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Te Awamutu - You have a message


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Edited transcript: Te Awamutu

This video is the result of much discussion, planning, filming and editing by 27 Year 6 to 13 students from the Rosetown Learning Community who have a clear message for their teachers and community about how they learn and what they want from school.

This 12 minute version has been edited for the New Zealand Curriculum Online site. The original full length version along with supporting commentary is available on the Mindblown blog.

Video transcript

I think it is really important that teachers listen to what we’ve got to say.

The student voice project started in 2007. Students from the Te Awamutu area discussed how they thought they should be taught. Two workshops were held looking at the students’ values and beliefs about learning and teaching, which resulted in 10 questions. This year the students are trying to answer those questions and voice their opinion to the community and teachers about what they want in their learning.

 Did you know?

Nearly 25% of students leave school without achieving a level 1 qualification.

Around 40% of students leave school without achieving a level 2 qualification.

Girls out-perform boys in school qualifications by a greater margin than in most other countries.

The difference in average achievement between students from high and low socio-economic backgrounds is greater in New Zealand than in most OECD countries.

The students interviewed some people who left school without gaining any qualifications to find out about their learning experiences.

Q: Did you have a career choice while you were at school?
A: Yes I wanted to be an accountant.
Q: Do you think you had the right tools and education available for you at school to become an accountant?
A: There were enough resources there but just the way the teachers had tried to teach me it just didn’t get through to me.

Q: Do you remember school much?
A: Yep it was pretty boring.
Q: Do you remember your teachers?
A: Yep, they didn’t really give me enough help I needed. I still wish I was a school but I wasn’t getting much help so I just dropped out.

The unemployment rate for people with no qualifications is 40% higher than for those with a school qualification (2002-2006).

We’ve done a lot of research about how we can improve learning for all students and we think the best way is to ask the students and that is what we’ve just done:

  • I learn when it is fun and exciting.
  • Tell me whether I am doing it right.
  • I need to go over things until I have really got them.
  • I need more one on one time with my teacher.
  • I don’t need other students’ distractions.
  • I need my teacher to be enthusiastic about what they teach.
  • I learn better when I’m not rushed.
  • I need to be respected.
  • I need to connect with my teacher.
  • Do you care about me as a person?
  • I need to be taught in the way that I learn.
  • I don’t want to be afraid to say what I think.
  • Don’t teach us things we don’t want to know.
  • I learn better in a group.
  • I work better on my own.

I think we need to be instilled with a thirst for learning. The only way that is going to happen is if we are shown what is meaningful and relevant about what we’re learning and how it is going to help us. Also we like to be challenged so you should use this to our advantage.

At school we’re just swimming around in a small pond. We need more community learning opportunities. Maybe we need to stop learning how we have always done it and start learning more with community. We can learn from anyone who is enthusiastic about life especially if we have a supportive and encouraging community.

 We need teachers who are here to make a difference

“I like it when my teachers are nice”

A good teacher is passionate about what they are doing. They need to want kids to learn and want to teach to the best they can teach. They must be organised. It is difficult for students to focus sometimes. The connection with students is important. Teachers should know what levels the students are at.

Life teaches us how to interact ethically and competently with ourselves and others. Also our brains never turn off so every hour of every day is a learning experience for us.

Teachers use their expertise to establish a supportive learning environment, identify their students’ learning needs and make decisions on what to teach and how to teach it. In doing this they draw on everything they know about their students, about the curriculum and about good teaching practice. And they work in partnership with families and communities.

The New Zealand Curriculum Effective Pedagogy

This is what we want!

We need teachers with a mixture of very special qualities.

“I like it when teachers are enthusiastic about me and my learning.”

“Some of my favourite teachers are the ones that you are excited about going to their class because they are interested in what they are teaching. If they love what they are teaching and have a pretty wide knowledge base about it you can’t help but be excited too. You feel like you are on the same team and that makes teachers pretty special people in your life.”

“I respect my teachers and they respect me for me.”

Review questions image.

This inquiry into how the students in the Te Awamutu community want to learn and what they want from schools is revealing. Effective teachers are highlighted as desirable and in fact are demanded by these students.

In your school context...

Why would you consult your students - what are your values here? What are your inquiries/wonderings and why consult at all?

What resources do you have available to support this consultation?

How will you get started? How do you ensure this is a worthwhile process and not just a token gesture? How do you engage students so they feel they can and want to contribute?

Published on: 02 Sep 2008