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

Professional learning: What it might look like

This section includes excerpts from case studies on several schools that participated in the Ruia exploratory study. A link to the full case study is provided at the end of each excerpt. In addition, there are excerpts from Rangiātea case studies with links to the Rangiātea website.

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Opotiki College

Opotiki College is a state secondary school in the Bay of Plenty. Over 80 percent of the students are Māori. The school is a participant in the Te Kotahitanga project. The principal, a teacher who is the school’s Te Kotahitanga facilitator, and a parent were interviewed for the Ruia project.

Near the end of the school year, teachers conduct self-assessment using the school’s teacher evaluation rubrics (designed by the principal). Later, each teacher organises an evaluation conference with the principal, where they set personal goals for the following year and develop a personal teacher inquiry to work on collaboratively in cross-curricular groups. The principal says teachers find this a very valuable process for their professional development.

The principal has a voluntary Aspiring Leaders group, where he “floats a lot of kites”. Usually 10 to 18 people attend the meetings. The principal has found the group to be a great sounding board for discussing new initiatives and finding solutions. Consequently, it now leads the staff professional learning that grows out of staff appraisals and reviews of action plans. For instance, in 2011 the Aspiring Leaders group led the preparation and professional learning for the introduction of 100-minute periods in 2012.

Professional learning and development at Opotiki College is firmly focused on improving Māori achievement. The school ethos is that “what’s good for Māori students is good for all”. The Opotiki College case study developed for the Rangiātea project describes in greater detail the schools’ inquiry approach to improvement, within which Te Kotahitanga and the use of restorative justice provide a forum for ongoing discussion.

Read the full Ruia case study.

Randwick School

Randwick School is a decile 3, year 0–8 suburban school with 207 students, of whom nearly half are Māori. The school’s principal, a teacher, and a parent/BOT member asked to be interviewed together, reflecting the way they usually work.

All teachers are trained in how to do observations and give each other effective feedback, and the leaders ensure that teachers have the time they need to do this. Before starting peer observations, the literacy lead team became aware that teachers were feeling some anxiety about them. They needed to be sure the observations would benefit all who took part, including the observer, the teacher being observed, and the students.

In response to these concerns, the literacy lead team organised one-on-one sessions with the school’s LPDP (Literacy Professional Development Project) facilitator where the teachers were able to discuss their goals and planning for the observed lesson. The sessions built teachers’ confidence about ensuring their deliberate acts of teaching were explicit and would benefit their students, as well as about the observation process and protocols. By responding to this identified need, the lead team built teachers’ ownership of the new practice and the peer observations became meaningful to them, as illustrated by this statement from a teacher:

Peer observations give me the opportunity to improve my practice in a variety of ways. I get to see good practice across all the levels of the school, I get feedback from a variety of people, I’m given time to reflect on my own practice, and I have the chance to hear what my students have to say. I also appreciate doing readings related to my own and my students’ learning needs and talking about my practice with others.

Read the full Ruia case study.

Waverley Park School

Waverley Park School is a decile 5, year 0–6 suburban school with 255 pupils, of whom a third are Māori. Four people were interviewed for Ruia: the principal, the teacher who leads the whānau group, and two parents.

The appraisal goals of the teacher responsible for leading the school’s engagement with whānau were designed to focus on priorities for Māori children:

  • develop improved personal knowledge of Te Marautanga o Aotearoa
  • through better understanding, develop teaching units appropriate to the needs of our children
  • work with teachers and parents to develop and implement a programme to deliver the new learning.

The lead teacher addressed her goals by viewing and reflecting on the DVD Te Mana Kōrero: Relationships for Learning and attending Dr Hine Elder’s one-day workshop “Working with Māori Whānau”. She surveyed what students, parents, and staff wanted to have happen and then undertook a personal professional reading programme, sourcing her readings from Te Tere Auraki. She also sought advice and guidance from a Māori Advisor at the University of Otago’s College of Education.

Read the full Ruia case study.

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

Te Ara Whānui Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngā Kōhanga Reo o Te Awa Kairangi is a decile 3 kura in Lower Hutt, with students in years 1–10. Four people were interviewed for Ruia: the tumuaki, deputy principal, a senior teacher, and a parent.

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.

Read full Ruia case study.

Hastings Boys’ High School

A Rangiātea project school

Hastings Boys’ High School has clearly articulated statements of its pedagogical approach and its values or principles that underpin engagement with Māori students. Both statements include explicit expectations for teachers. In turn, the school’s leaders provide teachers with targeted support within a collegial environment so that they can meet those expectations. This includes three designated time periods every week for professional development and the introduction of Te Kotahitanga.

Staff also discuss and share strategies they have found effective for teaching Māori students, both formally and informally. All this is described in the school’s Rangiātea case study, which includes the following comments from the school’s assistant principal, who has oversight of Māori student learning and well-being:

We do expect them to be comfortable and familiar with things Māori: tikanga, te reo, but also we make sure we are given professional development time to do that. So the first professional development we did was about our pepeha: who we are, and then we might go through the kōwhaiwhai, the tukutuku panels and tie that into our school’s goals … Everyone is expected to know the school haka: it’s in the log book, it’s in the school magazine, and there are opportunities to learn that, and we’ve identified four Kahungunu waiata as well.

page 17

I think the key things from our involvement in Te Kotahitanga are reflection, use of data, and the professional learning community – and actually sitting down and being totally honest with 
yourself and with your colleagues and saying, “That lesson wasn’t good. I tried this, and it didn’t work”, and discussing it with them.

page 18

Kakapo College

A Rangiātea project school (The school chose not to use its real name.)

The “Kakapo College” Rangiātea exemplar describes the development and implementation of a programme designed to ensure that the school’s English programme supports success for Māori students. The exemplar describes the English department’s commitment to ensuring that English is relevant and engaging for all students and that student voice drives and determines the direction of the class.

Professional learning is key to the programme’s success. There is a considerable amount of collaborative learning for staff as they reflect on their practice, including reflecting on feedback from students and from Māori staff such as the Māori dean and the student support worker.

The head of department encourages teachers to share sucessful strategies and has provided professional development opportunities helpful in raising teachers’ awareness of other approaches they might take with Māori boys. Teachers in the English department actively seek help when they confront gaps in their knowledge, including assistance in using te reo Māori and Māori concepts appropriately when teaching topics.

Western Springs College

A Rangiātea project school

Teachers at Western Springs College participate in ongoing professional development, including mentoring, peer observations, and feedback meetings. The school’s Rangiātea case study describes this process for the whole school, with the exemplar expanding on the process for teachers in the maths department.

Professional development also supports teachers in building relationships with Māori students. In the past, a course presented by Russell Bishop helped teachers understand the value of focusing on learning rather than on behaviour. The Rumaki has a major influence on the rest of the school, helping to build mainstream teachers’ understandings of te reo Māori me ōna tikanga as well as of educational issues and policies related to Māori.

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