This workshop was around how to significantly improve outcomes for Māori, Pasifika and minoritised (has been made to feel like the minority, does not have anything to do with numbers) students in our school community. It was grounded in evidence and practices that work in New Zealand school communities.
This workshop challenged me to critically review and evaluate my current practice and thinking. It urged me to consider what changes I could make to better improve the learning environment for Māori, Pasifika and minoritised students in my classroom and school. How do I identify minoritised students? or students who feel minoritised?
I am also challenged to consider if my practice is taking me down the deficit track, or if I am agentic (using power to make change) in my approach? How do I keep myself agentic?
The significance of whanaunatanga (relationships) to student achievement was also reiterated. I am challenged by this when I think about my unique setting as a Science Tech teacher where I have a large number of students over a very short amount of time. How can I best maintain and build an effective and authentic relationship with each of my students? Is there something that I could do at the beginning of every lesson to reconnect with each individual while keeping in mind the limited time that I have?
How to increase engagement with Māori, Pasifika and minoritised ākonga and whānau is also an area in which I gained some deeper insights. We were presented with these four categories – events, making connections, learning talk and systems and processes – as ways to increase engagement. I was challenged to restructure and reframe how we used each of these practices and what we want to achieve out of them. Meaningful change occurs when we engage with whānau and students around learning talk and systems and processes. This shares power and enables use to build connections between school and home life. This challenged me to think about how we can reframe events to use them as opportunities for learning talk and sharing systems and processes. For example, if a school was to hold a gala, situate this in a unit around financial literacy and get all the students running the gala. Parents are informed of how students are being assessed etc, and are encouraged to go to stalls asking questions (either their own or provided by the school) that support and encourage the development of their financial literacy.
Another example of this is Mutukaroa. The Mutukaroa programme is a process that fosters the active engagement of parents and whānau in learning partnerships and provides them with the tools and knowledge necessary to support the development of core skills in their children.
Ultimately this comes down to what is the difference between someone being INVOLVED vs ENGAGED. This really hit home for me and has challenged me to think about how I can be more agentic and focus on authentic engagement rather than involvement. Of course again I am challenged with my context of being a science tech teacher, so how can I do this in my classroom?
These are some next steps to take what I have learnt back into my school and classroom setting.
- Have some peer observations done that focus around being my practice being deficit or agentic orientated.
- Do some research around relationship building games that are quick and try some out in my classroom. Perhaps set up a new routine for how we start each science lesson that involves some relationship building or space to reconnect as a class.
- To get whānau engaged over involved, perhaps I could, at the beginning of each cycle, ask the students if any of their parents are trained in any area of science and if they were willing to come into the science lab to share/show/help etc.
- In any future events that I am apart of, making sure that I am aware which of my students will be there and if there parent are around perhaps strike up a meaningful conversation around their students learning and see if the are aware of the systems and processes in place. etc. Perhaps I should discuss if/how to do this with leadership or more experienced teachers.
- Finally to take on board the 5 things a teacher needs to be and the 5 best ways to promote learning (see notes) that were shared with use. My first step in this regard will be to increase the amount of feedback and feed-forward that I give to ākonga that is NOT focussed on behaviour but rather learning orientated. Perhaps I could have an observation around this so that I have clear evidence of what I am doing.
School Wide Goal 2016 – Cobham teachers and leaders will use the Tātaiako competencies of wānanga, whanaungatanga, manaakitanga, tangata whenuatanga and ako to ensure their teaching/leadership behaviours and practice are about knowing, respecting and working successfully with Māori learners, whānau and iwi.
1 – Establish and maintain effective professional relationships focused on the learning and well-being of akonga.,
3 – Demonstrate commitment to bicultural partnership in Aotearoa New Zealand.,
4 – Demonstrate commitment to on-going professional learning and development of personal professional practice.,
10 – Work effectively within the bicultural context of Aotearoa New Zealand,
2 – Whanaungatanga – Actively engaging in respectful working relationships with Māori learners, parents and whānau, hapū, iwi and the Māori Community.,
3 – Manaakitanga – Showing integrity, sincerity and respect towards Māori beliefs, languages and culture.,
4 – Tangata Whenuatanga – Affirming Māori learners as Māori. Providing contexts for learning where the language, identity and culture of Māori learners and their whānau are affirmed.,
5 – Ako – Taking responsibility for their own learning and that of Māori learners.,
3 – Responsible care – to do good and minimise harm to others,
3 – Key Competencies – Thinking,
4 – Key Competencies – Participating and Contributing