EIT Primary Education Research Symposium


On Saturday 19th August a keen bunch of 40 educators gathered for the inaugural Eastern Institute of Technology’s Primary Education Research Symposium hosted by the Bachelor of Teaching (Primary) team of teacher educators.

Members of the Matariki Kāhui Ako set an inspiring tone for the morning sharing their vision of ‘maximising student outcomes through collaboration’.

Maurice Rehu, Richmond School, Daniel Murfitt, William Colenso College and Maureen Mua, Richmond School, inspired us with a powerful example of building whanaungatanga and educational success as a community of learners. Teachers and principals from within the Community of Learning visit each others’ schools, creating connections with each others’ students and gaining the value of each other’s expertise authentically. The Kāhui Ako celebrates its schools as centres of excellence, with great students, capable of achieving great things!

‘what happens for kids changes whānau’

Creating ‘healthy and vibrant whānau’.

Members of the Matariki Kāhui Ako identify community collaboration as an opportunity for talking within and across sectors, and for acting together powerfully to create the conditions needed for social and educational success for our tamariki and whānau.

Chris Bradbeer of Stonefields School and University of Melbourne inspired us to think of contemporary teaching as a ‘team sport’ and what this might mean for collaborating in practice.


Chris cut through binaries of ‘conventional’ vs ‘innovative learning’, in talking about teaching and learning in innovative learning environments, challenging us to think instead about ‘purposeful design’ of learning environments that are congruent with a school’s vision.

He posed three generative questions:

‘What are the opportunities of spaces?’ ‘What can we do now that we couldn’t do before?’ ‘How can we maximise impact?’

Chris highlighted the importance of collective teacher efficacy in ILEs with ‘High performing teams’ a key to success and collaboration as the amplifier for this success.

Dr Emily Nelson and Leigh Johnson, EIT challenged us to consider the challenges innovative learning environments create for preservice teachers on practicum. The voice of preservice teachers is largely absent in research relating to innovative learning environments.

Alongside the increased collaborative support and boosted self-efficacy preservice teachers can experience in collaborative hubs, they face key challenges also, vital for Associate teachers and teacher educators to consider in supporting an ILE practicum, including the challenge to:

  • Negotiate virtual spaces where they might not have full access, limiting their ability to fully occupy the teaching role
  • Assume teaching responsibility for larger groups of learners, stretching their abilities to plan and teach responsively to students’ learning needs
  • Negotiate physical and pedagogical spaces ‘under construction’ where teachers are still working out how their innovative learning environments will operate
  • Think on their feet and respond to the changing needs of students and colleagues, whilst drawing on the most formative professional knowledge.

Julie Whyte, EIT opened up our thinking around the maths anxiety which affects many of our teachers. She defined maths anxiety as:

‘Feelings of tension and anxiety that interfere with actions with numbers’

One key consequence of maths anxiety in teachers is that it impacts on students’ views of maths and themselves as mathematicians.

The presentation really struck a chord with everyone in the room because it is an area that teachers grapple with on a daily basis.

Julie challenged us to consider our own maths autobiographies, and the language we use around our maths abilities. Do we wear maths anxiety as a ‘badge of honour?’

Julie suggested that teachers get creative with how they teach maths, sharing her particular favourite strategies that include using rich and engaging picture books to teach maths concepts and develop positive student relationships with maths.

Kirsty Jones, EIT and Frances Corkery, Ministry of Education challenged us to identify the ‘boundary objects’ that broker connections and shared purpose within, and across our professional contexts. In the BTP the Mentor Teacher planner acts as a boundary object, providing a shared vision that enables teacher educators and school-based mentor teachers to support our preservice teachers as they move between campus learning and putting this into practice in their school-based learning contexts.

Kirsty and Frances presented ‘storylines’ of mentoring – the threads that make sense of the mentoring role in particular ways. We were challenged to consider what our own storylines of mentoring and leadership might be?

Richard Edwards, EIT concluded the morning, drawing together themes of connection, collaboration and communication running as storylines through each of the symposium presentations.


Participants expressed the value of the symposium as:

‘It was great to hear relevant learning from my own colleagues and from teachers in the primary and secondary sector.’

‘It was very timely for me and addressed and supported the recent changes occurring for us.’

‘Information on current educational issues. Networking with others.’

‘It was great to have a range of educators across the education sector all talking the same language and interested in each other’s work.’


The EIT Primary Education Research Symposium, as an annual event in Hawke’s Bay, will showcase research and pedagogical innovation emerging within the education sector. The symposium is an opportunity to share insights and learning within: Kāhui Ako, Teaching as Inquiry projects, Teacher-led Innovation Fund studies and post-graduate research.

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