Wendy is the Director of the Educational Leadership Project (Ltd), a professional learning provider for the early childhood sector in New Zealand. Wendy has been involved in early childhood education (ECE) field over the last 45 years as a teacher, tutor, lecturer, manager, professional development facilitator and researcher.
She has collaborated with Professor Margaret Carr on a number of research projects including:
- Assessment in Early Childhood Settings
- Centre of Innovation - Roskill South Kindergarten
- The Royal Society of NZ Marsden Fund Early Years Project – Learning Dispositions in a Social Context
- National Exemplar Development - Early Childhood Learning and Assessment Project
- Early Childhood Centre of Innovation – Greerton Early Childhood Education Centre
- Teaching and Learning Research Initiative Project – “Learning Wisdom”
During this period she was Co-Director with Margaret of the National Early Childhood Assessment and Learning Exemplar Project that developed the Kei Tua o te Pae books on assessment for learning for the NZ early childhood sector.
Wendy has a deep interest in curriculum, advocacy and leadership issues in ECE. She is very enthusiastic about the power of documentation to strengthen the learner identity of children and is passionate about the importance of the outdoors for all children.
She has presented at conferences on ECE curriculum, leadership and learning stories throughout the world, including the Ireland, England, Scotland, Germany, Japan, Iceland, Belgium, the USA, the United Arab Emirates, Norway, the Czech Republic, Kazakhstan, Canada, Australia and Sweden. Wendy has been working with teachers and government officials all over the world, sharing the work of New Zealand early childhood teachers for over a decade.
As an indication of this work, over the past couple of years Wendy has worked in the following places:
- Canada: Edmonton, Alberta
- Hawaii: Honolulu
- Japan: Tokyo
- China: Shanghai, Weifang, Shenzhen, Quingdao, Guangzhou, Beijing
- Cook Islands: Rarotonga
- Australia: Sydney, Newcastle, Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth, Kangaroo Island, Deniliquin
- Ireland: Dublin
- England: Corby, Manchester
- Scotland: Crieff
During this period she has also provided several keynotes and lectures in New Zealand including:
- CECEA (Christian Early Childhood Education Association of Aotearoa)
- Early Childhood Council: 25 years on – Rotorua
- Japanese Study Tour – Yanagi Educational Group from Tokyo
- ELP Learning Stories Conference – Auckland
- Japanese Study Tour – ( Association of Niigata-shi private institution kindergarten/kodomo-en)
- ELP Lecture Series – A growth Mindset - Auckland
- American Study Tour – Auckland
- LeAP Canadian Study Tour – Palmerston North
The Power and the Passion of the teacher:
Wendy believes that at the heart of teaching are relationships. Te Whāriki states this as a central principle and goes on to describe, within Ngā Hononga (Relationships), the following: ‘Adults provide encouragement, warmth, and acceptance. They also provide challenges for creative and complex learning and thinking, helping children to extend their ideas and actions through sensitive, informed, well-judged interventions and support.’
A successful, accepting teaching approach through relationship building may be a main foundation to optimising a child’s learning environment, but Wendy also believes that teachers must reflect upon and understand themselves in order to succeed. How do we ensure that, as individuals, our power as a teacher/educator is optimised? What do we need to do to ensure that we are the best we can be? Wendy is interested in exploring what it means to be a teacher and encourages teachers to explore what theories influence their practice and whether they use these in an intentional way. Understanding our own pedagogy, our beliefs and values, and how these are constantly influencing our teaching, is in Wendy’s opinion central to the inspirational teacher. She has recently co-authored a book on Te Whariki entitled: Understanding the Te Whariki Approach: Early Years Education in Practice.
Leadership and Organisational Culture
The literature on leadership is vast and the question has often been asked “what do leaders need to know?” Wendy has discussed this question with many teachers and has come up with some powerful indicators of strong and rich learning communities that she believes strongly impact on the leadership in an early childhood setting. She believes we need committed and responsive leaders at all levels and we should be concerned with both personal and professional qualities to meet the challenges ahead. In summary some of her ideas are:
Conjure up close collaboration and partnerships in your early childhood setting and recognize the importance of teacher presence. Transform relationships with children, parents and teachers to make them reciprocal, authentic and effective.
An organisation is strengthened when everyone feels there is a strong sense of moral purpose (courage, justice, caring and excellence). Many teachers enter teaching because of strong altruistic goals to make a difference in children’s lives
Change the organizational culture of your early childhood setting with a strong focus on positivity. Nurture children’s, parents and teachers passions taking account of the holistic nature of learning and teaching. Above all, experience joy!
Leaders who are eloquent, persuasive, strong, energetic and willing to contribute to the community nurture democracy and create social justice. It is important that every teacher, child and parent find their ‘voice’. Every teacher, child and parent has the right to be engaged in leadership.
Wendy believes that we now need to bring magic into every early childhood setting, more than ever before. We need to articulate and make visible our morals and ethics in our efforts to make a difference for children and families. We need to have the courage to mobilize our ideas and the value of learning in the wider community and we should take the risk to be playful and promote merriment. These attributes are needed to build communities where people are encouraged by shared spirit, passion and effort to be the very best they can be and to realize possibilities they have never imagined.
Learning Stories (Assessment and Planning) and Communities of Practice
Learning Stories are a philosophy for assessment, not a format! They provide a valuable opportunity to document and weave connections from prior experiences to future learning, and form most of the content of children’s portfolios in New Zealand early childhood settings. Wendy has written for and talked with teachers in many countries about the value of Learning Stories as a mode of formative assessment. Learning Stories show progress and make learning visible to the child, the family and the teaching community. They also explore how to document children's learning in a way that is meaningful, effective, and inclusive so that it makes a real difference. As a celebration of children's learning, ELP has found that Learning Stories are fit for purpose! Wendy has co-authored a book on Learning Stories with Margaret Carr “Learning Stories: Constructing Learner identity in the early years”.
In February 2017, based on readers' feedback, major educational book publishers' recommendations and a group of expert judges' opions, two of the books that Wendy has co-authored were chosen to be translated into Chinese. Click here to read more.
Learning Stories have provided teachers in New Zealand with many rewarding and effective ways to help children and their families see and participate in the learning process, and also provide the trace of the teacher’s professional life. It is a privilege to enter children’s lives in this way and also to document their learning in ways that will ensure that the stories hold the test of time. These are stories that will be read not only by children and their families now and in the future, but also by future generations who will witness the joy of their forebearers’ learning lives through writing and reflection. Learning Stories provide a richness of opportunity on so many levels to strengthen the identity and competence of the learner (children and teachers).
In Kei Tua o te Pae – Assessment for Learning: Early Childhood Exemplars (Carr, Lee and Jones 2005, 2007, 2009), Wendy collaboratively wrote about some very important elements that teachers need to reflect upon and consider when writing Learning Stories to record and assess children’s learning. These elements provide useful guidelines for helping teachers to deepen and strengthen their writing of Learning Stories. Discussions on the elements of Learning Stories in a collaborative group of teachers is recommended as a powerful source for reflection, growth and change.
Here are some starter questions to ponder that consider these elements of Learning Stories:
- Does my Learning Story include clear goals and enhance the child’s motivation to learn?
- Is the Learning Story about learning that is embedded in everyday contexts?
- As a writer of Learning Stories, do I acknowledge uncertainty about the child’s learning?
- Does my Learning Story document collective and individual enterprises?
- As a writer of Learning Stories, have kept a view of learning as complex and is this complexity visible?
- Is my Learning Story in harmony with the principles of our curriculum?
- Are my Learning Stories making visible the culture of the child and the multicultural nature of our community?
- Do I provide opportunities for the children and their families to contribute to their Learning Stories and the assessment process, reflecting and strengthening inclusion?
Learning Stories provide powerful pathways to engage everyone - children, parents, teachers, and the wider community - providing opportunities for the community of practice to become more strongly interconnected through narrative assessment and working as a collaborative team. There are both expected and unexpected outcomes when the whole community works together creating, contributing, communicating, and collaborating. Assessment can contribute powerfully to these reciprocal relationships that enrich teaching as learning journeys. Wendy believes assessment practice has the capability to not only improve learning opportunities for children but to potentially change the culture of early childhood centres and communities.
Wendy wants to share some of the practical strategies developed by teachers throughout New Zealand and around the world, which are now changing the landscape of connections across early childhood communities. Communities of practice are being nourished with ideas and reflections that build a commitment to each other and bring into view the power of listening deeply; being present; and creating opportunities to connect, communicate, and contribute.
Beyond Listening: Children's perspectives on Early Childhood Services
Stories of Interest/Planning Stories
Wendy is very interested in how Stories of Interest/Planning Stories can provide robust, documented evidence of teaching and learning outcomes in an interesting and accessible way. Wendy is committed to looking closely at planning in this way for individual children, as well as groups of children. She has a deep interest in the development of both 'Stories of Interest' and 'Planning Stories' which draw together Learning Stories, teacher reflection and intentions, community involvement, child, parent and family voice into powerful documentation which provide rich information to grow a community and also provide effective accountability.
Understanding the Te Whāriki approach
Wendy is passionate about Nature Education and how we go about capturing the spirit of the outdoors through our documentation. It is a time of crisis not only for the global world in terms of its environment but also, much closer to home, for our youngest citizens. Many ECE environments currently lack connection with nature and ‘beyond-the-gate’ is not explored, however, children who do not experience nature and the outdoors are very unlikely to develop an affinity for and protect the environment in the future.
Some years ago, John Bennett from OECD said ‘do not steal the childhood of the child’. For many, these words have clearly not been heard. Today’s children are largely imprisoned and institutionalised in many early childhood institutions that lack connection with nature on many levels. The culture of some settings are dominated by routines and rigid schedules, the environments are largely plastic and unimaginative. Many adults today have experienced childhoods that involved roaming our communities and exploring the natural environment, experiencing joy, wonder and delight as they freely engaged in the environment. These opportunities are not available for so many children today as irrational fear becomes a dominant discourse in raising children and screens have replaced the outdoors.
It is now well evidenced in research that children who spend time in the outdoors perform better educationally, not just in the traditional subjects of reading and mathematics but also well beyond this into the areas of life long learning. They get excited and energized about learning when exposed to the outdoors.
Leaders therefore have a responsibility to be powerful advocates for reconnecting children the outdoors. One of the most effective ways of doing this is day-to-day documentation of a learning setting’s activity. Wendy believes that Learning Story philosophy provides a powerful vehicle to not only build the learner identity of the child, but to create opportunities to be a powerful advocate for the outdoors.
Empathy and Social Competence
Current research indicates that the children around the world are less empathic today and this has huge ramifications for their learning and for humanity. Teachers and educators now need to provide children with opportunities to develop and strengthen dispositions like empathy as part of the pedagogical outcomes in early childhood settings. Wendy endorses the use of documentation and Learning Stories to advocate and strengthen these qualities in children’s lives, as well as the revisiting of this documentation by the learning community.
Assessment cannot only influence children’s empathy and thereby strengthen their social emotional and relational dispositions in early childhood settings, but also has the power to strengthen children’s identity around empathy and improve social competence.
A Growth Mindset – Learn it! Live it! Teach it!
For some the opportunity to explore the the impact of Carol Dweck's work on pedagogical practice will be an illuminating experience. For others it is an opportunity to revisit and deepen understandings, to look thoughtfully at the ways in which you can ensure that the work of Carol Dweck is impacting not only on the lives of children but also life as a teacher and mentor. Wendy is very interested in the work of Carol Dweck who so eloquently says "A growth mindset educator is someone who portrays skills to the children as acquirable, is someone who values passion, effort, improvement, not just natural talent. They are people who present themselves as mentors and collaborators with their children and not someone who judges who are the clever ones and who are not."
At the same time Wendy likes to explore some of the potential disadvantages of such views and the implications of Carol Dweck’s work. For example Alfie Kohn once wrote the remarkable book Punished by Rewards (Kohn, 1993). In this book, he demonstrates that using rewards to get something done from people is often ineffective and even harmful and sums up ways in which praising people can be detrimental to performance. Alfie Kohn also discusses the potential risk of teachers focussing on the individual entirely instead of addressing the wider structural issues. For example, does the environment provide ‘something of interest’ for the child; are their deeply interested adults in this environment etc.
Learning in the making
Is ICT a help or a hindrance to assessment in ECE?
Wendy is a passionate advocate for e-portfolios and paper-based portfolios because of her long involvement with Learning Stories (Carr & Lee, 2012). She believes both e-portfolios and paper-based portfolios are essential, but for different reasons. Paper-based portfolios are critical for young children, whereas e-portfolios are primarily for adults (i.e. parents and whānau). The idea of having just an e-portfolio for young children in early childhood settings is, in Wendy’s opinion, wrong and a cave-in to slick marketing and cost-saving. She believes it indicates little thought about the implications for children and their learning and diminishes the documentation of children’s learning lives through paper-based portfolios which have the power to support and construct learner identity. Developing processes that hold the test of time are important and paper-based portfolios do this. Both paper-based or a e-based portfolios are useful, but written, paper-based portfolios can be expected to promote language, build identity and endure.
Wendy is also deeply interested in developing documentation that is central to building the learner identity of the child. This is not achieved when documentation is carried out primarily to meet accountability measures. Sometimes technology hinders engagement and deep connections. i.e. Are e-Portfolios are dumbing down or enhancing roles as a thoughtful and reflective professional teachers? Has the dangers of technology for very young children been considered? Only focused and thoughtful pedagogical documentation will make a difference to the child’s learning life. If the documentation is reflective and makes visible the learning of the child, then Wendy believes it will have the potential to meet many accountability requirements while also building learner identity.
Wendy believes it is also becoming increasingly important that we make visible the joy, wonder and magic we experience as teachers to children and their families. We need to consider our moral and ethical responsibilities as we strive to make a difference for these learning communities. It will be the courage of teachers and those working directly with children that will ensure that not only are the wider values of education protected, but that everyone in the learning community has opportunities to be the very best they can be and thereby realizing possibilities that may be unimagined in the past.
Being an activist: Testing times in ECE
Wendy believes that, at a time when the NZ Government is challenging practices around assessment, it is vital that early childhood professionals are both informed and articulate about the issues of testing and how this might impact on children’s learning lives.
There is no question that assessment shapes how children see themselves and how they learn. Assessment also has an important role in building children’s learner identities. The OECD is now pushing for even younger children to be tested and baby PISA is under active development through a Field Study. Many countries have rejected participation in this Study and its development will therefore begin with just the USA and UK being involved. However, the OECD had hoped for 3 to 6 countries for the Field Study and so it seems clear that there will be a future drive to bring many more OECD countries into the Baby PISA fold.
We all need to examine the issues involved in this development and think about both the purposes and consequences of our assessment practice. This is a time when we should both share information about the current development of Baby PISA and also explore key ideas around formative assessment, keeping the principles of Te Whāriki in view as a crucial lens through which every NZ early childhood professional lives. It is imperative that teachers and managers of early childhood settings are able to inform those within their communities about these critical elements of education and especially the role of assessment in the development of children’s learning.
Director, Professional Learning Facilitator
Phone: 07 856 8708
Click here to email Wendy
Tania Bullick has been working with Educational Leadership Project as a Professional Learning Facilitator since January 2013. Previous to that she has taught in Kindergartens in the Waikato since 1990 after training at what was then ‘Hamilton Teachers College’. In 2005, she upgraded her qualification to a degree through the University of Waikato and is currently studying toward a Masters Degree.
“My work with ELP and ongoing education and experience as an Early Childhood Education Teacher and Facilitator enables me to confidently work broadly across early childhood education programmes. I have a strong interest in the provision of Early Childhood Education, informed by the principles, strands and goals of Te Whāriki, that meets the child and their family’s need for quality education and care that provides an experience that is socially-just and democratic. Extending whanaungatanga as a warm welcome to establish and grow a sense of belonging is a key focus in my teaching and professional learning provision. Working with tamariki and their whānau, listening carefully to their aspirations, prior knowledge and experience from their culture allows for a socio-cultural curriculum to be grown reflecting the community of learners. Working with teams, through Inquiry Research to develop and grow socio-cultural assessment practices has been a satisfying experience which supports this and grows teachers pedagogical practice.”
Tania lives in the heart of Cambridge with her husband, Rob, and two sons, Jack and Jonty.
Statement on my interest in quality teaching and learning
In my role as a Professional Learning Facilitator, I work with teams of teachers in clusters, introducing, guiding and supporting Inquiry Research as an effective model of Internal Evaluation. I have supported teams long term inquiry research around literacy, mathematics, infant and toddler, social competence and leadership projects. Inquiry Research is supported by constructivist assessment practice such as Learning Stories which, in turn, support a socio-cultural perspective through acknowledging and reifying the many ways and means of communicating ideas and symbols and building on children’s thinking and learning processes in more and more complex ways.
I am enthusiastic about my own bicultural development and that of the teachers I work with. I share the challenge and commitment of teachers to honour the principles of The Treaty of Waitangi and use Te Whāriki as a framework for their own and their settings ongoing development. Along with Te Whāriki, the document, Te Whatu Pōkeka, has been a focus of workshops I have facilitated and the basis of my professional learning facilitation with teachers. The ideas and metaphors within the document resonate with teachers to grow an understanding of Māori ways of knowing, being and doing enabling them to strengthen their developing bicultural practice generally and work with Māori children and their families specifically.
I am passionate about the building of social competence to acknowledge children as competent and capable, decision makers and explorers. In 2015, I participated in a Social Emotional Learning retreat at the University of California, Berkeley with the Greater Good Science Centre. I have adapted this learning to develop workshops acknowledging the ancient and contemporary knowledges (including Māori) which inform teachers understanding of children’s, and their own, social and emotional growth as it underpins all learning.
I have a strong belief that quality teaching and learning hinges on good leadership. I am committed to promoting ideas around shared and distributed leadership. A culture of shared and distributed leadership empowers all teachers to step up to and take leadership of their own teaching and learning, particularly in areas that they have passion, energy and spirit for. Inquiry Research as Internal Evaluation empowers individual and teams of teachers to grow leadership both in their centres and in the early childhood sector.
Professional Learning Facilitator
Phone: 027 454 3785
Click here to email Tania
Marianne has a Bachelor of Teaching (Auckland University) teaching in Auckland kindergartens for over 20 years before joining Educational Leadership in 2013. Developing responsive and reciprocal relationships with a view to dignifying the life of all who are a part of the learning community is at the heart Marianne’s philosophy.
“Working within the richness of the cultural diversity in the Auckland area the concept of ako is important to me. Building respectful relationships with teachers and children responsive to their cultural settings supports me to work alongside teachers acknowledging that learning happens most powerfully when we are responsive to and respectful of each others strengths, passions and cultural knowledge”
Facilitating cluster based programmes supporting teaching teams inquiry into strengthening early literacy, mathematics and leadership with the interweaving of bi-cultural practices over the past 3 years I am passionate about working alongside and supporting teachers in centre based inquiry responsive to their community and cultural context or their settings. This involves reflective, thoughtful and meaningful professional learning, centered around an inquiry question embodying the notion of dignity and empowerment for all – children, whānau and teachers and acknowledging the important place of language culture identity.
(A pdf of learning story written by Gina documented as teachers worked to strengthen socio-cultural mathematics through inquiry research shares a powerful example)
Planning and Assessment
The transformative power of learning stories I find myself increasingly reflecting on and sharing as I work with teachers supporting them in strengthening their assessment documentation in response to the interwoven nature of the principles and strands of Te Whāriki and aligned to the values of their Philosophy. Meaningful analysis of learning happens when teachers move beyond pulling out ‘learning outcomes’ to understanding the theory, research and practice that sit behind the principles, strands and outcomes and connect to Te Whāriki as a socio-cultural and bi-cultural curriculum. Building teacher knowledge through inquiry research and working to keep this up-to-date is where the deeper understanding about learning starts to happen and this becomes a transformative process as teachers actively engage in this research resulting in strengthened planning and programmes responsive to children’s learning pathways.
Transition to School
I have a real interest in research and programmes in response to strengthening dispositional teaching and learning and the importance of building positive learner identity. Understanding dispositions as well as a strong sense of identity and belonging are recognised as supporting successful transitions to school and I am particularly interested in working alongside teachers supporting continuity of learning through this dispositional lens including how the learning community - children, families and teachers and others - grow in understanding and recognition of dispositions that are valued and how these are cultivated or encultured in and across learning environments.
Language Leading the way to Literacy
Becoming a Hanen Trained facilitator of the Learning Language and Loving it programme has offered me the opportunity to facilitate this programme within early childhood settings in South Auckland through SELO. This programme supports teachers in recognising the importance of oral language leading the way to literacy within play based programmes and in working with children for whom English is a second language.
“This programme is an eye opener for all of us. It was a well structured programme and our facilitator unpacked the strategies in a very good way. She explained to us in response to our individual needs. The centre visits and video-coaching supported us. We are more confident and giving children more opportunities to communicate. It has made a difference” The Children’s Corner, Papatoetoe.
Professional Learning Facilitator
Phone: 027 271 0382
Click here to email Marianne
Over the past 20 years Lynn has worked inside community organisations and childcare settings to promote success for children within her local community. Lynn’s focus has been that quality early education supports success in later life therefore she has passionately concentrated on the early childhood sector over the last 10 years. “Strong early learning experiences provide critical foundations for success in later education.” (Ka Hikitia)
Lynn’s experience in the early childhood sector has been as a teacher and Centre Manager. Since 2008 Lynn has worked with inquiry research either as a teacher supported by ELP or as an ELP Facilitator supporting others to strengthen their understanding of teaching and learning therefore creating better outcomes for children. Inquiry research structured around RBA questions that ask: Where are we now? How will we work together? How will we get there? How will we measure progress? What have we learnt?, have drawn teachers and whānau into meaningful conversations that have stretched teaching practices, created authentic partnerships and provide evidence of shifts in practice.
Statement on Lynn’s interest in quality teaching and learning
Lynn is particularly enthusiastic about community and relationships, believing that assessment, especially Learning Stories, can bring about a deeper connectedness between those within the early childhood community and beyond. Lynn acknowledges that research shows collaboration between the parent, the child and the teacher creates multiple perspectives of the child, which allows for deeper, more meaningful learning for all involved.
There are many curriculum areas that Lynn has focused on since starting with ELP in 2012. Through individual centre support and wider cluster based professional learning Lynn has provide thoughtful provocation for teachers to stretch their knowledge and practice in areas of infants and toddlers, leadership, literacy, mathematics, bicultural practice and deeply understanding the principles of Te Whāriki. Also through inquiry research Lynn has supported teachers to thoughtfully align their local curriculum to Te Whāriki as they take into consideration:
- cultural perspectives
- structural differences
- organisational differences
- different environments
- philosophical emphases
- different resources dependent on setting
- local community participation
- age range of children.
Strengthen continuity across early childhood and primary school
Taking the idea of collaboration and conversations through Learning Story assessment has allowed Lynn to support teachers in both primary and the early childhood sectors to create continuity of learning for children. At the heart of developing wonderful pathways to school is the notion of strong triadic relationship between teachers from both sectors, whānau and children. Supporting teachers within ECE and primary to create a shared language of learning through Learning Story assessment conversations and hui is something Lynn has passionately engaged in with main teachers throughout New Zealand.
Strengthening Kaupapa Māori
Regardless of the internal evaluation focus Lynn has supported teachers to include reflection on language, culture and identity into their inquiry research question. Considering the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitanga, and the words of Ka Hikitia and Tātaiako broadens the inquiry and ensures that teachers are strengthening their bicultural practices in an embedded way.
Lynn has a strong personal and professional commitment to see tamariki build resilience through acceptance, acknowledgement and celebration of their culture, language and identity. Lynn’s mokopuna and children whakapapa to Ngāti Tuwharetoa, Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāi Te Rangi and Ngāti Maniapoto. While Lynn acknowledges the cultural heritage of her whānau she understand the she cannot be and expert in their culture. This knowledge enables her to support teachers to “shift their practice from a view of themselves as ‘experts’ to a view of themselves as facilitators of culturally inclusive practice (Ritchie, 2003:17), characterised by collaboration and genuine power sharing (Ka Hikitia, 2008)”. (Ngā Taonga Whakaako: Bicultural competence in early childhood, Williams, Broadly & Te-Aho, 2012)
The principles of Te Whāriki guide my practice as a facilitator - whakamana, kotahitanga, whānau tangata and ngā hononga are embedded in the way I collaborate with teachers. Understanding that these principles are relevant to all involved in early childhood in foundational to Lynn’s kaupapa on teaching and learning for all ages.
Lynn has lead a centre as the Centre Manager, not a title she would use, but what Lynn would call herself was Centre Kaitiaki. Leadership belongs to everyone, a quote from Sergiovanni, and when it does there is collective ownership for the professional practice in the centre. Lynn has whole-hearted supported centres to consider how to grow a more distributed/shared leadership model knowing that this will make a difference to the outcomes for children. Fullan (2011. p.82) wrote that great leaders assist others to become leaders. Early childhood leadership should also reflect the principles of Te Whāriki. Most importantly professional trust is the basic ingredient of cooperation and this can lead to improved team collaboration, therefore growing a motivated leaderful teaching team.
Professional Learning Facilitator
Phone: 027 278 8879
Click here to email Lynn
Meet Lynn and her whānau
Ehara taku toa,
i te toa takitahi,
engari he toa
"My success should not be bestowed onto me alone, as it was not individual success, but success of a collective. Cooperation of many can bring best results.”
Lorraine has worked for ELP with teachers across all diverse settings in Aotearoa New Zealand since 2001. During this time she has drawn on her work at Greerton Early Childhood to support teachers to build learning cultures that enable each and every child to thrive as they begin to develop their learning identities. Lorraine has thought deeply about how current theory and research might be integrated into children’s, families’ and teachers’ learning lives in natural ways, that enable children’s learning identities to flourish. As the Greerton teaching team witnessed children shaping and re-shaping their knowledge, experimenting, testing, and re-testing, in an effort to deepen and broaden their understanding of the world around them, the investigative nature of the children’s learning excited us. The team began to understand that relationships are the key to building a vibrant, robust learning community, and committed to finding ways to understand how the concept of Whanaungatanga cements our relationships together. This was the impetus for the team to seek opportunities to research our learning context through the Ministry of Education’s Centre of Innovation Research programme”. As a result, Lorraine has shared many of the research outcomes over time with teachers across New Zealand and beyond, in lecture series in the UK, Germany and China. ELP have and are committed to ensuring children have a learning context that excites their passions, energies and spirits. During Lorraine's work with ELP her intention has always been to engage with teachers in meaningful ways to shift their image of children so, in Wally Penitio’s words they “see the child as ‘vibrant, expressive and impressive’ (2001)”.
With the view that children ought to be designers of their own learning, the work Lorraine shares with teachers across many settings, follows children’s, family/whānau and teachers’ experiences as they explore the possibilities offered in environments that start first with Relationships, Language, Identity and Culture. This foundation enables everyone to go beyond their comfort zones into complex play and adventurous learning that relies on a growing sense of fair mindedness; on care and kindness to stretch learning to the edge and beyond, with and alongside their friends. It is this context of learning and teaching as ‘collaborative endeavour’ that captivates teacher’s interest to find out more about what kinds of settings and relationships make a difference to children’s learning. It is Lorraine's intention to disrupt conventional thinking through examples that show invested teaching that includes; co-construction between children and teachers, sustained shared teaching episodes extending children’s thinking, valuing of children’s contribution to the learning experience and making links across time by revisiting children’s ideas and interests.
Teachers are most able to explore these ideas through inquiry based research when there is a deep motivation generated by credit based research questions. When we see children too, as ‘inquirers’, we are primed to make shifts in our practice because we are open to deeply listen to and respect children’s capacity to stretch their learning, practice the hard, tricky bits, and understand that worthwhile learning takes time, persistence, energy and a very big measure of resilience and resourcefulness. Teachers who support this kind of learning enable children to develop an attitude to learning that results in not giving up, pushing through to the edge and beyond, and working in collaborative, social, cultural ways that enhances everyone in the learning community. Inquiry research is the vehicle that deepens and broadens our understanding of what it takes to build a vibrant learning community where everyone is able to flourish.
Aligning Internal Evaluation, Staff Appraisal, Tātaiako and Teaching Practicing Certificate Evidence through Inquiry based research
Lorraine believes that it makes sense to question our practice through thoughtful investigation. In her work with teachers she supports them to focus together on an inquiry research / internal evaluation question to take their team forward into shared understanding of what makes a difference in the learning lives of their community. In this style of professional learning support, teachers begin to stretch their professional practice in ways that make an enduring difference to children’s identities as learners. This kind of collaboration means that teachers’ individual growth is inextricably connected to their team’s wellbeing, as learners together, acting in ways that show they care deeply that everyone’s learning lives are affirmed and stretched through credit based inquiry. This requires a growth mindset. Teachers set goals that are edgy and interesting, with high expectation that effort, hard work, community connectedness, surprise and uncertainty, passion and energy, will drive their investigations. This means inquiry based research that sees the Teachers’ Practising Certificate and Tātaiako as a cohesive, holistic framework, rather than as discreet indicators.
Whenever Lorraine works with teaching teams they have conversations about the value of Play in children’s lives. They start with understanding that ‘play’, uninterrupted, complex opportunities for children to be in charge of their learning, is the key. It is in play that children are able to experience every aspect of social competency, of resilience, of social justice and resourcefulness. These are the building blocks of a strong identity as a learner who will be successful long term. We are not filling children up with skills and knowledge in isolation. The dispositional strengths of children are the key to growing skills and understanding inside an environment that models wise practice. When children see teachers being kind, helping each other, prepared to have fun, take risks and challenge themselves, then they in turn do the same. Our job is to set up opportunities for long periods of play and add value through meaningful, interesting conversation and provocations that stretch children’s learning without hi-jacking it. Not in a way that we ‘teach’ but in an enthusiastic, puzzling, creative approach to learning. First we must understand what play looks like and see the learning inside this.
Strengthening Continuity across early childhood and primary school
Lorraine has had the great pleasure of working with teachers across ECE and primary. In our research we have realised what a crucial part the leaders of early childhood centres and primary schools play in opening the doors for relationships to be able to grow. For our part, we all want to find additional ways to be responsive to children’s transitional learning. Lorraine's work with teachers has been to support teaching teams to strive to have an image of children as researchers, learners out to explore their world with dispositions like curiosity and purposefulness driving their investigations. From this perspective our transition practice then seeks to share this view, in the new context of school, with the child’s teacher. When children are able to explore their working theories with creative flair, energy that comes from the motivation of a passionate inquirer, inside a community of learners that values effort, practice, thoughtfulness and social collaboration, the learning that results is imaginative. Making this learning visible through Learning Story narrative assessment, that track continuity over time, results in less pressure for the schoolification of young children and instead pushes the pedagogy of complex play up into school.
Professional Learning Facilitator
Phone: 021 706 585
Click here to email Lorraine
Kathryn has nearly 40 years experience in the Early Childhood Education sector. She started with a strong interest in her own children’s learning as a Playcentre parent. Kathryn has a Bachelor of Teaching and Learning. She has been a Childcare and Kindergarten teacher. Kathryn has been employed with the Educational Leadership Project as a Professional Learning Facilitator for 12 years. Kathryn is passionate about providing our tamariki and mokopuna with high quality education and developing teacher capacity and capability through professional learning opportunities.
”I experienced first hand the transformative process in my teaching practice through the introduction and engagement with the socio-cultural curriculum, Te Whāriki and narrative assessment. I am passionate about supporting teachers in transforming their practice by reviewing and evaluating the process of teaching by enacting the Principles and Strands of Te Whāriki.
Leadership and Inquiry
It is my privilege to be part of a process of transformation through participation in professional learning that improves outcomes for children. I consider myself to be a life-long learner and the notion of manaakitanga and ‘ako’ are strong in my practice. My strengths lie in my own pedagogical leadership and knowledge. I believe that supporting its development in teachers and leaders using Internal Evaluation as teacher inquiry in all aspects of Early Years education is vital to their professional growth and lifelong learning. I have been involved in most aspects of professional learning facilitation. This includes, Te Whāriki, Kei tua o te Pae, Biculturalism, Te Whatu Pokeka, Literacy, Mathematics, Leadership, Infants and Toddlers and Governance and Management.”
Kindness, and loving are now a big part of my life and I see this as the curriculum for life long learning. I have the honour to have a grandmothers/teachers gaze at little children and their learning and am very excited at what the future holds for them and us.
Professional Learning Facilitator
Phone: 027 366 1013
Click here to email Kathryn
Carol has over 40 years experience in early childhood and has seen many changes in legislation, programming, environments, and practice during that time. Her own childhood in the King Country has left her with lasting happy memories which are brought to life again through current theory on the importance of play for young children in developing the skills, knowledge and dispositions which enable them to meet the challenges of an uncertain world.
"ELP has been intertwined in my teaching since 2001 and this has impacted on my practice as I have worked alongside children and families. Working with ICTs to enhance learning has been an interest over the past few years and I was chosen as an e-learning fellow in 2006. Gaming is an area where I continue to explore learning possibilities for young children.”
Statement on my interest in quality teaching and learning
I am committed to helping early childhood teachers to reflect and strengthen their teaching practice and strive to improve learning outcomes for children. By better understanding the importance of documenting high quality assessment through internal evaluation, I can help teachers enhance learning outcome for children. Pedagogical leadership is vital for the implementation of learning cultures within centres where children and teachers can flourish within a culture of care and respect and knowledge of good practice and it is my intention to support learning communities to grow their competence. I am committed to my own ongoing professional development and continue to keep abreast of current theory and practice.
Strengthening Early Learning Opportunites (SELO) for the Ministry of Education
I have worked across all SELO programmes for the Ministry of Education, supporting teachers to establish inquiry through internal evaluation. Strengthening a bicultural curriculum founded on Te Tiriti o Waitangi, supporting kaiako working with Infants and Toddlers, strengthening the kaupapa and values using the Ministry documents and the metaphors embedded in these has led to teaching teams having a better understanding of 'wise practice' within early childhood.
Strengthening Kaupapa Māori
Over recent years this has been a strong focus within my work. Strengthening a bi-cultural framework using internal evaluation that has been implemented with teaching teams using inquiry. l have worked alongside Māori and Pasifika teachers and whānau in Mangere, Rotorua, Kawerau and Te Kuiti. lt is very important to form partnerships with whānau to strengthen bi-cultural development. Ensuring success for Māori tamariki to achieve educational success as Māori as well as recognising the potential of these children underpins my relationships with kaiako and whānau. My mokopuna whakapapa to Ngati Awa and Ngati Pikiao.
Working with lnfants and Toddlers
Over the past six years, supporting teachers to strengthen Iearning for lnfants and Toddlers has been an important part of my practice. I have facilitated clusters within Whakatane, South Auckland and Kawerau and the King Country to work alongside teachers to strengthen learning environments and daily practices that make a difference to the happiness and learning of infants, strengthening attachments and the ability to explore inside and outdoors in challenging and inviting settings so the neurons in the brain will be set alight and learning is seen as rewarding and fun.
Planning and Assessment
Helping teachers to work on planning children's individual learning pathways and extending these over time and making children's interests and strengths central to programme planning is important and also strengthening teacher's understanding of the importance of dispositional learning in this uncertain world as well as knowledge and skills is a strength of mine. Helping teachers to reflect on ensuring that the principles and strands of Te Whāriki underpin practice is part of inquiry practice.
Working alongside teachers to strengthen their understanding about 21st century learning and for dispositional learning to be recognised as very important learning in today's world but also to strengthen skills and knowledge. This twenty-first century world is looking for learners who look for possibilities and to realise that effort and practice brings success so to help teachers create learning environments that makes this learning the norm is important to me. Formal and informal assessment is central to curriculum and pedagogy and ensures quality learning opportunities for children when shared between teachers and whānau that results in shared understandings of practice. By revisiting the importance of play with teachers and the adult role in scaffolding and supporting children while allowing play to belong to the players we can challenge our thinking and our roles that allow children to be engaged with others in complex thinking, so they are forming and strengthening their working theories. Helping teachers to understand the need to modify routines to provide children with greater opportunities for uninterrupted play and to support children to investigate, strengthen their own learning and knowledge through play is such an important role within my work.
Professional Learning Facilitator
Phone: 027 437 3755
Click here to email Carol
Kim holds a Higher and Advanced Diploma in Teaching (ECE); a Masters in Education (Adult and Higher); and a Unitec Certificate in Coaching and Mentoring. She has worked in a variety of early childhood settings including kindergarten, a Mobile Preschool Unit, and a sessional preschool centre for 2-5 year olds, which she co-established and taught in. For three years she was the leader of a passionate team of 9 Senior Teachers who provided support, and a programme of professional development, for teachers in kindergartens from Wellsford to Waiuku.
Kim has over 25 years experience establishing and facilitating a wide range of professional development workshops and programmes for Early Childhood Educators and within the Adult and Higher Education sector. She has a strong commitment to equity, diversity and social justice which has led to facilitating a range of related professional learning workshops. These included a large number focusing on Te Tiriti O Waitangi’ and/or ‘Cultural Competence’ across a wide range of educational, health related and community settings for the Auckland Workers Education Association (AWEA).
Kim joined the ELP team in 2014. She is enjoying the privilege this role provides by offering the opportunity to support teaching teams in Northland. In addition to facilitating customised workshops for individual centres, she has worked with clusters of centres, participating in MoE funded professional learning opportunities (SELO), to undergo a long term Self review focusing on Leadership; Infants and Toddlers; Literarcy; or Maths.
Kim lives in Waipu and has a wonderful blended family with six grandchildren.
Leadership and Inquiry
Much of her work has been focused on designing and facilitating leadership development programmes. She is deeply committed to basing these on the concept of distributed (shared) leadership. This empowers teams to work together recognising and utilising everyone’s strengths, sharing ideas, collaborating in decision making and growing as a team. In ECE this includes the importance of working in partnership with families and whānau to achieve positive outcomes for every child. Te Whāriki’s aspirational statement that children grow up as competent and confident learners will be well supported by a capable and confident team of teachers working together.
Kim is passionate about supporting teachers to enhance skills as reflective practitioners and teacher/researchers, enrich team dynamics, and share learning experiences and research within wider communities of practice.
Professional Learning Facilitator
Phone: 021 907 399
Click here to email Kim
Anita has been working in Early Childhood Education for over 20 years now, enjoying opportunities to grow her teaching learning philosophy. She has had experience in all aspects of ECE, working as a teacher, and in leadership and curriculum development. Anita is passionate about supporting teachers in their teaching learning journeys, strengthening their practice and inspiring them to grow as professionals.
Anita has had the privilege of being both a participant and a facilitator in the ELP professional learning clusters. Being a participant in the infant and toddler cluster in 2005 was a turning point for Anita, leading her on a journey to creating programmes and environments for infants and toddlers. Anita believes that as early childhood educators, we have the opportunity to be innovative thinkers and creators of new ways of supporting learning and development for children. She has facilitated cluster groups, using Inquiry-based Research as a way of strengthening teaching and learning and have enjoyed seeing the shifts in practice and the positive impact this has made on children’s learning.
Curriculum and Assessment
Anita has worked with teams on implementing Te Whāriki into daily practice and bringing it to the forefront in Learning Stories. When we think of Learning Stories as a way of assessment, we are open to seeing children’s learning in a variety of ways, not just a single story. It has been exciting to see teams gaining a understanding of Learning Stories, with a commitment to taking the learning deeper, as well as being intentional in how to further support children’s exploration and learning.
Infant and Toddler Learning and Development
Anita is very passionate about providing our youngest learners with the best start to life and learning. She has worked and led teams in developing programmes designed specifically for infants and toddlers. Anita has been inspired by the work of Magda Gerber and Dr Emmi Pikler, where Care is the Curriculum, and seeing our youngest learners as able to take the lead in their learning and loves how this weaves in beautifully with our national curriculum, Te Whāriki, in particular the principles. At the heart of both is Relationship, working in partnership with child, whānau and teachers, to support learning and development. This is built on the foundation of Respectful and Reflective Practice. Nature and sustainability is important to Anita and she works with teams to create environments and offering children experiences with this in mind.
Teacher Registration Mentoring
Anita had had the privilege of supporting a number of teachers toward full registration, providing advice and guidance. It is inspiring to see teachers grow as reflective practitioners, critical thinkers and advocates for children’s learning and development.
Governance and Management
Anita has helped to set up early childhood centres, including setting up the environment and organising policies and procedures. She has supported centres with strategic and annual planning, and philosophy development.
Professional Learning Facilitator
Phone: 021 260 7081
Click here to email Anita
Jo has a Bachelor of Teaching and has been a teacher in a variety of ECE settings including Kindergarten, a creche, full day ECE settings as well as being a Play Centre Parent. Her most recent teaching experience was at Glamorgan Kindergarten in 2014 for a term. Previous to this her last long term job was at Westmere kindergarten where she was head teacher for 8 years.
In 2005, Jo was selected as one of ten teachers to represent New Zealand at the Microsoft Innovative Teachers Conference in Seoul. She was also the first early childhood E-Fellow 2005 (a Ministry funded teacher release contract). Her research was titled “Can the use of Information Communication Technologies (ICT) enhance the complexity, connections and continuity of young children’s story telling?”
Jo has been working with Educational Leadership for the last 11 years and has many highlights through this time, including working with teachers through out New Zealand and overseas. Jo is currently teaching at Chelsea Kindergarten, loving working alongside Julie Killick and Joanne Behse, putting into practice what she has shared with teachers over the years. Jo is available through ELP for private evening work in the Auckland area.
Inquiry Based Learning
I have been supporting teaching teams with Internal Evaluation and work with an Inquiry based learning model, the shifts that happen for individuals and teams through this process strengthens outcomes for children as well as strengthening teachers reflective practice. Teams I work with I encourage to develop a research question and indicators to support their question, this process indicates action is going to happen and teachers will be the people leading this action and change. For many teams this is the first time they have worked collaboratively on an inquiry based review and they find it really brings the team together sharing a common goal and having regular time to discuss and share learning.
Te Whāriki underpins everything I do within my practice from working with children, to working with teaching teams and colleagues. In particular the Principles of Te Whāriki, relationships, empowerment, holistic development and family and community are central to the way I live my life and the way I am everyday in my place of work. This is not just a curriculum that guides us in the way we work with children and families, it is also a document with principles to guide us in the way we work and interact with each other on a daily basis.
I have worked on the Ministry funded Te Whāriki contract where I supported teachers to deepen their understandings of what a socio-cultural curriculum looks like in everyday practice and through this Professional Development, I too gained a deeper understanding of living Te Whāriki, it is way more than implementing Te Whāriki, it is a lived curriculum and has changed the way I am as a teacher and the way I view the world.
I have a deep interest in socio-cultural assessment, learning stories and planning and have seen the difference this can make for outcomes for children. In particular I am very interested in the continuity of learning, documenting progress for a child or for groups of children. Reflecting on the learning happening for children overtime with a dispositional lens, and encouraging teachers to write from their hearts when they write a learning story. This shifts teachers to a different place in their writing.. For many years now the bulk of my work has been about supporting teachers to deepen their understandings of what socio-cultural learning, teaching and assessment look like in every day practice and as a consequence of this my own understandings of the theory underpinning learning, teaching and assessment has strengthened. My own philosophy is strengthened by the work of Margaret Carr, Guy Claxton, Carol Dweck and Wendy Lee, whose principles I take into my daily life when working with teachers and with children.
At the heart of what I do in my work with teachers is relationships I think basically if we think of Te Whāriki in regards to not only guide us in the way we interact with children, it is also applicable to us as teachers and the way we interact with each other. What particularly resonates with me is the children's questions, 'Do you know me, Can I trust you, Do you hear me, Do you let me fly and Is this place fair for us? If we keep these to the forefront of our minds then I think this is a framework for guiding me in the establishment and ongoing maintaining of relationships, with teachers, with children, with whānau and with the wider community.
Information and Communication Technologies
I am passionate about the use of ICT to support children’s learning and am very confident in this area. I work in responsive ways, listening, watching, engaging and supporting children’s interests in what ever way I can. I do see my self as a learner and researcher alongside children and other adults. A shared understanding between the teaching team about children’s learning, is critical for collaborative teaching and this happens through the day to day professional discussions and sharing the assessments of children’s learning.
Professional Learning Facilitator
Phone: 021 485 523
Click here to email Jo
I gained my Bachelor of Education (ECE), and Certificate in Adult Teaching as an adult student. I have 22 years of teaching experience across a broad range of early childhood settings including Playcentre, home-based care, and community based early learning centres. 13 years in a Centre Manager role. ELP Facilitators have been my critical friends during this time and we have worked on inquiries in distributed leadership, companionship, boys in play, literacy, and mathematics.
“The sacred urge to play” by Pennie Brownlee is my favourite read, and this quote sighted within it speaks to my heart as a teacher. “It is in playing and only in playing that the individual child or adult is able to be creative and use the whole personality, and it is only in being creative that the individual discovers the self” (D. W. Winnicott).
My happy place is Whangamata beach, where I connect with nature and family. I spend many hours gathering the gifts of Papatūānuku (the Earth Mother). I value the moments when tamariki stop and stare in awe (wehi) at the wonder of the natural world. Setting up environments with natural materials and loose parts excites me. I have a keen interest in ephemeral art. More recently I am learning alongside the children to develop a greater sense of environmental awareness through composting and worm farms.
I value the individual strengths of teachers within a team. Sharing teacher expertise is important to the growth and development of everyone. Nobody has all the answers; we can support, research, network, and step outside our comfort zones to give something a try, and if it does not work first time, learn from our mistakes. We are growing and learning alongside the children. I value creative, divergent, and innovative thinking.
Relationships are the foundation of all learning. By implementing a key teacher model, I believe that distributed leadership can be reconceptualised. Each child is an individual, who has inherited traits from their ancestors. The child is surrounded by those who have passed on, and by their whānau in day-to-day life. Strengthening our bonds with whānau is an important part of our role as teachers. Tamariki are part of the whānau and the whānau is part of the tamariki. One cannot be separated from the other.
Compassion, love, and kindness
I am very passionate about children spending time in mixed age settings. By developing a culture of tuakana/teina, older children delight in opportunities to care for and help younger children, and by doing so, practice kindness and learn tolerance from their younger peers. I also believe that our youngest children are the leaders of tomorrow and through observation, imitation and practice we see these children blossom.
Professional Learning Facilitator
Phone: 027 372 5897
Click here to email Michelle
I originally trained to become a teacher in England, at The University of Cambridge. I was privileged to be learning alongside an impressive host of scholars and fellows who instilled a passion for research, reading and learning about tamariki and education. From then on, during my nearly 10 years of teaching and learning with tamariki I have always be drawn to continually challenge myself to try something new, take a chance and have a go. Since being in New Zealand I have been inspired and motivated by the ELP team to make a difference for our tamariki. I am thrilled to be joining the team and cannot wait to work with more passionate kaiako as we continue to be advocates for our tamariki and for the early education that they are a part of in New Zealand.
'You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than a year conversation’
As a kaiako passionate about developing lifelong learners, I believe in creating an environment in which tamariki can reach their full potential and extend their skills in order to succeed as learners and members of a cohesive community. As the above quote suggests I believe that learning through play is of the upmost importance and think that it is through play that tamariki are able to engage in deep level learning; play is a very serious business and I believe, as the saying goes, that play is the highest form of research. We are designed to learn through play and it is our job as kaiako to create environments that are singing out to be explored, investigated and played in.
‘The best classroom and the richest cupboard are roofed only by the sky’
- Margaret McMillan
Spending time in the outdoor environment and playing in nature should be at the top of our agenda. There is more and more research showing the negative effects of not being outside and I am passionate about working with kaiako and tamariki to ensure that are taking time to be outside. When we develop time and space to be in and connect with nature we are helping to develop a commitment to looking after our planet as well as looking after ourselves. I have spent time in the Norwegian Nature Kindergartens and have brought this into my teaching practice and leadership in New Zealand and the UK. Richard Louv reminds us that ‘the health of the child and the health of the planet are inseparable’. If we keep this in our mind when learning and playing with tamariki we will be setting the next generation up for success.
Environment and loose parts
‘The wider the range of possibilities we offer children, the more intense will be their motivations and the richer their experiences’
- Loris Malaguzzi
I wholeheartedly agree with the philosophy that the environment is the third teacher and I have worked tirelessly with my previous teams to ensure that our environment motivates and inspires learners to take their learning to the next level. I am a huge advocate for loose parts and believe that in providing an environment that is full of open-ended resources we are enabling our tamariki to become the problem solvers, inventors and divergent thinkers of the future.
Professional Learning Facilitator
Phone: 021 045 0219
Click here to email Harriet
Mihaela has been a teacher and researcher in early childhood and primary education for 27 years. She has worked in primary schools overseas and in early childhood centres, kindergartens, home-based education and tertiary teaching in New Zealand. She is a lifelong learner and at present is studying towards a PhD in Education degree at the University of Auckland.
Early years pedagogy
Mihaela's practice stems from a feminist, embodied pedagogy of love, authenticity and respect. In order to be able to establish meaningful, professional yet personal relationships, teachers need to possess a connective capacity (Palmer, 1999).
Childhood is a period of freedom, hope and laughing, when children experience the innocence of their age and remember it as the best time of their lives. Play is a childhood right and every child should have the time and space to play freely.
Children need to be given opportunities to discover what brings them joy in life and teachers should help them to develop inner resources to deal with adversity (Stinson, 2005). It is about helping children discover their passions, their strengths and weaknesses, and also help them persevere with difficulty, with life's challenges.
Culture and diversity
Having immigrated to New Zealand in 2001, Mihaela calls New Zealand her spiritual home. Here she has discovered the beauty of Aotearoa / The Land of the Long White Cloud, the kindness of tangata whenua and the richness of te ao Maori. In her new homeland, Mihaela has found herself: now she knows who she is. She has also discovered a passion for culture and diversity studies. She promotes children's and families' first language/s and is an advocate for maintaining ethnic and cultural traditions and practices. Research shows that the more languages children speak, the more flexible and adaptable their brains become. At the same time, by being able to accept diversity and difference in the early years, children may become more accepting and understanding at school and later in life, and our society may become more inclusive.
What we teach is who we are (Susan Stinson, 1999).
Mihaela's Master's thesis was awarded the University of Auckland Habens Prize (2016) and focused on immigrant teacher identity. The purpose was to investigate how cultural experiences impacted on immigrant teacher identity and practice. Teaching and living in multicultural Auckland, teachers are a reflection of the ethnic and cultural composition of the society. It becomes imperative for teachers to know themselves, their origins and roots, so that in turn they are able to affirm children's and families' ethnicities and cultures. Stories are a way of living better lives (Holman Jones, Adams, & Ellis, 2014) and teachers' stories could become a small step towards "the change we seek in the world" (Holman Jones, 2016, p.228).
You could access the thesis online or email Mihaela for a copy:
Enache, M. (2017). Becoming teachers in Aotearoa New Zealand: A collaborative autoethnographic study about Romanian immigrant teacher identity and practice The University of Auckland. ResearchSpace@Auckland.
Mihaela's PhD thesis entitled "Crossing borders, shifting lives: immigrant teachers' autoethnographic stories about teacher identity and practice in New Zealand" will investigate the intricacies and complexities of identity development of (early childhood) immigrant teachers from a variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds, and their influences on the teaching process, and it will provide insight into promoting cultural responsiveness.
Volunteer work in the community
Schools and early childhood centres need "to reconstruct their relations with the communities they allegedly serve" (Giroux, 1995, p. 301). Mihaela firmly believes in creating better communities through volunteer work. She founded and coordinated the Romanian School in Auckland (2009-2011), based entirely on the volunteer work of teachers and parents. Please check the link below:
She also founded Doina Folk Dancing Group in 2013, group which has participated in numerous cultural shows and festivals. Please check the links below:
Professional Learning Facilitator
Phone: 027 523 9347
Click here to email Mihaela