished exactly on time!

Richard Ellsworth, music teacher from Pinehurst School, guest blogs about the parallels between teaching and BBC broadcasting. One of the best things about the Assessment for Learning PLD is having your lesson videoed and then watching it back. You know how it feels to be trying to teach in a calm and purposeful way while your inner voice is going ten to the dozen and...


Tags: pld assessment for learning professional learning and development

James's Dream

The boy had finished the set work – identifying similes from metaphors and coming up with his own examples of each. He was thumbing through a logging magazine when he looked up and asked me if I worked in Wellington, a city about an hour and a half from his provincial town. When I said I did, he asked, ‘Do you know Rawhiti Terrace? I prune trees there. I am going to be an...


Tags: students

Assessment in the Service of Learning

Mary Chamberlain reports from the International Symposium on Classroom Assessment 2014. In schools where assessment is being used in the service of learning we are seeing devolution of power. Responsibility for learning is being shared with learners. Creating the conditions that enable students to take shared responsibility for their learning is important because students who are...


Tags: assessment for learning locus of control

Whānau matters - how you can create partnerships for learning

As a teacher who is also Māori, I place significant value on whanaungatanga – building and maintaining relationships. And, as an educator, I know how critical it is for schools to build learning-focused relationships with parents and whānau. At the beginning of the year it is important to consider ways you can effectively begin building this important relationship with the...


Tags: assessment for learning learning focused relationships

Starting the year right – building learning-focused relationships

If we want students who are confident, connected, actively involved, lifelong learners, how do we maximise the beginning of the school year to ensure this happens? We often use words such as ‘learning’ and ‘learner’ with our students, yet how often do we stop and check that they understand what these words actually mean? It seems to me that with a new year...


Tags: assessment for learning learning focused relationships

Evaluation is the thing

In my first blog I gave my thoughts on evaluation and I’m back to worrying about evaluation again. Here’s a definition of evaluation from that first blog: “The essence of all learning, the essence of teaching, the essence of all systematic improvement has, at its core, careful measurement of where things are in relation to where they should be”. The...


Tags: assessment evaluation

Teaching science in primary schools

I struggle to understand why science is very largely absent from primary school teaching. Why so many primary teachers either don’t like science or are scared of it or are otherwise reluctant to really accord it the importance it deserves in the NZC. ERO likewise has its concerns, as were made evident recently in its latest report on the state of science teaching. This report, and the...


Tags: curriculum


This is my first blog so it seems appropriate that I should start my blogging life with an explanation of why my company is called Evaluation Associates. Most of what we do is more commonly called professional development for teachers and school leaders, so why aren’t we called Professional Development Associates? Do we have the wrong name? Should we change? After all, evaluation is more...


Tags: evaluation