Hadlow Preparatory School applied for, and gained, eighteen months of Ministry of Education professional learning development funding to further the development of a culturally responsive pedagogy across the school. This programme of professional learning follows on the work that Ngati Kahungunu provided for Masterton schools in 2016 and earlier this year. The Ngati Kahungunu initiative fostered the super whānau advisory group (SWAG) concept across the schools and early child-hood education services in Masterton. Although a number of meetings were held during 2016, the SWAG has not been sustained, and in order to maintain our momentum we are utilising our Ministry PLD funding to progress our own cultural competencies and cultural responsiveness through our practice.Lynette Bradman, who led the Ngati Kahungunu initiative in Masterton, and who is now at the University of Waikato, is leading the professional learning development at the school. The CRP professional learning development has a wider focus than just our Māori learners, and addresses the Education Council’s code of professional responsibility and the standards for the teaching profession. These include, but are not restricted to:
- demonstrating a commitment to tangata whenuatanga and Te Tiriti o Waitangi partnership in the learning environment
- respecting the diversity of the heritage, language, identity and culture of all learners
- affirming Māori learners as tangata whenua and supporting their educational aspirations
- promoting inclusive practices to support the needs and abilities of all learners
- demonstrating a commitment to a Tiriti o Waitangi-based Aotearoa New Zealand
The PLD will also address the values that underpin the teachers’ code of professional practice and the code of professional responsibility:
- whakamana – empowering all learners to reach their highest potential by providing high-quality teaching and leadership
- manaakitanga – creating a welcoming caring and creative learning environment that treats everyone with respect and dignity
- pono – showing integrity by acting in ways that are fair, honest, ethical and just
- whānaungatanga – engaging in positive and collaborative relationships with our learners, their families and whānau, our colleagues and the wider community
The first session with the facilitator saw the staff all being observed for a twenty-minute period to gain a clear and detailed picture of the interactions that occur between each teacher and the learners to provide a snap-shop of cultural responsiveness practices and levels already evident at the school. The exercise involved all conversations and dialogues being documented word-for-word, and then an analysis of each dialogue to determine where each teacher sat on the Culturally Responsive Pedagogy spectrum.
The senior management, with the facilitator, then developed a set of observations or criteria that identified evidence of practice at five levels – basic, early developing, developing, integrating, and integrated. Each staff member was then anonymously placed on the spectrum and the overall picture provided the outline for the on-going professional learning development. One of the positives of future-focused teaching and learning is that the teacher practice has, by its very nature, has to be collaborative and collegial, and for the practice to work there has to be strong student voice and agency, so a partnership is already being formed.As an example, evidence of a teacher operating at the basic level would be based on details such as a room empty of any displays on the wall, a bare, boring environment, no collaboration, teacher-led and directed, desks in rows, no engagement by learners, chalk & talk, learners either compliant or chaos reigns, learners don’t know why/what they are learning, whole-class teaching, low expectations of learners, teachers as teachers and learners and learners, defined roles, and authoritarian teacher practice.At the other end of the spectrum, in a fully integrated environment, you would see an engaging environment, evidence of learners’ work, tuakanateina is the norm, cultures and personalities in the class are celebrated, there is a teacher-innovation presence in the teaching and learning programme, there are varieties of structures, learning in the environment, a mix of partnership and learner/ako, children have ownership of their learning, choose their groups, know their next steps, where to go for help. It is a calm and safe environment where group-teaching is the norm, and everyone is valued and respected. Te reo Māori is integrated and incorporated into learning, teachers as learners and learners as teachers, children’s names are pronounced correctly, the classroom is flipped, there is community involvement, there is an embracing of knowledge and expertise, and all are welcome. Just think where you would rather be.