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Leading my own learning

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The learning to learn principle has underpinned curriculum change at Taihape Area School. Students are supported to be independent, self-motivated, reflective, and metacognitive learners through newly adopted teaching and learning approaches.

This film is part of a series, designed to provide support and inspiration to schools that are in the process of reviewing their own curriculum.

Professional learning conversations

These questions and suggested actions encourage you to reflect on your own school context.

  • How do the teaching and learning approaches at Taihape Area School differ from more traditional approaches?
  • Discuss the benefits of a ‘learning to learn’ approach for students and teachers. Consider the changes to student and teacher roles.
  • What does teaching and learning look like in your classrooms? Do the approaches to learning at your school enable students to become independent and reflective thinkers? What might you do differently to help your students reflect on their own learning processes and learn how to learn?

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Learning to learn: A school-wide approach
Gregor Fountain discusses learning to learn in a secondary context. He describes the shifts that teachers have to make to help students develop the capacity to find their own answers. He also challenges us to think about what learning to learn might look like in different learning areas.

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Growing active learners
Michael Absolum outlines some strategies for helping your students become active learners. This tool explores the language of learning to learn, and how appraisal processes could provide opportunities to further explore this principle.


Narrator: When the Taihape Area School relocated to the middle of town in 2009, the staff brought with them a commitment to developing confirdent, connected, independent learners.

V/O, Rachel Scott (Year 12 Dean): 'Leading me to lead my learning' is really about role modelling, as a teacher, a type of behaviour whereby you’re giving your students the room and the scope to achieve their goals and their ambitions, without the teacher getting in the way. They have to have a structure and it’s a structure where everyone in the room has to know what’s happening.

Rachel Scott: What are the aspects about this that we like?

Student: The lettering, and how it’s set out. It’s not something you’d usually see in a typical magazine.

Rachel Scott: They know what it takes to get excellence or merit, because we are aiming at excellence. Achieved is great, there’s nothing wrong with getting achieved, but we’re always pushing for that little bit more. And then the freedom, the 'Lead me to lead my learning' bit, comes within that framework. It’s up to them to decide.

Morgan Whatarau (student leader): It’s like they sort of let you do your own thing, in a way. They give you, like, the topic of what we’re studying. What you may or will not need to know for exams, or whatever. And then you just sort of go to and work at your own pace, find information that you need, and the teacher’s there to help you, guide you, whatever, they’re not there standing over you the whole time, telling you what to do practically.

Vijayakumar Thirunavatkara (mathematics teacher): We are just here to facilitate, to help them overcome their problems, but never to show them exactly what to do, but to put the right questions for them to get thinking and get on with their work.

Morgan Whatarau: They're trying to make those traditional subjects a bit more interesting. I walked into a maths class the other day and it was a lot better than what I used to do. And they were doing puzzles and really hands-on stuff where, when I was in maths, it was, geez, you’d get a book and yeah, and you just sitting there writing stuff out of a book, and it was quite lame and boring and I really lost my interest, but walking back into that maths class was just like, woah, why didn’t I do this sort of stuff?

Janet Greenhouse (Leader of Science): It’s very much a shift from what it was like when I first started teaching, when it was very much prescription and it was about the standards that had to be met, regardless of the student. Now we’ve very much crafting the learning to fit the student. It doesn’t mean that we just step aside and leave them to it, the 'Leading me to lead my learning' means that our part in it is to facilitate, to help them think about what they want out of their life, and then we facilitate that learning in directions that are going to help them achieve those goals.

Kendra Pye (student leader): I think goal setting is really important. If you set a goal, you’ve got something to work towards and it just makes everything more worthwhile.

Boyce Davey (Principal): It’s about creating independent thinkers and learners, so that is the focal thing. And I’ll say that to any school, if they haven’t got that focus – and it’s got to be quite specific – the things they do will be very wishy-washy. And you’ll end up with just a reactive learning environment.

Updated on: 10 Feb 2015