At Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery teachers are called Learning Advisors. This term deliberately emphasises a role that is comprised of facilitation, mentorship and coaching, as well as teaching. Learning Advisors function both as curriculum experts and as advisors who support our students to make the right decisions for their learning, by giving regular feedback on progress and monitoring whether the student’s plan needs modifying.
In their role as curriculum experts, our Learning Advisors have a strong willingness to adapt their courses to the needs and desires of our students. Learning Advisors do more than just teach, they are responsive to individual student voice, while ensuring that the curriculum is delivered in a relevant, challenging and interesting way.
Richard, Learning Advisor
The autonomy that you have as a learning advisor at Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery is fantastic: you have the flexibility to follow your students’ interests rather than being confined to a narrow curriculum. I teach Media Studies and English at the moment, but my classes here can always be a bit of a mix, as I am able to combine those subjects with Psychology, Digital Technology, Science, or any other subject in which I’m confident (or in which the students show an interest). When learning advisors are sharing their passion for the things they love, learning standards are usually so much higher.
I also think that the school prepares our students exceptionally well for uni life, as it is almost run like a university within a high school. During their time here, our school leavers would have been continually asked to justify which learning experiences they were engaged in, whereas at other schools you often just take what’s been given to you.
Brent, Learning Advisor
Despite Philosophy being a recognised school subject there are no NCEA standards, so teachers usually borrow standards from other domains such as English or History. This is not ideal, so I came to an arrangement with the Philosophy Department at the University of Canterbury in which we would offer a distance course for our students. The course would run at our school, and we would provide the academic support, such as tutoring time and materials that would normally be delivered at university.
We now offer two university level Philosophy courses. Our students complete all the assignments at school, however, the marking is done by the university and our students end up with points that count towards their first year of a university degree. The course is STAR funded with no cost to our students. Since we teach smaller groups the course is highly discussion based, so there is a lot of depth. I believe that’s why our students perform better on average than the students who attend university lectures.