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Claire's story

Duration: 03:12

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Claire’s story: Understanding how students are impacted on by wider social influences is central to how this teacher operates. By having high expectations of these students she works to ensure each one experiences some success within every lesson. She understands that one of her roles is to help students to “see outside their world” to the broader range of opportunities that exist for them.

Claire's story from Ministry of Education on Vimeo.


Read the transcript.

Key Content:

Comments are provided by a Dance teacher about her teaching pedagogy. These include comments about:

  • being aware of students' culture and allowing them to share that
  • understanding need for teacher ownership and responsibility
  • supporting students to develop confidence
  • ensuring students experience success in every lesson
  • promoting clear expectations in regards to behaviour and learning
  • listening to student issues and having an awareness of students moods
  • structuring and accomplishing a planned lesson
  • providing the setting for them to achieve Merit and Excellence.

"...as soon as they realise they can do something, they want more of that feeling" (Teacher)

"...their culture is very important to them...who they are and where they come from is really important and they do know that, they know where they're from and they know who their ancestors are. It's allowing them to share that, in whatever way that might be." (Teacher)

"I essentially think that if I am pushing them to be getting the merit/excellence results that they are capable of then I need to be able to provide the setting for that to happen in...I think it's hard for them to see outside of their world, and our job is to open it up for them." (Teacher)

Things to think about:

Question Focus - Those new to Te Kotahitanga:

  • What questions would you like to ask the teacher profiled in this story?
  • How would you describe a 'safe learning environment'? To what extent do you have a clear understanding of how your students would describe a 'safe learning environment'?
  • What connections do you see between a 'safe learning environment' and engagement with learning?

Question Focus - Participants in the Te Kotahtianga Professional Development Programme:

  • In what ways do/might you plan for your students to experience success in every lesson?
  • In what ways do you promote and value Māori students’ cultural experiences within your lessons? What evidence do you have that your Māori students believe their cultural experiences have a worthwhile place in your classroom?
  • What do you see as the links between the development of a culturally appropriate and culturally responsive learning environment and this teacher’s description of her practice?

Question Focus - In-school Facilitators and Senior Leadership Team Members:

  • How might you respond to comments that the level of engagement and success of Māori students evident in this story is due to the nature of the subject being taught?
  • Claire talks about the need for students to feel successful. In what ways do/might you celebrate student success school wide beyond the annual prize giving? To what extent do you celebrate the successes of teachers alongside this?
  • It is clear the degree of responsibility Claire feels for her students. What do see as your responsibility to your learners (teachers)? In what ways do you demonstrate this on a daily basis?



Claire O’Fee (Dance Teacher): “That group in particular has grown so much in confidence. They would not have been able to sit for the 2 minutes I was giving instructions without fidgeting, talking, standing up, moving around, they certainly wouldn’t have been able to remain on task. They are able to work together a lot more efficiently, they’re able to help each other out and teach each other. They understand what’s expected and they meet those expectations.

“Two of those kids in particular will come in and their face will just be stormy and you know they wear their heart on their sleeves. And I just quietly say ‘what’s, what’s happened?’ Especially if it’s after an interval or a lunch, a lot of the time things happen then. Just say you know ‘what’s happened?’, ‘what’s going on?’ and they’ll either spit it out or they’ll say ‘oh na, it’s okay, I don’t want to talk about it’. But I think even just them knowing I’m aware, um, lets them be able to kind of enter my room. I’m very hard on the way that they treat each other. If I hear any put downs at all I literally stop the entire class and I will go that kid and then I will thank that kid, basically for teaching how not to be behaving in my room.

“It’s really important they all have success every lesson, and for some of them that’s getting 1 step correct, for some of them it’s getting all 5 that we do. As long as they can see where they’re heading, they have this realisation that, yes I can get there. I think if you leave everything in a vacuum and they don’t know where it’s actually going to end up, a lot of, a lot of students struggle with the success part, because they actually don’t know what the success is. As soon as they realise they can do something, they want more of that feeling.

“Their culture is very important to them, there’s a lot of different rohe around here, who they are and where they come from is really important, and they do know that. They know where they’re from, they know who their ancestors are. It’s allowing them to share that in whatever way that might be.

“The observation system is really tight and so they have really concrete data of what you’re actually doing and that’s fantastic. You do a lot of things that you don’t realise you’re doing, it’s really valuable having that observation time. Relationship wise, I’ve always been very aware of that, but structuring things and making sure they’re aware of exactly where they’re heading, what they’re going to accomplish that day, how they know that that’s happened, it’s become a lot more planned.

“I essentially think that if I am pushing them to be getting the merit, excellence results that they’re capable of that I need to be able to provide the setting for that to happen in. I think it’s really hard for them to see outside of their world and our job is to open that up to them.”


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