Professional Knowledge

Standard 1: Graduating Teachers know what to teach

A) have content knowledge appropriate to the learners and learning areas of their programme.


I have content knowledge appropriate to learners Year 9 to Year 13 in the learning area of Visual Art. I have chosen these two particular artifacts to demonstrate my curriculum knowledge of both Photography and Visual Art. Both artifacts are units I taught in two different schools during my practicum.

The photography unit called Vanitas was created as a follow on from lessons on visual language in photography and an introductory course to digital photography that I also taught with this same class. The Vanitas unit was created as an offshoot to an already well-established unit called Domestic Still Life that ran at this school. It was an internal assessment with an internal achievement standard 2.3 AS91317(V3)

This unit implements my curriculum knowledge in Photography through a series of lessons aimed at incorporating the visual language and technical aspects of digital photography that students had previously been introduced to. Students will learn about the ideas surrounding the Vanitas, start using visual language terms, understand what settings to use on a digital SLR to photograph on a tripod in low light conditions, brainstorm what  objects could reflect their identity. Using the aesthetic of the Vanitas, students will create a photographic still life that represents and reflects who they are, using objects/images and symbols that they choose to communicate there identity.

The visual art unit I created is called Twig City.  The task was to build a city using the most basic materials and the simplest technology. Students reflected on the houses they live in now and what they dream of living in one day, asking what home means to them locally, culturally and personally, then comparing and contrasting that with what houses mean and how they are formed in different cultures, internationally and historically.

This unit is designed to draw on a range of methods: structured modeling, three-dimensional forms, learning to work with a restricted palette of colors, studio photographic techniques and stenciling. Armed with twigs and glue guns, students create a city of these houses. Working in small groups, they each have the freedom to structure their house in their own way, and then gather what they create into suburbs and wider communities.

Once communities have been defined and literally fixed into place, they will work together to critique and enhance what they have gathered as a built environment, focusing on how it relates to the natural world – the earth, sky and sea.

 Both these semester-long units draw on a rich knowledge base in both subject areas that I’ve gathered over many years of professional experience as photographer, artist and director. That prior knowledge gave me the confidence to design these units.

My content knowledge is further supported by comments made by mentors, visiting observers and lecturers, all of whom gave me very positive feedback.

‘Jessica’s extensive practice in photography overseas has contributed to knowledge and skills that are very valuable for teaching and learning in photography with secondary students’.(Jonathan Cameron )


B) have pedagogical content knowledge appropriate to the learners and learning areas of their programme


I have chosen a Visual Art unit I created for a year 9 class. This was an assignment for EDURSEC 700 where we had to create a culturally responsive unit. This unit demonstrates my pedagogical content knowledge because it directly relates to preparing students well in assessment and understanding of key competencies as outlined in the New Zealand Curriculum for Visual Arts.

This Unit called Twig City is designed to develop the following competencies:  the skills of  relating to others in small groups, employing different cultural understandings of the topic,i.e housing, exploring materials and techniques from traditional sources. I have incorporated theories of pedagogy and pedagogical content knowledge specific to Visual Art in my unit design.  The implementation of this unit depended heavily on developing effective relationships with students one by one and in small group settings. The pedagogy I employed was highly interactive, drawing on the very lively class dynamic and high energy level generated by the project to engage students even more deeply.  To keep the focus of this unit clear, I had to keep refreshing and adapting the tasks to keep student engagement and motivation levels high. Working constantly as small groups and keeping whole class plenaries to an absolute minimum made this flexibility much easier. Not every group had to follow the same pattern.


C) have knowledge of the relevant curriculum documents of Aotearoa New Zealand


This artefact demonstrates knowledge relevant to NZ curriculum documents for Year 9 , levels 4,5,6 and Taiako – cultural competencies for teachers of Maori learners. I focused on the competencies of Ako and Tangata Whenuatanga

This unit was written as an assignment for EDPROF738. I named this unit Turangawaewae – A Place to Stand. The final outcome of the unit was a mixed media piece combining photography and painting, with the use of stenciling and acetone printing to create a kind of visual pepeha of each student.

In order to achieve this outcome, students had explore different art making conventions, investigate found or drawn imagery that students felt represented visually the place they are from, study how contemporary Maori artists use several different mediums to explore their world and identity, and develop skills in the  use of paint, found imagery, stenciling and acetone transfers. By working through these tasks I believe the students developed their competency as visual artists in the culturally appropriate and responsive ways asked for by the curriculum.

D) have content and pedagogical content knowledge for supporting English as an Additional Language ( EAL ) learners to succeed in the curriculum


I have  content and pedagogical content knowledge for supporting English as an Additional Language (EAL) learners to succeed in the curriculum. During my placements as a pre-service teacher, there were several students across my classes in subjects Graphic Design, Photography and Art who were EAL learners. As such, I ensured that I identified and applied principles outlined on ESOL Online, namely:

I made sure I maintained and made explicit the same learning outcomes for all the learners, by making sure the lesson was comprehensible to them, that they could be actively involved in the task and understand the learning outcomes. I also made sure I understood my learners and their language and experiential background. I encouraged same language group work to allow students to discuss ideas fluently in their first language.

Standard 2: Graduating Teachers know about learners and how they learn

A) have knowledge of a range of relevant theories and research about pedagogy, human development and learning


I have chosen this particular artifact from an assignment for EDPROF 737, where the task was to construct a resource to help adolescents engage into shifting their learning from surface to deep levels. It required me to synthesize information from the Ako course, relevant literature and research, and, apply the principles of promoting effective learning when designing your game. 

I did this by developing a game I called The Great New Zealand Art Chop that students with very diverse needs could take part in and move from surface to deep levels of learning, using the cognitive process based from SOLO taxonomy-Structure of Observed Learning Outcomes ( Biggs &Collis;Collis & Biggs 1986 )

The basis of the game is to use New Zealand Art in this case paintings to familiarize students with technical terms used in painting, so they can begin to describe their work as well as other artist work with more confidence, start questioning their emotive responses to work and begin to investigate the reason behind there responses. The resource is broken into two sections beginning with a unistructural task where students connect written descriptions to the appropriate paintings. The second task is to use the cut up elements from the same paintings but students restructure these elements themselves under a new set of title cards now on a more relational level. The final task in the extended abstract engages students further with a new set of title cards. It proved to be engaging and highly relevant to this age group. I was very conscious in designing this unit of the need to make it highly engaging for adolescents.


B) have knowledge of a range of relevant theories, principles and purposes of assessment and evaluation


I chose this artefact from EDPROF 701 Assignment 1: Annotated bibliography of four texts related to standards based and norm referenced assessment practices within senior secondary schools in Aotearoa/NZ.  

I had to critique dominant discourses, knowledge and understandings of assessment practices in the secondary school, to critically analyze the texts selected and to reflect on their implications for my own practice.

This material served to show me how crucial and culturally weighted the choice of assessment and evaluation methods are to low decile schools and Maori and Pasifika students. The results are polarizing, that as much as standard based assessment has made fast improvements in Maori and Pacific learners, there is still much work to be done in.One of the main reasons NCEA was rolled out was to offer a fairer system of learning for all learners, still a very contentious method of assessment. We need to give students as many options as possible in order to reach goals that they may not even have formulated very clearly. The New Zealand education system still works within a very western system with its British colonial heritage. We now know that this does necessarily work for more collectivist cultures like Maori and Pacific students, where by the community and whanau are more important that the individual and the “I” is always first defined by the “we”.



C) know how to develop metacognitive strategies of diverse learners


This artefact focuses on students as a means of finding just what level of learning was actually taking place in the classroom. As a method it proved to be more direct and honest than other more formal ways of assessment, like written tests. Student feedback gave me some surprises about what really engaged them and also how disconnecting the wrong strategy could be.


Student feedback- teaching a class of diverse learners and student feedback

D ) know how to select curriculum content appropriate to the leaners and the learning context


Twig city

Tailoring the task to fit the cultural context.

 These 28-year nine students had a track record of very low engagement with prescribed tasks of any sort.  I was searching for a task that would meet them where they were at and let them enjoy getting on board, however limited their artistic experience and range of skills might be. The feedback I received from mentors was that I had chosen something that was too conceptual and in actual practice, too basic, even juvenile for some students.

So I looked for a topic that was open with lots of room to create freely, wasn’t constrained by skill sets and was anchored in our shared humanity rather than any specific culture. A house has this universality, as does a collection of houses. I gathered an extensive library of images from many different cultures and historical periods to illustrate how we all need structures to shelter in and come home to. In my unit I tried to match the task and techniques required with what I knew about the student group. I decided on a form building, with sculptural elements, hands on project rather than a more traditional drawing exercise. I wanted to use techniques used by contemporary Maori and Pasifika artists, which they had themselves borrowed from their own traditions. Mallon and Pereira call this ‘ a blending of transcultural experience’.


Standard 3: Graduating Teachers understand how contextual factors influence teaching and learning

 A) have an understanding of the complex influences that personal, social, and cultural factors may have on teachers and learners.


This artifact is an assignment from EDPROF 741- Exploring Diversity in School Communities in which I explored the implicit values expressed in the entrances to two vary different schools that I taught and observed in and how these values impacted on teachers and learners. This exploration was very difficult territory because it led to some strongly critical conclusions. But the commentary was easier to offer because it was based not on my personal opinion but on values built into the physical environment.

The second artifact is an assignment from EDPROF -738 Taumahi 2. It offers a critical discussion of my own social and cultural location. This course has given me an insight to the complex influences that effect both teachers and learners and how diverse the New Zealand school system is.

More than any other assignment in the course, this one put me, and my own cultural journey, in the middle of the frame.  I realized that my effectiveness as a teacher depended on my awareness of the baggage that I bring, the stereotypes that I carry with me, and my willingness to be constantly questioning and checking the perspective I bring to the classroom.

B) have knowledge of Tikanga and Te Reo Maori to work effectively within the bicultural context of Aotearoa New Zealand


This artefact is an assignment from EDCURSEC 700 where we had to build a culturally responsive unit. I’ve chosen it because it incorporates contextual factors to enhance learning and it taught me a lot about the complexity of these and how hard it is for a Pakeha teacher raised in a monocultural world to work effectively in a bicultural and multicultural context.

Twig City respected tikanga and Te Reo elements in its choice of vocabulary and terminology. The task itself of building a city had no cultural prescription around it and the diverse cultures that made up the classroom were all able to find their place, both separate and connected. From the different styles of the houses through to the different languages of the signposts and the flags, this was a city that respected diversity and belonged in the bicultural context of Aotearoa.

C) Having an understanding of education within the bicultural ,multicultural, social , political and economic context of Aotearoa New Zealand.


This artifact is an assignment from EDPROF 738 –Taumahi 2.  It offers a critical discussion of my own social and cultural location, and explores the cultural competencies of Ako – learning from each other, and identity, which involves being in charge of your own life – Rangatiratanga.

More than any other assignment in the course, this one put me, and my own cultural journey, in the middle of the frame.  I realised that my effectiveness as a teacher depended on my awareness of the baggage that I bring, the stereotypes that I carry with me, and my willingness to be constantly questioning and checking the perspective I bring to the classroom.