Caring, collaborative, inclusive learning communities

Published: 04 Sep 2017
Evaluation indicators
Improvement in Action Te Ahu Whakamua


“We help others without taking over. We let them have their time to learn.”

At Invercargill Middle School, students and teachers contribute to, and work in, a supportive learning environment characterised by manaakitanga and whanaungatanga.

Key messages:

  • Students articulate their understandings of manaakitanga and whanaungatanga and the importance of everyone’s opportunity to learn.
  • Opportunity to participate through rituals and routines supports active engagement and learning
  • Students support one another in their learning more to reciprocal learning relationships

Things to think about:

  • How well do your classroom environments support opportunities to learn?
  • How aware are your students of the learning relationships they have with one another?

The evaluation indicators this video illustrates

  • Domain 4: Responsive curriculum, effective teaching and opportunity to learn
    • Evaluation indicator
      • Students participate and learn in caring, collaborative, inclusive learning communities

This video is part of a series

This video is part of the series Improvement in Action Te Ahu Whakamua. We created this series to inspire schools with examples of success in action. These examples highlight the benefits of fulfilling the evaluation indicators we use to review schools.

Remote video URL

(A girl in a dark grey hoodie sits in a classroom as she speaks into the camera. As she says “manaakitanga” the camera briefly changes to two boys talking while sitting on cushions on the classroom floor. It then shows two girls reading a workbook together.)

In the context of a classroom, manaakitanga means we help others but without taking over.


(The girls voiceover continues as the camera shows two girls talking while sitting on the classroom floor.)


We let them have their time to learn.


(We now see a girl and a boy sitting together on the floor. Other students sit at desks in the background.)


Mana means strength in your heart, and aki means taking action.


(Three boys sit around a small blue table, writing in workbooks.)


So we just give them a little manaaki to help them.


(The voiceover changes to an adult voice. The camera shows a teacher addressing her class.)


I want the children to all participate.


(A girl gets up from sitting on the floor and moves to a different section. Masking tape on the carpet separates the students into different groups.)


I say participation is the magic of learning to them.


(The camera now shows the woman who is speaking sitting in a school library, addressing the camera. Text on the bottom of the screen reads “Katie Pennicott, Deputy Principal, Invercargill Middle School”.)


And so to reinforce to them that participation, that physical moving very clearly shows, I joined in.

But it's also not about being right. You didn't have to give a right answer to get to move. You just participated. So as soon as they've participated in the lesson they move across to the other side.


(The camera now returns to her teaching a class of children. She gestures towards writing on a large pad of paper while the students listen.)


It comes back to manaakitanga again - whanaungatanga and ako - the children know what is expected of them.


(A boy raises his hand to answer a question. Behind him other children make various signals with their hands. He then stands up and moves to a different section of the floor. The lesson continues, with several other children raising their hands.)


They know that they're expected to be active in the learning. And that is reinforced.


(The camera changes to show a young boy in the classroom. He speaks into the camera.)


I think that we do help each other a lot. And we get along pretty well.


(We now see a young girl speaking into the camera as other children sit in the background.)


Whanaungatana means working together like one, as a family, cause whānau is family.


(The camera returns to the students sitting on the classroom floor, listening to the teacher. Some of them raise their hands or make hand gestures. A girl stands up to move sections. A woman speaks in voiceover.)


Our children know that they are going to achieve today.

Our children know that they're coming to school to learn. 

And we have these high expectations of them.


(The camera now shows the woman speaking, sitting in the school library. Text on the bottom of the screen reads “Cindy Nielsen, Year 3/ 4 teacher, Invercargill Middle School”.)


And they have high expectations of themselves.

And we have high expectations of each other.


(Her voiceover continues as the video shows her in a classroom. She kneels at a small table where four students sit with their schoolwork, listening intently as one of the boys speaks.)


And it sounds so simple and so obvious.

But everything comes back to all those routines that we set up.


(Her voiceover ends as she speaks to one of the students. She makes a hand gesture, outspreading her pinky and thumb with the rest of her fingers folded inward.)


That was a good idea.

I hadn't thought of all those ideas.


(Katie Pennicott now speaks to the camera, once again in the school library. As she mentions the peg system it cuts to her back in the classroom, addressing the students sitting on the ground.)


When the children use a talk move that I'm focusing on at the time, in my classroom I use a peg system to reinforce to them that it was a positive thing that they've done.


(A boy raises his hand and she points to him. A blue and pink striped box with a black cat on it sits on a desk. He grabs a peg from it and crosses the room to the window, where four fluffy strings hang. Each string has sections covered in brightly coloured wooden clothes pegs and paper clips. The boy reaches up and adds his peg to one of the strings. Katie’s voiceover continues.)


I use the peg, because it's active.

So they stand up, and they walk, and they put the peg on.

It's affirming to them. It's affirming that, I did a good thing.


(We return to Katie Pennicott in the school library.)


Some children, the verbal isn't going to go in.

The brain is full right now.

I've listened to you enough, lady.


(Her voiceover continues as the video shows a close-up of a child’s hands, attaching a paperclip to one of the classroom strings.)


You need to be quiet.


(The camera is back on Katie as she teachers her class. Several children raise their hands. One makes a hand signal shaking his hand back and forth.)


So standing up and the walking is like, yeah, everyone noticed that I did the right thing. It's very affirming.


(The video now shows three young girls sitting together. Two of them are making miming-like gestures with their hands as the third listens. A girl’s voice speaks in voice-over.)


These hand signals are called silence signals.


(The camera changes to show the girl speaking into the camera. She wears a grey hoodie with a badge reading ‘young leader’. As she speaks, she makes a gesture with her right hand, extending her thumb and pinky outward as she tucks the rest of her fingers towards her palm. She shakes her hand back and forth.)


Like this sign is too agree.


(As she speaks the video shows a group of children sitting in the classroom floor. The majority of them make the same gesture.)


So then we know that we are listening to them.


(We now see a boy. He speaks into the camera as he raises his hands to cross over at the wrists making an ‘x’.)


This is disagree.


(He lowers his hands, pressing the tips of his outstretched thumbs together while curling his index fingers towards each other to make a heart shape.)


We can show that we love the idea by making a heart with our hands.


(He makes a similar gesture with his thumbs and index fingers outstretched and pressed together at the tips, making a diamond shape.)


And we can say that they've aced it.


(The camera returns to where the three girls are signing at each other. A girl’s voice speaks in voiceover. As she says “but” the camera changes to show her speaking to it.)


When we ask someone else to add on, it's because we have got some of it, but we're having trouble getting the rest.


(We return to the boy explaining the signs. He makes fists with both of his hands and softly bangs them together.)


When you bang your fists together it means for someone else to speak up louder.


(He taps his finger to his temple.)


And you can also say that you've learned something new.


(We return to the girl with the ‘young leader’ badge. She also taps her temple, smiling wide.)


And I tend to do this a lot of times, because I always learn from other people.