Collaborating while maintaining unique identity

Kirsty Jones

Teacher Educators in the Eastern Institute of Technology’s (EIT) practice-based Bachelor of Teaching Primary (BTP) programme regularly visit their partnership schools to support Candidate Teachers to make connections between their learning on campus and their learning in schools.  Our recent visits focused on understanding more deeply the unique innovations and the key developments our partners are engaged in, and using that learning to strengthen our programme.

On my school visits I was inspired by the wide range of innovative, and successful practice offered in response to learner’s needs. There were many different approaches to teaching and learning within, and across schools taking place, all of which empowered teachers and enabled them to act with agency. Diversity in school philosophy and strategic direction, and vision was embraced and celebrated too.

The schools also recognised the value of working with each other though, and through communities of learning and other clustering models they had a common commitment to improving student learning.

I noticed that teachers were implementing their unique style within the individual school context while maintaining strong practices of collaboration among their colleagues, and with other schools.

These collaborative practices common across schools in communities of learning and school clusters were carefully defined through the use of boundary objects. These are ‘treaty’ agreements, achievement challenge statements and other information that enable agreement about the fundamentals that underpin effective teaching and learning, allowing for individual school agency and autonomy as well as guiding collective decision making, and the implementation of developmental actions.

Two current educational frameworks are alive as boundary frameworks across schools in our BTP partnership.

  1. The 7 Principles of Learning (OCED, The Nature of Learning, 2016)
  2. The Effective Teaching Profile (Bishop et al., 2003)

The ‘overarching ideals’ in these frameworks enable respect for different approaches as well as the ability to collaborate successfully. These frameworks are alive within the curriculum and the partnership practices between schools and EIT, further building coherence for our preservice teachers when they work within multiple, diverse but connected schools. These boundary frameworks enable a shared language between Teacher Educators and school personnel that collectively supports Candidate Teachers to successfully navigate their understanding of effective teaching and learning, and identify their own teaching dispositions.

With the increasing need to share the responsibility for meeting learner needs, at all levels of our education system balancing individual agency and school autonomy can be embraced within deep collaboration, through effective frameworks, structure and systems.

HB partner princ MTs

EIT’s Bachelor of Teaching Primary Teacher Educators and Partnership School Principals and Mentor Teachers – 2018


Bishop, R. Berryman, M., Tiakiwai, S., & Richardson, C. (2003). Te Kotahitanga: The experiences of year 9 and 10 Māori students in mainstream classrooms. Wellington, New Zealand: Ministry of Education.

The Nature of Learning (2016).


TKI – Te Kete Ipurangi (2018).


Wikipedia Foundation Inc (2018).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s