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Facilitating shared learning

Learning in English is enhanced when learners are engaged with their communities and when they share activities, conversations, successes, and challenges with people they trust. The classroom is a learning community in which the teacher is also a learner.

View this video clip - Te Mana Kōrero: Culture Counts - to see how one teacher stepped outside her comfort zone and how the community stepped in to support her.

Ako – the operative principle

Ako is the operative principle of any classroom or community in which every person is supported and every person is learning. Ako embodies the understanding that learning is reciprocal: we all have something to teach, and we all have something to learn. It also embodies the understanding that learner and whānau are inextricably linked.

Two key messages:

  • Language, identity and culture count – it is important therefore to know where students come from and to build on what they bring with them.
  • Productive partnerships strengthen learning – by sharing knowledge and expertise, students, whānau, and educators achieve better outcomes.

Learn more:

How can I facilitate shared learning?

English learning requires a high-trust environment. For example, whenever a student delivers an oral presentation, they are vulnerable and need to know that they are safe and supported. In a high-trust environment, the teacher can affirm and validate the culture and identity of each student.

Consider the opportunities you have or could create to facilitate shared learning:

  • In what ways could you encourage group and peer appraisal of draft work?
  • What opportunities do you have to publish student work? For example, in a blog, magazine, display, local newspaper or online. For online publication possibilities, have a look at Lulu.
  • How could your students work with a text that is unfamiliar to you?
  • How could you make more use of ideas from your students – let them teach you?! Do you co-construct learning and assessment opportunities?

View this video clip - Te Mana Kōrero: Culture counts 2 - to learn what teachers in one school did, and how being culturally responsive is very different from tokenism.

  • How could you make better use of assessment tools such e-asttle and PATs and student interests, knowledge, and experiences, to inform grouping?
  • How do you affirm students’ fresh interpretations of texts and encourage them to further consider and refine them?
  • Do you invite students’ families to creative writing celebrations, speech evenings, or drama performances?
  • Have you considered getting your students to lead “parent interviews”?
  • Do you ever match high-performing students with low-performing students to collaborate on a piece of work?
  • Do you keep your own reflective journal (maybe a blog or video blog) and model the reflective process for your students?
  • Are you using opportunities afforded by new media to enhance student learning? For example, the school’s LMS, social networking sites such as Facebook, or Google docs?

Read snapshot 3: Shakespeare on Facebook to see how one teacher used a social networking site as a means of immersing her students in the characters and themes of Romeo and Juliet.

Last updated September 6, 2022