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Teachers making a difference

Filed under: Ako | Effective teachers

Tags: Te Mana Kōrero

Duration: 02:43

Download the video clip (9.90 MB)



Rachel Aratema – Rotorua Lakes High School

I can't sing, I'm not a kinaesthetic-type person. And I don't actually like hearing other people say, “Māori students need to have hands-on activities, they work by doing things”, and that sort of stuff. Because it makes me as a person feel like I'm not a complete Māori, because I don't actually fit into that box.

Russell Bishop – School of Education, Waikato University

All that stuff about kinaesthetic learning, and all about bouncing balls and playing guitars, and all that sort of stuff is just convenient stereotyping as far as I can see.


Some times it feels like Māori students are pigeon-holed before they even start learning. Each year the statistics tell us that far too many of them are failing to reach their potential. So that means something must be going very wrong.

Russell Bishop

We spoke to a large number of young Māori students in Year 9 and 10, the old 3rd and 4th form. Both those who the schools identified as being engaged with what the school was offering, and also those who the schools identified as being not engaged with what they were offering. We said, “What is your experience of being a young Māori student in this school?”. And then they basically said, “Awful”. All of them said that being a young Māori person in these schools was in fact a negative experience. So we then said to them, “Well, what is it that would make a difference for you in these schools?”. And the flood gates opened. They gave us solutions that would actually make a difference in the classroom. They wanted to change the way that people were giving instruction to the students. They wanted to change the way that the teachers were relating to them. They wanted to change the whole business of what is called “caring” – an ethic of care in the classroom. They wanted to change the way the teachers were monitoring and relating to their behaviour. They didn't mind being told off – they didn't want to be told off in front of the class, and they wanted it to be fair and that sort of thing. They also wanted their prior knowledge to be recognised – particularly their prior cultural knowledge. They also then wanted feedback on what they were doing; feed-forward on where to go with what they were doing. And then they also wanted to do what is termed “co-construction”, and that is, they wanted to have a say in what was going on in the classroom in terms of what is actually constituting the content of the lesson.

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