Te aromihi pouako e puta ai ngā ihu o ngā ākonga Māori

Te Ara Whānui Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngā Kōhanga Reo o Te Awa Kairangi

Te Ara Whānui Kura Kaupapa Māori o Nga Kōhanga Reo o Te Awa Kairangi is a decile 3 kura in Lower Hutt, with students in years 1–10. The kura was inaugurated in response to strong demand from parents of children in the kōhanga reo of Te Awa Kairangi and continues to develop in close collaboration with whānau. Four people were interviewed for Ruia: the tumuaki, the deputy principal, a senior teacher, and a parent.

Te Ara Whanui KKM2

What are the priorities for our Māori students?

The tumuaki, senior teacher, and parent interviewed for this case study expressed high expectations for student achievement. When students step out of Te Ara Whānui, the kura whānau expect that they will be confident, knowledgeable citizens who will make informed decisions and choices. Core principles are based on a blending of Te Aho Matua, Te Whāriki, and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa, for example:

Whakamana i te Tamaiti – Tu tangata i te Tamaiti i te ao hurihuri – Strengthening our children is dependent on the survivability, sustainability, and retention of te reo Māori me ōna nei tikanga and the intergenerational transmission of information, knowledge, and skills.

Teachers gather baseline data on student achievement in literacy and numeracy in the first two weeks of each term. They then upload their student results to the school database. Teachers also discuss the findings in their teams and use them to group students within classes and plan for teaching and learning.

A group of delegated staff members (the specific educational needs co-ordinator, the senior teacher, and an administrative assistant) graph and analyse the data, noting trends and sorting students into ability groupings under four headings: Concern, Watching, Met, and Met with Merit. Close monitoring of the ‘Concern’ group is planned, along with specific support for the kaimahi (members of staff) and students. The senior management team then discuss the graphs and trends, and several times each year they meet with all staff to discuss the implications.

Twice each year, the tumuaki uses the graphs and their accompanying ‘stories’ to report to the board of trustees, drawing on them to identify student achievement and progress in the targeted areas.

Whānau are equipped with the information they need about their children’s learning to participate knowledgeably in two annual goal-setting sessions. Whānau also participate in building the picture of student learning by contributing to the development of student profiles.

What are our own learning needs?

Teachers’ appraisal goals take into account the strategic goals of the kura and the developmental needs of individual teachers. The appraisal goals relate to the focus areas of the kura, as outlined in the annual operational plan.  (At the time of the Ruia interview, these were curriculum, performance management, and student targets.)

The deputy principal co-ordinates the performance management system. All documentation is confidential to her, the tumuaki, and the kaiako. The process supports provisional registration and registration renewal and creates a record that can be used to support further professional development, either for the individual or across the kura.

Each term, the deputy principal makes school-wide observations of classroom management and the classroom environment. This observation is based on either a kura-wide focus or the individual choice of the kaiako. The purpose is to provide critical feedback and celebrate effective practice. The kaiako receives a copy of the classroom observation sheet before the observation and has an opportunity to negotiate specific focus areas. Following the observation, the deputy principal provides face-to-face feedback on the teacher’s strengths and professional development areas.

The following questions support teachers to identify their vision for their own practice and participate in planning to address their needs:

  • What goals/aims do you have?
  • What do you want to achieve/improve?
  • What resources/support do you require?
  • On what evidence/information have you based the goals and required support?

Staff with data expertise discuss the data analysis and trends with the principal and with each teacher individually. If there are specific areas or alerts that require greater attention, a teacher’s individual appraisal goals may be adjusted to include the identified issue.

Attestation against the professional standards is rigorous and ongoing throughout the year, with kaimahi (members of staff) checking in with the deputy principal fortnightly. Individual staff checklists are used as a quick visual overview to monitor areas that have to be covered off by the end of each term. Items for the checklist are negotiated and prioritised from 1 to 4, and items that rate 1 to 2 are discarded. The discussion is then guided by four key questions:

  • What are the challenges?
  • What are the celebrations?
  • What’s going on in the team?
  • What else would you like to talk about?

Professional learning

The rigorous attention of the kura to identifying professional learning needs and priorities enables planning to be targeted to need. Learning takes place during the fortnightly conversations between the deputy principal and each kaiako. Other opportunities may include time and support to explore a marau area, observe another kaiako deliver a kaupapa, or learn a new skill, going off-site if necessary. Ongoing learning in te reo Māori is a shared priority for the whole kura community.

Te Ara Whānui participates in a range of professional development that it identifies as meeting its needs. These include Whakapiki i te Reo, which provides whole-school professional development in te reo Māori. It focuses on growing the individual’s own language capacity as well as the effectiveness of teaching and learning in and through te reo Māori. Kaiako are supported by an external facilitator based at Victoria University and by a lead teacher within the school. The kura makes innovative use of technology, including podcasts that help kaiako to learn and implement new approaches to teaching on a daily basis.

The kura is also involved with Ngā Whanaketanga i Te Reo Māori and Ngā Whanaketanga i te Pāngarau and participates in a LAMS (Learning Activity Management System) community of practice in a cluster of six kura from across the lower North Island.

Making changes

The growth of the confidence and proficiency of the kaiako in te reo Māori has had a positive spin-off for the tamariki, who are experiencing a wider range of teaching approaches that are engaging their interest and leading to improved outcomes. These changed approaches have included the use of digital media; for example, iPods and podcasts are used in the teaching and learning of oral language.

What has been the impact of our changes?

The tumuaki stated that the most powerful aspect of appraisal at Te Ara Whānui is that it is “rigorous and regular” throughout the year, with routines that are ongoing, embedded, and regularly checked and critiqued. At different stages of appraisal, teachers are asked to reflect on their practice by considering the following questions:

  • How are you adding value to the kura?
  • What is working well? What is not working well? What is the impact? How do you know?
  • How well have you achieved the goals you set at the beginning of the year? What is the effect and impact of this? How do you know?

The belief at the kura is that it is better to keep a check on professional standards in this ongoing way than through a one-off, set time for appraisal each year. Despite the workload this implies, the teacher who was interviewed said that she liked the following aspects of the appraisal process:

  • Staff can negotiate the “what and how” of the process and define the criteria for success.
  • There are regular opportunities to touch base with the professional development co-ordinator.
  • The professional development co-ordinator provides weekly prompts and questions around task and focus areas.

The tumuaki expressed her confidence in the effectiveness of the Whakapiki i te Reo project, explaining that the proficiency tests for kaiako and the practice of tracking a sample of tamariki over three years were providing evidence of its positive impact.

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