Some Thoughts and Ideas about the Key Competencies


The Key Competencies are the capabilities we all need to lead productive and fulfilling lives. Innovative curriculum and effective teacher pedagogy as described in the New Zealand Curriculum is critical if we want to genuinely help our students develop their competencies as 21 century citizens.


C21 Learning supports teachers as they develop the competencies across the curriculum in simultaneous ways. We train teachers to embed the competencies within and throughout the curriculum. We empower students through co-constructed assessment practices.


Our perception about intelligence is important as it will influence how we relate to the students in our classrooms. For example, if we perceive intelligence to be fixed or innate (we have it or we don't) the judgements we make on a daily basis will limit achievement. In contrast the Key Competencies are based on the premise that intelligent patterns of behaviour can be taught and developed.


Capability in the Key Competencies will increase when we explicitly engage learners in using desirable dispositions in a range of authentic contexts. Development in the competencies is complex and often context specific. We may be very persistent in achieving something we desire or enjoy, but lack it in areas that are not as intrinsically motivating. Research suggests that for us to internalise deep understandings and successful dispositions we must be placed in positions where we transfer and apply what is known into new situations.


Students will become more sensitive to employing intelligent patterns of behaviour when they realise the value for themselves. Their commitment to improving their performance will become more consistent.


Thoughtful planning to engage students with particular dispositions in authentic contexts takes time and is best shared with colleagues.


This has implications in relation to professional development. One-off experiences can emotionally hook us, but when faced with the reality of our teaching days / weeks and terms it can be quickly snuffed out.


An example of the objectives for school-wide professional development focusing on developing the Key Competencies (year one) includes:


  • teachers describing the learning needs of their students and reflecting on their school vision, goals and strategic plans relating these to the curriculum;
  • describing and defining the Key Competencies;
  • infusion of a thinking culture
  • co-constructing lessons with groups of teachers;
  • in-class modelling of teaching pedagogy;
  • analysis of observations and describing teacher capability;
  • coaching and supporting pilot groups of teachers;
  • introducing contextual matrices as a assessment tool;
  • co-constructing with students, continuums describing performance; and
  • facilitating student goal setting, collection of evidence and interpretation of it.


Our goal is to assist teachers to improve the quality of their classroom instruction. C21Learning is about empowering all students including the disadvantaged so they are life-long learners - resilient, successful and happy. To achieve this; teachers will feel passionate - inspired to be the best they can.