Resources - Building a Learning Community
“Empowerment is the fundamental theme of teaching responsibility through physical activity.”
(Hellison, 2003)

Since my introduction to Don Hellison's model I have been trialling and adapting approaches for my own classes and for teachers I have worked with.

It is particularly exciting to see the way that other teachers adapt this model for their own situations. Hellison advocates that, for this approach to be successful teachers have to adapt the best they can to suit their own situation.

I believe the key understanding for this approach to be successful, is that teachers must continually strive for highly effective student - teacher relationships, underpinned by a strong sense of personal and social responsibility. This becomes a natural part of how we speak, lead and operate in our classrooms.

This approach is by no means a quick fix.
As Covey aptly states, "Fast is slow with people, and slow is fast." Teachers need to allow themselves time to build their classroom culture, be prepared to be genuine, vulnerable, and open with their students, and continually seek ways with their students to improve their practice.

What I can assure you is that the more you strive to apply the principles and build a culture of responsibility, the more empowered you become as a teacher who works with their students in a collaborative culture of learning and less of a behaviour manager.

I have included some ideas that I have developed from my own situation and from what I have studies from others. If you have any that you can add, then I'd like to encourage you to do so. This way we can build a learning community that we can all benefit from.
Please email me at so that I can upload them and manage the space

Lesson goals setting reflection and ideas- Richard Jones



Sample Lessons Ideas - Richard Jones

Group Task Lessons
Group Task Lessons

Teaching the levels

Instead of early activities for early finishers, the students and I negotiate a list of tasks that would demonstrate Level 3 behaviour and responsibility for continuous improvement in our class. This is also particularly important for classes which may be running an inquiry programme. Students may have exhausted their tasks for that session or are waiting on people who do not fit in with the regular class timetable. This allows the students to have responsible activities which can be chosen without teacher direction and which are not mindless time fillers.


An approach to unpacking the levels may look like this one used by Meredith McInnes from Onerahi School. Using a Y chart helps children to explore what each level might look, feel and sound like in the classroom.


Equally as important, is exploring what these levels look, sound and feel like in Physical Education, remembering that the key is to transfer the principles from P.E. into other aspects of the students lives.

Teachers may challenge their students identify indicators of each level in

  • P.E.
  • Classroom
  • Playground
  • At Home
  • Outside of school