Digital teachers with confidence

02 December 2015

Manaiakalani Digital Teacher Academy's first graduates.

In her blog post, beginning teacher Karen Belt wrote about creating a laminated lower-case keyboard card to scaffold a new reading activity project she had introduced in her junior class that involved copying or transcribing words from a book. She also used an Apple TV to show learners how to change the size of the text box and how to put a space between words.

These methods may sound simple, but it takes sound knowledge and confidence to design and use such tools to improve learning outcomes in schools.

Last week, 10 beginning teachers became the first graduates of the Manaiakalani Digital Teacher Academy (MDTA). MDTA is an innovative education programme created by the Manaiakalani Education Trust in partnership with Google and the University of Auckland.

A ceremony was held at the Google headquarters in Auckland City, which, for the new graduates, was the culmination of two years of hard work that included studying for a Bachelor of Education (Teaching)(Honours) at the University while teaching a class full-time in Manaiakalani schools. Mentor teachers also study towards a Masters of Professional Studies in Education completing courses tailored to their needs.

MDTA collaborators, from left to right: Fiona Grant, Dr Mei Lai, Professor Graeme Aitken, Jenny Oxley, Pat Sneddon, Ross Young, Dorothy Burt and Anne Sinclair.

The MDTA uses methods which integrate hands-on learning, academic research and mentoring to improve student achievement. Beginning teachers are partnered with a mentor teacher and attend weekly digital immersion sessions for 40 weeks in MDTA schools.

The academy works with teachers at Tamaki Primary School, Tamaki College, Point England School, Glenbrae School, Panmure Bridge School and Stonefields School.

“It is very exciting to see beginning teachers of such high calibre teaching in our Manaiakalani schools and helping to raise achievement and accelerate learning for our learners,” says Anne Sinclair, supervisor of the beginning teachers and mentors. 

The next cohort of 10 beginning teachers and 10 mentor teachers have been selected and they will begin their programme in January for 2016/17.

In October this year, the New Zealand Council for Educational Research published its findings from an evaluation of the first year of the MDTA pilot initiative. The evaluators rated it “a success”. They also mentioned that participants acknowledged “that the initiative would not have been as strong without the academic component” and that the University of Auckland provided “relevant courses”.

Read more about the Faculty and MDTA here.

Read the MDTA evaluation here.