Building effective learning environments

Effective principals are knowledgeable about learning and the individual needs of different students in their particular context.

New Zealand articles and resources

Leadership in the development of inclusive school communities

by Jude McArthur

In this short and engaging 2012 article Dr Jude McArthur from Massey University gives an overview the research she and others have undertaken in the schooling sector about the experiences of young people who have disabilities. It contains advice and suggestions for school leaders.

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Teachers Make a Difference: What is the Research Evidence?

by John Hattie

This very engaging paper was delivered at the Australian Council for Educational Research Annual Conference in 2003 by Professor John Hattie. It discusses the research evidence showing that “it is what teachers know, do and care about which is very powerful in the learning equation”.

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Using Best Evidence Syntheses to assist in making a bigger difference for diverse learners

by Adrienne Alton-Lee

This paper helps to clarify the background to the New Zealand Ministry of Education's Iterative Best Evidence Synthesis (BES) programme, and how it can make a difference in the achievement levels of all learners.

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Aiming for student achievement: How teachers can understand and better meet the needs of Māori and Pacific Island students

by Jan Hill and Kay Hawk

This article examines the development of the AimHi project and research. It explores the links between the world(s) of the student, of home, and of school, and how the collision of these worlds can impact learning and achievement.

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New Zealand school stories

Southern Cross Senior Campus

Karen Douglas, Southern Cross Senior Campus

Karen Douglas at Southern Cross Campus senior school took a no excuses approach to student management, and academic improvement followed.

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Te Kura Māori o Ngā Tapuwae

Arihia Stirling describes how a group of Mangere schools worked together to improve assessment and share professional knowledge.

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Other resources

Student engagement

This excellent research paper (10 pages) takes a broad view of engagement, covering relationships, individual connections, behaviour, attendance, participation and classroom work. 

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All Our Students Thinking

by Nel Noddings

This article will question some deeply held beliefs and is therefore quite provocative. The author considers, in terms of developing students’ thinking skills, whether all subjects are equally useful and whether teaching using pre-set unit plans is challenging for students. Read summary and reflective questions.

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Conversations that matter

by Stephen Myers

This article focuses on the importance of developing trusting and positive relationships in the classroom. It would be useful as a starter for a professional learning group, or for use with teaching staff to help them plan for starting their classes off at the beginning of a semester. It is a short and easy read.

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Engage me or enrage me: What today’s learners demand

by Marc Prensky

In this article the author argues that the current, wired, technology-savvy generation of students are engaged everywhere in their lives except at school; and it is therefore an educator's responsibility to present curricula in ways that will connect with students.

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Assessment Through the Student’s Eyes

by Rick Stiggins

This article is very useful for New Zealand school leaders. The New Zealand Curriculum emphasises that the purpose of assessment is to improve learning; the reading makes the point that student's motivation to remain engaged with learning is enhanced when students are clear about assessment practices and purposes. The reading is also relevant to discussions about NCEA.

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Listen to the Natives

by Marc Prensky

This article examines how educators in the 21st century need to embrace ICT implementation in schools, through the introduction of new terms of reference ('digital native'), and theories about student engagement, motivation, and collaboration.

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The Ripple Effect

by Andy Hargreaves and Dean Fink

This article suggests ways to think about solving issues caused by competition among schools: for instance, providing coaching and sharing resources by distributing leadership skills in very successful schools across a wider area.

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What we know about successful school leadership

by Kenneth Leithwood and Carolyn Riehl

This article brings together thinking on school leadership into one document. The broad categories described as important for leadership success are: setting directions, developing people, and developing the organisation.

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Transforming high schools

by Pedro Noguera

This article summarises research into secondary school reforms in the United States. The key factor in achieving successful change is the involvement of teachers, parents, and students in the change process.

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Related sabbatical reports

  • Philip Jellyman, St Dominic's Catholic College (Henderson)

    Investigate, through research and visits to schools, innovative approaches to junior school (Year 7 to 10) curriculum design, particularly the development and introduction of integrated curricula. (PDF 2MB)

  • Grant Watson, Upper Moutere School

    To increase professional understanding of and capability in the further leading of collaborative teaching and learning in flexible teaching and learning environments. (PDF 175kB)