Coaching for the future

John Whitmore, in his article, Will coaching rise to the challenge? throws down a wero (challenge) for coaching as a profession.

He opens by describing some of the possible benefits of the economic crisis in the States (the article was written in 2009), highlighting the fact that apparent negative setbacks can be a catalyst for review and change. In particular Whitmore outlines how people can be sparked into taking opportunities to escape from the illusion of wealth, especially with support such as that provided by coaching. The process can lead to a change in attitude and viewpoint – both of which are fundamentally important in shaping outlook. Coaches can ask new questions about a person’s job, relationships and lifestyle that can help them re-assess their purpose, life, and values. As such, two primary products of coaching are a growth of a person’s awareness and responsibility, which apply to all aspects of life.

Whitmore also talks about leadership, ranging from the pragmatic (people in leadership roles are often unaware of the benefits and availability of coaching), to the conceptual (we do not need to wait around for the ‘next great leader’). Instead, he advocates for leadership from within, in part through the development of self-responsibility – something that many people need to develop. Coaches, using skills such as asking, as opposed to telling, and pulling rather than pushing, alongside rigorous frameworks and strategies for working with sustainable change, can help people develop the skills to meet and adapt to altering circumstances.

To achieve this, Whitmore asserts that coaches need to keep up to date with current affairs and global shifts – and this is where he throws down the wero – can coaching change? It has already made a move from a one-to-one coaching to working with large groups and institutional change. Can it become more global so that it can impact humanity as a whole? To do this would require a change of focus from individual to collective responsibility, as well as an acceptance that, if a coach’s ideals are more inclusive than the person who they are coaching, then their values need to precedence.


I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article, although I had to think long and hard about the notion of the coach’s ideals taking the forefront. The more I mull it over, however, it makes sense. As a mentor working in a group of mentors, we have often discussed how we work with mentees whose ideals differ fundamentally to ours to the point that they are not comfortable on any level. In particular some of the unquestioned biases that a mentee may have. We talked about the skill of asking questions that help a person hold up a mirror to themselves seeming to be essential, as well as carefully asking the difficult questions. There was also agreement. however, that if a mentee’s views were derogatory and extremely biased we would clearly state disagreement. It’s a tricky space to work in, but as Whitmore says, coaching (and I would also add mentoring) has “the means to construct exactly what is most needed all over at this time, the individual and collective responsibility essential for the survival of life as we know it” (Whitmore, 2009, p. 3). Would be great to read what you think.


Whitmore, J. (2009). Will coaching rise to the challenge? The OCM Coach and Mentor Journal 2009, pp 2-3.

Posted in All, Future, Professional Learning Development | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A framework for mobile learning: He Whare Ako He Whare Hangarau

My friend and colleague whaea Yo Heta-Lensen has observed that “online and blended learning courses are often written to instructional design guidelines that have been developed from a specific theoretical viewpoint taking a one-size fits all approach that cares little for indigenous knowledges” (Heta-Lensen, in press).

It was great, therefore, to see He Whare Ako He Whare Hangarau, work done by Dr Acushla Sciascia and Dr Claudio Aguayo, as part of the NPF14LMD – Learners and Mobile Devices Ako Aotearoa National Fund Project.  Would be good to read your thoughts and reactions :)

Acushla and Claudio share that the He Whare Ako, He Whare Hangarau framework weaves “kaupapa Maori theories, values and approaches to learning and teaching (ako) and provides distinct mobile learning parallels of theory and practice, conceptualised into the visual of a metaphorical wharenui (traditional meeting house). The framework depicts the relationship between ako and mLearning and engages a range of pedagogies that are culturally responsive and that are open to the affordances of technologies. The framework is a values-based approach to understanding the role of mobile devices in the learning context”.

Key objectives include:

  • Locating the teacher/learner at the centre and consider both as co-learners / co-teachers
  • Underpinning theory and practice with kaupapa Māori values such as whanaungatanga, kotahitanga, whakamana, manaakitanga, etc
  • Weaving mLearning theories and frameworks that espouse best practice   teaching and learning strategies using technology
  • Encouraging new approaches and pedagogies for teaching and learning that are culturally responsive
  • Conceptualising how the affordances of mobile learning and devices contributes to the learning process and overall learner experience

You can read an overview here:, and watch the video below as well as access the accompanying Prezi presentation.


Posted in All, Cultural inclusiveness, e-learning | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

A Demonstration Report Effectiveness of Te Kotahitanga

Jill Parfitt kindly shared the latest report on Te Kotahitanga effectiveness to be released by the Ministry: KA HIKITIA – A Demonstration Report Effectiveness of Te Kotahitanga Phase 5 2010-2012.

An excerpt from an introduction to the report reads:

Notably, Effectiveness of Te Kotahitanga Phase 5, 2010-12 finds that: “the achievement of Māori students (as measured by NCEA levels 1–3) in Phase 5 schools improved at around three times the rate of Māori in the comparison schools,” “the proportion of Māori students coming back into year 13 increased markedly in Phase 5 schools,” and “by 2012 the number of year 13 students achieving NCEA level 3 in Phase 5 schools was nearly three times what it had been four years earlier.” (p. 2)

Te Kotahitanga was a gem of a program from an international perspective, not only for its sound theoretical basis, its well-conceptualized model of teacher professional development, and its positive impact on Māori student outcomes, but also for its consistently wise use of research. (p.3)


Image: Kahu huruhuru. CC ( BY NC ND ) licensed Flickr image by hazelowendmc:

Posted in All, Cultural inclusiveness, Research | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Multiculturalism: Responsibility to find out

This powerful post was shared by Manu Faaea-Semeatu, where she looks at a poem called “Voice” that she wrote last month and featured on her blog. Would be awesome to read your thoughts and reactions.

Manu writes” The principal of Holy Family School in Porirua – Chris Theobald (@The0bald) reached out to me on Twitter to ask if he could film two students reciting the poem. Enjoy!”

a poem inspired by expectations and and hesitations. . . 
I am expected to speak
Eyes bore into mine as I make eye contact
I wait patiently, waiting for an opportunity
None is given
Should I interrupt and make a case for myself?
I struggle internally, this is not how I’m raised
I must sit quietly and wait for a chance to speak
I need to find my voice
You expect me to speak
But do you want to listen?
Can you really hear what I’m saying?
You are impatient
Should I interrupt and make you listen?
You struggle internally, this is now how you’re raised
You stand tall, and take up every chance to speak
You need to find my voice
Introducing Joziah and Ethan – with two different approaches to the poem :-)
Posted in All, Cultural inclusiveness | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The life cycle to Modern Learning Practice

Modern learning pedagogy is likely to be a long slow journey, with a number of mistakes made along the way, and it’s not always going to be easy.

Headspace is key, advises Vicki Hagenaars. You need to have your head in that space; to have been immersed and exposed to a number of different environments. It is essential to listen to the students as well. Students will often raise questions or requirements that may not have otherwise have been considered.

Often the stages taken are 1) connectivity, 2) a change in environment, and 3) then a change in the way of learning via, for instance, communities and reflective portfolios.

One of the initial things that was used in step 1 in the example Vicki shared was a blog (blogspot) – that was owned and populated by the students. The site has now had over 1000 hits, and the students are delighted. It was quite a big step forward for senior management as they weren’t sure about having the students voices and images out in the public space.

This was the caterpillar stage. The computers went into the classrooms, and the desktops were, over time, replaced by laptops. The infrastructure, however, was really dodgy. This has since changed.

The process is slow, and often painful. The caterpillar has to disintegrate and re-assemble into the butterfly to then emerge and fly.

The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery…
Posted in All, Engagement, Future | Leave a comment

Creative writing with Year 10

Image of a smart phone on the top of the student's writingCreative writing in school can often be formulaic…you teach this, the students learn this, and then they write a story.

Tamara decided to change the format. Building on an idea from Primary (Tamara is in the secondary sector), the story was to be short and sweet and based around the theme of conflict. The students made their own background. Over the school holidays the students had to design their own setting (in a virtual world or otherwise) in which their short story was based. The short story therefore had an additional element – a tangible setting that could be manipulated.

One student created a video game, another created a world in Minecraft, and printed it off on the school’s 3D printer. It meant that students could combine some of the things that smoke their tyres, with learning English.

Questions were used as a guide to help develop the setting, and then reflect on some of the decisions they made. Other questions were used to connect in the story.

Students had a short story, setting, video…and the next steps were how to pull everything together to display it. QR codes offered a simple solution to pull together the written word, the images, and the video of the student speaking about their process.

This is a unit of work that will be displayed and they can feel proud of.

Posted in All, Blended learning, Engagement, Future | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Ways forward: One year on

What happens when a school isn’t working – for the learners, the community, and the teachers? Sometimes it’s a case of bringing in the broom, working with leadership, and then starting again.

Gavin shared his story from the Board resigning, the Commission coming in, and the subsequent changes in leadership. The school is now undergoing a process of revisioning, which includes consultation with the community and with the learners. The arising challenges include the pace of change. The pressure is on to make a difference from day one for learners – and progress is more important than attainment.

Other key factors that will help ensure the school can keep up with the rate of change include setting expectations clearly and co-constructing these if possible, and supporting staff to step up and take responsibility for their professional development.

In 2014 a survey with students illustrated that students appreciated the integration of technology into the curriculum, but that staff did’t value this. As a result, in 2015, this has become a non-negotiable. Staff development is tracked, and student voice is collected every 2 terms, and community voice is collected once a term.

Constant reflection is one of the requirements of ensuring that this level of impact is continued.

Massive change is possible, but, as Gavin’s story illustrates, it isn’t comfortable. Some people found it so uncomfortable in this case, they have chosen to leave. The benefits for learners however, appear to be huge. Can’t wait to see some of the emerging results from this change.

Image: Silverdale students, From the Silverdale Primary School Web site.

Posted in All, Future, How to..., Student voice | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Examples of what happens when learners connect

Student voice and student agency are key to learning. However, this doesn’t always seem to be an unquestioned (inconvenient?) ‘truth’.

Lorraine Makatu explains what happens when student agency is supported and nurtured.

Mangere Central School has sister schools in Bali, and Lorraine shares some of the experiences of students who start to explore different places and life experiences in Indonesia and Jakarta, for example. The school web site is the portal, and the families are able to go in and see and ask questions. The students asked questions like: ‘what did they eat?’, ‘Are they on Facebook?’, and ‘Will they Snapchat with me?’. It was a reality check when one Skype call used the whole Bali school’s data for the week.

The students are also involved in local projects such as the SH20 upgrade, where students are working with the environmental managers of the project to help ensure the environment around the school is protected. For example, a culvert was dug and some eels were found. So now, all of the eels are being relocated. The health and safety manager is also being shadowed by one of the students – they are making connections with what is in the school such that students are walking around saying things like ‘someone will trip on these shoes’.

These are great illustrations of transference – making connections between knowledge domains, and applying the learnings across them. They also show how students are developing identities, taking on roles, and making connections between their current world views and the other domains around them.

Posted in All, e-learning | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Me you us: Learning connections

Me, us, you – over time we make connections, grow and expand out thinking. Over time we come back together in groups to connect with people we know. The collaborations that develop from those connections can be incredibly powerful.

Heather Eccles, Krishna Ramadugu, and Geoff Wood highlight that much of their professional learning has been about specific collaborations and connections that they have made, initially by being part of the Virtual Professional Learning Development (VPLD) programme. Krishna talked about light and what it means to her: “It’s the lamp of knowledge that can light the fire of thousands more and yet not diminish in its brilliant. It benefits both the giver and the receiver”.

Krishna made contact with Geoff, who heads up the Over the Back Fence (OTBF) project. Where there are connections between students with the older students leading sessions for the younger students (tuakana teina). There have also been sessions where authors have beamed in for sessions with the students, and connecting different cultures with groups in India.

Some of the outcomes, for all the learners, have included the enjoyment of students learning from each other in a way that is experience driven, rather than content driven. It has encouraged students to engage and participate, and to embrace new literacies, as well as developing a deep sense of fulfilment in sharing. Curiosity has developed along with a desire to learn and succeed.

Geoff and Anne Kenealley started to talk about connecting classrooms at a bus stop after a conference. Since then the project has burgeoned, with students running sessions online with other students around the world. The connections have been amazing, opening up worlds and windows on cultures and understandings that otherwise wouldn’t have been possible. It’s the global connections – the questioning of early-formed beliefs, and a way of helping the youth shape their understandings of the world.

Going back to the whole notion of connections – they are myriad. They involve young learners, older learners, teachers, education leaders…all with a thirst for learning and eye for the potential of the affordances of technology. Bringing us back to…it’s not the technology…it’s what you do with it!!

So – what connections are you making? How are you exploring and opening up the world of learning for yourself? How are you empowering your learners to open up their own world?

Posted in All, e-learning, Student voice | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Experiential learning, reciprocity, and innovation…

We are so lucky to live for as much of our time as possible in a place up in the north of New Zealand, that we love.

Over the last 5 or so years (and after doing a lot of homework) we have planted over 20,000 trees and plants (see pic on the left to see what it looked like in Year 1!). We have planted a lot of native trees, heaps of trees for bird food, and a lot of plants that have blossom for bees (see pic on right for a Year 4 comparison – including over 500 lavender plants, and a couple of hundred rosemary plants).

Through trial and error, as well as by seeking advice from the wonderful folk in the neighbourhood, we learned what would and wouldn’t grow, when and where. We also planted our orchard, and have planned our veggie gardens.

Next step – the bees. A while ago I’d bought a book on beekeeping, and decided that full scale beekeeping may be a step too far…but I had heard, and read a bit, about folks who were keen to keep their hives in suitable places such as (fingers crossed) ours. By dint of a chance conversation, Grant Engel from Revolutionary Beekeeping Ltd came to see our place, and to my delight, is going to bring his fabulous bees to work with us!

Grant will come to check on the bees to make sure they are healthy and well-fed, and he also harvests the honey they produce with his innovative mobile honey harvester (see videos below for a demonstration). In return, these fabulous insects will make the most of the blossoms, including in our orchard and (soon) veggie garden, and in turn do a wonderful job of fertilising the flowers so we get fruit and veg. O – and the pot of honey a month will be a fabulous treat – plus we get to be serenaded by gentle buzzing.

I love the reciprocity of the whole cycle, and was also particularly impressed with Grant’s enthusiasm for his bees and for beekeeping. Revolutionary Beekeeping states that they will not only “provide a service that will support, educate and fairly reward our clients”, but that they will also “continue to create innovative technology that will make beekeeping easier and more enjoyable”, and “focus on the health and sustainability of beekeeping as it plays a vital role in global food production” (source). Can’t be better than that!

At the end of the day – the whole process has been about planning, finding out what is needed, applying, learning (often through mistakes), hard work, trying different approaches, and figuring out next steps…sound familiar? :)


Posted in All | Leave a comment