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Friday, 30 May 2014

Encouraging Teachers to Succeed in Digital Learning Environments

Today, as part of my role as 'Manaiakalani Facilitator,' I attended a Digital Immersion PLG (Professional Learning Group) professional development day with Justine and Seffan as a support person.  Justine and Steffan were challenged to reflect on their successes throughout Term One as teachers new to the digital environment and the feedforward given by the researchers from Auckland University to create goals for Term Two.  As we are encouraging teachers to take on the 'learn', 'create', 'share' ethos of Manaiakalani, we were encouraged to do a bit of creating ourselves!  We were asked to create a How to make a CommonCraft Style Video to share our goals.

It was such a fun experience.  I am definitely going to try this out with the students in my class as a way we can share our learning!

Thanks Justine and Steffan for a fun day of learning, creating and sharing!

Check out the videos below!

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Mentor hat Vs. Colleague Hat

Last week, our MDTA colleagues were invited to chat to our Deputy Principal about how they were going with the MDTA programme and how it was working alongside their mentors.  The conversation came up, as we realised, the MDTA teachers had many opportunities to reflect with each other, or with their mentor teachers, but had not really had the opportunity to discuss their professional teaching experiences with our SLT (Senior Leadership Team).  

After their discussion, I asked Michelle if there was any feedback from them that I should consider and reflect on.  What she said was very simple, yet powerful.  That was:  "Know when to take the mentor hat off, and put the colleague hat on.  Sometimes, they just want to vent and don't want advice.  Sometimes they do.  It's up to you as a mentor to decide which hat to wear for each situation."

This was an extremely important message for me to hear.  I tend to have high expectations of myself, my class and also my colleagues, including those from the MDTA programme.  Because of that, I can sometimes forget that sometimes, people just want to be listened to, rather than be given 'feedforward' or 'next steps' to make it better all the time.  It's like when a child has finally written a story, after months of defiance or little interest in writing.  You don't pounce on the student for no full stops.  You celebrate that it was written and you give encouragement so that they feel like writing again.

It's the same with the MDTA teacher in my classroom.  I am a mentor, and I can get caught up in trying my best to help the 'mentee' (I hate that word) to be the best teacher they can be.  When I hear that a lesson didn't go as expected or that students were not working up to the usual standard, I take it as I am not doing a good job as a mentor.  It can be stressful, because I take on the problems of the MDTA teacher as my own problems.  Through the power of Michelle's words, I was able to take a step back.  It is OK if I don't have all the answers, and in fact, sometimes it's better not to, because that means that the MDTA teacher can learn for themselves.

I feel like I am caught in a battle between letting the MDTA teacher learn for themselves and learn from their own mistakes - which can sometimes be the best way to learn.  And, being there as a teacher to help them through a situation.

The challenge is knowing when to put the colleague hat on and just listen and be there to say "That sucks, but oh well, next time!"  and the mentor hat and say "That sucks, next time you could try...have you considered..."

I am only a small part of their teaching journey - at the end of this year - no matter how hard I try, they won't be perfect - because no teacher is.  So, I need to let go of that notion and relax and enjoy the team teaching experience, and hope that somehow, something I do/say might be of some use to them in their own future classes.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Achieving Cognitive Engagement

This is a bit of a boast-post.  Today, I met with Rebecca Sweeney from CORE Education.  She is working alongside Stuart McNaughton and Rebecca Jesson from Auckland University, who are currently researching the impact of the Manaiakalani project on student achievement and the how's and why's behind it.  

One of the key areas of the research is student engagement.  Which, has been broken down into 4 key areas.  This notion of identifying different types of engagement was very interesting to me because it was something I hadn't really come across before.  The four areas are:

As part of this research, I was identified as a teacher who (here comes the boasting part), achieved a high level of cognitive engagement from the learners in my class.  Cognitive engagement meaning that the tasks I asked students to do, were complex and challenging and required a certain level of thinking to complete.  For example, many students could colour in a picture and display behavioural and/or affective engagement, meaning that they were on task and they enjoyed it.  However, in colouring in a picture (and please note that I come from the perspective of a teacher in a Year 7-8 class) does not require a great deal of cognitive engagement.  If they had to colour in the picture and then justify the colours they used with links to symbolism and what colours represent, students would need to consider more deeply, the colours they choose and why, and they would need to make connections to their prior knowledge and experiences about what colours represent to them.  They would need to formulate coherent thoughts/sentences to communicate to their intended audience, the reasons behind their colour choices.  Or they might be asked to research artist models and colour their picture in the style of a pop-art artist or an impressionist artist and give information about the techniques they used and their thoughts about those techniques and their effects.

So, through classroom observations conducted by the researchers in my class, they identified that students were cognitively engaged in their tasks.  Today, Rebecca Sweeney challenged me to consider these questions:
  • How do you ensure that the right level of complexity is built into work for and with students?
    • Assessment - knowing where your students are at, where they're going and how they are going to get there.   It is crucial for teachers to be critical when analysing the assessment information gathered from their class - both formal assessment and informal assessment.  Professional conversations with colleagues are an important part of processing the information and setting targets for target students can help begin the teaching as inquiry process.
    • Making the tasks relevant - links with assessment - This drives task design because the tasks are relevant to the student learning.  They are more likely to want to complete a task centred around commas, if they know that to reach the next level, they need to be using commas consistently.  Sharing assessment data with the students and getting them to tell you what they consider important for them to learn, means that they take ownership of their learning and are more likely to participate in the tasks because they know it was them that asked you to help them with it! 
    • Making the tasks relevant - links with knowing the learner - where they're at and where they want to go and how they're going to get there - not only academically, but socially, emotionally, spiritually etc, etc.  Knowing your students and their aspirations and inspirations, their strengths and interests, who they hang out with, how many people are in their family and where they sit in that order, how they work best - in groups, independently, with boys, with girls, on paper or with a device.  This information is critical to ensuring that you can engage students in a task that is relevant to them, at their level and cognitively engaging.
    • Models of learning - such as Blooms and De Bono's are great prompts for me to ensure I ask a wide range of questions that go deeper than the surface/recall of information.  I am no expert.  I open my question starters doc every time I design a task.  I have them displayed at the back of my room, to help guide my classroom discussions.  It is so helpful to have these resources to help me!
  • How do you start to build complexity in student learning?  What were your first steps?
    • Digital devices amplify poor teacher practice.  If you do not have good organisation, classroom management, processes, routines and positive relationships in your classroom, no amount of funding for digital immersion or BYOD programmes will save you.  It is imperative that school leadership teams begin with BEST TEACHER PRACTICE.  This begins with knowing the needs of your teachers.  What are their strengths?  What are their aspirations?  Where do they need to be?  How will you help them get there?  Through this questioning, you can help to provide professional development that is timely, relevant and will have the biggest impact for student learning.  Just like you expect your teachers to provide in their own classrooms.
    • Mentoring/Peer Coaching - there are three people in particular who I owe a lot to.  They were outstanding in their fields and they took the time to observe, model and discuss teacher pedagogy in a professional way with me, that made me critically reflect on my own teacher practice.  Peer coaching still continues today - and we promote the ethos that everyone in our school is a life long learner.  This attitude means we are constantly challenging ourselves to 'think better' and 'do better' - just as we are challenging the students to do.
    • Getting to know the National Standards.  Unpopular - yes.  But, they're here, and until otherwise, we need to get to know them.  Well.  Knowing what the expectations are, mean we can better identify the needs of our students.  The professional development I participated in to unlock the Standards and see how they aligned with the formative assessment data I had collected helped me to focus my teaching - not in a 'teach to the test' way, but it meant that I was able to prioritise and focus my teaching time, which, with 'priority learners' is so important as learning is not enough.  We aim for accelerated learning.  
I hope this to promote some discussion about building cognitive engagement in your classroom/school.  I'd always like to know more - so please comment with strategies that you use!  

(Planning the creation of our research resources)
(Notes from our my time with Rebecca today)

Sunday, 11 May 2014

I want to teach code!

How cool is this...this makes me want to teach code!  First I'll have to learn how myself?  Have you taught code with your students before?  How did it go?

Changing Education Paradigms

Discussing deficit thinking with a colleague, and decided to youtube search videos about deficit thinking - this video came up within the top 5 search hits.  Definitely worth a watch...

Key ideas I took away from this video:
  • There are smart people and non-smart people - or people who are really, rather brilliant, who have been made to believe they are 'non-smart' because they did not achieve in the traditional academic sense of the word - they have been judged against 'this particular view of the mind.' 
  • We are at an age in Education, where we are trying to uphold what means most to cultures, and keep traditions and what makes us, 'us' in a time of Globalisation - how do we square this circle?
  • We are penalising students from getting distracted...but from what?...from 'boring stuff' - how can we make 21st Century learning reflect the world we actually live in today and that engages children - a.k.a the people living in this this world today.
  • Help to grow students who have:
    • The ability to see many possible answers to a question
    • The ability to interpret a question in many different ways
    • Think laterally (De Bono)
    • Divergent thinking
  • All great learning/change/thinking occurs in groups

What were the key ideas that you took away?  Do you agree with what was shared?

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

O le gagana e tasi e le lava (one language is never enough)

This week, I was gifted with a student from Samoa, who only speaks Samoan.  Great!  I thought.  I can challenge myself to put my words into actions.  I can put theory into practice at the most extreme end of the spectrum of bilingual learners in my classroom.

I took a beginners course in Samoan during summer school of 2012/2013, so I drew upon my very limited Samoan vocabulary to greet him, introduce myself and partner him up with two bilingual students to show him around the school and settle him into class.

I asked him (with the help of my bilingual helpers) to write an introduction about himself in Samoan and draw a picture to go alongside it.  He seemed to enjoy the fact that I was trying to help him to write in his first language.  I noticed that he was writing only key words, rather than full sentences - this showed me that he may need help extending his ideas and writing structured sentences.  I also noticed that he was unsure of where the glottal stops went to ensure his written words read like spoken Samoan.  He started each sentence with a capital letter and a full stop, and was able to paragraph common ideas into groups.  I was happy that I was able to make simple assessments about his writing, rather than simply assuming he knew nothing, which often happens when speakers of other languages arrive into mainstream classrooms.

For Maths, I wrote 2 x 5 on a piece of paper and said the numbers in Samoan "Lua - ma - lima?"  He looked at me strangely and so I changed the multiplication symbol into an addition symbol and repeated the question.  I noticed he was using his fingers to help him, but was trying to hide them from me.  So, I showed him my hands and held up 'lua' and counted on 'lima.'  "Fitu."  We said together.  Ok, I thought - he can add with materials.  I got a tens frame work sheet that showed numbers visually, represented through tens frames being added together.  The first question showed 2 + 6.  Initially, he said 13.  I said "Leai." And pointed and counted the dots.  "Tasi, lua...tolu, fa, lima...ono!"  He smiled and then changed his answer.  The next question I prompted again, "Tasi..." and he continued independently.  We marked his answers together at the end and he got 10/10.  He was so happy.  I put a sticker on his sheet and wrote "Lelei tele!" (Very good) on his sheet and told him to put it in his bag, with his published piece of writing to take home.

I printed off two more tens frames sheets for him to take home for homework and he chose a Samoan book from the box of Samoan books in our class to take home to read (from the Tupu series).

Currently for maths we are studying measurement (time, mass, capacity).  What a great coincidence that I presented an example lesson on time for my Samoan language course.  I am going to use this to see what he knows about time.

I discussed this student's learning needs with colleagues and have started to create a buddy system that helps to integrate him into our class, incorporate his first language, while adding English as a language resource for him to draw on.

Here is what I have designed so far...
I have tried to use Samoan AND English where ever possible.  He is working with a buddy who is bilingual in Samoan and who has similar learning needs and will benefit from being able to use his first language to help teach (and therefore consolidate his own) ideas and skills.

I think it was easier for me because we have other bilingual speakers of Samoan in the class and our school is largely made up of Pasifika students.  How might I have reacted if the student had spoken a language I am completely unfamiliar with?  Google Translate is a good start, but does not offer translations in languages from smaller nations.

I have asked friends/family for anyone who speaks Samoan fluently to volunteer one hour a week for instructional purposes.  The reason for this is, although I have Samoan speaking bilingual students in my class, I don't always want to rely on them and take them away from their own learning that they might be trying to finish in their own group work.  I know this student can do the work, but I don't have the language to instruct him in Samoan.

What was this first day like, compared to students who enter into your class who speak no English?  How do you integrate students into your classroom and what approaches do you take?  Can you share strategies for how I might help this student in my class?

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Language Education Diversity

This is an essay I wrote as part of my studies. Enjoy!

The 2001 Census indicates that there are now over 100,000 speakers of pasifika languages in New Zealand.  With the largest group being Samoan speakers (81,003). This means that Samoan is officially the third largest language group in New Zealand behind English (3,425,301) and Maori (160, 527). In addition, 23,046 identified in the Census as being Tongan speakers 9,375 as Cook Islands Maori speakers, and 5,478 as Niuean speakers (Franken, May, McComish, 2008). According to Franken, May and McComish (2008) “These figures indicate that over 60% of the New Zealand Samoan and Tongan communities can still hold an everyday conversation in their respective Pasifika languages” (p.12).  However, despite the linguistic diversity and strength of these speakers in New Zealand, it is also acknowledged that “The high proportion of Maori and Pasifika children occupying the tail of underachievement in New Zealand has been a concern for a long time.”  (New Zealand Principals Federation, 2014), and “The New Zealand Ministry of Education has recently identified the need for teachers to be prepared to meet the needs of EAL students in New Zealand schools more effectively.” (Franken, 2005).

So what are we, as educators, doing to reverse this picture of underachievement in New Zealand and to meet the needs of the bilingual learners who have been largely unrecognised and underserved in mainstream education for so long?

This investigation aims to unpack some of the significant advances in principles, best practice, knowledge and understandings that literature suggests to be currently taking place in education, with a focus on New Zealand mainstream settings, and the place of students L1/heritage language in LED (Language Education Diversity) Principles and Best Practice.  I will identify a number of key issues and describe the developments in these areas.  I will then unpack what implications these developments will/do have on New Zealand Schools.  

Bilingualism is being able to speak two languages.  In the past, education leaders and educators have seen the first languages or heritage languages of the bilingual learners in their classrooms as obstacles to achieving well in the mainstream schooling systems in New Zealand (MoEd, 2008).  The flawed research of the time, led parents, teachers, the general public and academics to believe that two languages left less room in the brain to store the knowledge necessary (which was only offered through English speaking contexts) to achieve academic success and therefore encouraged bilingual students and their families to speak English only, not both languages.  This subtractive bilingualism approach, however, has lead to the opposite intended outcomes.  The achievement of minority students (Maori and Pasifika students in particular) failed to improve and these learners have now become our ‘priority learners,’ Maori and Pasifika families are now ‘priority families’ and Ministry intended outcomes for these students are now ‘priority outcomes’ (MoEd, 2013).  

It makes sense then, that academics have questioned this subtractive approach and have made significant shifts towards other approaches that value bilingualism and suggests, that where bilingual teaching (using both languages) is not an option, English medium education can also be effective in helping bilingual students not only achieve academic success, but also maintain their first/heritage language.  However, to support students in this way, policy makers, decision makers, schools and teachers need to have a clear understanding of the key issues relating to Language Education Diversity principles and practices and the implications these issues have.

Key Issues of Bilingualism:

  1. Cummins (2001) identifies some key issues of Bilingualism and Language Education DIversity:

    1. The Learner:  Minority groups who do not achieve academic success have generally experienced long generational periods of believing that their culture is ‘lesser than’ the dominant group and so have given up their languages in order to be ‘successful.’  Heritage Languages are viewed as irrelevant to the modern world and an obstacle to academic achievement.  English is seen as the vehicle into a ‘better life’ and a high level of ‘status.’  Cummings believed that students from minority groups achieved academic success if they were; positively orientated towards their own culture and the culture of the dominant culture, did not perceive themselves as inferior to majority culture and were not alienated from their own cultural values.

    1. The Teacher:  Considerable research data suggest that, for dominated minorities, the extent to which students’ language and culture are incorporated into the school program constitutes a significant predictor of academic success.   Teachers who see their role as adding a second language and cultural affiliation to their students’ repertoire are likely to empower students more than those who see their role as replacing or subtracting students’ primary language and culture.  Teachers can begin to consider ways they achieve linguistic and cultural incorporation by asking:  Is my teaching approach seen as additive or subtractive?  Are relationships between myself and students empowering or disempowering?  Is my perspective of other languages positive or negative?  

    1. The Community:  Gaining full participation and partnership between home and school languages and cultures, may require a willingness on the part of the teacher to work closely with other mother-tongue teachers, community workers or teacher aides in order to communicate effectively with minority parents that empowers them to contribute to making decisions regarding the learning of their child.  It is crucial for educators to communicate to communities that their  languages and cultures are valued within the school context.  Even within a English only speaking school context, empowering messages can be communicated to students and their families regarding the value and advantages of first/heritage language development.

    1. The Policy Makers:  Minority students need a comprehensive diagnostic assessment in order to identify the nature of their ‘problem’ and possible remedial interventions.  

Significant Developments and Implications of Cummin’s key issues for New Zealand Schools:

The implications for New Zealand Schools is that with consideration of the key issues above, there are opportunities for the empowerment of students, their families, their languages and cultures.  Cummins (2001) claims for greater student success at school, we cannot ignore the role of their first/heritage languages in supporting and developing of their second language.  He notes the importance of whanau (family) engagement in supporting and developing the second language, empowering minority groups, raising student achievement, helping to create a positive orientation towards a student’s own first/heritage language and culture.

Through consideration of Cummins’ key issues we may strengthen identity, self concept, whanau membership.  We may rethink how assessment reflects the true strengths and areas of development for each individual learner and question those that make the decisions regarding remedial interventions.

  1. May (2005) identifies some key issues of Bilingualism and Language Education DIversity:

    1. The Learner:  The value of language and language loss experienced across generational periods is clearly evident in the New Zealand context.  The generational loss of Te Reo Maori was an outcome of schools believing that heritage languages were an obstacle to academic success and national benefit, and Maori-speaking parents assuming that their children would be better served learning only English. The same is happening with Pasifika languages today (May, 2013) as generations of families choose to abandon their heritage languages for dominant national languages such as English.  The learners we are gifted with are the products of such generational decisions, they are the learners in our classrooms today.  

    1. The Teacher:  The history above, leads teachers to consider:  can the language and diversity of minority groups be used as a resource in my classroom? May (2013) argues that there is nothing to stop minority languages from regaining status in the English speaking classroom, as well as the wider, social and public arenas. “...If these languages can re-enter the civic realm, or public sphere, as in education or the media for example, it immediately changes perceptions about what can be accomplished in and through those languages” (p.200). Teachers must forego the flawed ideology that everyone must speak the same public language, and that in doing so, we must subtract the languages that we already know in order to do so (May, 2013). However this poses another issue for teachers to consider:  If we are to move in the direction of a more linguistically inclusive classroom, the question of which groups, and associated languages should be prioritised and granted recognition and to what extent.

    1. The Community:  May (2012a) argues that the history of nation-state organisations is pivotal to understanding the disadvantages that are currently facing minority language communities.  Minority language communities have come to be very marginalised in the world today because social organisations such as tertiary institutes, early childhood centres and primary and secondary schools, as well as political organisations in power do not require any degree of linguistic harmony (May, 2013). In other words nation-states do not value the language of minority communities. We see this in New Zealand in negative attitudes about the value or usefulness of Maori and Pasifika languages (May, 2013). Migrant groups from Pasifika and Maori communities are regarded as ‘failing to integrate’ (for differing historical reasons) if they continue speaking their first/heritage language in these English dominated public settings such as those above (May, 2013).  

    1. The Decision Makers:  One of the major challenges facing the decision makers of Aotearoa/New Zealand, is the question of how best to manage the diversity of ethnicities, cultures and languages spoken (May 2013, p191). The key issue often raised here, is the degree to which ethnic and language backgrounds can or should be validated and accommodated by for, by the state on the basis, and depending on; their (cultural group) history, size and influence, economic, social and political awards can be allocated e.g. government funding, specific representation, language provision - including within education (May, 2013).  Bullivant (1981) describes this issue of diversity in modern nation-states as a ‘pluralist dilemma’. This dilemma amounts to the difficult balancing act between achieving a sense of nationalistic and social cohesion while recognising diversity.  Decision makers are caught between the push and pull of unity through diversity versus equality through making everyone the same.  

Significant Developments and Implications of May’s key issues for New Zealand Schools:

Is diversity a resource or is it deficit?  This is the key question May encourages us to consider.  The ‘every day New Zealander’ can get by without changing self, while acknowledging others and therefore, seem to be acknowledging difference.  However, the ‘every day New Zealanders’’  largely monolingual, monocultural perspective means they can do so, without having to do anything to themselves.  “You learn about me, but I have no obligation to learn about you.” This is a competitive rather than cooperative approach.  This approach, May argues,  does not deal with the fundamental issues or differences.  May suggests that we should strive instead, for Critical Multiculturalism:

Figure 1. Critical Multiculturalism adapted from May, 2013

  1. Franken, May and McComish (2008) identifies some key issues of Bilingualism and Language Education DIversity:

    1. The Learner:  Due to flawed research, deficit attitudes and lack of a critical multicultural approach, Pasifika languages have been seen as obstacles to academic success and the learning of English.  The student’s bilingualism is viewed as a problematic characteristic to be overcome by state organisations, schools and classroom teachers, rather than a resource to be tapped into to enhance the teaching and learning process.  This Subtractive view of bilingualism is most often held in regards to minority students and their first/heritage languages - languages that are perceived to be low status and lacking prestige, such as Pasifika languages, in turn creates a body of students who feel they are low status in the New Zealand context (Franken, May and McComish (2008).

    1. The Teacher:  The current literature now shows that subtractive bilingual contexts, meaning English-only classroom environments, are the least effective in successfully educating bilingual students due to the fact that teachers fail to recognise, and draw upon, the Total Language Resource (TLR) of the bilingual students in their classroom.  Furthermore, there is a clear link between the educational success that bilingual students experience in relation to the extent that the teacher incorporates students’ first/heritage language in the teaching and learning process. It can be understood then, that bilingual/immersion education is evident in the literature as having the most effective outcomes for bilingual students.  However, as noted previously, where bilingual teaching is not an option, teachers can still support students to maintain their first/heritage language and achieve academic success, and so the focus should be on equipping teachers with a good understanding of the principles and practices necessary to work with an additive approach to bilingualism in mainstream contexts.

    1. The Community:  Subtractive views of bilingualism in held by communities in the past is what has shaped the issues of bilingualism in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Franken, May and McComish (2008) describes ‘Subtractive Views’ of bilingualism in their research as the main hindrance on pedagogical practices of teachers which could help cater for the diverse needs of bilingual students.  

    1. The Decision Makers:  ‘Additive’ bilingualism approach means that the addition of a second language can be incorporated into a students’ linguistic repertoire at no expense to the first/heritage language.  This means that those with the power to make decisions for and about education should consider that the bilingualism of students should be viewed as a cognitive, social and educational advantage and therefore, specifically fostered. Students’ first/heritage language should be a necessary component underpinning curriculum documents, education plans and assessment protocols.  It should be drawn upon, recognised and valued extensively as a key resource in the teaching and learning process. This will prevent students from viewing themselves as low status and as incompetent in English, but rather as valued students whose multi-language resource is deserving of preserving and useful for academic success (Franken et al, 2008).

Significant Developments and Implications of Franken, May and McComish’s key issues for New Zealand Schools:

Implications for New Zealand schools will be to question their current approach to bilingual education.  Is it subtractive or additive?  What are our beliefs and expectations of bilingual learners?  Teacher expectations play a huge factor on student achievement (MoEd, 2008).  Holding high expectations of students means it is more likely that students will achieve greater academic success.  Being responsive to students’ learning processes, including those who choose to process new concepts and skills in two languages, rather than seeing these processes as an obstacle to overcome, means that we will be supporting the best possible language learning for bilingual students.  Teachers at all levels, in all curriculum areas must review their approach to bilingual students to ensure learners are being offered opportunities to achieve their academic goals.

Reflection:  Implications for myself and future questions:

As a student, completing my Graduate Diploma of TESSOL, with but two papers to go, I consider myself - not an expert, but understanding and responsive to the needs of the bilingual students in my own classroom.  So, when approaching this assignment task, I thought I had a good idea of the current situation of bilingual education in New Zealand today.  However, when unpacking the literature, I found it confronting, that we as an educational collective, are no where near where we need to be, in order to lift the tail of underachievement for our minority learners.

Throughout the investigation, I organised key issues into four categories:  the learner, the teacher, the community and the decision makers.  I did this purposefully, because weaving the intentions, beliefs, goals, skills and strengths of these four domains, is what remains to be our challenge in bilingual education.  The problem, for me, grew bigger.  

It is not simply, what I as a teacher can do in my own microcosm of a classroom.  It is shifting perspectives of the learners, who think that English is the language of status and reflective of how big the chance they have to escape their ‘current situation.’  It is shifting teachers - who might see the bilingual learners in their classrooms as annoying challenges to overcome before 3 o’clock.  It is shifting the perspectives of those in the community - which - in the case of my Decile 1A school in East Auckland, are affected by the social issues of urbanisation, disconnectedness, poverty, housing, broken/lost languages as well as hopes and dreams for the future of their children.  It is shifting perspectives at state level who decide where money goes and who is worth investing in.

Where will I go next, now that I know all of this?  In a digital age, we have growing opportunities to voice our opinions to anyone who chooses to view it.  I will encourage the learners in my class to use their first/heritage languages in classroom tasks which often include publishing on blogs which are public to authentic world-wide audiences.  I will aim to empower them with the belief that what they have is a gift.  As a mentor teacher, I will endeavor to model best practice, inclusive of principles of Learning Education Diversity to teachers in training so that I may impact their future classrooms and not just my own.  I will actively promote Home-School Partnership meetings that are inclusive of other languages and aim to reassure families, that the languages they speak at home are helping their children to achieve great things.  I will continue my studies, so that I may be better informed when making my own political choices and to have the opportunity to share my views with others.  

I am most excited about how to integrate the digital immersion environment of my own classroom with the first/heritage languages.  To create digital content in Pasifika languages means that I can contribute to what May (2013) described as raising the status of these languages the public sphere of the internet - which is the most globalised public sphere of our time.  


This investigation aimed to unpack some of the significant advances in principles, best practice, knowledge and understandings that literature suggests to be currently taking place in education, with a focus on New Zealand mainstream settings, and the place of students L1/heritage language in LED (Language Education Diversity) Principles and Best Practice.  I identified a number of key issues and describe the developments in these areas.  I then unpacked what implications these developments will/do have on New Zealand Schools.  


Cummins, J. (2001). Empowering minority students:  A framework for intervention.  In C. Baker, & N. H. Hornberger (Eds.), An introductory reader to the writings of Jim Cummins(pp 175-194). Clevedon, England: Multilingual Matters.

Franken, M. (2005). Principles of effective literacy practice for EAL students in New Zealand classrooms. Waikato Journal of Education, 11 (2), 67-82.

Franken, M., May, S. ,& McComish, J. ( 2008). Pasifika languages research and guidelines project: Literature review. Wellington, New Zealand: Ministry of Education.

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