About RTeach

Julia Westera

Julia WesteraJulia is the founder of RTeach Institute, developed to provide a sound knowledge and practice base of how to best use modernised Reciprocal Teaching for high impact results.

Julia is an educational psychologist and a passionate advocate for reciprocal teaching. Her ambition is to see reciprocal teaching used in a powerful way in our schools, increasing the likelihood of success for our tamariki and encouraging them to become life-long learners.

Julia’s concern is that modernised Reciprocal Teaching is not in widespread or high impact use.

Julia’s research on reciprocal teaching has attracted both national and international recognition. Her PhD (2002): ‘Reciprocal Teaching as a school-wide inclusive strategy’ was one of five US and international studies accepted for the What Works Clearinghouse review of reciprocal teaching for secondary schools.

In 2011 she was asked to co-author ‘BES Exemplar 4: Reciprocal Teaching’ with Dr Adrienne Alton-Lee and Cathy Pulegatoa Diggins.

In late 2013 Julia left the Ministry of Education with an intent to scale up and modernise reciprocal teaching with an updated evidence-based and concerted strategic approach.  In collaboration with many schools, educators and students, this single-minded effort has led to two unique developments.

The first is a contemporary and accessible prototype of Reciprocal Teaching, RT Tokotoko™, specifically for the NZ context. This includes adaptions based on the latest research.  Developed initially with Pasifika students, this prototype generates quick excitement, ownership and strong outcomes with all students and their teachers.

The second development is the new RT3T™ (Reciprocal Teaching – Three Track).  RT3T™ is a modernised school-wide and cluster-wide multi-phase strategy for high impact results for all students. RT3T™ raises both the capability of teachers to effectively apply reciprocal teaching, and the schools’ capability to effectively implement a sustainable, school-wide strategy.

We now have documented results of implementing the first phase of RT3T™ in a low decile Pasifika primary school (Westera & Alton-Lee, 2014)[1] and a large Pasifika secondary school. Results from both schools replicated those of a large scale NZ study with secondary schools (Smith, Timperley & Francis, 2011).  All these studies used an adapted version of reciprocal teaching with trained teaching teams and demonstrate acceleration on e-asTTle (especially deep feature) scores for all students, irrespective of gender, ethnicity and prior achievement levels. That is, RT3T™ is working for top band as well as middle and low band classes. We now also have some robust results that show the efficacy of the first phase of RT3T™ in primary and secondary schools where the vast majority of students are Māori.

In 2015 Julia presented at the EARLI Conference in Cyprus. At this leading European biennial conference her paper was ranked in the top 15% in terms of relevance. This followed Julia’s successful presentation the previous year on her research and development of the reciprocal teaching method at the Implementing Implementation Science Conference at Cambridge University in the UK.

Julia has also written two feature articles for the Education Gazette: 'Reciprocal Teaching: a School-Wide Core Teaching and Learning Strategy for all Schools' (2014), and 'Reciprocal Teaching: an update on this core teaching and learning strategy' (2015).

Over the last three years, Julia has been working collaboratively with four primary and five secondary schools.  All these schools are positioned to further build up and embed a school-wide strategy.

In 2017 the plan is to train facilitators to support a country-wide deployment plan, and to continue expansion.

See Services if you wish to find out more or wish to make an Expression of Interest for 2016.

Reciprocal Teaching

Reciprocal teaching is a core multi-strategy research-based package which aims at improving students' skills in accessing and understanding challenging text in any learning area.

If reciprocal teaching is implemented by skilled trained operators, students can become empowered learners, and accelerate in literacy and deeper thinking skills, while also growing in tuakana-teina, leadership and face to face (kanohi ki te kanohi) cooperative skills. These skills are central to success throughout school and tertiary education, and for lifelong learning.


[1] Westera, J., & Alton-Lee, A. (2014). Reciprocal Teaching: An Implementation Case.

Iterative Best Evidence Synthesis ProgrammeHei Kete Raukura. Wellington: Ministry of Education.