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Jane's story

Duration: 03:40

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Jane's story from Ministry of Education on Vimeo.

Jane’s Story: Establishing effective contexts for learning requires teachers to value learners. Encouraging “kids” to buy in to learning requires a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities teachers and learners have. Working effectively as a group can emerge from contexts such as these.

Key Content:

Comments are provided by a Year 9 English teacher around how she has encouraged her Year 9 class to take ownership of their learning. These include comments about:

  • building relationships and developing interdependence
  • building and developing student roles – using their strengths and developing their weaknesses
  • sharing information amongst teachers and with their students, to better build learning relationships
  • encouraging students to take ownership of their learning.

“...what is the most important thing is letting the kids in on what I’m trying to do for them, what my role is and what their role is, because I remember being at school myself and asking why, what’s the point of all this?...because then they know what they’re expected to be doing and they can then buy in on it.” (Teacher)

“ ...they want to contribute to the learning, to their own learning but also help others within that class learning by sharing their ideas.” (Te Kotahitanga Facilitator)

“ ...having those conversations – Is this ok? What else can I do for you?” (Teacher)

“ ... being able to see them as a whole child.” (Teacher)

Things to think about:

Question Focus - Those new to Te Kotahitanga:

  • What, in this story, was new to you?
  • What aspects of the teacher’s pedagogy did you find interesting/surprising?
  • One of the key aspects of Te Kotahitanga is the importance of building ‘non-dominating relations of interdependence’ (Bishop, Berryman, Cavanagh, & Teddy, 2007, p.15) with and between students. What does this mean to you and what evidence did you see of this in this DVD?

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

  • In what ways did this DVD provide evidence that learning interactions that are ‘interactive and dialogic’ (Bishop, Berryman, Cavanagh, & Teddy, 2007, p.15) can be beneficial to students’ learning?
  • ‘Literally rangatiratanga means chiefly control, however, increasingly it has taken on the figurative meaning of self-determination ... the right to determine one’s own destiny, to define what that destiny will be and to define and pursue means of attaining that destiny in relation to others ...’ (Bishop, Berryman, Cavanagh, & Teddy, 2007, p.10) In what ways was the self-determination of students evident in this story?
  • What do you see as the links between developing student ownership of learning and making learning ‘fun’?

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

  • In what ways does this story reflect a Culturally Responsive Pedagogy of Relations?
  • Jane comments about the importance of seeing students as ‘the whole child’. What challenges are there in seeing students this way at a school wide level and how might these be addressed? What learning might we take from this story when thinking about the way in which we engage with whānau and the Māori community?


Bishop, R., Berryman, M., Cavanagh, T., & Teddy. L. (2007). Te Kotahitanga Phase 3 Whānaungatanga: Establishing a Culturally Responsive Pedagogy of Relations in Mainstream Secondary School Classrooms. Wellington, New Zealand: Ministry of Education.



Narrator: “Encouraging Year 9 students to take ownership of their learning is a priority for Jane Shroeder.”

Jane Schroeder (Learning Leader – English): “They were quite a needy class at the beginning of the year, and there’s only one teacher in a class. And it was quite sort of frustrating to have all these kids, ‘Miss, Miss, Miss,’ at me the whole time, and all of the teachers agreed. So we wanted to get them to start working with each other, sort of asking each other questions and working it out between themselves before they came to me. I’ll talk to them at the beginning of that class and, you know, say this is what we’re doing today, and here it is all written up here, so yea, again they don’t need to be asking me all the time, ‘What are we doing?’ or sort of sitting around going, ‘I’m not sure what to do.’ What’s interesting is how they start to value their other roles that happen in a group. So who’s really good at organizing people, who’s really good at maybe asking probing questions even if they haven’t got the answers for them. Or who’s good at going and nicking other people's ideas from other tables or something like that.”

Wayne Rangihuna (Te Kotahitanga Facilitator): “I can walk into that class and, and their hands are going up left right and centre, and you know, and they want to contribute to the learning, to their own learning but also help others within their class learning by sharing their ideas.”

Jane: “It really encourages them to want to work hard and to want to work with each other and push each other in those directions. Now I can hear them saying stuff like, ‘Oh yea but that’s not my strong point, I’m really good at this.’ And, um, and you know, ‘But you could help me with this because that’s what you’re really good at,’ and that’s such a cool thing to be hearing in the classroom. To know that they are valued in their own specific ways.

“One of the most important things is letting the kids in on what I’m trying to do for them, what my role is and what their role is. Because I remember being at school myself and going but why? What’s the point of all this? And even, you know, explaining to them about Te Kotahitanga and what was going on and why I was a part of it and, um, what their role was in that, because then they know what they’re doing, they know what they’re expected to be doing and they can buy in on it.”

Wayne: “If I asked students why do they like going to English, which is what they have Jane for, because it’s fun and they enjoy the learning. Um, I say well what’s fun, you get to do whatever you like? They just say no they enjoy the environment that, ah, Jane creates for them in regards to the environment that they can learn in.”

Jane: “When students get that one on one, you know I really want to help you with this because I notice that you’re not, um, achieving in this particular area and here’s what I’ve prepared for you. You know, I’ve gone away and thought about it and you know how can I help you specifically and this is what I’ve come up with. And having those conversations is this okay or what else can I do for you?”

Narrator: “The sharing of information to better build learning relationships is a feature of Te Kotahitanga.”

Jane: “I think the best thing about it is getting together with all the other teachers from that particular cohort of children. So you’re having conversations with all of their other teachers about what they’re like in the classroom, what their special learning needs might be and how they get on with other kids, that’s quite important as well, the dynamics in the class. Finding out that they are amazing artists or amazing sports players, and being able to see them as a whole child.”


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