Choice key to teacher’s success

Mount Aspiring College English teacher Christopher Waugh teaches in his innovative, award-winning...
Mount Aspiring College English teacher Christopher Waugh teaches in his innovative, award-winning way. PHOTO: KERRIE WATERWORTH
Wanaka secondary school teacher Christopher Waugh is a nationally recognised innovator who has changed the dynamics of the classroom and given pupils more control of their education.

The Mount Aspiring College English teacher has produced a podcast and his pupils publish to a blog — and his work means his colleagues now pitch their programmes to their pupils.

He uses plenty of traditional methods in his teaching — his whiteboard has yet to be supplanted by text messages — but he is committed to injecting dynamism into education.

Mr Waugh was rewarded for that commitment at the ASG National Excellence in Teaching Awards yesterday, where he was named winner of the Supreme Award for Innovation in Education.

ASG spokeswoman Penny Hartill said Mr Waugh’s three award-winning innovative teaching techniques included introducing the "You Choose" pupil course selection scheme, in which teachers "pitched" their learning programmes to pupils, and the pupils made their choice.

Mr Waugh also created a blog where pupils published their work and a podcast for pupils to download.

Mr Waugh said he still used elements of traditional teaching but ‘‘what I am trying to do is set up a mechanism in the classroom where pupils can make decisions for themselves in order to improve their experience of learning.

"Part of our project is students choose their own teacher rather than us placing them in classes, so they choose who they want to work with, and who they think suits their learning needs."

Mr Waugh has been teaching for 18 years. He started out with many ideas but the journey had been an ongoing exercise in experimentation.

"I think the foundational idea is about the empowerment of young people and showing them respect, as well as valuing their contribution.

"At the same time, it is also about showing respect to myself as a professional with knowledge, and creating a role for myself where I have something to offer. That is the thinking and everything emanates from that."

Mr Waugh was one of six teachers in early childhood, primary and secondary education to receive the ASG National Excellence in Education awards.

Ms Hartill said the selection process was ‘‘rigorous’’ and included a comprehensive nomination outline, a written paper and video presentation by the nominated teacher.

Parents, secondary school councils, school boards, parent associations, committee of management and community organisations throughout New Zealand nominated the six recipients, she said.

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