Students as teachers: collaboration at Linwood College

Issue: Volume 96, Number 21

Posted: 27 November 2017
Reference #: 1H9gW8

Linwood College PE teachers Natasha Powell and Rosanna Katene came back from the 2016 Physical Education New Zealand conference with some great ideas for encouraging interaction between junior and senior students.

Linwood College PE teachers Natasha Powell and Rosanna Katene came back from the 2016 Physical Education New Zealand conference with some great ideas for encouraging interaction between junior and senior students.

On returning from the Physical Education New Zealand (PENZ) conference last year, PE teachers Natasha Powell and Rosanna Katene wrote a proposal for their senior leadership team outlining their plan to get year 10 and Level 2 NCEA students working together and mentoring each other, which became the focus of their Grow Waitaha Incubator inquiry.

They constructed their project using the Spiral of Inquiry approach (go to for more information) and framed their inquiry as: “How might we create authentic tuakana–teina learning relationships using a flexible environment, that enables students to get the most from their learning.”

Rosanna says that the idea came about because both she and Natasha could see an opportunity for their respective year 10 and Level 2 classes to work together and reap all the rewards of regular interaction.

“Natasha and I both taught one Level 2 PE class each, and we both also have year 10 mentor classes, or form classes. We wanted to join my Level 2 with Natasha’s mentor class for one hour a week, and then her Level 2 with my mentor class. We wanted to find out if this kind of thing was possible.

“We felt that this could be a great idea for two reasons: the first is our focus on culturally responsive and relational teaching practice. That’s where the tuakana/teina concept comes from [tuakana/teina refers to the relationship between older and younger people, and is specific to teaching in the  New Zealand context] – the power sharing.

“We’re also going into a full school rebuild, so we’re preparing for that. We might only have one gym [while the rebuild is happening], we don’t know yet. It might be that they’ll naturally be in the same space anyway, so we asked ourselves how we can make that interaction meaningful.”

The idea behind getting senior and younger learners interacting more meaningfully isn’t just about students, however. Rosanna and Natasha recognised that there was an opportunity to seek feedback, and use these insights to help steer the learning programmes they were developing.

“We asked ourselves, what are they telling us? What we should do next?” says Rosanna.

She says this feedback from senior students was especially helpful in working out where their programme could be more easily accessed.

“For some learning themes, the seniors actually did the teaching. We hadn’t done that before, so that’s something I’ll take away from this experience – it doesn’t always need to be the teachers leading the learning. Our senior students are actually tuakana themselves.”

The majority of junior students have responded really well, she says, because they’re being challenged and they’re able to connect with students who are older than themselves. In many cases, they wouldn’t normally be able to interact with senior students in such a rich way outside of class.

One of the most positive impacts of this collaboration and the sharing of learning and teaching responsibility, says Rosanna, has been a blossoming in maturity that’s been displayed by her senior students, who have responded admirably to the responsibility that’s been placed on them.

“Their maturity levels have just improved so much over such a short space of time. Usually in PE it can be quite competitive, which is fine sometimes, but when they’re with the year 10s, they need to be really aware of how they’re making these younger students feel emotionally and physically. They’re being asked to consider things like, ‘do these younger students feel safe?’; ‘is everyone feeling included?’; ‘why are people not participating, and how can they avoid that situation?’.

“Everybody involved is really developing this strong sense of agency. It’s something that we definitely want to continue with.”

Read more about Grow Waitaha: link)

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 9:00 am, 27 November 2017

Get new listings like these in your email
Set up email alerts