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Create a supportive learning environment

This fundamental tenet of effective pedagogy is underpinned by the Treaty of Waitangi, cultural diversity, and inclusion principles found in The New Zealand Curriculum. A supportive learning environment promotes use and development of the key competencies relating to others and participating and contributing.

Know your students

Students learn best when they feel accepted and when they enjoy positive relationships with their fellow students and teachers.

How might I do this?

Begin the year with a ‘know the learner’ activity to find out about your students’ social and cultural backgrounds, agricultural and horticultural interests and experiences, future ambitions, and languages spoken. For ideas that relate particularly to getting to know your Pasifika students, visit Getting to know the students.

Involve everyone as a learner

All students need to be active, visible members of the learning community.

How might I do this?

With your students, build protocols that enable the class to operate as a learning community by:

  • identifying the conditions that allow all students to contribute
  • co-operating as members of the group in a range of roles
  • establishing goals for learning, both class and individual
  • being clear about learning intentions and success criteria.

Make connections with the community

Build relationships with families and with the wider school community including local agricultural and horticultural enterprises, ensuring that they have opportunities to contribute to the learning of students.

How might I do this?

Find out about agricultural and horticultural ventures that families have links to.

Ask parents who are engaged in primary production enterprises to provide field trip opportunities.

Establish links with local agricultural and horticultural support industries and discuss possible mutual benefits.

Find opportunities for students to support the community by, for example:

  • pruning roses in civic garden plots
  • planting pingao on sand dunes
  • growing native plant cuttings for riparian planting on reserves
  • removing wilding pines or thistles from reserves
  • assisting with tailing.

Value cultural and linguistic diversity

Effective teachers attend to both the cultural and the linguistic diversity of all students, recognising that the classroom culture exists within and alongside many other cultures.

How might I do this?

Identify the literacy capabilities and needs of your students. Implement strategies that build on strengths and address areas of need.

Provide opportunities for students or families to share the harvesting, food preparation, and storage protocols of their cultures or agricultural and horticultural practices such as planting by the moon.

Use relevant contexts – if most students come from dairy farms, use dairying as a context; if most come from a fruit growing area, emphasise fruit production.

Provide opportunities for students to work in groups. This helps ensure that everyone has opportunities to contribute, discuss, and compare ideas. Those who lack confidence often find group discussion less threatening than whole-class discussion. Group activities could include:

  • brainstorming to identify students’ ideas and understandings (for example, regarding pest control in a specified context)
  • jigsaw activities using a written or visual text on an agricultural or horticultural practice (for example, fertiliser use and application)
  • discussing types of classroom interaction that work best for them (for ideas, see Te Kotahitanga videos).

In a supportive learning environment, the teacher ensures that all members of the community feel connected, secure, and valued by:

  • listening to and valuing all student responses
  • accepting all student responses as part of the learning process (this does not mean implying that all responses are equally true or valid)
  • being aware of the literacy and numeracy demands of tasks
  • liaising with other teachers to find ways in which agricultural and horticultural science links to their subjects, with a view to identifying shared approaches that could improve student learning
  • finding opportunities to involve parents, family, and whānau in student learning
  • expecting that all students will grow their understanding of agricultural and horticultural science.

What this might look like

  • When investigating distribution of a primary product (see the dairying and apple orchard examples in learning programme design) use the same maps and resources as geography so that students who take both subjects connect the learning in both.
  • Build confidence by using contexts that are familiar to most students. A field trip early in the year can give all students a common frame of reference. Video clips of operations observed on the field trip can be used throughout the year to reinforce understanding of concepts.

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Last updated December 5, 2011