“Skills and technology are important but with empathy we can make an even better world.” – Chhaya Narayan, New Zealand

Each and every educator we met at the Microsoft E2 Global Educator Exchange in Budapest inspired us. But it’s always nice to hear that the educators were inspired, too. For new Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert Chhaya Narayan, it was a life-changing experience.

“Attending E2 was one of the greatest moments for me as I have not had a similar experience,” she says. “Meeting like-minded educators who have similar struggles daily to mine and getting to know their best practices has been the biggest highlight for me. Microsoft’s acknowledgement of our hard work has certainly made the challenging days as a teacher more bearable.”

Narayan, who recently passed her MCE exam, has been teaching science at Elim Christian College since 2002, and in 2013, became an e-Learning Leader, with the hefty responsibility of helping to implement New Zealand’s science curriculum in a way that best incorporates education technology.

Already a leader at her school and beyond – she moderates #SciChatNZ and publishes a blog – Narayan is always ready to advance her teaching skills with technology. She was an early OneNote user (since 2007), and is now exploring ways – like Skype – to expand her students’ perspective.

“Having attended E2 and [having been] exposed to the opportunities available,” she says, “my take-home message is that in an increasingly connected world, as teachers we play a significant role in teaching our students global citizenship. I am thrilled that I can connect my students to countries overseas and get an insight to other cultures, countries and learning experiences.”

Enjoy today’s Daily Edventure with Chhaya Narayan.

What inspired you to become an educator?

I stumbled upon my calling to be an educator. I had always dreamt of being a doctor but this opportunity never came my way. Having fallen slightly short of the entry to medicine, I decided to pursue what I loved the most: science. Upon completion of my degree I realized that the only way to be employed in my country was to pursue a teaching qualification.

Stepping into the classroom I found myself at home. It was a deep sense of achievement seeing the success of my students and living my dreams through them. Setting high standards frustrated them but they always came back to thank me later in life saying that my expectations of them allowed them to pursue their dreams. My greatest joy today is seeing my students achieve success in the smallest ways and the wonderful relationships built over time.

What was a defining moment in your career when you felt proudest to be an educator?

My proudest moment was being recognized by Royal Society of NZ to be a fellowship recipient at Liggins Institute very early in my career. This provided me with the opportunity to work alongside scientists and learn from them. My students were super proud of me and so was my school. It was a humbling experience to be awarded a prestigious opportunity as such. I had immense support from my principal, peers and students. This was the start of building my confidence as a connected educator.

Why do you feel passionate about innovation and technology in the classroom?

Our students need 21st century skills to succeed in today’s society. Technology is a tool but very powerful when combined with content knowledge and pedagogy. I refer back to Koeler & Mishra’s work on TPCK, where success is only achieved when classroom teachers can successfully combine this.

Personally this is an ongoing learning journey for me and one I strive to get better at daily. The first step in my journey with technology has been through the use of online tools. I have been a fan of OneNote since 2007, but a couple of years ago was required to shift my teaching practice to Google for ease of access. Having trialed this for a year, I became certain that Google did not offer the same capabilities as OneNote. With the OneNote Class Notebook, I reverted back to OneNote, and this year started using it with my students.

As a chemistry teacher it is not always practical to provide group work when students are away. Class OneNote has now simplified this for me. Students are able to carry out group work and upload it to OneNote for absent students to view. It has allowed for better collaboration.

For example, if I were to set a standard task for collaboration I would not have received such rich feedback as below. From the task which was on explaining electrolysis of concentrated NaCl, I can see how many of the students in the group have contributed. Their research has been referenced and any further work has been photographed and uploaded to their page. This has allowed my students to use technology at their disposal, collaborate and provide evidence of their work. I have made attempts with Google classroom previously but with dissimilar results.


Whether it’s a day-to-day challenge or larger problem, what’s the biggest obstacle you or your country or region has had to overcome, or will have to overcome, to ensure a quality education for students?

Access to devices/technology for all students and staff expertise. A program like MIE is a fantastic start to ensuring teachers are up-skilling themselves. I would love to see increased cross-curricular work in NZ and at the moment a lot lies within the structure of the school. Innovative work can only come about with the freedom to tinker at will. With assessment driven structures the boundaries are set and ensuring students pass their national exams becomes a greater priority.

What is your biggest hope for today’s students?

My hope for today’s students is that they will continue to develop empathy towards others to be better global citizens. Skills and technology are important but with empathy we can make an even better world.

About Chhaya Narayan

e-Learning Leader/HOD Science

Elim Christian College

Auckland, New Zealand


  • Birthplace: Fiji
  • Educational background: BSc (Bio/Chem), Masters in Science Education (First Class Honours)
  • Website I check every day: Twitter, Yammer, Facebook,nzqa.govt.nz
  • Favorite childhood memory: My mom’s cooking, her reading stories to me, conversations, playing with my siblings (oh we had great fun with board games and telling make-believe stories)
  • Favorite book: The Bible, The Shack and at present, The Martian by Andy Weir
  • Favorite Microsoft product, tool, technology: OneNote (loving it since 2007), Snip, OfficeMix
  • What is the best advice you have ever received? “The world is your oyster — it is up to you what you make of it.”
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One Response to “Skills and technology are important but with empathy we can make an even better world.” – Chhaya Narayan, New Zealand

  1. Cheryl White says:

    Chhaya it has been inspirational working with you and your school as you embrace the acquisition of digital skills for both students and staff. I like you fell into teaching and it has been the most rewarding part of my career journey.

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