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Kiwi teachers awarded for future-focused education

Kiwi teachers awarded for bringing future-focused education to students
The Mind Lab by Unitec and NEXT Foundation have awarded two Kiwi teachers for their efforts in bringing a future-forward perspective to education in their schools.

Auckland, 11 April 2018 - Today The Mind Lab by Unitec and NEXT Foundation have commended two Kiwi teachers for their dedication to bring education into the 21st century, and finding innovative approaches ensure students build the skills they need for our rapidly changing world.

At The Mind Lab’s graduation ceremony held today in Auckland, Zara Parsons, English Teacher at Orewa College in Auckland, and Kate Divett, Year 3 and 4 teacher and lead teacher of the Arts at Cashmere Primary Te Pae Kereru, were named this year’s NEXT Expert Teacher Award winners. Teachers receiving this award are recognised for their high achievement in The Mind Lab’s Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Practice (Digital & Collaborative Learning) and adapting their practice to bring value and inspiration to their peers and students.

NEXT Foundation CEO, Bill Kermode, says the foundation is delighted to support the awards, and has been impressed with the numbers and calibre of teachers undertaking the digital qualification.

“It’s wonderful to see the teachers commitment and enthusiasm to embrace technology. NEXT’s investment in this qualification aligns with our focus on teacher excellence - which ultimately enhances New Zealand children’s education,” he says.

David Parsons, National Postgraduate Director at The Mind Lab, says, “These awards showcase who truly is the expert teacher out of the hundreds of hard working, high achieving professional educators who complete the programme. What the recipients do with their award, worth $5,000 to the recipient, is of course up to them, but we know that in several cases they have taken advantage of these funds to support further study, and even greater development of their expertise.”

On her experience of the programme and what she took away from it, Zara Parsons says, “One of the underlying changes to my teaching practice has been I’m focusing so much more on skills now, rather than knowledge content - because that’s how life works outside of school. [...] Part of the way through The Mind Lab [programme] I got really inspired by how education can break walls and overcome barriers within schools.”

One key change Zara has made has been to break down the silos between English, P.E. and Maths subjects to enable students to work on these different areas while exploring key topics. She says approaching education in this way, with a fresh perspective, better prepares students for the future.

The other NEXT Expert Teacher Winner, Kate Divett, says, “When I consider the challenges of today’s education system I’ve been musing on the rate of change over the course of the past few years and even in my own lifetime.”

She says children today live in digital world where soft skills, key competencies, relationship intelligence, and problem solving skills help to prepare students for the future and build successful, engaged participants in society.

Throughout her own learning journey Kate says she has been refining her practice, and is now collaborating with four other teachers to allow each to focus more on their passion and area of expertise and offer students more in the way of music, maths, Te Reo and writing.

Zara and Kate both acknowledge there are challenges that arise when bringing new practices into a classroom or school, but it is worth it for the benefit of the students.

Launched in 2014, NEXT Foundation has provided 1,350 teacher scholarships since 2017 to allow public school teachers to undertake The Mind Lab’s postgraduate programme.

Since its inception in 2013, the Mind Lab by Unitec has become the largest education facility of its kind in New Zealand, and has offered its postgraduate programme in more than 30 locations around New Zealand, teaching 1 in 4 teachers around the country.


ENDS

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