Tamariki School

Teachers Manual

Pointers of Good Teaching Practice

Teaching at Tamariki School is very demanding and testing, and very rewarding and satisfying. Teachers need to be:

  • Open about their own learning, strengths and weaknesses
  • Patient
  • Prepared for it to take a long time to be at ease in the environment
  • Patient
  • Able to laugh at themselves and with others
  • Patient
  • Able to tolerate difference, anger and distress without becoming caught up in it.
  • Patient
  • Aware of children's developmental patterns, and different learning styles
  • Patient
  • Conversant with the New Zealand Curriculum documents, and able to recognise how children's learnings mesh with these
  • Patient, and yet again patient

The Special Character of the school is the best guide for all working there and the following develops particular aspects of that Special Character.

1. Emotional and social growth are regarded as the base for cognitive development and strategies which support these growths have priorities over all other activities.

It is the teacher's responsiblity to:

  • recognise that a child's current needs may relate to emotional, social, or physical, rather than just to academic needs.
  • support children to learn about managing their own social behaviour.
  • intervene when s/he judges that a child needs extra support to manage a social or learning situation.
  • respect children's social interactions with each other and not to interfere unduly.
  • take account of the interdependence of feeling and cognitive learning.
  • model the intrinsic pleasures and satisfactions of learning and extending skills.

Important values which teachers may demonstrate which support emotional growth include: a sense of humour, respect for self and others, honesty (including honesty about feelings), and taking responsibility for oneself.

Teachers who are willing to be honest with children, including allowing themselves to be vulnerable at moments which are appropriate f or the child, are modelling healthy emotional and social functioning to children.

2. Relationships between teachers and children are based on trust. We accept that children may need to test the reliability of teachers before learning takes place.

It is the teacher's responsibility to:

  • come to know each child well and to work to develop trust with each child so that children feel comfortable with the teacher and safe in exploring their learning.
  • recognise when a child does not trust or feel comfortable with her/him.
  • recognise that a child may wish to work with a different teacher and to allow this to happen.
  • respect the integrity of a child's personality.
  • be honest with the child about the teacher's own weaknesses and strengths.
  • be 'real' with a child. Sometimes this involves being honest with the child about the fact that the teacher has to temporarily play a particular role; e.g. sometimes the 'policeman role' if children's behaviour is out of their control.
  • take responsibility for safety matters: physical and emotional.

3. Children are deeply involved in creating and maintaining the social structures by which the school functions.

It is the teacher's responsibility to:

  • recognise that while teachers have responsibilities, they have no more and no fewer rights than the children at Tamariki.
  • be committed to using the request and meeting systems at Tamariki to resolve disputes, even when this seems inconvenient.

4. Children's learning is to a very great extent under their own control. The child's learning belongs to him/herself.

Is is the teacher's responsibility to:

  • work at the balance between support and intrusion, and to work on knowing when not to interfere with the child's activity/process.
  • listen to the child.
  • allow children to direct their own learning: i.e. to choose when to attend a lesson, what the focus of the lesson will be.
  • recognise and follow up the child's interests and needs and when appropriate to assist the child in their interests and needs.
  • have appropriate materials prepared for when the child is ready for a lesson.
  • provide versatile programmes which meet children's needs and interests.
  • recognise the significance of the learning which occurs during child initiated activities; e.g. daily chess games.
  • ensure that any teacher initiated activities are introduced in a non-invasive way, e.g. by having materials available; by the teacher participating in the activity and allowing children to join in.
  • recognise that children have different ways of learning and to teach in whatever style seems appropriate to that child.
  • allow children to do things for themselves, or to provide assistance to children, rather than doing things for them (even when this takes much longer).

5. Mistakes are regarded as important learning information.

It is the teacher's responsibility to:

  • encourage an acceptance of experimentation and of accepting mistakes.
  • model approaches to correcting errors and accepting mistake making in their own learning behaviour (e.g. in academic and social areas).
  • not set a child up for failure.
  • identify where a fear of failure is interfering with a child's openness to learning and to support the child in working through this.

6. A child always works at his/her individual level of competence. The focus of teaching strategies is to acknowledge and support what children do well, and to use these strengths in areas of weakness.

It is the teacher's responsibility to:

  • ensure that any lesson is appropriate to the child requesting it.
  • ensure that the c hild's individual needs are taken account of in lessons or teaching interventions.
  • assist the child to identify their next step in learning when the child needs support with this.
  • allow children to participate and work at their own levels during group lessons.

7. Children are encouraged at all times in all areas to compare their work and skills with their own previous achievements and their own goals.

It is the teacher's responsiblity to:

  • identify and support successful learning and growth in a child.
  • identify areas and causes of difficulty for a child.
  • ensure that any assessment processes are not invasive and do not provoke anxiety, nor that they impair in any way the child's ownership of his learning.
  • ask a child's permission before retaining samples of their work.
  • in assessment, work always from a 'credit' model, not a 'debit', while staying aware of where a child's difficulties may currently be lying.
  • relate a child's learning to the Achievement Objectives in the National Curriculum statements.

8. Play is regarded as children's work.

It is the teacher's responsibility to:

  • value and foster a child's full and committed engagement in any activity.
  • allow children the opportunity to have physical and practical experiences which will develop into cognitive understandings.
  • value the child's choice of outdoors and playground experiences.
  • provide as wide as possible a range of materials for creative play.

9. The children have a very large measure of control over their environment.

It is the teacher's responsibility to:

  • allow children to use the environment in their own way for their own purposes (within safety boundaries).
  • provide an environment in which activities may be carried through to their natural conclusion and not arbitrarily interrupted by adult demands.
  • allow a degree of disorder and mess in the environment in which s/he is not personally and immediately affected as it has been observed that children's imaginations work best in the context of some environmental disorder.
  • encourage children to clear up their own mess when the activity is genuinely finished.

10. Tamariki operates in many ways like an extended family, offering support and encouragement to all its members (including teachers).

Open sensitive communication with all members of the community is critical to effective functioning as a teacher at Tamariki. Parents, children and other staff members are all at different stages of their journey to fully developed autonomy and require respect and acceptance of where they are at any particular time. Trust that their mistakes and ignorance will be treated with generosity of spirit is a huge part of the school's success to date.

Teachers are willing to be 'themselves' and value the unique contribution of each teacher, with her/his own attributes, skills, and difficulties.

It is expected that teachers will seek support from, and offer support to, each other in their demanding role as teachers at Tamariki.

Reflection and self-appraisal happen on a daily basis. Much of this is shared with colleagues: what went well, what could have been handled differently.

Teachers learn from their own and their colleagues' teaching experiences as well as from the reactions of and feedback from children.

Professional development is valued and opportunities are provided for in-school workshops as well as individual learning at outside workshops and courses. It is a teacher's responsibility to give feedback on the progress of their professional development, and identify their 'next step'.

Classroom Practice


  • Your first task is to get to know the children. This takes time and patience, but until you have established trust it is wise not to ask anything of the child that might make it feel exposed or humiliated.
  • Establish a safe, loving, accepting learning space. Learn the request system, and use it.
  • Acknowledge each child when you first encounter him/her. Children notice it if you don't. Don't necessarily expect them to acknowledge you back. You are modelling desired behaviour.
  • Expect to make and acknowledge mistakes.
  • The child does not have to show you or share with you his/her learning efforts. When she/he does so this is really a gift to you and must be treated with respect.
  • We talk a lot about the child's 'ownership of his/her learning' and what this means in practical terms is that the child does it for him/herself, builds up a 'good enough' picture of what she/he can do and what she/he needs to learn, evaluates him/her realistically and makes decisions about when, where, and how much. Your role is to facilitate and support this.
  • While you should as a rule be accepting of what a child is doing and have a general air of enjoying the child, be careful that your encouragement is not intrusive. Do not praise a child facilely. Be as specific as possible about what you like in what she/he shares with you. You do not have to praise all the time, it is more important that the child enjoys what she/he is doing for him/herself and we do not want to make children dependent on teacher recognition. Be honest without being critical or destructive.
  • A really useful maxim is 'when in doubt, don't' or 'taihoa'. You are unlikely to damage anyone's enthusiasm for learning by waiting and making sure that what is happening for a child, and your interpretation of what is happening, are a reasonably close match.
  • Your enthusiasm and respect for learning is very contagious. Children are constantly monitoring whether adults really value learning and are very astute judges of your honest engagement.
  • It is extremely valuable to them to see you reading, writing, studying for pleasure and your own purposes.
  • It is an authentic method of introducing new ideas, activities, materials to a class, to either start doing something by yourself, or invite a child whom you know might like it to do it with you. Sometimes this will fall dead in the water, but more often children take it to places you never considered they could.
  • When you don't know, ask. There is no shame in not knowing, there is shame and potential for damage, in not acknowledging that you don't know.
  • In meetings remember that the offending child may need support as much as the hurt one. It is often worthwhile to have an adult to support each child.
  • It is important to try to establish what any unusual or anxiety-provoking behaviour means for the child.
  • Meetings have priority over all other activities.

Junior School

The programme for the Junior School is based on Te Whaariki, the New Zealand curriculum document for early childhood, and we recommend that you read through this document, also Margaret Carr’s ‘Assessment in Early Childhood Settings’. Most of our young children still display many of the patterns visible in pre-schools, we place a huge emphasis on play and holistic development, and take a developmental approach through to the end of childhood.

To provide for these children you should:

  • Establish a safe area rich in materials and activities suitable for children in the age group.
  • Have plenty of books, and comfortable corners where you may read to these children. Many of them ( about 40%) will learn to read through this activity with very little other instruction.
  • Have writing materials, varieties of paper, a table.
  • Have lots of materials suitable for natural unguided exploration of mathematical ideas.
  • Have lots of junk, sandpit, diggings, hutbuilding, access to water , a garden, etc.
  • Help children resolve disputes by discussion and gentle guidance. The new entrants can often be overwhelmed by meetings and these should not be used until you are sure the child can cope.
  • Be prepared to cuddle and comfort a distressed child.
  • Be prepared to restrain a child who is trying to hurt another. In this case get another adult on the scene as soon as possible.
  • Be aware that older children will be very attracted to the space, partly to catch up on what they have missed, and because they like the little ones, but also sometimes because they are jealous of them. Seven- and eight-year-olds are particularly prone to this and need monitoring.

Older Juniors

These are usually children in the seven-to-nine year old range, though at Tamariki you can find yourself with an extremely mixed age group.

To provide for these children you should:

  • Expect to give individual lessons in language and math to those children ready for formal learning.  Generally we would see this between ages of eight and nine.  Typically our kids do their literacy and numeracy learning in bursts which can sometimes start with great enthusiasm at a younger age.  Expect these children to be want one on one reading classes and to attend 11 O'clock group classes.  The group may rapidly grow from one to as many as you can manage but all are likely to have different pace and needs.
  • Try always to do this in public spaces. If the tutee complains of the noise levels, request quiet and if necessary call a meeting and support the child's right to quiet. If necessary take it to a whole school meeting. Many children learn by observing another child having a lesson.
  • When in doubt about any behaviour, ask what are the rules, then if necessary call a room or whole school meeting to make rules. This particularly applies to another child being critical of what the learner is doing. It is very important that children who are taking risks in exposing what they don't know, are not humiliated.
  • You may set group levels at what you can manage for the particular activity to be safe and productive. School practice is to make a list of all children who wish to engage, and offer them times. For this age level a degree of flexibility should be available, though this should not be at your expense. If the child wants the class at an inconvenient time, explain that you were available before, can't offer it now, but are willing to make another time. Science and craft groups need to be set at levels that are easily monitored for safe practice.
  • At this level, particularly with the eight year olds, you may book classes at a set time for individual children, and remind them that the time is approaching. If they want to work with others this is to be encouraged and supported
  • You may say at class meetings, or to the world at large that you are available for classes. If the child has given you permission you may offer a class to a child.

Middle and upper school

This group consists mainly of 8 to 13 year olds, who tend to be much more social and to like working in groups.

To provide for them you should:

  • Negotiate a timetable, desired classes, priorities, groupings. These will be flexible, and you should expect them to change with the changes in group dynamics.
  • Expect more commitment, and the older or more mature the child the greater the expectation.
  • Make more demands for your needs to be considered.
  • Give a great deal of time to problem-solving and make much of the learning problem or enquiry based.
  • Be prepared to help and support children who find this difficult.
  • Model critical thinking and ask open ended questions which promote this.
  • Expect to spend most of your time in the classroom being available for children who want classes.
  • Expect to monitor the range and depth of each child’s learning. From now on children tend to be able to cope with shifts of focus more frequently, and enjoy variety and adult input in learning activities.
  • Match the child’s learnings with relevant achievement objectives from the NZ Curriculum documents.
  • Encourage and participate in discussion. The children cover an astonishing amount of the curriculum in this fashion … and retain what they learn.
  • Remember that feedback from expupils shows that they value enormously the sense that you are on their side, want to help them understand and prepare themselves for adult life. Classroom climate at this level is just as important as for the five year olds.


This page was last modified on: 29 Jul 2015 20:35:11