Stef’s story: Feedback on her practice is central to this teacher’s developing pedagogy. Applying this same principle to her learners, she is highly attuned to the cues that come from her students and works to ensure their self esteem and understandings are respected and developed.
Comments are provided by a social science teacher who talks about learning with and from her students in order to make the learning 'real'. These include comments like:
"At the moment we're studying Asian celebrations and it came out of sort of side chats and little conversations through the periods with the students about things that they weren't sure of, or were a little bit scared of and didn't understand. It came up that they were scared of anything that wasn't Māori, or Pākehā. That they've walked past some of our Asian students and automatically feel that they were being talked about, so I had the idea that this was something that we needed to address." (Teacher)
"...so everything in my classroom is about self esteem, how can we raise self esteem in the classroom. Because if they feel good about what they're doing, and if they know that they can take a responsible risk and it's okay if you get it wrong, then I'm going to have just a huge huge increase in what they're learning and the risks that they're going to actually take in my classroom with me." (Teacher)
Things to think about:
Question Focus - Those new to Te Kotahitanga:
- Stef provides her class with the theorising that underpins co-operative learning. Why is this foundation so important? What else do you think is important?
- The learning context around Asia came from these students. Why is this process more likely to engage students in learning?
- An awareness of her own verbal and non-verbal cues (body language) within the classroom is important to this teacher. To what extent do you agree or disagree with her?
Question Focus - Participants in the Te Kotahitanga Professional Development Programme:
- In what ways does Stef exemplify the Effective Teaching Profile (ETP) and culturally responsive pedagogy of relations? What can you learn from this?
- Stef is very complimentary about the shadow coaching that she has received. To what extent would you agree with her? What elements of shadow coaching are important to you?
- Stef turned an ‘epic fail’ into a learning opportunity. How did she do this and why was she able to do this safely with these students?
Question Focus - in-school Facilitators and Senior Leadership Team Members:
- Stef is very complimentary about the shadow coaching that she has received. What do you think the teachers in your school would say about the shadow coaching they have received?
- If you were shadow coaching Stef what feedback and feed forward would you give her based on the evidence in this DVD?
- In what ways does Stef’s classroom exemplify culturally responsive pedagogy of relations? Compare what she is doing with some of the teachers in your own school.
Stef Beaumont-Gill (Social Science Teacher): “You’re never going to be the best at it because someone’s always come up with something new, or a teacher’s always doing something in another class, ‘Wish I’d done that, okay I’m going to go and see her.’ And the shadow coaching that we have here is just outstanding, um, and it’s done in a very non-threatening way. So to actually have someone in and also get feedback on how engaged they were throughout the whole of your period, that’s priceless.
“Okay, at the moment we’re studying Asian celebrations and it came out of, sort of side chats and little conversations throughout other periods with the students about things that they weren’t sure of or were a little bit scared of and didn’t quite understand. It came up that they were scared of anything that wasn’t Māori or pakeha. That they’d walk past some of our Asian students and automatically feel that they were being talked about. So I had the idea that this is something that we needed to address.”
Narrator: “Having negotiated the next focus for learning, a cooperative learning strategy is adopted as the way in.”
Stef in class: “If you leave it all to one person, is that group work?”
Stef in class: “No, if you’ve got someone whose just sitting there slacking off, not really doing it, comfy on the chair, is that group work?”
Stef in class: “No, you’re responsibility as a group, to organize everyone. Sink or swim together, little musketeers, all for one, one for all, diddly dee, away we go.”
Stef: “I’ve noticed that predominantly the Māori students are really, really sensitive and the worst thing possible that could happen for them is that it looks like they don’t understand or they can’t do the work. And they’d much prefer to be seen as the class clown or someone who’s just too cool for school rather than admit that they don’t quite understand what’s going on. So everything in my classroom is about self-esteem, how can we raise self-esteem in the classroom, because if they feel good about what they’re doing, and if they know that they can take a responsible risk and it’s okay if you get it wrong, then I’m going to have just a huge, huge increase in what they’re learning and the risks that they are going to actually take in my classroom with me.”
Narrator: “Just as students are aware of their teacher’s body language, Stef is sensitive to her students’ verbal and non verbal cues.”
Stef: “So I’ll go round and I’ll always have a really quiet chat and that’s the thing, it’s very, very inconspicuous the way you do it, ‘How’s it going, do you get the work?..’ ‘Yep…’ ‘Okay, shall I just explain it to you one more time just in case you’ve missed anything?..’ ‘Sweet.’ I’ll explain it again and you wait… ‘Oh, yep, yep, I’m all good, don’t need you now, go away.’ And that’s the way the classroom works. Or I’ll explain something to someone else and another student will jump in, ‘No, no, you just do it like this.’
“In their groups they’re really really safe because they know if they get it wrong it’s not a problem, and if they don’t understand someone else will help. And if that doesn’t work then they know I’ll come round and do my last little checks. I draw on my own personal experiences, so for example they all sat a test and it was an epic fail. I’ve never seen marks as low in my life and you could see instantly they were all really, really bothered about it. They were very upset, um, which manifested itself in not talking, not going to do anything. So when I was fifteen, sixteen I told them what I did which was basically, um, supposed to ace all these exams, come out with top marks, and essentially I went out with my friends for a couple of days, didn’t revise, had an epic fail. And their response is, 'But you’re really clever Miss,' ‘Yea because I failed but I learnt from it and this is what you can do.’”