You are here

Teaching to the North-East: Relationship-based learning in practice

Teaching to the North-East responds to the marginalisation of particular groups of students with a way of teaching intended to increase equity in the education system.

One way this marginalisation happens is when the special qualities students bring to the classroom are treated as deficiencies. This consigns Indigenous, migrant, refugee, faith- based students, students with learning difficulties, and students of difference to educational “failure”.

Russell Bishop sets out how schools and teachers can respond to diverse groups of students and develop teaching practices that promote learning for everyone. In this approach,  students’ prior knowledge, language and ways of making sense of the world are used to inform teaching practices rather than being seen as barriers to learning.

Teaching to the North-East puts relationships at the centre of learning, and advocates for a relational pedagogy. Russell Bishop builds on his theoretical research in Indigenous Education to describe effective teaching in an extended family-like context that is both culturally responsive and sustaining. Teachers who foster caring and learning relationships within their classrooms interact with students in ways that allow them to see themselves as successful learners. North-East teachers then monitor the impact of these relationships and interactions on students’ progress and modify their practices accordingly so that further progress is ensured and sustained

School leaders can support teaching to the North-East with relational leadership, allowing their teachers to thrive.

Together, North-East teaching and leadership is Relationship-based Learning, a form of culturally-responsive pedagogy that is responsive to and inclusive of all learners, especially those currently marginalised.

Russell Bishop is Emeritus Professor of Māori Education in the Faculty of Education at the University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. He is well known for directing the development of Te Kotahitanga, a large New Zealand Ministry of Education funded research and professional development project from 2001 to 2012. This project demonstrated how teachers and other school leaders could improve the educational achievement of Māori students in mainstream classrooms by implementing a culturally responsive pedagogy of relations. Since his retirement from the University of Waikato, he has developed the notion of relational pedagogy and leadership further in New Zealand, Australia, and Canada.  He is the author or co-author of eight books and approximately 90 other quality-assured publications. He has delivered over 100 keynote addresses, nationally and internationally, and has won numerous awards for his work, including a recent ONZM.