Keynote - Part 2
Dr Mere Berryman
Now here’s a picture. I hope you don’t recognise too many people in the picture. There are at least two people in here who will be looking for themselves. I don’t think they’ll find them. But you might find Russell and you might find Aunty Mate. Aunty Mate’s got the reddish sort of shirt on. You can’t see it very clearly but you can see Russell, ok?, and beside him, over to the left, was another colleague of ours, Ted Glynn. And Aunty Mate was sitting right there beside Ted. I couldn’t find one with Aunty Nan, but the other person that’s in there that I’ll introduce to you is the person that is sitting on the chair, almost looking as though she’s wearing white, and that’s Cath Richardson. However, there are some people in here that you know intimately: and if Phase 1 people are happy to identify themselves with their hand up, I’d be very, I’d be very happy to see your hand go up.
This is our beginning. These are our teachers from the four schools who were there at the start and who are there still with us. But you will see that this is where the name Te Kotahitanga came from: Te Kotahitanga Marae, out at Port Waikato. And that in itself was a story, because we had turned up to a totally different marae. They were waiting for a tūpāpaku to arrive, and we were left thinking so what are we going to do? Luckily, we had Aunty Nan and Mate giving us advice then, and they said I’ll talk to the koroua and we were directed to this marae, to Te Kotahitanga Marae. And again the generosity, the welcoming spirit with which we’ve been met all through this journey. Because I can remember my reo wasn’t as good as it now, but it’s still nowhere near, nowhere near perfect. But I recall the um, the pōwhiri, when the kaumatua said well we don’t know who you are and we’re not sure why you’re here, but welcome, our marae is your marae, welcome. Very, very welcoming and I remember that Russell was able to make a connection to that marae because through whakapapa he was indeed connected to that marae.
What was really interesting for me, because you know there comes a time when it is all about you. My son who was at a loose end, you know, whānau in Te Kotahitanga be very afraid, some of them have found that out here! But my son came because at this hui we had a baby, can you see the baby? He had to look after the baby, poor baby. However one of things that he found was that I could whakapapa to that marae, not whakapapa myself, but my very dear uncle that was his marae. And so, indeed, while we weren’t meant to go there, we were absolutely meant to go there. This is history now and everybody goes ohhh, you know when you bring the colours up, but what is still really important about that is that there is a very small minority of schools in New Zealand that are discursively repositioned. Changing the images in their head, moving from a deficit to an agentic position and talking to each other rather than past each other.
So this analysis was happening at the same time as we were trying to work out what the professional development would look like for these … first phase. And the other thing that came out at this time was the effective teaching profile. And what has never ceased to amaze me is ‘what we knew then is what we know now’. And I guess one of the things that Te Kotahitanga over the years has done, has reinforced the wisdom of those young Māori students - some who were headed for success, others who undoubtedly were heading for failure. The wisdom of those young people and some of their teachers, their whānau and their principals. It’s still the same now, but we’re still having to explain what that looks like. You’re having to explain what that looks like in your schools.
And, of course, there’s the six elements - the ways in which our teachers can demonstrate their agentic position, their understandings on what we were told at the very beginning. I go back to this from time to time and I think we’ve missed something out, and I, you’re going to see Patsy’s story in this presentation. And I saw her DVD and I thought wow, what a critical reflector that that teacher has become, how amazing. Did we have that in the effective teaching profile? And I went back, yep there it is, that we want evidence from student outcomes to inform both the teachers and the students … critical reflection and where they will go next with their learning. So I hold that up to you and I say if you ever think that you’ve done the effective teaching profile, think again, think again.
The first findings, and I can remember this, we were doing two things at once, which is sort of the story of our lives, but one of the things that we found was the Phase 1, how important that effective teaching profile had been. We also realised that the rudimentary observation tool that we had been using, needed a little bit more refinement. However, one of the things that we learned was about teacher isolation, so you can imagine in one of the schools, and that was one of the hands that went up, she ended up being the only teacher in Te Kotahitanga in a school of 90 teachers. So you can imagine what it must feel like to be that person - the person who is outside the status quo, who’s trying to be different. The other hand that went up was extremely lucky because she had a little group of teachers with her, and so she had a little bit of protection.