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Tu'u's Story

Duration: 02:47

Download video clip (12 MB)

Tu’u’s story: Students leading the learning in this classroom is evident from the outset. Each day this teacher uses a range of diagnostic questions to help the students themselves to identify and choose the levels at which they need to engage with their learning. The example of manaakitanga in this classroom demonstrates the trust students have to ask for and receive the help they need.

Key Content:

Comments are provided by a Maths teacher who shares power with his students through the creation of co-operative learning environments where students can determine when they need help and when they can learn from each other. These include comments about:

  • beginning lessons with student led activities
  • using different strategies to determine students’ prior knowledge
  • developing a safe environment
  • building fundamental relationships to ensure shared learning.

"...the environment that we set up in the classes is one of trust, one where they feel comfortable and where they're able to give their answers that they need to...it is a calm environment and we have a good relationship with the learners and with each other." (Teacher)

"I think everyone can be able to make a difference in the lives of these kids." (Teacher)

"...they ask me, why do you want to be a teacher, and I do joke with them and say oh it's because of you." (Teacher)

Things to think about:

Question Focus - Those new to Te Kotahitanga:

  • How does Tu’u ensure effective relationships are developed with his students? What can you learn from him in this respect?
  • Co-operative learning strategies help to ‘include’ all students in learning? In what ways are these strategies dependent upon relationships (the teachers with students; students with students etc)? What other strategies can help to ensure that students are ‘included’ in learning?
  • Tu’u uses diagnostic questioning to find out who needs more help. How is this strategy also dependent upon relationships?

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

  • Tu’u describes how he shares teaching and learning with his students, especially as a starter activity. Providing opportunities for student led sessions is about power sharing in the classroom? What can you learn from him in this respect?
  • What aspects of the Effective Teaching Profile were exemplified for you in this DVD? What aspects of culturally responsive pedagogy of relations were also exemplified? How do the two relate and merge?

Question Focus - In-School facilitators and Senior Leadership Team Members:

  • Tu’u talks about helping students develop a sense of belonging. How does he do this and why is it important?
  • Which aspects of this DVD did you find the most affirming and/or challenging? Why? What would you say to Tu’u in this regard?
  • How could you use Tu’u’s DVD with your teachers to develop deeper understandings of the development of culturally responsive pedagogy of relations?



Narrator: “At Alfriston College all teachers begin each class with a focusing activity.”

Tu’u Singsam (Learning Leader – Mathematics): “At first I was taking those games but the transition to the kids, give them that sense of belonging, that sense of power, we use different languages in the class, today we used Māori, but sometimes we use English and, and Spanish, ah, whatever they take in their options. And they run the game and they figure out who's the winner and they give that person like a commendation, which is a, a reward for, for winning that, that task.”

Student in class: “Um, who got over 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90,….”

Tu’u: “At first I had a diagnostic question to figure who already understood the topic that we were going over. They need to be honest with themselves and if they need help they need to come to that group that, that I was working with.

“And if they feel shame I guess, they wouldn’t come, but they were really willing and that’s the process that we’ve taken over the year. The environment that we set up in the classes is one of trust, one where they feel comfortable and where they're able to give their answers if they need to, but it is a calm environment and we have a good relationship with the learners and each other.

“Just a lot of group work and cooperative work learning with their peers especially with the number topic that we have, we’re constantly changing the dynamics of the group and the types of group. It can be a place where, ah, ah, they feel, um, that their answers won’t be valued or they feel shy to answer.

“I found it really helpful to start off in pairs where they share between each other and then we can share with the whole class, but I think that cooperative thing helps, I guess, with the sense of belonging, sense of being able to help each other in that environment, having a safe environment.

“Trying to be the best I can be and, ah, Te Kotahitanga helps me to reflect on what I’ve done. I think everyone can be able to, ah, make a difference in the lives of, of these kids. You know lots of times they ask me, ‘Why do you want to be a teacher?’ and, ah, and I do joke with them and say, ‘Oh it’s because of you.’”


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