Donna, Amy and Delina's story
Donna, Amy and Delina’s story: The importance of relationships and listening to students ensures that staff in the Art Department of Alfriston College can support students into the challenge that is learning. “Peeling back the layers of doubt” these teachers instil self-confidence and self-belief, building student success into the senior levels.
In this department students are highly engaged and participating successfully. Comments are provided by three teachers who discuss their relationships with students and their pedagogy. These include comments about:
- building relationships with the students in order to develop a greater understanding of them
- talking to students honestly
- working with students and providing individual attention
- peeling back the layers of doubt so as to remind students of the feelings of success
- helping students to take ownership of their learning
- never assuming that because they are Māori they know what is needed for Māori students
- having an understanding of culture awareness
- working through the issues constructively, respecting each other and understanding the need to do so.
"...just because we're Māori it doesn't necessarily mean that we're doing what's right for Māori and it was a good opportunity for us to actually sit down and reflect on that..." (Teacher)
"...They might be testing you to see if you'll joke back with them, some of those barriers start to fall down and you start to see the enjoyment in them, and if you can trigger that moment and you play off that enjoyment and you find out what else they're interested in, and you start to discuss those things with them...you hook them." (Teacher)
Things to think about:
Question Focus - Those new to Te Kotahitanga:
- As a teacher, why is it important to learn about your own culture and to understand what impact it has on the students in your class?
- What do you understand about the range of cultures in your class? How are they respected and shared within the learning environment? What do we understand about culture and how the cultures of students link to learning?
- In a department where the classrooms are open and there are no walls, how can the department function well while maintaining a respectful learning environment? What are some key principles that could guide teachers in this situation?
Question Focus - Participants in the Te Kotahitanga Professional Development Programme:
- What impact does being involved in Te Kotahitanga have across a department especially when classes are not all involved in the project?
- How important is it for the whole department to target Māori student achievement and as an individual teacher, how do you contribute to raising Māori student achievement from within your department?
- What opportunities exist within departments to share ideas around the Effective Teaching Profile (ETP) amongst colleagues?
Question Focus - In-school Facilitators and Senior Leadership Team Members:
- What role do the Heads of Departments play in setting targets for Māori student achievement and how might this impact upon the goals that are related to Te Kotahitanga?
- How effectively would the process of Co-construction meetings contribute, as a model for Departmental meetings?
- What opportunities are there to share evidence to promote Te Kotahitanga activities and discussions throughout departments and across departments?
Narrator: “At Alfriston College the implementation of Te Kotahitanga across the visual arts learning area has been enthusiastically taken up by a tight knit team of Māori women.”
Donna Petero (Head of Learning – Visual Art): “I think people assume that as Māori we know what we’re doing. We do know what we’re doing, but just because we’re Māori it doesn't necessarily mean that we’re doing what’s right for Māori, and it was a good opportunity for us too to sit down and reflect on that.”
Amy Taite (Learning Leader – Art): “For me it allowed me to reflect on my high school, although, culture in general was important to the school, so there was the culture of the school and everybody else’s individual cultures were important. Your Māori culture wasn’t encouraged for you to write about in English or create your paintings about that.”
Delina Tahitahi (Learning Leader – Art): “I think it made me more aware of me being a Māori and able to probably bring that out or share that knowledge or strength with the kids.”
Donna: “If we can’t work together and be effective and be on the same wave length, we’re not going to be of any benefit to the kids. We all have very different ways of doing things in the classroom, but we respect what each other does and we need to do that. If we don’t agree on things it’s, it’s really important for us, and I think for our wairua too as a team, that we actually put it on the table.”
Amy: “You know within our office, we don’t have walls, so the kids can see it all. And we don’t put on a front for them. So if we are having a bad time or you know the kids know if we’re short because one of us is sick, or something else has happened, we let the kids know that. We talk to them honestly about what’s happening they give us that honest answer back to us.”
Donna: “There’s always work for all of us to do in terms of building relationships with your kids, building their confidence, and, and getting to a level where they’re really comfortable with you.”
Delina: “So in doing that we always give of ourselves, such as, um, you know doing research, I mean not doing it for them, but doing it with them, you know, as an addition and making sure that they come and see us in their breaks or after school so that we are giving them that individual attention.”
Donna: “I think when you run into an issue where you feel like you’re up against a wall and you’re trying really hard to move a student forward and having real difficulty, you do need to be aware of, um, what else is going on. Because you can’t start that restorative stuff, you can’t start to do that unless you have a good understanding of where it’s coming from, or what’s impacting on it.”
Amy: “They might joke with you for the first time, and they might be testing you to see if you’ll joke back with them. Some of those barriers start to fall down and, and you start to see the enjoyment in them, and if you can trigger that moment and you play off that enjoyment and you find out what else they’re interested in, um, and you start to discuss those things with them, you do, you hook them.”
Donna: “And then that whole accumulation of that progress, then will lead to them developing a lot more self confidence, self belief. It’s sort of like peeling back these layers of, um, doubt.”
Delina: “Because they’re consistently coming up and saying, ‘Tell me what to do next Miss, or do you think I should do this?’ And so you say to them, ‘You know come on think, what is it that you’ve done, um, look back to what you did before, you know you did all of this on your own and you did it really well.’”
Donna: “Taking them back to that place, you have to take them back all the time, eh, to remind them that that’s what it felt like, and that’s all you had to do.”
Amy: “And then they start showing you, so that you know, like I can be walking through a classroom and they’ll go, ‘Oh Miss, Miss look how much work I’ve done, this is mine’. And you’re like, ‘Aw cool.’ And then, and you can see that, that entire enjoyment of their learning is, is taking place. I guess that builds their success into the senior levels, and it builds their confidence that they can speak with us at any time, it doesn't just have to be just the teacher who’s teaching them in that classroom. You can be walking through the classroom and they’ll want to show you. Um, so I guess. And that allows them to feel the encouragement not just from one person but I guess from three people.”
Delina: “Especially for the boys because they really like the praise, you know, they like being centre of attention. Compliment them but have a joke too so they don’t feel it’s too serious because if it’s too serious oh it’s not good, you know that’s not cool, so it’s quite funny when that happens.”