Elizabeth Forgie - Part 3
Elizabeth Forgie: “I actually initially regarded the New Zealand curriculum as a threat because it was, what worried me was that secondary teachers love teaching about the what. They love the content and I needed people to stay focused on the how, and so I was utterly delighted when the curriculum came out. That was where we started our journey with the new curriculum and then we went to our values and we lined our school values up against the values that they’ve put at the front in the key competencies in the new curriculum.
Professional development, now our relievers would come into our school and think it was rabble-ous(?) because the students said things like, ‘Excuse me sir, but we don’t learn best that way.’ And they didn’t like the noise level and they didn’t like the fact that the kids got up out of their chairs and went to get the extension sheet. And so we realised that, um, we had to do some work for our relievers, team solutions, um, the local psychologist, our teacher aides, people that were making judgments about our classrooms because it didn’t match with their schooling experience which was sit down, shut-up, be quiet and get on with it on page sixteen. If you’re going to change the achievement for a group that is failing in your system you have to focus on them and keep on focusing on them.
“So back to GPILSEO, I just want to have a look at two things, one is a couple of institutions and the other is ownerships. What is good for all is not necessarily good for Māori. And so a new institution at our school is our baby kapa haka group, so in a Year 7 to 13 school the fact that the kapa haka group arrives and get stuck into the Tai Tokerau festival and it’s all very high stakes, is pretty off putting if you’re a little Year 6 from one of our local primary schools. And so that came through to us, we were hearing that, for two hours a week we staffed a tutor. These students come out of class to go to kapa haka just like instrumental music tuition or future problem solving, it’s validated like that and they, ah, go to junior kapa haka and they are utterly amazing. And we’re building such a lot of ownership in the school, such a lot of pride, um, and it has been a great success. Karakia group, we had a He Matariki class which was our bi-lingual class and it’s very numbers dependent, and when the students graduated out of He Matariki they still, they missed each other and they missed the teachers and so, on Mondays and Fridays they wanted to have a karakia. Well at the end of the year the Deans are sitting down having their annual, pretty intense negotiation about who gets what form time, because they all want their year level assemblies and that’s how they build their culture in their year level. And we’ve got seven levels and only five days in the week, and even if you cut tutorial hour in half that only gives you seven slots in a week, and karakia wanted Mondays and Fridays. But the Deans didn’t want to lose their Māori students because they wanted connection with their Māori students in their year levels. So I had a deputation and they explain to me that the Māori world view is that you open the week and you close the week, and it isn’t appropriate to just have Wednesdays. So I went back into the Deans, eleven versus one, I was the one. ‘Sorry karakia has to have Mondays and Fridays,’ well it didn’t go well, but I’m the boss and karakia got Mondays and Fridays. But you can imagine that Māori get two, Year 7s only get one and they’re the first, you know it’s their most important year so it was really, really interesting how negotiating those institutions in your school for the good for Māori can be challenging.
“And lastly ownership, we’re starting to have Te Kotahitanga team and senior leadership co-construction meetings. And this is the minutes of the last one we did. We worked out what we were doing at the hui whakarewa next January, we are going to do double time on restoratives because we all need to do a bit better there, if we’re going to build good relationships. There’s not enough power sharing discursive fun stuff going on and so we’re going to do a session on that. And this is the Friday when the newbies have welcomed the rest of the staff. And then, we are also, we’re working our way at the moment through all boys’ narratives and we’re going to do a feedback session on what the boys are saying. Which will absolutely validate everything that we know about the narratives. We think it’s time to get back to the knitting a bit, we need to get back together as a whole staff PD, have a karakia, sing ‘Ko Te Whaea’, have somebody doing some really good stuff, um, see some models of a really cool discursive lesson.
“One of our member of the Te Kotahitanga team said can we please have some beginners’ classes for Māori on Thursday mornings before school just to get our pronunciation and a bit more confident with some more phrases, um, so we just want to get back to that. And we, this is after seven years but remember how many people are new. And then we’ve got to do better with co-construction, last year we crashed and burned a bit because Wednesday was sports day and um, so Monday is the new Wednesday. We think with six facilitators we’re going to be able to have a gala. That’s me, thank you, thank you, Te Kotahitanga.”