Very excited to share information about this year’s Winter School in Mantle of the Expert to be held in July in Hamilton. This year, for the first time, there will be TWO courses available to choose from – one on the foundations of Mantle of the Expert, with an introduction to planning and the other on effective teaching strategies, with further planning and assessment ideas.

This is a great opportunity whether you’ve been looking for ways to get started with Mantle of the Expert, or you want to deepen your existing knowledge.

Content will be tailored for participants, with options for all levels. And the enrolment fee is very reasonable, thanks to support from Ministry of Education Networks of Expertise (NEX) funding.

In response to feedback from last year, we’ve extended the offering to two full days (12th and 13th July) with a social gathering on the evening prior (11th July).

It’s wonderful to have another face to face gathering to look forward to- it’s been so long! Big thanks to hosts and organisers Whakarongo Tauranga and Nicole Antoniadis. All the details are in the flyer below – or if you want to go straight to the registration form, click here .

The DI Network Aotearoa has used some of its Networks of Expertise (NEX) funding to set up a new website, to be launched soon. Here’s a glimpse of the cover page (still in development).

The new site will be dedicated to the work of the DI Trust including NEX funded projects. It will include: information about Dramatic Inquiry, details on cluster meetings, and a range of free resources to support teaching in dramatic play, process drama, drama for learning and Mantle of the Expert. It will also provide links to the best national and international material on all aspects of DI including Commission Model, and Rolling role.

I’ll let you know when the site is launched and I hope you will subscribe. It’s very exciting to see things within NZ evolve to the point where a site like this is needed. It’s great to know that we’ll soon have a platform to represent the whole spectrum of approaches our community is passionate about.

To be clear Mantle of the Expert Aotearoa is not going away … after discussing different options with the website development team and others on the Trust, I definitely want to carry on with this site – which has been a labour of love since 2009. The focus here has always been on Mantle of the Expert, and there’s benefit to maintaining a dedicated space for this. You might see something of a shift towards posts written in my personal voice (like this one!) since I’ll no longer be posting on behalf of the wider DI community. I’m looking forward to sharing my own reflections, learning stories, and tips. And I hope you’ll enter into dialogue through the comments.

Along with the new website, the DI Trust has developed a social media strategy so you should see more ‘action’ on the Facebook pages associated with the DI / Mantle of the Expert community in New Zealand. Personally I have left Facebook so have asked the DI Trust to “rebrand” the Mantle of the Expert Aotearoa facebook page and reinvent it for use by the wider the DI Trust community. I also encourage you to check out the Drama NZ site as there are rich process drama resources there too.

Exciting times! I hope subscribers to this site will stay connected and also take these new opportunities as they arise.

Posted by Viv Aitken 23.2.22

Illustration by Carly Schulman from a story in The Daily Northwester called “Okay Zoomer: How to use Zoom”

Cluster hui are friendly, low key gatherings for teachers interested in Mantle of the Expert and other Dramatic Inquiry approaches. They are hosted by fellow teachers with experience and passion for DI. Whether you’re a complete beginner or an experienced practitioner, clusters are a great opportunity to meet like-minded folk and gain some informal PLD. All welcome…

Usually cluster hui are held face to face but with Covid restrictions this term’s hui are being held over zoom (zui). Cluster leaders have put lots of thought into how to get the most out of this form of connection, and we think you’ll really enjoy the sessions.

For information about cluster zui for term 1 in your region, click here.

Apologies to Waikato colleagues as this post comes a little late – your term one gathering was held today! Please let us know if you’d like to attend the next one and we will make sure you get the information.

Last year saw new clusters opening up in Taranaki, Gisborne and Manawatu, while established groups continue in Northland, Auckland, Waikato. We’d love to start groups in other regions, including the South island colleagues. We are also holding space for a dedicated cluster hui for Māori colleagues. The DI Network Aotearoa Trust has Ministry funding to support these initiatives, so please get in touch if you’d be interested in joining – or running a new group!

Primary teachers – check out this opportunity coming up on Friday 15th October. Julie Dunn is a really inspiring scholar and practitioner and her book ‘Pretending to Learn’ is a classic.

Information below is copied from the Drama NZ facebook page. It doesn’t mention a charge, so I think it’s a free event.

You are invited! Please join Juliet Cottrell in conversation with Julie Dunn on the possibilities and practicalities of using drama in the primary classroom on Friday 15 October at Noon (NZST). To register and submit a question:

When Covid interrupted our planned DI Symposium for October 2021, the organising team initially hoped to reschedule for January. However, the dates were not available, and Covid has continued to spread. So, we are rain checking the event until the October school holidays in 2022 – hopefully back at beautiful Whāngārā.

We are really sorry that we weren’t able to make this event happen, after so much hard work, dedication and generosity from everyone involved. Huge thanks are due to the organising team and all the presenters for all the work preparing the event and creating an incredible range of presentations, workshops, hikoi, stories and other special moments. Here’s the schedule, so you can see what I mean (NB some blurbs and biographies not complete)

We really look forward to a future where we come through the current uncertainties with Covid. We hope our wonderful presenters will just as keen to present next year – they are definitely all invited! Our keynotes have already recommitted, which is fantastic…

In the meantime, the Dramatic Inquiry Network Trust is determined to offer lots of exciting PLD and networking opportunities to keep us inspired and keep the magic of DI alive. By October 2022 when we finally do come together, there will be even more stories to tell!

One of the most exciting aspects of our Networks of Expertise funding is the opportunity to expand our informal teacher-teacher Cluster meetings. We now even more of these gatherings held regularly in different regions around Aotearoa – and teachers tell us they are getting LOTS of fresh ideas for their teaching AND enjoyment from meeting like-minded colleagues with a shared passion for Dramatic Inquiry.

Full details of the cluster meetings coming up in term three can be found at THIS LINK (I’m not posting it directly into the message in case details change). The very best way to stay informed about cluster meetings in your region is to get yourself added to the mailing list. So please email YOUR local cluster leaders (addresses are included at the link above) and they’ll be happy to welcome you into the group. If you are keen but can’t see a cluster meeting in your region, please email and we will get one started!

Cluster meetings are always free of charge and everyone is welcome. They are usually held at a local school – or sometimes over zoom. They last about an hour, and include afternoon tea and copies of resources.

Cluster meetings are an awesome opportunity to share stories from the classroom and to pick up some low key PLD in a safe and supportive environment. Topics vary, but to give you an idea – some of the tools to be explored in term 3 include: use of drama elements to give clear instructions, innovative assessment using teacher-in-role, the six dimensions of dramatic imagination, the teacher compass, and using frame distance to ensure safety with sensitive material.

Our first Network of Expertise – funded winter school (Foundations in Mantle of the Expert) was held in Kirikiriroa, Hamilton on 17-18 July. It was wonderful to gather with colleagues from all over the country to explore the core elements of Mantle of the Expert and beginning steps for planning. The weather outside may have been terrible but the energy in the room was fabulous, as was the food. Many thanks to Knighton Normal School and Whakarongo Tauranga, who hosted us in her beautiful classroom space. Thanks also to Vivien Smith who took care of the secondary planning group while I worked with primary teachers.

Comments from participants included:

“I’m excited and ready to get started on my planning. Thanks for a lovely weekend.”

“I feel I’ve now got the confidence to start this journey effectively – thank you!”

“There was a good balance of moving / doing and sitting – moments of drama great for consolidating thinking.”

Plans are already afoot for next year’s Winter School. The goal is to make this an annual event, with the Foundations course offered again in 2022 alongside another one focussed on Teaching in Mantle of the Expert. From 2023 a third course focussed on leadership will also be added. The details are to be confirmed, but it will most likely be held in the middle weekend of the July school holidays – so put the date in your diaries! If you know you’re keen to attend Winter School 2022 it’s not too soon to register interest – just email and ask to be put on the list.

I could not be more proud and excited to make this announcement….

The Dramatic Inquiry Network Aotearoa Trust – formed last year by a hardworking group of volunteers from across primary, secondary and tertiary sectors – has been selected by the Ministry of Education as a Network of Expertise (NEX).

Networks of Expertise funding supports subject associations and other peer-to-peer networks to deliver support for teachers and kaiako. The DI Network Aotearoa Trust is registered as a Network to support learning across curricula and learner pathways a recognition of the way DI can create authentic, engaging, meaningful and embodied teaching and learning experiences across the curriculum and across all sectors of education.

It’s great to know that Drama New Zealand, the subject society for drama is also included as a registered NEX – we will keep working closely with them as well as other organisations and networks.

With recognition from the Ministry of Education, and the significant funding that comes with it, the DI Network will be able to continue to strengthen its existing activities and create new resources to support New Zealand teachers with an interest in dramatic play, drama for learning, process drama, Mantle of the Expert and other DI approaches – with an emphasis on culturally sustaining processes and practice.

Work has already begun, with cluster meetings, workshops, symposia, teacher-teacher support and networking opportunities being planned around the country. Details of these will, of course, be shared on this site as they are finalised. A key objective of NEX funding is to offer professional development at low-cost, or no-cost to teachers, so watch this space!

Gaining NEX status marks an exciting time for education in Aoteaora and a significant turning point in the growth of Dramatic Inquiry in New Zealand. The growth of DI in Aotearoa has been a slow unfurling over many years. It has taken the passion and dedication of many wonderful teachers, mentors, researchers, teacher educators, and school leaders and this moment is a credit to everyone involved. Now many more teachers and kaiako can be supported to join our community – and countless ākongo will have opportunities to collaborate, engage, think with their whole bodies, question, create, explore multiple perspectives, and grapple with complexity as they enjoy learning in imagined worlds.

Ngā mihinui.

Viv Aitken (co-chair, awhi rito)

See also: From 'Underground' to Trust 
The story of Dramatic Inquiry Network Aotearoa

Planning is underway for a much anticipated event in the Dramatic Inquiry Network’s calendar for 2021. Our first symposium for many years will be held in Gisborne in the October school holidays (8th – 10th October). Past symposia have been amazing events, in which teachers have shared practice and learned from each other. With so many exciting projects happening in classrooms around Aotearoa, we’re thrilled to be able to set up this opportunity for teachers to come together once again and continue the ako within dramatic play, drama for learning, process drama, Mantle of the Expert and the other DI approaches.

The beautiful setting of Whāngārā marae (40 minutes from Gisborne – the setting for the Whale Rider movie) will provide a special space for us to explore what it means to work with DI in the unique cultural context of Aoteaora. A key focus for the gathering will be considering culturally sustaining practice within our teaching and within our processes as a Trust. To this end, we will be asking everyone who attends to stay on the marae and enjoy the complete experience.

The weekend will also include the AGM of the Dramatic Inquiry Network Aotearoa Trust and sessions where we plan for the future activities of the Trust. These are open to anyone interested.

Many thanks to the busy team already working hard to bring this exciting event together. We will be doing all we can to make this a low cost / no cost event for teachers. More information will be shared soon. For now, please put the dates in your diary and please get in touch if you would be interested in presenting on your your practice as part of the symposium.

For expressions of interest or more information, please email and include ‘Symposium’ in the subject line.

Here’s news about an exciting professional development event coming up in Kirikiriroa, Hamilton on the weekend of July 17-18.

To go straight to the registration form, click here

Questions? Get in touch:

Dramatic Inquiry Network Aotearoa is a not-for profit Trust. Any profits from this event will be used for future professional development and networking opportunities.