Shea’s story: “Not every day is going to be great” but this teacher lays the groundwork to ensure effective communication anchors both student and teacher commitment to striving for excellence.
Comments are provided from a PE teacher and Year 11 students who together talk about effective teaching and learning strategies. These include comments about:
- building relationships with students
- utilising students’ prior knowledge to plan, implement and evaluate lessons
- having high expectations of students
- fostering individual student’s strengths
- talking with students in ways that they can relate to
- fostering a safe learning environment within the classroom.
“He kind of like, can relate to us, like the way he explains it is how we’ll understand it ... he, like, gets us.” (Student)
“ He makes a lesson like fun and makes you want to come to class.” (Student)
“ ... not every day is going to be great ... but the fact that we can look after each other in those classes, and get to a point where we’re actually happy to come to that class” (Teacher)
“ ... just talking to kids.” (Teacher)
“ I know this is what you are capable of so what’s it going to take to get you there?” (Teacher)
Things to think about:
Question Focus – Those new to Te Kotahitanga:
- How do you build and develop your relationships with students? How does this differ or align with what you saw Shea doing?
- What was of particular interest to you?
- Shea talks about students looking after each other and actually being happy to come to class. To what extent is this import? Explain why you think this.
Question Focus – Participants in the Te Kotahitanga Professional Development Programme:
- Throughout the DVD you can see the Effective Teaching profile (ETP) in action. What evidence do you hear of students’ responses to elements of the ETP? What links can you make with your own teaching practice?
- How might you create a learning context that allows students to experience shared leadership within your own classroom?
- What aspects of Culturally Responsive Pedagogy of Relations does this story capture for you?
Question Focus – In-school Facilitators and Senior Leadership Team members:
- Shea seems to be having success with his Māori students. How is Shea’s practice being shared with others in the school?
- Shea is Canadian. In what ways has he managed to overcome the commonly held belief that Māori teachers make the most effective teachers of Māori students? What has been your experience in this regards?
- If you were in a position to give Shea feedback and feed-forward, what would you share?
Narrator: “Winter illness has reduced the number of students in today’s Year 11 Physical Education class but Shea McEvoy begins as he always does, building student confidence to contribute their knowledge and experience to the learning context.”
Shea McEvoy (PE Teacher): “It’s about getting a bit of a response from them, something small and then we start to expand and spreading that around and hearing from everybody, not just one or two people. And it might be something as quick as a question and it is, ‘Jean what do you think about that.’ Or you know, ‘You guys were playing petanque who liked it?’ and so you get a bit of a response, they start to speak and then you can actually start to probe a little bit further."
Shea in classroom: “But it’s because you’re putting yourself into that situation where you’re like, ‘Oh I’m really awesome at rugby or I’m good at surfing, or you know I’m really good at volleyball why can’t we play that all the time?’ Well that’s great because your confidence is way up in the ….”
Shea interview: “What we've been doing a lot this year is taking it more student driven and we do that to build on some of the leadership stuff we’ve been working on in previous years. So it’s not directly assessed on their leadership skills it’s just providing the opportunity for those kids to improve their skills in front of their classmates. Progressively what we’d like to see those kids start doing is taking that outside of the classroom.”
Student in classroom: “ And then place it down on the lines.”
Shea interview: “I want them to be able to work it out for themselves, to have a sense that they’ve accomplished something. I want to take them out of their comfort zone, I want to put them into something they’ve generally not tried before, something they may be really good at but they don’t know that yet. I want them to see what works, what doesn't work, but I want them to start talking to each other. And when they do that, inherently they’re already starting to do a lot of that, that social aspect, that you know that, that taha whanau, that they’re going to be talking about in their assessments anyway.”
Student interview: “He, like, can relate to us, like, the way he explains it is how we’ll understand it, not, like, in some other type of language that we won’t understand. He, like, gets us.”
Student in classroom: “Like, when you have the first person going it will just go like that, and then when you get the next two people, like, going after each other it will just get sliding.”
Shea in classroom: “...happy to think about that, which strategy seemed a little bit more effective?”
Students in classroom: “Them”
Shea in classroom: “They were more of an individual based strategy, oh we’ll hit it one at a time and we’ll be sweet, and they hit it one at a time. Whereas you guys pulled together with the taha whanau and then you guys won.”
Student Two interview: “Funny and he’s got a really good sense of humour, like, he makes a lesson really fun and makes you want to, like, come to class.”
Shea interview: “My humour is a tool, it’s a way to relax the class, but what it does is that it ensures they’re listening. Because generally if I tell them some sort of lame joke, everybody’s listening, and then it’s easier for me to switch gears and say, ‘Sweet, now we’ll talk about this.’ We have a standing arrangement mostly in my class that if you’re having a bad day come in and tell me. No need to tell me about it, I’m not looking to pry but then at least I have a bit of understanding.
“Not every day is going to be great, some days will be better, some days won’t be. But the fact that we can look after each other in those classes and get to a point where we’re actually happy to come to that class, come and try some new stuff. And they’re not like, ‘Oh this is you know this isn’t good sir, this sucks sir, because I don’t want to play this,’ it’s everybody gives this a go. And I think that all comes from laying the early groundwork and just talking to kids. I really, really encourage the kids to aim for excellence, and especially with an NCEA, I find it a struggle because the kids say, ‘Oh what do I need to do to pass, or what do I need to get into…’ We have those one on one conversations, it’s always about you know I know that is what you’re capable of so what’s it going to take to get us there. People are very modest, they’re always modest about their abilities or the fact that they don’t want to stand up with their heads above everybody else. In my class there’s that comfort level to be able to stick your hand up, or do something or show us something that you might not have shown us last year. Or you might not have shown us at the start of the year. Losing that little bit of that shame or that little bit of resistance to being different, yea and we just want to foster that and say you’re an individual that’s okay. You’ve all got talent, you’re all super, super kids and maybe we just need to, ah, discover the way to get you there. I think Te Kotahitanga is an excellent thing for all students, and the concepts behind it of just forming those relationships, taking the interest, um, putting the ownership on the kids, make them own it, I think it is a great focus, I’m seeing a lot of good things happening and I’m seeing a lot more willingness for people to open up their classrooms and a lot more willingness for people to sit there and say do you mind if I come and watch you?”