Principle 1

From Term 1 2017, Victorian government and Catholic schools will use the new Victorian Curriculum F-10. Curriculum related information is currently being reviewed and may be subject to change.

For more information on the curriculum, see:
The Victorian Curriculum F–10 - VCAA

The learning environment is supportive and productive

The teacher builds positive relationships with and values each student.

Through teacher modelling and classroom strategies based on cooperation and mutual support, an environment is created where students feel comfortable to pursue inquiries and express themselves. They take responsibility for their learning and are prepared to pursue and try out new ideas.

Components unpacked

1.1 - The teacher builds positive relationships through knowing and valuing each student

This component is about building quality relationships, based on respect, value and care. It is about taking time to get to know and understand students, in an educational sense but also in a wider social and personal sense.

This component is demonstrated by teachers:

  • targeting questions, or responding to answers, in a way that acknowledges individual needs and potential contributions
  • finding out about the interests and background of each student
  • focusing attention, when circulating, on students who have particular needs
  • encouraging all students to contribute
  • responding positively and non judgmentally to student contributions
  • using humour and anecdotes to develop rapport with the class
  • talking to students to determine the root causes of misbehaviour and responding appropriately
  • establishing a tradition in class whereby students talk about instances of new ideas connected to their lives and communities
  • providing support for students through mentoring and pastoral roles and organisation of extra activities, such that relationships are built around multiple aspects of students’ lives.

The component is NOT demonstrated when:

  • teachers make judgements about students based on generalisations relating to social or cultural background
  • teachers judge students on a narrow set of skills or knowledge
  • teachers have low expectations and/or negative opinions about certain groups of students.

Examples to illustrate the component.

  • During a unit on health and disease, student opinion on current health and community issues is sought, and students are encouraged to talk about the complexities of health issues for their generation.
  • A design task is framed around students’ needs and interests, and the teacher is open to their differing ideas and helps them work through the design brief.
1.2 - The teacher promotes a culture of value and respect for individuals and their communities

This component is about creating an environment where students’ comments are acknowledged, their different opinions are respected, cultural and other differences are accepted, and where students feel safe and valued.

This component is demonstrated by teachers:

  • accepting the opinions and values on which students’ comments are based, and embracing differences rather than insisting that students conform
  • ensuring that all contributions to class or group discussion are listened to and accorded respect
  • establishing a climate where difference of perspective is welcomed and learnt from
  • establishing agreed rules of behaviour to provide a safe and productive environment.

The component is NOT demonstrated when:

  • class discussions are restricted by the teacher and student opinion is not acknowledged to any significant degree
  • mainstream opinions are allowed to dominate discussion
  • discriminatory language is not challenged.

Examples to illustrate the component.

  • Students are encouraged to develop guidelines for class discussions where they all agree to listen to each person’s views carefully and answer respectfully, even if they disagree with the view.
  • In a design task students are invited to talk about the way particular artefacts are used in their cultures, or home lives.
  • Students establish contact via email with a sister school in an overseas country, exchanging information with a view to exploring and comparing a particular social aspect of both countries (e.g., traffic problems, population problems, family issues etc).
  • During topics dealing with contemporary events, all students (of different gender, ethnicity or religious affiliation) are explicitly encouraged to contribute to discussion of issues and implications for them.
  • In a Science unit on light, Islamic contributions to our current understanding of vision are described and discussed.
1.3 - Teaching strategies promote students’ self-confidence and willingness to take risks with their learning

This component is primarily about students being supported to feel confident to contribute ideas without fear of being ‘put down’. It includes the notion of students moving ‘outside the square’ with their thinking and learning; not settling for the ‘ordinary’ but trying out new ideas and practices. This may involve teacher modelling and negotiation.

This component is demonstrated by teachers:

  • providing appropriate support structures for open inquiry projects and investigations
  • encouraging students to follow interesting and open lines of inquiry
  • modelling acceptance and valuing of unusual ideas
  • using explicit assessment criteria that encourage students to try out new ideas.

The component is NOT demonstrated when:

  • only ‘right answers’ are accorded respect and encouragement
  • student attempts at problem solving activities are responded to judgmentally rather than as opportunities for further learning
  • speculative responses are discouraged
  • curriculum planning does not allow room for canvassing of diverse opinion and ideas.

Examples to illustrate the component.

  • Students engage in exploratory tasks or constructions and are made aware that trying out ideas that have some risk of not succeeding will be assessed positively.
  • Students are encouraged to draw in a way they have not previously tried and imaginative efforts that break new ground are encouraged.
  • Students are encouraged to interpret the idea of ‘energy’ in a variety of complex situations that are challenging but productive to analyse.
  • Students are supported through the use of video analysis to evaluate the offensive strategies of a team in a particular sport and develop defensive strategies to counter these.
1.4 - Each student experiences success through structured support, the valuing of effort, and recognition of their work

This component involves teachers supporting students to achieve success as they move through the learning process. It is about recognising that all students have different abilities and acknowledging and valuing the effort each student puts into improving their work.

This component is demonstrated by teachers:

  • determining students’ differing abilities and providing support when it is needed
  • acknowledging students’ progress and scaffolding learning to maximise success
  • recognising and celebrating the achievements of all students
  • assessing student work against prior achievements rather than against other students’ work
  • providing students with realistic but challenging goals and recognising the effort they put towards achieving these goals
  • acknowledging effort as well as ability, both publicly and in personal feedback.

The component is NOT demonstrated when:

  • all student work is only assessed against general classroom criteria
  • student achievement is ranked by academic performance only.

Examples to illustrate the component.

  • Students set goals and timelines for a research project and share their progress with the teacher and other students at the commencement of each class. Students are assessed against their own goals.
  • Students are given ample opportunity to develop new skills before embarking on tasks that require their application.

Theory snapshot

Aims of the principle

Principle 1 aims to ensure the basic needs of every student are considered and catered for in the classroom, the school, and the broader school community. This means that at the centre of the teachers’ thinking is the acknowledgement and valuing of the relationships with every student. Teachers must consider the students and their need for:

  • survival
  • love and belonging
  • power
  • feedom and choice
  • fun and enjoyment.

In productive learning environments students feel supported and challenged. Teacher actions reflect:

  • knowing what students can do independently and safely
  • knowing what they can achieve with teacher support.

Moving students between independent and supported learning ensures the development of positive, risk taking learners. Two key theorists, but not the only theorists, whose work is integral to our understanding of Principle 1, The learning environment is supportive and productive are William Glasser (1925-2013) and Lev Semanovich Vygotsky (1896-1934).

William Glasser

William Glasser asserts that 95% of discipline problems are misguided efforts of children trying to achieve power. He views Total Behaviour as having 4 components - acting, thinking, feeling and physiology. While all Total Behaviours are chosen, Glasser suggests we only have direct control or choice over the acting and thinking components. We can only control our feelings and physiology indirectly through how we choose to act and think.

A central aspect of ‘Choice Theory’ is the belief that we are internally, not externally motivated and our behaviour is driven by internally developed notions of what is most important and satisfying to us. Consequently the only person whose behaviour we can control is our own. As humans we constantly compare our perception of the current world with our ‘Quality World Picture’, that is how we would like it to be. Consciously or not we determine if our current behaviour is the best available choice to achieve a real world experience that is consonant with our ‘Quality World Picture’.

According to Glasser:

  • disengaged students view their schoolwork as irrelevant to their basic human needs
  • teachers must negotiate both curriculum content and method with students as students’ basic needs help shape how and what they are taught
  • teachers should rely on cooperative, active learning techniques that enhance the power of the learners.
Lev Semanovich Vygotsky

The major theme of Vygotsky’s theoretical framework is that every function in the child’s development appears twice – firstly between people (interpsychological) and then inside the child (intrapsychological). Social interaction is therefore fundamental to full cognitive development. An example is in the learning of language. While our first utterances with peers or adults are for the purpose of communication, once mastered they become internalized and allow “inner speech”.

Vygotskians also note the difference between what the child can do on their own and with help. The range of skill that can be developed with adult guidance or peer collaboration is greater than what can be attained alone. Full development of this potential is dependant upon the recognition of full social interaction.

According to Vygotsky:

  • curricula should be designed to emphasize interaction between learners and learning tasks
  • scaffolding (where the adult continually adjusts the level of his or her help in response to the child’s level of performance) is an effective form of teaching
  • in addition to producing immediate results, scaffolding instills the skills necessary for independent problem solving in the future.

Guiding questions

1.1 - The teacher builds positive relationships through knowing and valuing each student

This component is about building quality relationships, based on respect, value and care. It is about taking time to get to know and understand students, in an educational sense but also in a wider social and personal sense.

Professional learning team facilitator

Getting started

  • What do we do that shows we know and value each student?

Moving forward

  • How can we get to know/value our students better?
  • What learning and teaching strategies will we use?

Individual teacher

Getting started

  • What do I do that shows I know and value each student?

Moving forward

  • How can I get to know/value my students better?
  • What learning and teaching strategies will I use?
1.2 - The teacher promotes a culture of value and respect for individuals and their communities

This component is about creating an environment where students' comments are acknowledged, their different opinions are respected, cultural and other differences are accepted, and where students feel safe and valued.

Professional learning team facilitator

Getting started

  • What do we do that shows we value and respect individuals and our communities?

Moving forward

  • How can we further value and respect individuals and our communities?
  • What learning and teaching strategies will we use?
  • What class rules/procedures will be put in place to support collaborative learning, particularly the valuing of other students' comments?

Individual teacher

Getting started

  • What do I do that shows I value and respect individuals and our communities?

Moving forward

  • How can I further value and respect individuals and our communities?
  • What learning and teaching strategies will I use?
  • What class rules/procedures will be put in place to support collaborative learning, particularly the valuing of other students' comments?
1.3 - Teaching strategies promote students' self-confidence and willingness to take risks with their learning

This component is primarily about students being supported to feel confident to contribute ideas without fear of being 'put down'. It includes the notion of students moving 'outside the square' with their thinking and learning; not settling for the 'ordinary' but trying out new ideas and practices. This may involve teacher modelling and negotiation.

Professional learning team facilitator

Getting started

  • What do we do that shows we provide for each student's need for Survival, Love and Belonging, Power, Freedom and Choice, Fun and Enjoyment?

Moving forward

  • How can we enhance our current practice in these areas?
  • What learning and teaching strategies will we use?

Individual teacher

Getting started

  • What do we do that shows we provide for each student's need for Survival, Love and Belonging, Power, Freedom and Choice, Fun and Enjoyment?

Moving forward

  • How can I enhance my current practice in these areas?
  • What learning and teaching strategies will I use?
1.4 - Each student experiences success through structured support, the valuing of effort, and recognition of their work

This component involves teachers supporting students to achieve success as they move through the learning process. It is about recognising that all students have different abilities and acknowledging and valuing the effort each student puts into improving their work.

Professional learning team facilitator

Getting started

  • What do we do so that each student experiences a success which they value?

Moving forward

  • How can we fully value and recognise each student's work?
  • What learning and teaching strategies will we use?
  • What type of structured support can be provided to improve student learning?
  • What strategies will we use to publicly and privately celebrate student achievement?

Individual teacher

Getting started

  • What do I do so that each student experiences a success which they value?

Moving forward

  • How can I fully value and recognise each student's work?
  • What learning and teaching strategies will I use?
  • What type of structured support can I provide to improve student learning?
  • What strategies will I use to publicly and privately celebrate student achievement?

You could try this

What whole school strategies impact on teacher actions?
  • School wide student support and welfare policies
  • The ‘hidden’ curriculum
  • Classroom codes of conduct
  • A variety of instructional approaches across the grade and years
  • Intervention approaches, e.g. literacy, numeracy, social skills, positive relationships, conflict
  • management, team work and cooperation
  • Curriculum integration across the years of schooling
  • Unconditional caring for students is an explicit value
Learning and teaching tactics and skills

Tactics and teacher skill are directed to ensuring the classroom is safe, physically and emotionally. Positive identity, opportunities for friendship building, goal setting and personal competence are emphasised. Students recognise that:

  • my classroom is a safe place for me
  • I know what is expected of me in this classroom
  • I will not be humiliated if I make the wrong choice
  • our classroom is a fair place
  • I know my culture and first language is recognised and understood as being part of how I learn
  • time is allowed to celebrate learning as a group and as an individual.
  • Download worksheet: Productive Pedagogies™ (Word - 163Kb)

Tactics can include:

  • establishing caring as an unconditional value to guide classroom interactions
  • being explicit and affirming that issues can be worked through
  • knowing and acknowledging the people in student’s lives who contribute to their feelings of security and well-being
  • designing classroom spaces that cater for physical comfort and basic needs of accessibility
  • developing democratic classroom practices where fair and consistent classroom codes and consequences are practiced
  • students’ active participation in setting, sharing, and reviewing classroom guidelines and codes
  • training paraprofessional staff in protocols that observe privacy, dignity and confidentiality
  • making use of the research of other education systems e.g. Productive Pedagogies - Social support has direct relevance to Principle 1.
  • Download worksheet: Strategies and Tactics (Word - 160Kb)
Components of an effective lesson design
What grouping?
  • Whole class
  • Small groups, structured or unstructured?
  • How are groups formed, e.g. what size, are they based on friendship, mixed ability, specialist support for explicit teaching?
  • What collaborative skills will be emphasized? , e.g. turn taking, clarifying ideas, disagreeing in an agreeable way, sharing, positive feedback, helping others, negotiating.
  • Download worksheet: Groupings (Word - 158Kb)
Action planning with strategies in mind

The teaching team through their ongoing research and planning ensures they are familiar with the recent research and literature on:

  • current gender debates, girls and boys issues
  • recent findings of cognitive science
  • what groups of students are at risk?
  • critical theory
  • multiple intelligence theory
  • the role of emotional intelligence.

For more information see:

Reflection
  • How will I build on students’ past experiences, previous lessons taught?
  • Do I involve all students, actively in an atmosphere of support and cooperation?
  • Have I made the students’ involvement in the lesson objective clear?
  • Download worksheet: Reflection (Word - 161Kb)
Other support

Leadership teams provide strategic support to ensure time is allocated for teachers to benefit from peer support and collaboration. Opportunities include: time for informal and formal mentoring, curriculum audits, planning, developing scope and sequences.

Vignettes

Classroom accounts of real-life practice that demonstrate this principle and its components being played out in early, middle, and later years classrooms across a range of learning domains:

Reflection

These worksheets pose a series of questions to support reflection on the outcomes of using a range of strategies.