Keynote - Part 3
Dr Mere Berryman
There was also another problem that we were faced with because we had one teacher, ah, we had one school that was a long, long way away from the centre of the universe (Hamilton, Waikato) and I have to say, floods and storm did keep us away. And so distance, yes distance believe it or not, I know we’re not Australia or Canada, it’s a whole new …, but distance was a problem. Both within schools and for us as a small team, learning to knit the socks that are Te Kotahitanga, and service, work with, a small group of teachers in a school that was a long way away, we’ve upped the smarts in that direction I hope.
One of the things that we learned also was the power when you get a group of teachers in a school working together. That meant that we had to really think about the iterative nature of the professional development and how we were going to manage that. But the key then is still key now, it is about teacher/student relationships and the interactions they have with Māori students. It’s also about the relationships that students have about their own self, their own identity. It’s also about how the teacher perceives themselves, so it’s relationships at multiple levels. And we were very lucky that those schools worked hard because, although we were able to show the Ministry that we did raise the achievement in those schools for Māori students, and that was important. Because at the time we were talking about disparity, we were talking about how do you close the gaps, how do you, how do you, how do you. We could show that actually you could and that was important, that was a new discourse, it was a very quiet discourse because it challenged the very myth that you came to school as a Māori child and actually you were done for. It challenged that myth, and I think that discourse is growing. That Māori students don’t come to school with nothing, they do come to school with their own cultural toolkit, just like everybody else, but for too long they haven’t been able to speak. And I think across the phases in your schools, that’s one of the most powerful things that you are doing, giving Māori students identity, a voice, whatever that voice might look like.
Phase 2, well I could name Phase 2 people and I have seen some Phase 2 people around. So would you hold your hands up or are you not, yes thank you Linda I thought I … yeah. Linda was a Phase 2 Lead Facilitator. There was three schools, one of them was an intermediate, the only intermediate school that we’ve worked in. The fact that an important Ministry official had a brother at that school might have had something to do with it or nothing. But we were very pleased, very pleased to work in that intermediate school, and have the opportunity of seeing whether Te Kotahitanga might actually be able to be transported down with younger students.
We brought into that Phase, the team approach. We decided to have a look at a team that was located in the school, and we were very deliberate in that we picked up an RTLB component because I’ve been part of the professional development for RTLB, and school support services as well as an in-school facilitator. And so that was the very first time we used that makeup of a team in a school and we as professional developers and researchers took a step back out of that site. And we’ve continued to try and step back out of schools ever since. We went to Hopuhopu, our first connection to Hopuhopu which we’ve maintained that and, as principals and lead facilitators, we’ve been able to keep that relationship going. That’s where we went for the very first out of school professional development. We were a little bit more confident that we knew what were talking about and um they were a little bit more naïve than they are now, actually they were a lot naïve.
When I think about that very first hui whakarewa, we take you away, we say blah blah blah blah blah, right go back to school and do it, takes three days, a little bit of agentic repositioning going on but none the less, we have challenged the socks off you, because we know the challenges that you will face back in your schools. I think in Phase 2 we began to realise the importance of feedback loops. We thought that that was just about feedback/feed-forward in the classroom but that’s also grown. And Phase 2 also taught us the importance of evidence and that well-known phrase of PD is ‘show us your evidence’, was in the schools at that point. One of the things that we also noticed around evidence was how poorly managed school management systems were. And that the use of evidence was really about summative purposes rather than formative purposes. And I really wonder whether if they didn’t have to send that summative evidence off to the Ministry of Education whether that would have even been available at the time.
At the same time as we were working with Phase 2, we were also learning about professional learning communities. Communities that use evidence to interrogate and determine the next steps, and that’s been something else, that’s been very important and on-going. The other thing that emerged out of Phase 2 was the very preliminary cycle of in school term-by-term professional development. So again we had much learning from the Phase 2 schools. The Phase 2 schools had also come out of Te Kauhua, a much larger project than Te Kotahitanga. So we were never sure about where did the benefits actually come from, and quite frankly I’m sure Russell will’ve told you, and I know I have, I don’t care where the difference comes from, just give me the difference. But that’s where the professional development cycle grew from.