Ako in Action - Inclusive Education

Many Room 8 students enjoy participating in extracurricular sports during the week.

They are involved in rugby, netball, basketball, soccer, dance, and motocross, trained and taught by experienced coaches. Students enjoy physical and social benefits, learn sportsmanship, and develop a variety of skills as they advance in their sports.

As with digital technology in an earlier blog, where teachers learned from each other, students also regularly do the same. By incorporating the principle of ako (reciprocal teaching and learning), “teachers are not expected to know everything… Each member of the classroom or learning setting brings knowledge with them from which all are able to learn.” Embracing ako “enables teachers to build caring and inclusive learning communities where each person feels that their contribution is valued and that they can participate to their full potential.” (The concept of ako, TKI)

Over a number of weeks, Room 8 students were given the opportunity to volunteer to teach sport skills. Keen basketballers and members of the Wairakei Bulls team, Declyn and Lennox, were first to lead the way. They train every Tuesday lunchtime and play on Wednesday afternoons at the Taupo Events Centre. The boys presented a plan for their training session, closely mimicking their own basketball training sessions. They decided on skills, and planned to have a 5-on-5 game to finish. This session was very successful, with the boys choosing to split the class into two groups, and demonstrating achievable drills for students new to basketball. There were many positive words, clapping, and support for those who got a goal during the lay-up drills.

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I liked being the teacher. It was fun and they listened. They did a good job learning the skills. I love playing basketball. - Declyn

Providing students opportunities to lead their peers allows for learning agency. Learner agency is embedded in The New Zealand Curriculum key competencies as “the capabilities that young people need for growing, working, and participating in their communities.” (Key competencies, TKI). Key competencies are about “developing the dispositions and sense of agency that not only empower the individual but help them better understand and negotiate the perspectives and values of others.” (Learner agency, TKI).

All students were able to show the ‘participating and contributing’ key competency. No prior knowledge of basketball was necessary - even Mrs Graham got to do a few (failed) lay-ups. Watching the teacher fail was pretty entertaining, and an important message. This allowed the “building (of) productive relationships, between teacher and students and among students, where everyone is empowered to learn with and from each other.” (The concept of ako, TKI)

Learner agency means students “feel in control of things that happen around them; when they feel they can influence events. This is an important sense for learners to develop. They need to be active participants in their learning.” (Learner agency, TKI) Rhea, Tori, and Layla are netballers in the Wairakei Power team. They train every Friday lunchtime and play on Saturday mornings at Owen Delany Park. They too had students sorted into two groups, with one person moving between the groups supervising and problem-solving. Skills taught were the chest pass, bounce pass, overhead pass, and goal shooting.2021-Graham-Inclusive-03.jpg

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It was fun teaching and being a coach. I taught them how to do pivoting. Some people listened. For some people it was their first time doing that. I would definitely like to do it again because it’s just fun and the whole class was doing it. - Layla

It was challenging. It was hard to talk. Not everyone was listening. So I think we should give the instructions inside next time, then go out and do the skills. - Rhea

We taught passing and catching and shooting. I want to do it again. I love netball. - Tori

Some students had other skills they wished to offer, such as in art, technology, and literacy. Friday afternoon then became our teaching afternoon. Students who wished to teach a skill would offer that on the whiteboard and the learners could choose.

Mrs Graham taught us the origami box and I’m going to try and teach Chelsea something, maybe the frog. - Olivia

I taught Darrius how I do my building. I have built a whole house from all these things [materials] and I was showing him how to build the walls and connect the parts. - Luke

I have built this car and it has a solid chassis. I was showing Declyn how to build his own car. So far, he just has the sides, no chassis. - Jay

This is pixel art. I’m teaching Jeremy how to draw the circle first, then the rest of the picture. - Ashe

We have to draw a picture, called a ‘Skribbl’, and then make guesses about what it is. Everyone gets a turn to draw and do the guesses. You have to write the word and spell it right. - Matt

I get to be the leader for Heggerty (phonemic awareness programme). We do it fast to try and beat our time. - Declyn

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2021-Graham-Inclusive-10.jpgInclusive Education urges teachers to “identify an activity that a student is good at and enjoys and use this as the basis for a group activity that the student can lead or contribute to… Children and young people learn best when they feel accepted, when they enjoy positive relationships with their fellow learners and teachers, and when they are able to be active, visible members of the learning community.” (Inclusive Education, TKI)

Keywords: Health & PE, ako, inclusive, key competencies, digital art, origami, Heggerty

2021 Graham Inclusive 10