5. Strengthen your understanding (Whakamahi)

As a Learning Support Coordinator it may be your role in whakamahi to support kaiako, support staff and others to implement the various strategies and ideas within the plan. You will be keeping a careful focus on working towards the agreed outcomes. Your role in whakamahi may be:

  • coordinating internal and external supports
  • connecting with whānau
  • facilitating meetings where new plans are developed or existing plans are adjusted in light of new information
  • implementing part of the plan in a classroom, school or across a cluster
  • taking a coaching role to help scaffold new learning with kaiako
  • observations and feedback

The ideas and resources in this section are designed to help you think about what role you have in supporting a plan, whether it is for an individual learner, a small group of ākonga or kaiako, or across a school or cluster.

Connections with whānau

The part whānau play in supporting the implementation of any plan is essential. Having strong links between home and school will create coherence and cohesion for ākonga, their whānau and kaiako. Opportunities to share ideas, provide feedback, problem solve challenges and celebrate progress as it happens is all important for gaining and maintaining momentum with the plan. 

As an LSC you may consider:

  • how are the lines of communication established?
  • how is communication mana enhancing for all?
  • how are we maintaining a culture of ako as we learn with and from one another?

The Inclusive Education website has suggestions for approaches to support home-school contact and supporting learning at home.

These videos are examples of partnering with whānau by valuing their contributions in the everyday routines and activities of ākonga and having productive ways to share information and make connections.


What's important to Linda is finding different ways where parents are valued and can contribute and participate in her learning programmes.

E-portfolios are a tool to support connections and engagement with whānau. They enable ākonga to share their learning and for whānau to have meaningful and authentic conversations about learning and progress.  

John is in a high school and he reflects on the value of using the SMS to share information about students between staff and e-portfolios to share information with parents.


Professional Learning Communities

Within any plan kaiako, leaders, whānau may be learning new ways of being, new strategies, new innovations. Whether the plan is for a cluster, school or more targeted or individualised, teams may need opportunities to learn together and develop and strengthen the knowledge, skills and practices embedded in the plan.

A professional learning community (PLC) is a form of teacher professional development that involves teachers working together in a collaborative, interactive and ongoing way in order to improve teacher practice and outcomes for students. - The Education Hub

 The Education Hub has a useful introduction to professional learning communities. In this article they identify common themes across the literature around the use of professional learning communities.

  • The main purpose of PLCs is to improve teacher practice in order to improve outcomes for students
  • Teachers work together in a collaborative way for their professional development
  • Teachers share, and inquire into, their teaching practice
  • Discussions are evidence based, using data such as student voice, lesson observations and student achievement data as well as empirical research
  • In order to be effective, PLCs require robust discussion and challenge, rather than reinforcing the status quo
  • PLCs leverage the expertise and diversity of the group for the learning of all in the group
  • The work of a PLC is an ongoing process of improvement

There is more useful information about practices of effective professional learning communities and dimensions of a professional learning community that will help you think about the enabling conditions that are needed when establishing and maintaining effective learning teams.

This video talks about the power of online learning communities to build knowledge.

Learn more about other virtual learning networks and professional learning communities.


As an LSC you may have a role in supporting kaiako and others as they develop and strengthen practices that enable progress towards goals identified through tātai.

Changing current practices and embedding new ones can be challenging and complex and require the support of others. Coaching provides timely and relevant feedback. It is focused on kaiako needs, improving discrete skills and done within a specific context. 

So often in the past our learning relationships have been very one-sided in terms of the work, and I think the power of coaching and mentoring is being able to seek that space of new knowledge, new learning that we get when we’re open to what our learning partner brings in the situation as well. - Jan Robertson

Download Jan's 3R's for coaching learning relationships article

This video talks about the importance of developing a culture of coaching where everyone is a leader of learning. 

Knowing the principles of adult learning may be useful to understand when engaging with kaiako and others in a coaching relationship. These 6 principles are based on the work of Malcolm Knowles:

  • Adult learning is self directed - kaiako are actively involved in the learning process and make choices relevant to their learning objectives.
  • Adult learning utilises knowledge and life experiences - kaiako have opportunities to connect their past experiences with their current knowledge base and activities.
  • Adult learning is goal oriented - kaiako are more motivated when relevant and adequate knowledge is linked to clearly articulated goals.
  • Adult learning is relevancy oriented - kaiako participation in activities and tasks is clearly aligned with achieving their learning objectives.
  • Adult learning highlights practicality - kaiako can make relevant connections between theoretical concepts and real life situations.
  • Adult learning encourages collaboration - kaiako thrive in environments that connect colleagues in productive and supportive learning experiences.

The Teacher professional learning and development best evidence synthesis provides useful insights into considerations for LSC as you support teachers to strengthen the professional skills they need to teach challenging curricula to diverse ākonga.

Click on the images to link to PDFs

Click on the images to link to PDFs

Sarah Whiting, a facilitator for CORE Education, discusses the role of coaching and mentoring in teaching.

She talks about how important it is that coaching and mentoring happens alongside people, providing support in a safe, confidential and non-judgemental space. 


Click on the image to go to the video

Grow Model

One framework that can support a coaching relationship is GROW. In this model the coach can support an individual or team to work towards a goal. In the context of an LSC this could be supporting a teacher or group of teachers to implement a new teaching and learning strategy that had been identified in tātai. In this model the coach is not viewed as having the answers but instead uses powerful questions to empower others to generate solutions.

Essential also to this process is the data that kaiako can bring to the conversation. This may be data that LSC have helped to collect through observations, student achievement data, class work, ākonga/whānau learning conversations, other schoolwide collected data eg attendance etc.


  • Goal - what are you trying to achieve / work towards?
  • Reality - where are you now and what have you done to get there?
  • Options - what are the different ways you can reach your goal, what will help?
  • Way forward - what will you do next, what's your first step?