Interlude – Why are we here?

This blog was inspired by a PLD session run by two of my colleagues at Team Solutions, Nicole Price and Robyn Headifen. They discussed their blogging journey and encouraged us to have a go, check out their blogs below and pass them on to colleagues who might appreciate them

They challenged us to pick up the blogging baton so here I am. The challenge they have set us this week is to answer the following questions

  • What am I going to do with this?
  • Who is going to read this?
  • What kinds of information will I be posting?
  • Why am I doing this?
  • Who am I doing this for?

So here we go

The WHAT- I’m hoping so set up a blog which can be used as a starting point for PLD discussions around the front end of the NZC. I’ll be making posts around different sections of the front end, which I think should be the driving document for lots of conversations in schools.

The WHO– I’m hoping this will be useful for any reflective teacher, or any leader of PLD, not just Science teachers. Most of my online work has been directed at Science teachers rather than all teachers.

The WHY- Cross curricular discussions bring out the best in us all and tend to allow us to focus on the big questions which are relevant to us all without getting bogged down in content discussions.

I really like the ideas here around working in cross curricular groups not faculties

So that is my thinking and reasoning for the blog, next post-back to the mission59a3f54b403c24910d3b5ad41f64c74ab891ad47383335607dd299ba166bec23


Effective Pedagogy, my favourite pages

Most of my work in schools is with middle leaders, we look at data from the previous and the current year and identify areas ripe for inquiry. If there is anyone in New Zealand education who is still confusing Inquiry Learning and Teaching as Inquiry give them a slap round the chops with pages 34-35 of the NZC.


It is true that good teachers have always inquired around their practice but the teaching as inquiry cycle formalises it and builds in the sort of reflective action required in the Practising Teacher Criteria. If we have a culture of inquiry within a department and across a school it helps students and teachers be clear about where they are at, where they want to be and what changes could be made to make improvements.


It is not essential that everyone is using this cycle and this year I have seen different templates which promote the same inquiry thinking for teachers, the two documents below are examples of STP analysis and the Spiral of Inquiry.

Spiral Inquiry template ( 2014)

STP Teacher version

The Spiral of Inquiry is developed from the work of Timperley, Kaser and Halbert, ‘A framework for transforming schools: Innovation and the Spiral of Inquiry'(2014). If you are not familiar with their current work, which builds upon the NZC inquiry cycle, check it out here.

Spiral of Inquiry, Timperley, Kaiser, Halbert

Whatever tool you use, as an educator you should be constantly analysing your practice and striving to improve. We should be modelling to our students that we are all lifelong learners, as we teach we learn. The other six headings on the Effective pedagogy pages give us clear direction in what to try to focus on as teachers, to promote student learning and success.


  • Create a supportive learning environment
  • Encourage reflective thought and action
  • Enhance the relevance of new learning
  • Facilitate shared learning
  • Make connections to prior learning and experience
  • Provide sufficient opportunities to learn

These approaches have consistently been found to have a positive impact on student learning. So before you dive head first into an inquiry into the effect of punk rock on student learning….


Make sure you have all of these covered first, and if you are a Middle Leader make sure your staff are thinking about these teaching approaches first. These are the cornerstones of effective teaching and learning as defined by our curriculum document.

Reflective questions


  • Are the effective pedagogies reflected in your classroom, department and school?
  • Can you give lots of examples from your school of effective pedagogies in action?
  • Have you got experts in all of the effective pedagogies?
  • Would your students recognise their experience in the effective pedagogies?

An Introduction

My name is Ian McHale, I’m currently working as a Regional Science Facilitator in the Secondary Student Achievement contract for Team Solutions at the University of Auckland. I’ve been a Science/Chemistry Teacher for 24 years in the UK and New Zealand. I have also been a Specialist Classroom Teacher for several years. I enjoy teaching Science but see myself more as an educationalist and an agent of change in schools. I have several places where I discuss and share Science ideas and resources and you can see them below. This blog is not about the back end of the NZC but the front end. If you are looking for Science or Chemistry resources then look at the links below but here I will be focussing on;

  • Key Competencies
  • Effective pedagogy
  • Values
  • Vision
  • Principles
  • School Curriculum design and review

I think it is essential that we constantly revisit this document to remind ourselves what is important in New Zealand schools. Hopefully my reflections will encourage others to reflect on their practice and reconnect with the front end of this great document and not get bogged down in the achievement objectives for their own subject.