Teachers recognised as NZ's top digital learners



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Three teachers have been recognised as the country’s top digital learners, winning the prestigious NEXT Foundation Expert Teacher Award at The Mind Lab by Unitec’s graduation in Auckland yesterday.

Winning educators Matt Dalton from Rotorua Boys’ High School and Kate Gifford-Maposua and Susannah Fowler of South Auckland’s The Gardens School, recently completed The Mind Lab’s Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Practice (Digital & Collaborative Learning). They were celebrated at yesterday’s ceremony alongside 366 fellow teachers from the November 2015 and March 2016 cohorts.

NEXT Foundation awarded two $5,000 scholarships, one for each cohort – Matt from the November 2015 intake, and Kate and Susannah share the award from the March 2016 intake.

All three teachers hold leadership positions within their respective schools, with Matt and Kate both deputy principals and Susannah as principal.

The NEXT Foundation Expert Teacher Award celebrates the three teachers’ commitment to broadening their skills to help their students gain the skills needed for 21st Century careers. Matt says winning the award is a humbling experience and the results he has seen in his classroom and across the school from the other teachers who are participating in this programme are remarkable.

“The Mind Lab’s postgraduate programme was a valuable opportunity to reflect on and develop my teaching practice and leadership. I cultivated new ideas through collaboration and challenged pre-conceived ideas about what I believed education to be,” he says.  

Kate and Susannah were jointly awarded the scholarship to reflect their teamwork throughout the programme.

"We are on a journey with our entire staff to prepare for our brand new school, opening in November.  The Mind Lab fitted perfectly in assisting with pedagogical change, strengthening collaboration between teachers and students. We thank the generous support of NEXT Foundation and the team at The Mind Lab," says Susannah.

“By having so many teachers involved, we have significantly enhanced the level of professional discussion, and created energy and enthusiasm for our future. The Mind Lab has made a large contribution towards our teachers embracing a truly collaborative environment,” says Kate.

The winners were selected from six finalists through an interview process led by Frank Janssen of NEXT Foundation, who was impressed with the significant leadership and strategic journeys each winner demonstrated.

“Matt, Kate and Susannah are all achieving fantastic results with their schools by implementing 21st century pedagogy into their teaching practices. Their forward-thinking approach shows these leaders have the foresight, determination and strategic vision to prepare their students for the new world in a truly collaborative way,” he says.

The other finalists were Anne Bissland from Christchurch’s Rangi Ruru Girls’ High School (previously Papanui High School), Aisling Browne and Sheree Barker from Gisborne’s Campion College, Grace Williams from Whangarei Girls’ High School, and Kirstin Anderson-McGhie from Auckland’s Oteha Valley School.

Frances Valintine, Founder and Chair of The Mind Lab by Unitec, congratulated the winners and finalists, saying it’s fantastic to see both leaders and teachers recognised from all over the country. She also thanked NEXT Foundation for its on-going commitment to supporting and investing in The Mind Lab’s educational aspirations.

“Our partnership with NEXT Foundation shares a vision to provide all Kiwis with the skills and confidence to embrace the opportunities of a globalised world. The digital and collaborative skills our teachers gain through our postgraduate programme empower young people – our future leaders – equipping them for the jobs of the future.”

Launched in 2014, NEXT Foundation plans to invest $100 million over the next ten years. It provided 1,350 teacher scholarships in 2016 to allow public school teachers to undertake The Mind Lab’s postgraduate programme.

The Mind Lab by Unitec has become the largest education facility in New Zealand in three years of operation. Over the next five years The Mind Lab has the goal of teaching over 10,000 teachers and 180,000 school students.

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