Evaluation of Te Kotahitanga: 2004-2008
In 2007, Victoria University was contracted by the Ministry to produce an external evaluation of the effectiveness of Te Kotahitanga. It is the first external evaluation of Te Kotahitanga.
This is the full technical report of the evaluation of Te Kotahitanga in 22 schools from phase three and four of the programme, from 2004-2008. Substantive findings from the evaluation report concluded that Te Kotahitanga is a sound and effective process for improving classroom teaching and learning for Māori students.
Also available on Education Counts is the Te Kotahitanga Summary Report, which outlines the key findings.
Author(s): Luanna Meyer, Wally Penetito, Anne Hynds, Catherine Savage, Rawiri Hindle, and Christine Sleeter. Report for the Ministry of Education.
Date Published: August 2010
This report is available as a download (please refer to the 'Downloads' inset box). To view the individual chapters please refer to the 'Sections' inset box. For links to related publications/ information that may be of interest please refer to the 'Where to Find Out More' inset box.
Chapter 4: Impact on Teachers' Classroom Practice
In this chapter, we synthesise what we learned about 'How well and in what ways does Te Kotahitanga work towards the goal of improving Māori achievement?' in relation to classroom teaching and learning. Teachers are central to the experiences of both Māori and non-Māori students in mainstream schools. The main purpose of the Te Kotahitanga project is to shift teachers' view of students away from a deficit view, and to shift classroom instruction from a transmission model to a more discursive, interactive model that also reflects culturally responsive practices.
Evidence presented in this chapter was gathered through in-class observations and interviews with different stakeholder groups across 12 Phase 3 and 10 Phase 4 schools. The interviews provided triangulation regarding the extent to which the classroom observations revealed changes in practice attributable to the professional development programme. In the first section of this chapter we identify patterns in what we observed. Results from observations indicated that the majority of teachers evidenced either moderate implementation or high implementation as assessed using criteria based on our observation measure for the Effective Teaching Profile4. More than one in five teachers is demonstrating a high level of implementation of the ETP. However, there was variability across subjects and schools in the quality of implementation.
The second half of this chapter presents an analysis of stakeholder interviews across Phase 3 and Phase 4 schools. This evidence helps us gauge the extent to which observed patterns in the classroom observations represent change resulting from the program. A crucial question is 'How do we know the extent to which these patterns presented a change in teaching practice over the last few years?' Interview analysis confirmed the value of relationship-based pedagogies and changes in teacher understandings and agency in terms of responding to Māori students' learning needs. However, teachers were divided over the extent to which the Effective Teaching Profile, with its explicit focus on culture, relationships, and interactions in a classroom, is different from "good teaching" generally.
Three key themes emerged from the final analysis of reported change in the classroom from the perspectives of different stakeholders: (a) change in teacher beliefs, expectations and understandings; (b) change in teacher agency and; (c) increased teacher job satisfaction, motivation and empowerment. Whilst these themes are reported separately, they are interrelated and multifaceted as well as providing elaboration of other evidence presented throughout this report, particularly with regard to the integrity of implementation of professional development activities (as discussed in Chapter 2) and existing school climate and culture (Chapter 5).
Teachers' engagement in the professional development programme was associated with positive change in both teaching practice and outcomes for students. However, participants also identified 'ongoing challenges' in their attempts to improve practice and outcomes for Māori students. The later part of this chapter discusses evidence related to 'a lack of change' in some teachers' classrooms. Teachers perceived as low-implementers represented a significant challenge to the reform process. Evidence related to this is discussed at the end of this chapter along with implications and recommendations.
Observations of ETP implementation
Over 330 classroom observations were conducted across curriculum subjects in Years 9 – 10 classrooms; a small number of these were teachers from Phase 4 schools who were not yet participants in the project (N=15). Data collection for the observations was guided by the overall evaluation research questions with a focus on teaching and learning activities generally as well as the extent to which these reflected dimensions of the Effective Teaching Profile (ETP) that are the focus of Te Kotahitanga professional development activities. Our data reveal that the majority of teachers observed across both Phase 3 and 4 schools evidenced either moderate implementation or high implementation as assessed using our observation measure for the Effective Teaching Profile. Table 4 highlights the results from Phase 3 schools and Table 5 from Phase 4 schools. Analysis indicated that nearly 3 out of 4 teachers in both Phase 3 and Phase 4 schools (74% of the 116 teachers in Phase 4 schools and 76% of 202 teachers at Phase 3 schools) evidenced either moderate implementation or high implementation. The difference between Phase 3 and Phase 4 schools is not statistically significant, and these findings indicate that the teachers we observed across the schools are operating at similar levels of the ETP in the second year of implementation (Phase 4) and after four years of implementation (Phase 3).
|School||Percentage of observations in each of the 3 ETP quality categories|
|School (N of observations)||Percentage of Observations in each of the 3 ETP quality categoriesa|
|Low Implementation||Implementation||High Implementation|
The classroom observations provide rich description of the kinds of exemplars demonstrated by teachers showing evidence of the different dimensions of the ETP. Teachers will have previously mastered some of these dimensions through good teaching as well as other professional development activities, so no attempt is made to attribute all good teaching to Te Kotahitanga. However, the higher levels of implementation and the richness of the examples emerging from our observational data suggest that Te Kotahitanga is associated with establishing strategies for teaching Māori students effectively. They demonstrate positive relationships, high expectations, and progress towards culturally responsive teaching. Our observations across both the Phase 3 and Phase 4 schools also suggest that perhaps as many as one in four teachers do not master these dimensions sufficiently and are not implementing the ETP according to the professional development activities provided. Given that this is a finding consistent across schools, it would appear that Te Kotahitanga alone is not sufficient to demonstrate the ETP for a minority of teachers (25%).
Tables 6 and 7 show an analysis of teachers' implementation of the ETP across different curriculum areas. In Phase 3 schools (Table 6) the highest percentage of High Implementation exemplars were observed in te reo Māori (50%), physical education/sport science (30%), social studies (32%), technology/IT/graphics (29%), and arts/drama/music/dance (25%). The highest percentages of Low Implementation occurred in business/commerce/super studies (50%), English (33%), and technology/IT/graphics (24%).
|Subject Area(s)||Total Observations||Lesson numbers (and percentages) by quality category|
|Low Implementation||Implementation||High Implementation|
|Arts, Drama, Music, Dance||20||4 (20%)||11 (55%)||5 (25%)|
|Business, Commerce, Super Studies||4||2 (50%)||2 (50%)||0|
|English||43||14 (33%)||22 (51%)||7 (16%)|
|Japanese||4||1 (25%)||2 (50%)||1 (25%)|
|Te reo Māori||4||0||2 (50%)||2 (50%)|
|Maths||29||4 (14%)||20 (72%)||5 (18%)|
|PE/Sports Science||20||4 (20%)||10 (50%)||6 (30%)|
|Science||32||7 (22%)||21 (65.5%)||4 (12.5%)|
|Social Studies||25||6 (24%)||11 (44%)||8 (32%)|
|Technology/IT/Graphics||17||4 (24%)||8 (47%)||5 (29%)|
|Totals||202||46 (24%)||113 (57%)||43 (19%)|
In Phase 4 schools (Table 7) the highest percentage of High Implementation exemplars was again observed in te reo Māori (60%), although for a small sample of only 5 observations. With 16 observations in English, 50% of teachers were operating at the High Implementation Level. Both mathematics and social studies show positive patterns, with high percentages of teachers operating at both High Implementation and Moderate Implementation and only 11% in maths and 7% in social studies operating at the Low Implementation level. Science would appear to be an area where work still needs to be done in the Phase 4 schools, with 47% of the 16 lessons that were observed being rated as Low Implementation. Technology/woodworking/graphics were categorised as generally low, with 67% of 9 lessons rated as Low Implementation and only 1 lesson rated as High Implementation.
N(% of Total)
Lesson numbers (and percentages within that subject) |
by quality of implementation category
|Low Implementation||Implementation||High Implementation|
|Arts, Drama, Music, & Dance||15 (13%)||3 (20%)||8 (53%)||4 (27%)|
|Business, Commerce||4 (3%)||1 (25%)||2 (50%)||1 (25%)|
|English||16 (14%)||4 (25%)||4 (25%)||8 (50%)|
|Health & Physical Education||14 (12%)||5 (36%)||5 (36%)||4 (29%)|
|Japanese & Spanish||3 (3%)||1 (33%)||1 (33%)||1 (33%)|
|Te reo Māori||5 (4%)||0 (0%)||2 (40%)||3 (60%)|
|Maths||19 (16%)||2 (11%)||9 (47%)||8 (42%)|
|Science||17 (15%)||8 (47%)||3 (18%)||6 (35%)|
|Social Studies||14 (12%)||1 (7%)||8 (57%)||5 (36%)|
|Technology, IT, Wood, & Graphics||9 (8%)||6 (67%)||2 (22%)||1 (11%)|
|Totals||116||31 (27%)||44 (38%)||41 (35%)|
At each of the schools, a small number of the teachers we observed were identified as "non-participants" in Te Kotahitanga. For reasons discussed in the Methods chapter of this report, it would be inappropriate and even invalid to compare data for observations of "non-participants" at the Phase 3 schools. Firstly, there were few non-participants at the Phase 3 schools, and those who were observed indicated they had had varying levels of experience with Te Kotahitanga. After over 4 years of participation in Te Kotahitanga, it was unlikely that a Phase 3 school teacher would not be influenced by the model. For the 15 non-participants at the Phase 4 schools whom we observed, there was a lower level of implementation of dimensions of the ETP overall, though nearly half of these teachers (47%) were rated as using a moderate level of the ETP dimensions; only two teachers in this group were rated as "high implementation." However, this is a small and probably non-representative sample of teachers who were not participating in the model, so also does not provide an appropriate comparison group.
In October 2009, we were able to carry out 102 classroom observations in four "core" subject areas—English, mathematics, science and social studies—in 10 of the identified Phase 5 schools who had not yet begun the project at the time. This group does provide a valid and representative sample for comparison purposes, both for the Phase 3 and Phase 4 schools and as a baseline to assess growth on the ETP for the Phase 5 schools over time. Table 8 summarises the levels of implementation for the three groups of schools: These data include only the observations carried out in the four subject areas, hence include all valid observations from the Phase 5 schools but only the valid observations in English, mathematics, science and social studies in the Phase 3-4 schools.
Phase 3 |
4 Years Post
(N = 129)
Phase 4 |
1 Year Post
(N = 66) <
Phase 5 |
(N = 98**)
|Low||24% (31)||23% (15)||47% ( 46)|
|Moderate||57% (74)||36% (24)||48% (47)|
|High||19% (24)||41% (27)||5% (5)|
These data show significant differences in the percentages of teachers demonstrating high and low levels of implementation of the ETP. One in every 5 teachers in Phase 3 schools and over 40% of teachers in Phase 4 schools are "high implementers", whereas approximately 1 in 4 teachers across these schools are "low implementers." This contrasts sharply with nearly half of the teachers in these four subject areas demonstrating low implementation and only 5% demonstrating high implementation of the ETP prior to Te Kotahitanga activities in the Phase 5 schools.
For teachers judged to be low implementers of the ETP, many of the classrooms were characterised by challenges such as high levels of student disruption and off-task behavior, and the teachers did not use positive classroom management strategies to meet those challenges. Nearly all of these teachers failed to state explicit learning objectives or outcomes, and hence also did not express high expectations for students on the task or even state the criteria for success. In most low implementation classes, there was little to no variety in how the topic was taught and the learning activities for students; discursive approaches were absent, and student experiences were not referenced in the approach to the lesson. In a few instances, teachers seemed unable to demonstrate both positive relationships with Māori students and maintain classroom discipline. In other words, the low implementation lessons were not otherwise exemplars of 'good teaching' lacking only culturally responsive pedagogies in the low implementation classrooms accompanied these other less than optimal classroom conditions. Our findings suggest that these needs extend beyond those that a project such as Te Kotahitanga could or should be expected to address:
I found too many teachers were trying to yell above the kids… there was too much noise and nobody was really listening, and not much learning.
We found the teacher who was avoiding confronting Māori students in her class. She didn't realise things had got out of control, she wasn't telling them off, and they were being naughty.
Nevertheless, more than three of every four teachers across these Phase 3 and Phase 4 schools were implementing Te Kotahitanga's Effective Teaching Profile at either a moderate or high level. This finding across the curriculum offers strong support for the effectiveness of Te Kotahitanga professional development activities following the model utilised during Phases 3 and 4 of the project, and the observations provide hundreds of lessons across different subjects that demonstrate the effectiveness of this approach to professional development. They also suggest that what teachers are doing as a result of Te Kotahitanga goes beyond what might be termed 'good teaching' expected to be evidenced at fairly similar levels across any sample of secondary schools (we discuss the issue of whether teachers and others viewed Te Kotahitanga as just 'good teaching' in the next section). Post-Te Kotahitanga observational analyses in the future could evaluate in future the effectiveness of implementation of the ETP in the Phase 5 schools.
Exemplars of implementation of the ETP
Our observations across a range of subjects in years 9-10 enables us to highlight exemplars occurring in secondary classrooms that illustrate aspects of the Effective Teaching Profile at the three different levels of implementation. Appendix 7 provides examples of different levels of implementation of the Effective Teaching Profile that we observed across the secondary curriculum in Years 9-10.
As we found some overlap in evidence of some of the dimensions of the ETP, we have listed our exemplars for the following four categories (rather than six):
- Manākitanga (caring for students as culturally located individuals)
- Wānanga (discursive teaching practices and student-student learning interactions) and Ako (range of strategies) combined
- Mana motuhake (high expectations for learning) and Kotahitanga (promote, monitor, and reflect on learning outcomes with students) combined
- Whakapiringatanga (managing the classroom for learning)
The examples illustrate the rich range of activities comprising the ETP and/or missed opportunities. The set of examples are not intended to be representative but based on purposive sampling of snapshots of teaching practice relevant to the purposes of Te Kotahitanga as a professional development programme. Ultimately, compiling subject focused illustrative exemplars such as these could provide teachers and schools with a resource enabling them to self-evaluate and to develop their own expertise by building on and learning from such examples.
Analysis of interview data: A focus on teachers and classrooms
The following section presents an analysis of stakeholder interviews across Phase 3 and Phase 4 schools. This evidence helps us gauge the extent to which the patterns in the observations presented earlier, represent change due to the program. The schools involved in Te Kotahitanga will also have been involved in various other initiatives during this time period. Hence, evidence of particular practices observed in classrooms may be associated with Te Kotahitanga professional development but cannot necessarily be attributed as having been caused by this particular programme. Thus, analysis of the interviews and other data can corroborate or refute claims that changes and improvements in practice are due to Te Kotahitanga. While still associations and subject to alternative causal hypotheses, the perceptions of teachers and other participants as to whether Te Kotahitanga was a key factor affecting teaching and learning in the classroom are relevant and persuasive.
Interview analysis confirmed the valuing by teachers of relationship-based pedagogies. The majority of teachers believed that the Te Kotahitanga professional development had an impact in classrooms and in their schools. A sample of interviews selected for analysis from Phase 3 schools revealed that 57 of these 59 teachers referred to their own learning and how it was operationalised in their own or others classrooms. In addition, 70 out of the total of 76 teachers interviewed in Phase 4 schools highlighted the importance of positive relationships and interactions in the classroom/school environment if the goal was to improve Māori student achievement. Particular teaching strategies and methods that had a relational/interaction focus and were introduced as part of the Te Kotahitanga professional development were highlighted as being helpful in improving practice and outcomes for Māori students. Analysis of interview data also indicated that teachers held different beliefs about whether the Effective Teaching Profile was different from good teaching.
Three key themes emerged from the final analysis of reported change in the classroom. These included: a) change in teacher beliefs, expectations and understandings; b) change in teacher agency; and c) increased teacher job satisfaction, motivation and empowerment. Sub-themes associated with these included increased teacher experimentation and risk-taking in the classroom; increased understanding and awareness of Māori students needs such as valuing, respecting and including Māori students language and/or cultural knowledge; teacher repositioning, co-construction and power-sharing, teacher monitoring and related assessment activities; and satisfaction, motivation and empowerment as teachers experience success in the classroom.
As indicated in the introduction to this chapter these themes and sub-themes are closely related. For some teachers they believed the change in their own practice had been their repositioning, co-construction and power-sharing with students which had enabled them to 'care for students as culturally located individuals'. This was how they demonstrated they valued, respected and included Māori student perspectives, knowledge and voice. It also demonstrated a respect for students as contributing to knowledge building in the classroom (reciprocal learning – Ako). For others a significant change was using and pronouncing Māori students' names correctly in class and using te reo for simple class instructions. This was how they demonstrated in class that they cared for Māori students as culturally located individuals.
Most teachers did not talk explicitly about changing the pedagogical relationship of teaching toward a dialogical model and/or did not explicitly identify elements of the ETP such as:
- Manākitanga (caring for students as culturally located individuals)
- Wānanga (discursive teaching practices and student-student learning interactions) and Ako (range of strategies) combined
- Mana motuhake (high expectations for learning) and Kotahitanga (promote, monitor, and reflect on learning outcomes with students) combined
- Whakapiringatanga (managing the classroom for learning)
However, an analysis of reported change in the classroom demonstrates clear links to these concepts. Teachers associated change in their beliefs, expectations, understandings and efforts directly to their engagement in the Te Kotahitanga programme and its emphasis on challenging deficit thinking and developing collective teacher agency. Although reported separately, themes of change are interrelated and multifaceted. Other key activities associated with each of these themes are related to other professional development activities including teacher visioning, examining evidence, reflection, planning and monitoring. Participants stressed over and over again that changes and progress in classrooms were the result of teacher engagement in Te Kotahitanga.
Teachers were clearly starting in different places in their knowledge of elements included in the Effective Teaching Profile. For some a major shift included being able to first identity their Māori students, taking a risk and using te reo in class and making a public and sometime embarrassing effort to pronounce Māori students names correctly. Other participant groups, such as lead facilitators and facilitators, stressed that teachers had different professional development needs:
One lady was studying the Bald Eagle, and we suggested that she change the content to look at the Kūkū, you know, something the kids could see. It was minor but it was a big difference to the connection that children had with the material (Lead facilitator).
Rather than de-valuing this shift in teaching practice, the facilitation team acknowledges that teachers are not all the same nor do they have the same starting point in developing culturally responsive pedagogies of relations—they are on a continuum of professional development strengths and challenges.
Māori students in the focus groups appreciated their teachers' efforts. When asked the question 'How do teachers show care for you as a Māori student?' They commented that many teachers' were now making an effort to use te reo in the classroom; they also reported enjoying learning and helping teachers to learn te reo. Students identified other changes including teachers using the Māori date and time, writing numbers, basic commands and greetings and saying students name correctly. They saw it as positive that teachers would use te reo in the classroom, and liked to help teachers with pronunciation. They also appreciated teachers efforts to move away from 'traditional chalk and talk' approaches and were able to identify specific classrooms where they now had a voice in learning activities and teachers were now developing more discursive teaching practices. Students were also able to describe adaptations that teachers had made to the curriculum, including incorporating knowledge from Te Ao Māori and knowledge of youth cultures.
Although participants emphasised positive change within classrooms, they also identified 'ongoing challenges' to improved practice and outcomes for Māori students. The latter part of this chapter discusses evidence related to 'a lack of change' in some teachers' classrooms. Teachers perceived as low-implementers presented a real challenge from the perspectives of different stakeholders. Participants were divided over why these teachers had not changed their practice, stating various possible reasons such as resistance to the professional development, a lack of ownership of the programme amongst some teachers within the school, and/or that teachers needed intensive, specific professional development and targeted resourcing particularly in certain subjects not encompassed by facilitators' curriculum expertise.
Teacher beliefs about the ETP and culturally responsive practices
Analysis of teacher interview data across Phase 3 and Phase 4 schools revealed that teachers held different beliefs regarding the extent to which the Effective Teaching Profile, with its explicit focus on culture, relationships and interactions in the classroom, was different from "good teaching" generally. The majority of teachers who were interviewed were positive and enthusiastic about the impact of Te Kotahitanga in classrooms and schools; this finding is highlighted in more depth in the following section of this chapter where we identify participants' perceptions of change. Some teachers, however, expressed concern over the programme's explicit focus on Māori students indicating they felt that the focus on Māori was unnecessary since they saw Te Kotahitanga as just basic good teaching:
I think it's the same with what would work for any student achievement: clear objectives, clear instructions, interesting subject content, and good relationship with the teacher, I think. I'd say it's the same for any pupil.
I think some people take umbrage with the kind of focus on one group over another, and the way I see it, it's good teaching practice and most people should do it.
I find it really hard that some of it is just so much damned commonsense that I would think I was doing normally. To have to put a label on it, that what I'm doing is part of the programme Te Kotahitanga then I have to struggle with well why wouldn't you learn everybody's names. I mean surely that's what you have to do but then that's what I get told is part of having a relationship with your students. But then I come across some teachers who don't know each student, so maybe I'm you know belittling the programme.
It is not a peculiarly Māori thing to be looking at Bloom's revised taxonomy on them it fits in with what we are trying to do, a high level of challenge so we are actually getting kids to think more independently, think more critically, and think more creatively, which is of course what the national curriculum is all about also. That can be done in a Māori friendly context and it works well for the Polynesian kids, it also works well for a lot of our white middle class kids too, because one of the findings in England was that, lo and behold, that white working class boys underachieving actually liked working with their peers and being in a team situation and not being sort of judged on their performance and rah rah rah, so, for a Decile 2 school this TK stuff has got lovely positive benefits for heaps of the kids. I think, to be honest, it could be used in a Decile 10 school also.
I'm going to say [what's] probably going to be a negative thing, I find it really hard that it's only for Māori students. And I do that for all my students, it doesn't matter if they're boys or girls, if they're Samoan, Tongan, Nuiean or Māori.
A few teachers were annoyed at the project's focus on Māori students, illustrated by the following view that all students should be 'treated the same':
I know the whole project is based around raising Māori achievement … One of the things that annoyed me the most was all of the methodologies of the Kotahitanga. It was all about what I'd learned in my teacher training, which was about student achievement specialising in one culture. I found that very difficult to actually come to terms with I suppose, the fact that it's so necessary just to concentrate on one when the whole lot would actually benefit. And I have to say coming in as an outsider I don't know who you are. I don't know whether you're Māori, Pacific Islander, European, and there's so much intermingling anyway, for so many generations, that sometimes people don't look like what they assume you know they are. So it's that personal assumption from some of the students that you will treat them in a certain way because they are Māori. I don't see the colour of your skin or anything like that, I see you as a student in my classroom. But that goes against the principles of what the whole project is about.
Other teachers saw benefits for all students, even with the focus on Māori:
Teaching Science, the TK programme has been very helpful but I think it applies to all my students, every student in the class benefits from the same, um, improvement and self worth and concept of why they are at school and what is available to them.
When we start teaching who is Māori and non Māori and then everybody benefits, ok, and then the focus is there on Māori students and we recall the marks and see if they are improving and if there is any issue, we do focus on them but when we start teaching we forget who is Māori and all this and everybody is learning.
Another teacher described perceptions that the initial concerns expressed at the school about Te Kotahitanga's focus on Māori students and on culturally responsive pedagogies had changed over time:
A lot of people, especially initially, were concerned that it was positive discrimination of a nature that was going to not benefit others. But so many years down the track, I think the benefits from the small group that it's targeting is huge and there are the ramifications do spread out to the rest of the class and the school, ultimately.
The explicit focus of Te Kotahitanga relates to teacher beliefs, attitudes, and practices towards Māori students in their classrooms. Some teachers may have misconstrued this programme focus and expected outcomes as these related to overall school responsibility to support all students' achievement. A few teachers did appear to have misconceptions about culturally responsive pedagogies as related to the ETP. For example, the teacher quoted below seemed to believe that the programme required students to be grouped together on the basis of ethnicity or culture:
And as I alluded to earlier … I can't see myself saying "I want you Māori students to sit there together in this group." It will always be, "now who is struggling with this idea, you, you and you now let's come over here" … and it's learning needs, certainly in a maths classroom but I can envisage in another context where you'd say 'you people from that cultural background, you present something' but in mathematics it doesn't work that way. And I think it would be inappropriate almost to do it that way, because it highlights culture unnecessarily. It's not what the context or the importance is.
Another teacher did not believe that one could 'care for students as culturally located individuals' without being Māori oneself so cannot be expected to educate students to "be Māori". However, this teacher also expressed the view that students should be able to be who they are at school:
Well as I'm concerned it doesn't work [caring for students as culturally located individuals]. Because I'm not Māori, so I can hardly educate them to be Māori … On the other hand I don't think it's correct for anyone, I don't care if they are Māori, Polynesian, European, whatever – to say leave who you are at the gate and we just start from fresh. I just think that is totally wrong.
Clearly, our analysis of the teacher interview data indicated that teachers were starting at different places with respect to their knowledge of culturally responsive pedagogies as expressed by the ETP.
Change in the classroom: Teacher repositioning, co-construction/power-sharing and student-focused classrooms
Many teachers talked about experimenting with new teaching strategies introduced to them as part of the Te Kotahitanga professional development programme. A key area of change related to teacher understandings about their role compared to the role of students in the teaching and learning process. Teachers talked about 'repositioning' themselves in the classroom. They described this process as a move away from the 'traditional' 'expert' whereby teachers were viewed as the 'font of all knowledge' and used 'chalk and talk methods' to convey knowledge to students. Across schools there was an increased attempt to actively involve students in the teaching and learning process. Whānau too identified such changes in teacher positioning, particularly the use of co-construction and increased negotiation with students in classrooms. At times they commented on the difference between the traditional classrooms that they had experienced and this new, increased focus on actively involving Māori students in learning tasks:
They (Māori students) have got a really strong relationship and the teachers are encouraging them. I don't think it's like in our days when you were just given a worksheet when you walked in a class; there you go sit down do your worksheet, hand it in at the end of the lesson, and no communication happens. And now the kids are coming home and saying they've done this and they've done that and they're allowed to speak their mind to a certain extent. When I first heard a couple of things I thought well you know that's giving a bit too much leeway to the kids but you see it's developed in them. They've come a long way.
The teachers know they're not just sort of standing up at the front of the class and just writing up what they've got to do, [they're] kind of interacting a little bit more and getting the kids more involved. That's probably an easier way to learn than just trying to fill them full of information and not really tell them what it's all about. Just teaching te kotahitanga, teaching the teachers to teach our Māori students and be more sympathetic, sensitive to their need, to their learning.
Students were also able to articulate changes that they had experienced and seen in the teachers since the beginning of the Te Kotahitanga programme. A particular noted change was teachers who had moved from the traditional chalk and talk method to more interactive approaches:
My teacher Mr B he was like, just writing hard out, writing hard out and we were like, he'd write it down and it's like all of a sudden he starts being real cool. Laid back and started interacting with us….over a period of time he's become more cool….more interactive with the students. (Māori student)
According to different groups who had observed such changes, teacher repositioning involved negotiation and co-construction of learning and behaviour strategies, whereby student voice was welcomed and acknowledged. There was an attempt by teachers to develop more discursive teaching approaches, necessary to enhance student motivation, engagement and achievement. Others emphasised the shift to more 'student focused' classrooms whereby students were expected to take responsibility for their own and others' learning and behaviour. Teachers spoke about experimentation with paired, group and cooperative learning activities. A common report was that teachers learned through such experiences that students were often 'the best teachers' for their peers, and many school personnel described this process as a profound change:
I was a traditional classroom teacher, forever, from way back. My job was to provide knowledge for the students. Their job was to use that knowledge in a wise way, but the whole exposure to Te Kotahitanga makes you question what you're doing in the classroom. That shift to the discursive rather than traditional has actually opened a whole lot of doors, in terms of what you can do in the classroom, started to question the whole foundation on which you built your concept of teaching. And that in itself has been a valuable experience [particularly] in light of the new curriculum coming in, which actually supports much of the fundamentals of Te Kotahitanga. If our staff were fully there, it'd be absolutely fantastic, but it's a progression, a progressive process. (Deputy Principal)
It was a paradigm shift between what you (as a teacher) perceive as power or control or authority in the classroom, you don't lose that by sharing it, and I think that was a major paradigm shift. You don't actually become weaker, you become a stronger teacher by sharing it [power with students]. (Head of Department)
The whole process has been good for me… Getting me to reflect on my teaching and the learning that is happening in my classes. That reflection and time given to that is important and I think that is embedded in the Te Kotahitanga programme. So… things like teacher positioning in the classroom… to the type of questions that I ask … how to stimulate student interest and questioning … it's all good. I think it gives teachers tools to add to their kete. (Teacher)
Teachers also talked about the importance of co-construction approaches, negotiating with students to get their input into processes used in the classroom. Teachers discussed this as a strategy for engaging and motivating Māori students.
Using the process and the culture, like in our behaviour rules that we co-construct. One of the things that we've done for this term, which has come from one of my year tens boys who is Māori, is that we've negotiated to take our shoes off at the door before we walk in. So our shoes stay outside.
We did health promotion in term three, and I didn't pick the topic, all I said was "we as a group are going to pick an issue that affects your local community and we are going to go out and do something about it. We are going to go out and physically promote the issue and we are going to make a difference. We don't have to change the world, but we are going to make a difference." And so this was over a term. The girls decided that the issue affecting health, and it was not really necessarily physical health, but social well being and mental health and spiritual health. Was the graffiti around [the school]. And so we did some promotion in assembly about how tagging had that affect. And then we actually went out on a class trip and we actually painted the fences at the local park with the tag out trust. And they loved it, and they worked so hard… And not only have they got a sense of what people can do, that there are these community trusts working in our area and stuff. But a sense that now they can make a difference, or they can change something if they don't like it… so that would be something directly linked to their world and their community.
I think it's important that students have that input into their own learning and we've done a project based on a Māori sculptor. And part of that project, I integrated the Māori students into helping me to come up with that project and asking them, what would be really a good project for you to do that would be interesting for you? And I think it was one of the most successful projects that we've done this year, and that came from the students.
Reciprocity, with teachers sharing their own lives and interests, was also considered important in establishing positive trusting relationships in the classroom, according to several teachers. Again this was viewed as a form of teacher repositioning--as moving away from 'the traditional teacher who did not smile until Easter'. In this way students could also reciprocate by letting the teacher know more about their lives and interests outside of the classroom. This was considered useful knowledge in creating learning activities that were relevant to Māori students:
it's also about sharing a bit of me as the teacher… so that they feel comfortable sharing some of their own knowledge and experiences from outside of the classroom with me… and that's important knowledge to have because I can use that in my teaching to link into things that they are familiar with, and their prior knowledge. So it's also creating learning contexts that they are familiar with. (Teacher)
Many participants explained the difference that engaging in the Te Kotahitanga professional development had made to teachers' practice, with a focus on creating more student-focused classrooms. A key strategy for developing such a classroom climate was through paired activities and cooperative/group learning. Developing more cooperative classrooms meant that students had to take responsibility for their own and others learning and behaviour. Through describing changes in their classroom practice, teachers also emphasised that they had learned about the value of structuring learning activities whereby students were expected to learn off each other. At times this had been an uneasy process of some teachers, who had not previously seen the value of such approaches:
I used to be very put off by doing group work, because I was much more goal-orientated, and holding individuals accountable for what I wanted done now, and I push my thing from the front. Working in groups didn't gel for me in terms of the kinds of things I was stressing about. And as soon as I found out about it I thought, oh, this is going to be a huge waste of my time, having to sit back, and structure groups, and then allow them to work in groups, and provide them with some resource material, maybe assistance, just facilitate for them, but leave them to it, to a much greater extent than I normally would. I would want to be intervening there, much more. And I found the fact that I could actually leave, that—well, for me personally—that I could change my methodology. But then, to see them respond, and then later when I look at the results and the work, you know, even when we do pieces of individual work further down the line and I then I go back and I say well, this is great, where did you get this from, and they said oh, it came out in the discussion, during that day when we were working in groups. (Teacher)
…I think its [the Te Kotahitanga professional development] making the classroom less teacher focused and more students focused… in the past I was very business focused… come on in and do this and this… whereas now I trying different techniques, like the group work or think-pair-share so that the kids can talk about their own ideas or share their own experiences… and those discussions are valuable… and I think I've grown as teacher through the Te Kotahitanga programme… because it's made me aware much more of the students' own perspectives, and what they are interested in and their skills and abilities which I can use in the classroom. (Teacher)
I used to have my desks in rows. And I've only just this year put them into groups, ….I love kids sharing ideas….. it enables them to share …. You know, you can learn from each other… so I will use them a lot more. (Teacher)
Students were able to identify and describe teaching methods that they preferred. They appreciated their teacher's efforts to improve classroom practice and outcomes for Māori students. Changes that they identified included group arrangements for learning, positive social relationships in the classroom, peer teaching activities, self assessment and added resources such as coloured cards and activity cards. Several student groups specifically stated that they had seen some teachers changing their teaching at school:
It's because she is fun, she makes it interactive and it's like you learn more, and we do book work but not all the time. She's on our level, and it's as though she is one of us, not like a teacher, she's like real cool and will get in there with you. Not like other teachers, here's book work go and do it, she'll give us mean activities to do, like fun and you can work with your whole class instead of just like this … like our whole classroom does it together and then we can do it in groups, it real cool, and she does positive learning tips at the start, you're not allowed to be negative, no putdowns… commitment and respect, it's real cool.
Practical methods like doing things or working in groups and always that whole class not so much individual. You can find out, like help each other; each other's opinions…. I find that working in here is really good because it's a comfortable environment.
Changes in teacher beliefs, expectations and understandings
A major theme emerging across Phase 3 and Phase 4 interviews was the extent to which participants believed the professional development had changed teachers' existing beliefs, expectations and understandings about Māori students and how to best cater for their learning needs in the classroom. Teachers and other school personnel reported significant shifts in teacher understandings of the importance of relationship-based pedagogies and policies for supporting Māori student achievement. Many participants emphasised this change:
At the start I wasn't aware that the learning method, the social method would be widely advantageous to them; the style of learning would be culturally bound. But once you're made aware of that, and you think about it, you practice it a bit, and you look at it—you know what I mean? And yes, I can see the change, and I can understand it. I found it inspirational, because when you get to my age, we've been through so many educational changes. (Teacher)
The message that they [the teachers] could get their heads around was that relationships were not scary, and they unpacked relationships. The relationship word had a much deeper meaning for them by the end of that first hui. I believe we are in a better place in terms of professional development than we have ever been. We have a level of pedagogy, discussion and language view that is way ahead of where it was 4 years ago. (Lead facilitator)
I had [a teacher] come in one day and say, 'I can see what you guys are saying now, the relationships with my students is so important.' Whereas before they were stand-offish and cold. [The teacher said she] just didn't know that just relating to kids could make such a difference. Most teachers now know who their Māori students are. (Lead facilitator)
A common report was how the professional development had raised teachers' 'consciousness' of Māori students and their learning needs in the classroom. Teacher reflection on existing biases and assumptions, particularly in relation to low expectations of their Māori students, was a fundamental change:
Expectation, definitely. Because before Te Kotahitanga, I did drop into that trap of thinking, "Oh, these difficult Māori students, I'll just never get through to them. Whatever am I going to do with them?" I didn't give up on them, but I did develop this view just not to expect as much from them as I would from other students, and that has changed. I do now have the same expectations of them as of the other ones. Sometimes I have to work a little harder to get there with them, but it certainly makes a big difference. (Teacher)
As indicated in the quote above, it was not enough to simply raise awareness of deficit thinking. Participants emphasised that teachers' collective effort and agency were considered essential if positive changes were to be made to teacher behaviour and Māori student outcomes. In describing amendments to teaching practice, participants expressed explicit awareness that teachers' expectations for Māori students had changed and that an enhanced sense of agency meant that they now worked harder to get results:
I've been really impressed by the way teachers are relating to kids. That's been the most powerful thing that I've really seen. The way in which they interact with students—the relationships, the caring thing, the high expectations... The idea of standing up in front of [the students], the traditional teacher, that's been the biggest change. (Lead facilitator)
I'm trying to push that along too now, to where they take responsibility for their own learning. (Teacher)
Māori students were clearly aware of and sensitive to teacher expectations. As indicated elsewhere in this report, they appreciated the efforts of teachers who drove them to achieve at their personal best at school:
Like some teachers will push you to what, the level you should be at and some will push you to go further and it's better because like, yeah they make you feel like a better person.
Some teachers did discuss lags or gaps in Māori students' achievement or confidence. Despite general statements that expectations should be equally high for all students and a commitment to preparing students to do well, many teachers were not specific about their academic expectations. Instead, they focused on wanting students to learn more in general, pass particular modules in their classes, or attain only NCEA Level 1 rather than aiming for higher level NCEA certificates. Encouraging students to complete at least Level 1 or Level 2 before leaving school could have actually have a negative impact if interpreted as evidence of low expectations. The teachers who made the following statements may not have realised this implication of what they clearly saw as encouragement:
So what I keep telling year 11s is you must leave with at least your level 1 certificate, NCEA.
I think today what's important is that they can achieve to get level 1, level 2 NCEA at a minimum, and guiding them so that they taking subjects where they are going to be able to achieve. So not throwing them in where it's too deep and they're not going to cope perhaps.
Expectations communicated can, paradoxically, carry quite negative messages that could make students wonder why they should bother:
You must leave with at least your level 1 certificate, NCEA. Because you can't even get a job at Pack and Save without that. So that's the most important thing, for Māori students, because the statistics are so awful, but the knock on effect is for all the other students as well.
Early in the development of the NCEA, attaining the Level 1 Certificate may have been considered an achievement for some students. Expectations nationally have shifted to a higher level, and the educational priorities in New Zealand for 2009-2014 now include the expectation that students leave school with no less than a Level 2 Certificate (Ministry of Education, 2009).
Change in teacher agency
Improved teacher agency was considered an identifiable outcome of teachers' engagement in the Te Kotahitanga professional development programme. Participants identified specific changes in teachers' efforts as they took on responsibility for improving practice and outcomes for Māori students. Teachers were challenged to learn and experiment with different approaches in their classrooms. A key change appeared to be how teachers worked to get to know their Māori students as individuals and their interests and experiences outside of the classroom:
I think … [the] big key thing that I've noticed is that I really make an effort, is trying to make a relationship with the Māori students in class, to show that you're interested in them and you care about them, not just in your subject but other things … I always try and make an effort in my other year 10 class as well which has got quite a lot of Māori students … I ask what they've been up to in the weekend. I ask how … does this relate to, you know, things that you've done before. And what kind of things can you do in the future because of who you are to help you in this kind of area. And… just basically taking an interest in them I think is the biggest, biggest … and make you know that … make them know that we care about their learning. (Teacher)
Most definitely it's looking at the relationships of kids. Now I'm always going to say when the kids come in "g'day g'day, how are you?" but just take it that extra step further, like… "oh how'd the weekend go?" or "whereabouts have you come from?" just …. building that relationship….. And then I can take it a step further, "oh what did you do on the weekend? Did you catch any fish?" you get to know the different kids and what they do on the weekend. Someone who likes hunting or surfing or whatever they like, and you can ask a specific question. (Teacher)
The number one thing I've seen is teachers do talk to students. I know it sounds strange, but actually converse with students rather than just talk at them, to see students as individuals and see them as people who bring all sorts of things to their classrooms [including] their own ideas about the world and the way they see themselves in it and how they are going to use that within their class, to affirm it and to also support students in their learning. (Lead facilitator)
Māori students appreciated the efforts that their teachers were making that demonstrated teachers valuing student knowledge and which communicated respect for students' ideas and prior knowledge. Students spoke positively about teachers who helped them in class, made them 'use their brains' and monitored their progress while also emphasising respect and caring:
If you tell them what you want to learn, they'll incorporate it, let you choose what you want to learn.
They respect us as Māori.
Whānau also reported that they had noticed changes in the school and the teachers. Many commented on the importance of strong teacher-student relationships and teacher's encouragement of Māori students and their achievement. They appreciated the effort that teachers made as they worked to improve practice and outcomes for rangitahi:
Some of the teachers have clearly changed and they're really come on board, I'm not sure about all of them, but that's a start, at least that's a start.
I also feel that the teachers that are involved in this programme, you know, they're special within themselves, and they actually sort of exert themselves more I'll say, by taking an interest in the Māori students and they're not just a number, okay. They sort of have a more personal interest in the students and their ability, and they try and get them to excel to their highest, and I think without that, a lot of them would sort of not be where they are.
Any programme that that this school thinks that will help our Māori students, they're willing to look at. And even for the teachers: I mean, I've just started here as kaiawhina, and I've been listening to their staff briefings, and you know the teacher standing up, te maire, you know even if they can't pronounce it they're still giving it a go.
Change in teacher efforts, understandings and practices: Valuing, respecting and including Māori students language and/or cultural knowledge
Many participants emphasised that an important part of establishing and maintaining positive relationships with Māori students involved the ways in which teachers valued, respected and included Māori students' cultural knowledge in the classroom. This meant teachers learning to use a variety of concepts and materials that students could relate to and that were familiar to them.
[It is most important] In my subject relating, using what they have got, for example in this community using Māori knowledge and resources to reinforce concept. For example in level 1 NCEA when we did transformation, rotation, reflecting—and I used a Māori design—kids love drawing Māori design, they did research around Māori design—had to relate them to transformation, reflection, rotation. Using what they have at home—using their knowledge they're really into it. As a result 95% of them passed the assessment. (Teacher)
For me, I think the teacher-student relationship is one of the most critical things. As [another Facilitator] was just saying, we're seeing a huge improvement in our school. But the other thing that we are seeing a lot more of is relevance to the student, trying to apply the work in a way that's relevant to them. So that's sort of our big C little c, in involving their own culture. Whether that's their Māori culture or their youth culture or whatever type of culture they bring to the classroom, letting you use that in the classroom and it's appreciated. (Facilitator)
Definitely putting things in context …. so if I was to do a Maths example I would try and put it in either a Māori context, so if I'm doing a word question I would try and do it so that they were measuring the floor square of a marae. Or if we were doing geometry we'd be doing something like this. Probability we'll start, we'll put it in context and we'll use names or we use Pacific Island names so as opposed to the Jack and the Bill and the Jane and all of that sort of thing. (Teacher)
Teachers' efforts to include more Māori concepts were recognised by these Māori students:
The teachers always tell us like how Māori were the first people to come to NZ from Hawaiiki.
In Science, (the teacher) told us about the water cycle, when it rains it's Rangi, he was crying for Papatuanuku.
Science, we're learning about living things—she did like all these flax things and had to find all the Māori names and things.
In art, we are doing a project that involves all different cultures, Māori, Pacific Island. She gets involves with Māori stuff. For example, we did an ink print that used an organic shape, and involved Māori and Pacific Island patterns, Even though it was art, we learned protocol, like how to cut and work with flax.
Māori students appreciated their teachers' attempts to learn about what interested them:
She brings us into the conversation she asks questions like why they came and how they came, when I first came and why I am doing this—I don't know about the migration story, I've learnt stuff about Māori migration that I didn't know.
Its fun, you get to teach them.
Some teachers talked about personal learning in relation to Māori concepts like mana and manākitanga and their relevance to teacher-student relationships within the classroom.
Just to take on board the big Māori concepts, I think looking after the mana of the student in particular. … I also think one of the things that I'm certainly learning over the process is … that attitude as a teacher … to learn how to engage in conversations with your students is really important. It's probably one of the most valuable things that I've been getting out of the process. 'How am I going to take the students forward while maintaining- the mana of that student…. I've found it really important to personally take on some of the Māori terminology and the mana framework… And I also think that when I'm engaging with particular students, those central Māori concepts … things like manākitanga, how am I actually-? So ... you are going right back to the Treaty in the sense that you've got both the European and the Māori framework operating side by side….And just and awareness of the fact that Māori students are tangata te whenua and ... the way that I'd approach them. So increasingly I'm finding myself thinking in that kind of bicultural way while still carrying on a lot of the practices. But it's kind of got a focus and a clarity to it that I wouldn't have necessarily had before
Teachers discussed trialing new strategies in an attempt to encourage and build relationships with students, such as recognising the importance of students' culture, using te reo, taking the time and making the effort to take an interest in individuals, sharing decision-making power with students, remembering names, and using correct pronunciation of Māori names and words:
Using Māori greetings. Saying 'Kia ora' to the kids as they come into the class. For me that has been a very new thing, and I've found it quite challenging because my pronunciation is not that great… it's improving and the kids are happy to give me feedback… I think it helps to build that relationship with the kids.
What have I learnt from TK I suppose some of the structure initially I suppose there's having power sharing or whatever, sharing intentions but trying a variety of activities but still structured so that the learning [takes place] in a caring environment, sort of structured caring environment with expectations at the same time. I guess that's very much having things like 'Do Now' so the set up is there but also trying to make things accessible for the kids as well by types of questions and how you structure those in.
I go into a classroom and I say "Kia ora" and the response is brilliant, you know they go "kia ora Miss" and I would never have done that before and it's just made me think. …. I think it just taught me basic words to use and you know they appreciate that, they really appreciate that and I guess I wouldn't have necessarily done that beforehand.
Māori students in the focus groups were able to describe teachers' efforts to use te reo in the classroom; they reported enjoying learning and helping teachers to learn te reo. Students identified teachers using the Māori date and time, writing numbers, basic commands and greetings and saying names correctly. They saw it as positive that teachers would use Māori in the classroom, and liked to help teachers with pronunciation.
Some try to talk Māori. They ask you Māori words. I appreciate it when they do that.
Mr B, he gets up and does a whaikorereo and tried to learn our karakia that we do.
If she's reading a story and it's got some Māori words in it she'll look to us and then be like 'Is that OK? Is that how I say it? And she includes us in everything.
Yeah we help them out, we felt really cool that they actually try and give it a go.
Changes in the classroom: Teacher monitoring and related assessment activities
Another key change identified by many participants related to teachers' increased monitoring of Māori students' on-task behaviour and their use of new assessment activities, such as explicit use of learning intentions, feedback and feed-forward. Related to this sub-theme is the activity of teachers being better able to identify their Māori students in class. Many times participants told us that before teachers had been part of the Te Kotahitanga programme, many did not know who their Māori students were and/or how they were doing in classrooms. Participants talked about being able to better identify their Māori students; this was a key expectation of their engagement in the professional development programme. Being able to identify Māori students in class was essential and linked to broader monitoring and related assessment activities. For example, teachers were seen to be circulating more around the classroom in order to monitor better Māori students' work and engagement. Participants explained that teachers made more of an effort to clarify the learning and achievement focus for students.
Being aware of making the students more aware of what they're learning, so, hence the learning intentions. But my success criteria don't come from myself, I'm more um about the kidsso I try to get "well, how are we going to learn this?" and they usually come up with it. (Teacher)
So coming today we were looking at a formative assessment. There are summative assessments still about four weeks away. But we needed to them to find out [how they're doing] now. And what they need to work on before that summative assessment. They knew that before the class and they'd been preparing for it and were quite excited about it. The task then was for each of these small groups within the class to come up with their personal style on delivering the same script which was the chorus piece from Romeo and Juliet right at the beginning of the play. To focus them, we had a recap, to make sure that everybody was on board, knew exactly what had been done up to that point. (Teacher)
Relationships (have improved), and I think too the way [we are using] a lot more peer cooperative group type work. Teachers circulating [around] the classroom a lot more. I think too a lot of staff have actually worked quite hard to clarify the learning within the class by basics like learning intentions, success criteria. (Lead facilitator)
Learning to interact differently with students by focusing on teacher questioning and using feed forward was an important goal for many teachers.
I know the thing I've had to work really hard on has been using … Feed forward, questioning, and that kind of thing. Because we [teachers] know the knowledge, and as an adult who knows the knowledge it is so hard not to go "it's this, lets move on."
Teachers discussed their realisation that Māori students would achieve if classroom instruction is engaging, and that through Te Kotahitanga they became aware that they have power to make instruction more engaging:
Student engagement is at the core of the observation. I mean, there's the vast array of things that is observed, but student engagement is probably the one you focus very much on. In a way, starting with the student as opposed to what the teacher does, it's pretty hard to argue with that, if they're not engaged they're not going to learn, so they're not going to achieve so in a way it is starting with the student and then working backwards, 'how are we [going to] engage them more' as opposed to saying 'here's a brilliant idea lets all go and do.'
Increased job satisfaction, motivation and empowerment for teachers
Many participants interviewed across Phase 3 and Phase 4 schools believed that other major changes they attributed to Te Kotahitanga was increased job satisfaction, motivation and empowerment. Teachers who experienced success with new approaches in the classroom were now perceived to be more satisfied, energised and motivated. Teachers often described their engagement in the professional development programme as stimulating; something which brought a new vigour to their teaching. Others were enthusiastic about teachers experiencing success in the classrooms, particularly as they trialled new teaching approaches. Many perceived that a key change was increased satisfaction, motivation and empowerment for teachers:
I thought it was great because I was a new teacher and it was giving me all these strategies and keeping me motivated and, um, giving me constant feedback… (Dean)
I feel passionate for what it does for teachers in terms of their practice and their job satisfaction. It's fabulous to come out of a classroom and to have students who have done well and who enjoyed themselves, you know, it is also that same buzz from seeing a teacher who comes out of a classroom and the class has gone well and the students have learned something, they enjoyed a laugh, they feel as though they have gone somewhere together and the teacher said 'Wow, is this what teaching is about?' Rather than, you know: My gosh, I need a glass of wine. (Lead facilitator)
So you know this is it's a fantastic thing for a teacher, particularly you know, for a middle aged teacher like myself, being able to get that opportunity to grow and develop. (Head of Department)
One of the main benefits of Te Kotahitanga for me is that I feel as though it empowers teachers. Before Te Kotahitanga here we got lots of people talking about, you know, those kids—their homes are awful, this is bad, I can't do anything with them. I'm a realist and that does still happen. There's a lot more talk about what's happening in the class, what can I do sort of thing. We can do something while those kids are here. (Lead facilitator)
The quality of the professional development was appreciated by many participants. Teachers were motivated by seeing change in their classrooms and across their schools and being part of a process which emphasised collective agency:
I don't think in all my years of teaching I've come across a programme that focused the way Te Kotahitanga does on relationships and then making other things fall into place as a result of that.
I just think it's been a really positive thing. In a way, sometimes I look at some students and think has this really made a difference to you, but I think for myself I've gained heaps through changing my teaching practice, that's the one thing that it's really done for me. More than any other sort of initiative, I guess, this initiative has had an effect on [me] so that when I go into the classroom or before, in my planning, I really spend a lot of time thinking, what can I do to make this [work].
Working together, with the students, with the families, with the other teachers in your cluster, to achieve those goals. And using all those strategies that we've been taught: the feed-forward and the feed-back and the big C and the little c, and all those things. It definitely is working.
Ongoing challenges—A lack of change in some classrooms
Teachers' engagement in the professional development programme was perceived to have enabled positive change in both practice and outcomes for Māori students across Phase 3 and 4 schools. Nevertheless, participants also identified 'ongoing challenges' in the attempt to improve practice and outcomes for Māori students. A key challenge was how to overcome a lack of change in the classrooms, particularly for teachers who were perceived as 'low implementers' across schools. Results from our analysis of classroom observations indicated that as many as one in four teachers did not master the dimensions of the ETP sufficiently and were not implementing the ETP according to the professional development activities provided.
Participants believed that a number of different factors contributed to this lack of change in some teachers' classrooms. For example, some participants believed that teachers were just very resistant to the professional development programme. This is covered again in more detail in chapter 5 'Impact on schools' and relates to issues of ownership in the reform programme. Other participants perceived that the professional development programme did not cater for teachers at different ends of the improvement continuum. They believed there was a need for specific, targeted professional development and resourcing. Specific areas of perceived need included teachers' ability: to acknowledge and apply relationship-based pedagogies; to have high expectations; and effective classroom management. Finally, some teachers who were interviewed believed that they needed further professional development, support and/or access to resources if the goal were to continue to improve practice and outcomes for Māori students.
Some participants acknowledged that there were groups of teachers who s truggled to understand the importance and impact of relationship-based pedagogies for Māori students:
And there are some people who still can't get their head around this whakawhanaungatanga. There's teachers here that still can't get their head around that. (Lead facilitator)
The teacher …. in science like she's really old school and she just writes and writes (on the board) and I don't understand anything. (Māori student)
Working with teachers who struggled with major classroom management issues was particularly challenging for facilitators:
Acknowledging that there are some situations that are above you (as a Facilitator), like major classroom management issues. (Facilitator)
This teacher acknowledged that in an attempt to share more power with their students, he had tried to negotiate everything including behavioural expectations:
I really lost control of the classroom and I had to work hard with the lead facilitator to get it back… I just went overboard with it. (Teacher)
Whilst it was considered important that teachers made the effort to get to know their Māori students, several participants emphasised that this could not be at the expense of teachers' high expectations. It was seen as important that teachers were challenged to develop high expectations alongside positive relationships. Students needed to develop a responsibility for their own and others learning and behaviour if all were to achieve, and this required teachers to set 'non-negotiables' in the classroom:
Sure if you have a positive working relationship it helps… but you need to, as the teacher ….you … need to have clear and high expectations for the kids… don't threaten things that you're not going to follow up on… you need to have clear consequences for things.. and that's not just for Māori kids that' for all kids… you need to recognise and celebrate their achievements… and you need to challenge them to 'step up' and if you set that challenge for them and help them they will do it… they can achieve… I'm quite tough on my kids… I set up my classroom so that they have to take responsibility for themselves but also the others in the group… We have rules and guidelines for working in this class… and there are also clear consequences if those rules are broken … if kids are off-task and distracting their mates then that affects the learning for all… so it's not all luvy, duvy… (Teacher)
Māori students also believed teachers needed a clear sense of challenge in the classroom, associated with high expectations and positive classroom management. They expressed frustrated when their learning was interrupted by the misbehaviour of their peers and/or the teacher's inability to deal positively and firmly with students' disruptive behaviour:
Sometimes when students, they distract the class, it stops the teacher so he or she can't carry on. Like the whole lesson is planned out. And it can't carry on because a group of students are disruptive. (Māori student)
Some days, like in my class, and some day actually like, mostly every day, every class, is really—is really hard to learn because there is always a front group of guys that are always talking away, just throwing stuff at the teacher and stuff, and they don't care, you know? (Māori student)
Several teachers who were interviewed believed that they needed further professional development, support and/or access to resources if the goal were to continue to improve practice and outcomes for Māori students. A particular challenge appeared to be related to the teaching of specific curriculum areas and the resources available to them as they worked to develop more culturally responsive pedagogies:
I need to bring more cultural aspects into my teaching. You know look for things that could apply, which is not always easy, because sometimes I go in the chemistry route in the senior years, it's just trying to find some good cultural [resources]…. And to quite academic subjects, like when you are doing construction of the atom and you are doing protons, electrons and neutrons, it gets quite hard. (Teacher)
(Asking them about their culture and sharing with the class) … One of the things we were, among ourselves talking about, is how helpful it would be for somehow, either the subject area professional associations or something, help on the website or in books or something, so teachers could see subject specific ways…. I would also like to see more people in my area of region taking part in TK so we can meet and share ideas, just to get it a bit more established as well, and ideas flowing. And then obviously I wouldn't have the issue I have with my mentors at the moment which is a bit of a subject barrier. (Teacher)
Other participants expressed beliefs that it was 'tricky' or 'difficult' to relate to Māori students' culture and cultural knowledge if they were teaching particular subjects.
Well you just have to be understanding of their culture, so if you are a non-Māori teacher you need to learn about it and then you need to be able to link with them somehow, and there is always a way, with their culture. And include that somehow in your lesson. Which is tricky for me for French. … Caring for students…I guess you are inclusive of their culture which is bringing it back into the classroom. Asking them about their culture and sharing with the class, …. So I'm sort of trying to compare with New Zealand, but then with the Māori as well against French, so that makes it a little bit tricky. (Teacher)
That is what has been so difficult in science, bringing the cultural perspective into science. It's quite difficult, depending on what topic you are teaching and how are you going to get the cultural perspective into science. It's quite difficult there. (Teacher)
There is a difference in being a PE teacher [to] other classes [where] kids have to sit at desks …[in PE] … we can have kids interacting and participating. It's a challenge for the other teachers to get kids engaged and how they do it for such a long time. (Teacher)
Yeah, in maths it's difficult [to integrate culturally responsive pedagogies]. (Teacher)
Different teachers and facilitators across schools also perceived that if facilitators had specific expertise and previous teaching experience associated with the teacher's own curriculum area, there was a better chance of making progress in the classroom. This issue is also identified and discussed within the chapter on professional development.
Key findings: Impact on teachers' classroom practice
- Classroom observation results indicate that the majority of teachers (approximately 75%) evidenced either moderate or high implementation according to objective assessment using criteria based on the Effective Teaching Profile.
- More than one in five teachers demonstrated a high level of implementation of the Effective Teaching Profile in Year 9-10 classrooms across subjects and schools.
- Major changes reported by teachers who were interviewed which they attributed to Te Kotahitanga professional development were: (a) change in teacher beliefs, expectations and understandings; (b) change in teacher agency, and (c) increased teacher job satisfaction, motivation and empowerment.
- Sub-themes associated with these changes included increased teacher experimentation and risk-taking in the classroom; increased understanding and awareness of Māori students' needs such as valuing, respecting and including Māori students language and/or cultural knowledge; teacher repositioning, co-construction, power-sharing and student-focused classrooms; group work and cooperative learning approaches; teacher monitoring and related assessment activities; and an increase in teacher satisfaction, motivation and empowerment.
- Interview analysis confirmed that teachers valued relationship-based pedagogies, and the majority of teachers affirmed that Te Kotahitanga professional development had an impact on classroom instruction leading to enhanced outcomes for Māori students as well as for all students. Teachers held varied beliefs about the extent to which the ETP differed from good teaching generally.
- Most teachers were able to highlight particular teaching strategies and methods in their subjects introduced by Te Kotahitanga that had a relational/interaction focus towards improving practice and outcomes for Māori students.
- Observational data indicate variability across subjects and schools in the quality of implementation. On average, one in four teachers was not observed to be implementing key features of the Effective Teaching Profile. In addition to an absence of mastery of culturally responsive pedagogies of relations, students in these classrooms experienced an absence of explicit learning outcomes, criteria for success and high expectations, along with high levels of off-task and disruptive behavior at levels likely to interfere with learning. The PD needs associated with low implementation of the ETP go beyond factors that are the responsibility of Te Kotahitanga and would seem to indicate the need for good teaching support generally.
- Interview analysis identified ongoing challenges in the attempt to improve practice and outcomes for Māori students. A key challenge was how to overcome a lack of change in some classrooms, particularly for teachers shown and perceived to be low implementers.
- Further data were collected from in-class observations in Phase 5 schools to determine a base-line of teachers' practice before teachers started the Te Kotahitanga professional development. These data have been gathered as part of a sub-contract with the University of Waikato Te Kotahitanga research project and, in addition to providing a baseline for the Phase 5 schools, could provide a most appropriate database of teaching practices prior to Te Kotahitanga teacher professional development in comparison to the data we gathered at the Phase 3 and Phase 4 schools following implementation.