Elizabeth Forgie - Part 2
Elizabeth Forgie: “Where we got forward traction was when those students who were in Year 9 when we started got to NCEA level 1 and, um, that was where we got some traction. Because look at that, and at that point you couldn’t keep talking against the programme in our school. Because at that point something was clearly going on that was different. And we’d tried everything, we’d tried mentoring, we’d tried making a fuss of kapahaka, we, we’d tried all of the token things that you could possibly do to make a difference to Māori achievement.
“So how do we do things at Keri Keri High School? Three day hui before the new academic year begins, that’s very familiar to most of you but we’re a big school, around about 10% turnover so we can expect between ten and fourteen new teachers every year. We have the principals state of the nation at school adress at school, then people go many different ways. They either go out to Whitiora if they’re new or they came during last year and they haven’t been trained yet or they’re a reliever, and they’re giving up their own time because they want to be. Um, and that team heads out to Whitiora, I go with them, they’re welcomed on and then away they go. Meanwhile, back at the ranch we’ve got people doing First Aid training, we’ve got people doing Yr13 leadership camp, we’ve got people preparing for the year, course counseling for 11s and 12s, that sort of thing. On the third day what is very, very lovely is that the new cohort and we’re up to our eighth cohort, our new cohort are the tangata whenua to welcome the manuhiri, who are the rest of the staff.
"Obviously term by term classroom observations, we’ve done everything, we always did whole staff PD and then we went, when we got seven cohorts we started to target it a bit more, because we didn’t want to get into the trap of same old same old. Once a term co-construction and mid winter Christmas dinner and hui, so what we do, we start, ah, at 3.30 which is our normal time for PD to start. We do usually a plenary by me by our lead facilitator Russell, um, and then we, the staff do professional development. This year they all did a fabulous lesson really that, the Te Kotahitanga team had planned for them so they could have fun. Because we needed to inject more fun and discursive back into the lessons, so if you do it to them they’ll do it to the kids. And the year before everyone brought along their favorite discursive teaching strategy and we made the Keri Keri High School booklet of Te Kotahitanga, um, discursive teaching strategies. And then we all get together over a wine and we bring in the carvery, ah, from the local pub and everybody, the teacher aides and the ground staff and everyone comes back and we have, um, presents.
“Every Year 9 and 10 class at Keri Keri High School is now a target class and that’s pretty big because that means seventeen classes this year, and you will recognize the language that we use at Keri Keri High School, um, because it’s the language that you’ve learnt to use as a Te Kotahitanga school. And this is how it’s looking now. Last year we’re very, very proud of a nearly 70% pass rate in level 1 for our Māori students and very, very proud of 57 nearly % for our Māori students in level 2.
“We don’t know whether this is the Te Kotahitanga shadow or rainbow. What is good for Māori is good for all especially boys and we didn’t expect that, we didn’t expect that. I think lots of us are grappling with raising achievements for our boys and this was fascinating. We came from well behind the national averages to well above. I couldn’t do my job if I didn’t use GPILSEO and so we’re all really, really familiar with GPILSEO. I guess what it’s meant for us is sticking to the knitting. If we’re going to build good relationships in the classrooms we needed more skill, so instead of, ‘What did you call me?’ Another way to have that conversation, ‘I don’t think I like that language.’ So ways in which that you could have the restorative conversations, hold the line with the students, be respected but be firm, firm and fair and friendly.
“Grief and trauma, we coped with some difficult times. We won some funding through a Northland project Teacher Tai Tamariki and we didn’t think, ‘What do we need to do to make boys achieve more highly?’ We sat down with our Māori boys and asked them about their experiences and what did they think we could do, and also met with their whānau.”