Teachers support teachers through network of health expertise

Issue: Volume 97, Number 8

Posted: 14 May 2018
Reference #: 1H9iiR

Debbie Jones works with teachers across Aotearoa to share practice about teaching, curriculum and assessment.

Working alongside health education teachers and supporting them to overcome challenges has helped Debbie Jones to understand the benefits of collaboration, both for teachers’ job satisfaction and for student success.

As New Zealand Health Education Association (NZHEA) health education kaiārahi (leader), Debbie has had the opportunity to have contact with teachers from across Aotearoa.

One of the main tasks of the kaiārahi is providing advice and guidance to teachers and linking them to other teachers so that they can share teaching, curriculum and assessment practices.

“Current hot topics include interpretation of NCEA standards, being more innovative and student-centred in classroom practice, programme planning, and deepening knowledge of key health education content and concepts,” she says.

As well as being an NZHEA kaiārahi, Debbie is also Assistant Head of Learning for Health and Physical Education at Lincoln High School. This role gives her a practical understanding of the demands on teachers and how best to support them to meet these requirements.

In the six months she has been in the role, Debbie has met with many teachers who have worked on producing exciting programmes to help engage students. These programmes include initiatives to integrate health education learning with other subjects, such as English, working with students to get their input into the design of an NCEA health education course, and using health promotion to enable students to take action in their local communities.

Debbie believes health education is relevant to students as they gain a wide range of learning outcomes and skills that they can use in all aspects of their lives.

“Students are naturally interested in the world around them; things they view on television or social media and hear on the radio or through relationships with others are all big influences on them. Therefore topics such as effective communication, sexuality, alcohol and drug use, and coping with adversity and change are common things students want to understand,” she says.

“They also enjoy learning how their attitudes, values and behaviours can impact on others, and how structures and practices in society impact on people’s wellbeing. As students progress through the curriculum levels, they become increasingly aware of how people’s behaviours can impact on the wellbeing of others and the community around them, allowing them to become more critical. In turn, they learn how to apply a range of understandings and skills to their lives as teenagers, and hopefully in the future.”

Collaboration also provides the opportunity to identify some key challenges facing health teachers, such as the intended outcomes of health education, identifying who is best equipped to teach it, and what should be taught. In order to address these challenges, programmes, teaching and assessment approaches have been discussed by teachers from many schools across
New Zealand.

“One of our other goals at NZHEA is to enhance the online presence of the subject association through social media,” Debbie says. “Another goal is to increase the collaboration between teachers in primary and secondary schools so that teachers understand the learning pathway from Year 1 to Year 13.”

“Our main forum recently has been the use of an NZHEA Secondary Facebook group(external link), which has increased markedly in members and activity since 2017. Teachers in this group post regularly to share resources they find online and also to ask questions of each other.”

The discussion generated through this forum is extensive, she says, including suitable resources for a particular year level topic, examples of successes in health promotion activities, and up-and-coming documentaries that may support learning contexts or ways of assessing.

NZHEA also provides free resources on its website, such as position statements to support teachers’ perspectives on  specific issues (such as health promotion, use of external providers and the teaching of sexuality education), resources for planning learning experiences in sexuality education and health promotion, and teaching and learning resources that can be adapted to suit learners’ needs for health promotion.

Debbie encourages teachers to access these resources and join the Facebook page so they can stay connected to current issues relating to teaching health education.

“It’s great to see that teachers are working collaboratively across Aotearoa to enhance their practice, produce consistency and deepen understanding of teaching and learning in health education.”

NZHEA’s(external link) free resources.

What is the NZHEA network?

The NZHEA network is one example of the Ministry of Education’s Network of Expertise initiative, which seeks to grow and develop teaching and learning networks to support the specific needs of teachers and promote learning opportunities across the curriculum for all students.

For more information on the  Networks of Expertise initiative(external link).

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 9:00 AM, 14 May 2018

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