The relationships between teaching and learning


What are the relationships between teaching and learning?

In New Zealand, Maori have the term ako, which means both to teach and to learn. This terminology describes a teaching and learning relationship whereby the educator is also learning from the student. It’s foundations are in the principle of reciprocity between teacher and learner, and understands that the two cannot be separated. Both parties bring knowledge  of their learning experiences and interactions together and through them shared learning experiences and understandings are created. Educational research supports this powerful concept, showing that when teachers facilitate reciprocal teaching and learning roles within their classrooms, then students’achievement improves (Alton-Lee, 2003).

Whilst teachers cannot make their students learn…


… they can help promote learning in a variety of ways: helping students become motivated; handle information and experience; develop knowledge, attitude and skills; and transfer learning from their classroom to the real-world (ASHE-ERIC High. Edu. Rept., 1986).  But literature and common ideology views the teacher in other roles, such as, a human relations specialist, a facilitator, a motivator, a coach, a guide, a prompter, a controller, a resourcer, an assessor, a participant, and organiser,  sometimes a leader and at times an expert – the many roles of a teacher. In order to fulfil these roles to the best of a teacher’s ability, educators need to be able to make the links between teaching and learning, utilising resources, guides, theories etc to be most effective. So, how can a teacher’s knowledge and understanding of the relationship between teaching and learning best support the teaching and learning?


Questions to consider within the realm of: 

What are the relationships between teaching and learning?


-> How is technology changing education?

-> What are effective strategies that I can use to support my students?

-> How can I elicit my students’ understandings? (e.g. visible thinking routines) 



Alton-Lee, A. (2003). Quality Teaching for Diverse Students in Schooling: Best Evidence Synthesis. Report from the Medium Term Strategy Policy Division. Wellington: Ministry of Education. Available at

(1986), What is the relationship between teaching and learning?. ASHE-ERIC High. Edu. Rept., 15: 1–7. doi:10.1002/aehe.3640150403