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The trials and tribulations of the Pataka classroom (archived)

Introduction to the NLC

The 'Pataka classroom' is actually an art gallery, used by this NLC as a venue for their meetings. The title reflects the importance of this venue to the NLC; but also the hard work that has gone into making the NLC a success.

This NLC is interesting in respect of its size and its ‘floating’ population, with a number of itinerant schools, as well as a core group. It is very task oriented and focussed on the core aspects of secondary school: assessment and content. In this way it highlights how an NLC can be very practical in nature and directly related to the problems of practice teachers face every day. It also highlights how much can be achieved.

The Pataka classroom NLC was established in 2010 and is focussed on the visual arts curriculum at secondary level. Teachers from a core group of nine schools attend NLC events regularly; teachers from a further six to ten schools attend intermittently. For larger events up to 20 schools can be represented. Other participants in the NLC include gallery educators from local museums and art galleries.

The goals for the NLC are related to raising achievement for Māori and Pasifika students; extending senior students to excellence in scholarship and building a community to support the New Zealand Curriculum.

Activities and processes

This NLC always meets at the art gallery, which is seen as important to it success. Meeting there provides teachers with the opportunity to view exhibitions and take ideas back to their schools. Each meeting has an agenda and a specific focus for discussion. As well as the meetings there is regular contact by email.

In the first term, the meetings focussed on how to organise the NLC and what to cover. The regional arts advisor and a national moderator attended these meetings. During this period tasks sheets were developed for the written components of the achievement standards and circulated to all teachers for comment.

In the second term there was an evening workshop and a session on the new achievement standards. There was also a two day conference for art teachers from the wider region. Guest speakers at the conference were both local experienced teachers and speakers from outside the region. A resource package has been put together including over 300 different artists. This was given to all conference attendees on CD Rom.

In the third term the group met to hold pre-verification meetings for completed art work. Post verification meetings were held in term 4. These meetings exemplify the potential of NLCs to support teachers in their professional tasks. During these meetings teachers have brought student portfolios to enable feedback from colleagues from other schools. Ideas and comments provided have then been taken back to their students to enhance their work.

The benefits and highlights for those involved

The benefits for the participants of this NLC have been highly practical and directly related to their roles as classroom teachers. Belonging to the NLC has helped them understand the New Zealand Curriculum with relation to the arts. It has also enabled them to reflect on how they mark student work.

In particular, the participants reported valuing the ideas they gained for how to approach the new achievement standards; access to the arts advisor and national moderator and the opportunity to participate in curriculum specific and practical workshops. Also mentioned as benefits were feeling less isolated through the networking that has occurred; having an opportunity to share their expertise and to learn from others while getting feedback on their planning and ideas.

The main benefit for the wider school communities has been the resources and expertise their teachers bring back to the school as a result of their participation in the NLC. Another key benefit has been the sharing of moderation and assessment processes. Through sharing their students’ work, participant teachers have gained new ideas and their students have, reportedly, been motivated to extend their work to a new level.

A concrete example of the benefits of the NLC for schools is the combined arts session run by two of the schools. During an exhibition of their work, 60 students critiqued each other’s art. In addition, an opportunity was provided for the students and staff to socialise from across the two schools.

Ingredients for success

The sector leader for this NLC suggested a number of ingredients for success. These included purpose and passion, dedication and inspiration. They also included an appropriate venue, funding and a formalised structure. It was seen as necessary for the NLC to be teacher and student driven and for knowledge sharing to occur between teachers and students.


Published on: 17 May 2011