#NZAREtop10: Our top 10 most-read posts of 2020

2020 – what a year! Despite bush fires, elections, protests, and (of course) the COVID-19 pandemic, Ipu Kererū, the NZARE blog, soldiered on. As always, we are very grateful to those NZARE members and guests who have contributed posts in the past year.

It’s become an annual tradition to start off each new year with a round-up of our 10 most-read posts from the previous 12 months. We hope you enjoy looking back over these great reads, and we look forward to bringing you more research findings and research-informed commentary over the year to come!

The posts below span a range of topics and come from contributors at all career stages. This breadth and inclusiveness is part of what we think makes NZARE so special. Whether you’re a postgraduate student, a professor, a practitioner, or a philosopher, we’d love to work with YOU to publish your blog contributions in 2021! Check out the information for contributors here, or contact us at blog@nzare.org.nz

Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, engari, he toa takitini.
My success is not that of an individual, but of a community.

Māori whakataukī / proverb

1. Exploring the connection between Kaupapa Māori, outdoor play, and children’s wellbeing

Our most-read post of 2020 came from doctoral student Yasmine Slater (Ngāti Kahu and Te Arawa). Drawing on the literature review and early conceptual work for her PhD, Yasmine explored how outdoor play supports children’s wellbeing and how traditional Māori perspectives on the environment and on wellbeing intersected with Western literature. She then shared a new conceptual framework, entitled He tamaiti, he taiao, he ora, that depicts the interrelationships between tamariki / children, their tupuna / ancestors, their whakapapa / history and genealogy, the taiao / natural environment, hauora / wellbeing, and Te Whāriki, the New Zealand early childhood curriculum.

Read Yasmine’s post here.

2. Positive school leadership that supports teacher wellbeing

Our second most-read post in 2020 came from another PhD student, but this time reporting on recently completed Masters research. Given extensive research highlighting teacher burnout and low levels of wellbeing, NZARE council member Rachel Cann researched how school leaders can take positive actions to enhance teacher wellbeing. Her study, and this blog post, highlighted the need for teachers to feel valued, the impact of meaningful professional development, and the importance of teacher agency. She integrated her findings into a model of positive school leadership for flourishing teachers.

Read Rachel’s post here.

3. The enduring effect of exemplary teachers of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most disengaged secondary school students: An ideology of hope

New Zealand has the unenviable reputation of having one of the most inequitable education systems in the world. Rachel Maitland (Ngāi te Ruahikihiki, Ngāti Huirapa, Ngāi Tūāhuriri) works with students participating in Alternative Education and Youth Justice programmes – some of the most marginalised students within our education system. In this post, Rachel shares her Masters research into the teachers who have an exceptional ability to engage the most resistant learners in their learning environment. She identifies the things that these remarkable teachers know (mataurangaknowledge, wisdom, understanding), believe (kaupapapurpose, passion, vision, and values), and do (tikangamethods, techniques, and practices). Rachel’s findings provide fresh insight and food for thought regarding how the educational needs of disengaged learners might be met.

Read Rachel’s post here.

4. Assessment of oral language and emergent literacy indicators in the first year of school

This post comes from Dr Elizabeth Schaughency and Dr Jane Carroll, researchers at the University of Otago, and drew on their recent article in the New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies (NZARE’s official journal). Elizabeth and Jane’s research investigated what approaches or tools NZ teachers and schools are already using at school entry to assess new entrant children’s developing competencies in oral language and emergent literacy, and what additional oral language and literacy tools they would like for their professional kete (toolkit). As a result of this work, the research team have been trialling some new and alternative assessment approaches for early oral language and literacy screening.

Read the full post here.

5. Context counts: Using culture as a lever for equity in mathematics

This post again touched on the theme of the recurring inequities in Aotearoa NZ’s education system, but this time in relation to mathematics teaching. Bronwen Gibbs shared the findings of her Masters research, which examined what happens when we draw on students’ cultural capital in the mathematics classroom. A group of Year 7 and 8 Māori and Pāsifika students from a low socio-economic, urban primary school participated in a series of eight algebra lessons that used algebra problems linked to familiar cultural contexts. Students benefited both in terms of their mathematics learning and their mathematical and cultural identities, indicating that recognising the inherently cultural nature of mathematics can be a key lever for equity.

Read Bronwen’s post here.

6. Boost teacher numbers with one policy: Promoting part time teaching

Another issue facing educational systems around the globe is ensuring sufficient teacher supply. In this post, freelance researcher and postgraduate student Ellie Good argues that one potentially powerful lever for increasing teacher supply in Aotearoa NZ would be to promote part-time teaching. Drawing on research from NZ and overseas, Ellie highlights the potential benefits of more part-time teaching work. She also explores potential barriers, including related to pay, career progression, and the scarcity of advertised part-time vacancies in NZ at present. This post provides a fresh perspective on how changes to existing norms might make a difference in the NZ context.

Read Ellie’s post here.

7. How can early childhood teachers reclaim caring? A crucial and complex aspect of early childhood teaching

Our 7th most-read post of 2020 was contributed by Dr Alison Warren and reported on her doctoral research into emotions in early childhood education. The post particularly considered the concept of caring in ECE – noting that caring is sometimes seen as important for children’s wellbeing but as being separate from, and/or of lesser value than, educating children. Alison reconceptualises caring as a concept, problematic, and dynamic construct and explores instances of “caring” within ECE settings. She highlights the tensions within teachers’ professional responsibilities and the way that what constitutes “caring” is highly specific to different situations and settings. Overall, this post challenges teachers and others involved in early childhood education to rethink what “caring” means and its centrality and complexity as part of a teacher’s role.

Read Alison’s post here.

8. What might it take to create disturbing professional learning and development for teachers involved in Pacific Education?

As teachers across NZ’s education system seek to become more culturally responsive, this post by Dr Martyn Reynolds focuses on how professional development can best contribute to that journey. Drawing on his PhD research and his experiences as a Pākehā educator working with Pacific learners, Martyn argues that effective professional development needs to go beneath the surface to transform and broaden teachers’ worldviews; that PD needs to include opportunities for teachers to hear directly from the students they wish to serve; and that PD needs to equip teachers with relevant professional knowledge. Martyn describes examples of such professional development and the impact it has on teachers.

Read Martyn’s post here.

9. COVID is a reason to do more, not less, for our children

This post was a guest contribution from Judge Andrew Becroft, the New Zealand Children’s Commissioner. Following the October 2020 general election and the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Judge Becroft issued a challenge to all who work in education, policy, or government sectors to help create a fairer New Zealand for our children. Appropriately for our blog context, Judge Becroft drew on research that his Office had conducted with more than 6000 NZ young people, exploring what they felt constituted a “good life”. He acknowledged progress and identified a range of specific actions that NZ could take to make sure that our response to 2020 is not just “shovel ready”, but future ready.

Read Judge Becroft’s post here.

10. Television changed our day jobs

For anyone with children, a memorable feature of NZ’s COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020 was the Papa Kāinga TV / Home Learning TV programming developed by the Education Review Office, Ministry of Education, Te Kura, and TVNZ. The new home learning channels went to air just a week after the Minister of Education announced their development – a remarkable feat of teamwork and coordination even if we had not been in the midst of a national lockdown! In this two-part blog series, one of the teams that contributed to Home Learning TV shares the “inside story” of what they did and how. Part 1 of the blog shares some personal insights into life behind the scenes for one of the script writing teams, and members of the ERO/Ministry of Education/Te Kura quality assurance team. In Part 2, presenters Suzy Cato and Shawn “The Science Guy” Cooper reflect on some of their experiences with the project.

Read the 2-part blog series here: Part 1 and Part 2

Once again, a huge THANK YOU to all our contributors, editors, readers and followers! Keep following Ipu Kererū as we head into a new year with lots of challenging, thought-provoking, and inspiring contributions from our members.

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