Pioneering the Modern Learning

Glen and his team have been pioneering best practice in the Modern Learning Environment. He shares how TetraMap has made an impact on collaboration through the school.

Evidence of Impact – Glen Ryan,  Principal,
St. Anne’s Catholic School, Manurewa, Auckland

St Annes Catholic School
Image from St Annes school website

Meeting people who have become strong advocates because of their experience helps us understand how TetraMap is contributing to the success of society.

Master TetraMap Facilitator Jan Alley invited me to meet Glen Ryan, Principal at St. Anne’s Catholic School Manurewa, Auckland New Zealand. Jan has been working with Glen and his team since 2017, providing TetraMap training regularly as one of the central pillars of the school’s ongoing professional development events.

It was a privilege to meet Glen, who took us into 3 classrooms – each with different age groups. Each large classroom catered for around 80-90 learners, with three teachers supporting small groups of 4-5 students at a time while other students self manage their own learning or work collaboratively in groups. Rather than the high level of noise I’d expected, I felt a sense of purposeful calm.
We’re here to learn and we’re here to teach – each other.


Jan Alley at St AnnesSt Anne’s is a decile 2 co-educational Catholic school catering for girls in Years 0-8 and boys in years 0-6.

The school motto is Learn to Love, Love to Learn. The newsletter offers a warm welcome in 14 languages: Greetings, Kia Ora Koutou Katoa, Talofa Lava, Malo e Lelei, Kia Orana, Fakalofa atu, Kumusta, Shlama Ellokhon, Zdravo, Kona Mauri, Malo Ni, Salam Alaikum, Bula Vinaka, Namaste, Chao Ban.

With over 500 young minds and 50+ teaching and support staff, both learners and teachers are multicultural, multilingual and tackle a multitude of priorities daily.

Back in 2017, Glen was relatively new to the school. His vision was to build a strong inclusive team that supported the local community, and to be progressive in the way the school was run. Since then, he has been leading and implementing Ministry of Education initiatives, in particular pioneering best practice in the Modern Learning Environment.

An additional new role for Glen is to lead a Community of Learning where 4 staff are released 2 days a week to focus on development of Communities of Learning with 8 other schools. Here the focus is on cross school initiatives such as wellbeing, engagement and staff capability.     

Impact of TetraMap

I asked Glen how TetraMap (along with Jan’s skilful facilitation) had impacted him – both personally, and the school as a whole?

“These young people understand about collaboration. They’d soak this up, and then they’d leave school with something they could use through the rest of their education and beyond.”
– Glen Ryan, Principle St. Anne’s Catholic School

Glen Ryan
Glen Ryan, Principle St. Anne’s Catholic School

Here’s a summary of his responses.  

  • Growing our leadership capability. I was trained as a teacher, not as a leader.
  • Collaboration is central to our future success, so it makes sense for us to use a tool like this.
  • We share it with everyone that visits the school because we believe in it so strongly.
  • We use it in our daily conversations as a language, for example to make decisions, to make things come about, and to manage emerging issues.
  • Culturally some of our staff do not speak out often. Understanding this gives them confidence in how important their voice is and why we need to hear from them.
  • To emphasise when I’m needing to focus on something I’ll let people know in a language that causes no offence eg “I’m having a high AIR moment, please give me time and space to think it through.”
  • Overall it’s something simple, not complicated. You hold it in your kete (tool bag) and use it every day.
  • We will continue to use it and keep learning from it.

TetraMap Facilitator Jan Alley comments from her facilitator’s perspective

St Annes has been a real pleasure to work with and see the learning occur and how it impacts on the school culture, particularly in valuing differences and recognising different strengths.  Glen is committed to ensuring TetraMap is a key factor in communication and a way of behaving at St Annes.  Through a series of full professional development days before the school year begins and then several 1.5 hour PD sessions during the year, we have been able to reinforce, extend and embed the learning. It’s so satisfying to hear staff use Tetramap language and work on seeing situations from other people’s perspective.

As a final question, I asked Glen for his opinion about his students and the value TetraMap for them.  He referred to the Year 7&8 girls. (aged 11). “These young people understand about collaboration. They’d soak this up, and then they’d leave school with something they could use through the rest of their education and beyond. That would be valuable indeed, and I’d be happy to support a pilot study at St. Anne’s.”

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