Rongohia te Hau: Effective support for culturally responsive teaching
6. Impacting Māori success
This best evidence feature is about demonstrated Māori expertise in the ‘how’ of scaling improvement for Māori enjoying and achieving education success as Māori in ‘mainstream’ education.
“Some … think the tool itself is going to make the difference – well unfortunately it won’t.”
Professor Mere Berryman
Director, Poutama Pounamu
“It’s the way we administer the process that promotes cultural, relational and responsive pedagogy.
It would be difficult to pick up the tool and suddenly use it without it just being a tool. So, we make sure that the people who are involved understand the practice behind Rongohia te Hau before we do it.
And that helps us understand that it’s not just about classroom practice this pedagogy; it’s about practice across our educational lives.
This pedagogy is about everything we do in our school. It’s about how we talk to each other, how we talk to our students, our whānau. How we communicate with them.”
Deputy Principal, Te Puke High School
This video brings Rongohia te Hau to life as we see a Māori learner recording her responses to the survey on a device.
Deputy Principal, Polly Thin-Rabb, explains that Rongohia te Hau is so much more than a tool. The process the community is embarking on is life changing.
At the heart of Rongohia te Hau is a constructive strategy to effectively counter racism. This is the Tiriti o Waitangi imperative. Shifts are needed to give effect to this imperative in Māori students’ experiences of teaching and learning.
There is a shift required in education to focus on the simultaneous success trajectories of belonging and wellbeing and success of Māori learners.
“When (learners’) cultural identity was strong and secure and they were learning and achieving for the future then equity, excellence and belonging was possible. For these students, success enabled them to walk confidently and with mana, in the two worlds of Aotearoa New Zealand, Māori and non-Māori. When students are flourishing within our schools, when they feel that they are at home and at ease with the systems and structures and are achieving to their potential, then they are understood to be in a state of mauri ora.”
Berryman & Eley, (2019, p. 996)
Success depends on relational change
The early engagement of Te Kāhui Ako o Te Puke in the Poutama Pounamu Blended Learning has deepened their understanding of racism and built cultural relationships for responsive pedagogy. The underpinning theory of action is based on over 15 years of research into what works best for Māori students and how this can work more effectively for all.
Building cultural relationships of trust and respect through whakawhanaungatanga is key to the ‘how’ of transformative change.
From whānau-like relationships, both reciprocal responsibilities and benefits can arise. Whakawhanaungatanga informed the high impact Te Kotahitanga approach to change and collaboration at all levels of intervention.
In 2013, Bishop, Ladwig and Berryman reported the empirical evidence of the increase in high cognitive demand associated with higher levels of whanaungatanga in teaching practice. They concluded that “whanaungatanga is foundational and necessary for effectively teaching Māori students.”
Whakawhanaungatanga was also critical to transforming relationships between educators and whānau, hapū and iwi.
Caring teachers are not enough
When whanaungatanga is used as a tick box, a short-cut, a ceremonial nicety, or an inoculation for caring teachers, then change will be insufficient.
Indeed (Māori students) told us of the dangers of teachers who mistakenly thought that developing Whanaungatanga was enough. In these people’s classrooms they felt patronised, belittled and left adrift.
Bishop, Ladwig & Berryman, (2013.)
Culturally responsive relationships: Educator repositioning
The relational trust that is built reflects the whakawhanaungatanga approach to building culturally responsive relationships of trust and respect to advance a kaupapa.
Te Tiriti o Waitangi is the foundation.
Professor Berryman described in her doctoral thesis the transformative nature of whakawhanaungatanga in supporting educator repositioning that brings about deep educational change for Māori:
Berryman, M. (2007). Repositioning within discourses of self-determination (Doctoral dissertation). Hamilton: The University of Waikato.
The body of indigenous scholarship that explains what does and what does not work provides a critical resource for genuine step up.
“The research base that sits behind it was definitely important to convince people that this wasn’t just the next fad that was coming along in education.”
Principal, Te Puke Intermediate School, Te Kāhui Ako ō Te Puke Leader
Learning from Te Kotahitanga Phase 5 Principals
Four of the 16 principals who had access to Te Kotahitanga Phase 5 have since won Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards, demonstrating not only a Ka Hikitia step up but also an ongoing educational improvement trajectory. These include:
Rotorua Boys’ High – Chris Grinter
2016 Excellence in Leading Te Hiranga o te Arataki
Flaxmere College – Louise Anaru
William Colenso – Daniel Murfitt
In the video that follows, these Prime Minister’s award-winning principals explain how they and their school communities have been able to draw upon Te Kotahitanga Phase 5 professional learning to enable transformative and ongoing impact on Māori succeeding as Māori in their schools.
Learning from the Te Kotahitanga Phase 5 principals is helpful because later policy interventions intended to build on this success did not secure the conditions of sufficiency to achieve such impact.
In Te Kāhui Ako o Te Puke, Polly Thin-Rabb explains that the challenge for leaders and policy makers is to afford priority to a process that promotes cultural, relational and responsive pedagogy. Her perspective is informed by her research on the ineffective use of Rongohia te Hau tools within a cheaper, faster policy model that did not invest in the groundwork for transformative change and did not enable the shift in outcomes required for a real step up.
When culturally responsive relationships of trust and respect are in place, with expert support, the Rongohia te Hau tools are drivers for adaptive expertise across the curriculum.
Adaptive expertise is the high bar required for transformative impact on Māori learners enjoying and achieving success as Māori. Expert Partner, Therese Ford from Poutama Pounamu, reiterates the importance of effective professional learning where leaders and teachers develop understanding of both the practices and theory of change. When educators have guided experience in new practices and a strong theoretical understanding, then they can develop adaptive expertise so that they can apply these understandings to each new challenge and continue a journey of ongoing improvement.
Therese Ford reminds us that cycles of feedback and development build new understandings for accelerated and ongoing improvement.
Educators are supported to follow through with deliberate professional actions to improve culturally responsive teaching practice.
The observations that follow and the opportunities to use Rongohia te Hau surveys then formatively provide a check on how these changes are being experienced by ākonga and whānau.
For educational leaders, summative use of Rongohia te Hau at the beginning and end of each year informs the action plan for the next step up. In this way the collaborative process is a driver for ongoing improvement in pedagogical leadership, culturally responsive teaching and educationally powerful connections with whānau and Māori communities.
The bottom line is impact on diverse Māori learners enjoying and achieving educational success as Māori.
Te Kāhui Ako o Te Puke
The new system challenge is to replicate and build on the impact of Te Kotahitanga Phase 5 from early learning through the whole schooling journey.
The leaders in Te Kāhui Ako o Te Puke featured in video 6 have a vision for tamariki and rangatahi in the Te Puke community to succeed as Māori from early learning through schooling.
These leaders understand that an assessment tool does not of itself deliver the transformative shifts required for culturally responsive teaching.
“If you’re going to ask the question and people are going to give you some feedback, then you have a responsibility to do something with it.”
Principal, Te Puke Intermediate School, Te Kāhui Ako ō Te Puke Leader
They are focussed on the action that follows.
“I like that part the best, when you’ve got the evidence, you’ve analysed it and now we’re going to put something in place to get better, to do better for those students.
How can we work together to achieve what we want? The action plan falls directly out of the survey results and the walk-through information that we’ve just collected.”
Kaihautu Kaiwhakaako Kura Auraki, Fairhaven School
Te Kāhui Ako ō Te Puke, Across-school teacher
Find out more
Alton-Lee, A. (2015). Ka Hikitia - A demonstration report: Effectiveness of Te Kotahitanga Phase 5 2010 – 2012. Wellington: Ministry of Education.
Berryman, M., & Eley, E. (2019). Student belonging: critical relationships and responsibilities. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 23(9), 985-1001.
Berryman, M., Eley, E., Ford, T., & Egan, M. (2015). Leadership: Going beyond personal will and professional skills to give life to Ka Hikitia. Journal of Educational leadership, policy and practice, 30(2), 56-68.
Berryman, M., Ford, T., Nevin, A, & SooHoo, S. (2015). Culturally responsive contexts: Establishing relationships for inclusion. International Journal of Special Education, 30(3), pp 39-51.
Berryman, M., & Lawrence, D. (2017). The importance of leaders’ discursive positioning in neo-colonial education reform aimed at closing the disparities for Indigenous peoples. In D. Waite & I. Bogotch (Eds.). The international handbook of educational leadership (pp. 335-354). New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.
Bishop, R., Ladwig, J. & Berryman, M. (2013). The centrality of relationships for pedagogy: The Whanaungatanga Thesis. American Educational Research Journal 51(1):184-214.
Education Review Office. (2016). School Evaluation Indicators: Effective practice for improvement and learner success. Wellington: Education Review Office.
See links to School Evaluation Indicators: Guiding principles, Valued student outcomes and Enabling equity and excellence. pp. 10 – 15.
Murfitt, D. (2019). An auto-ethnography: Decolonising educational leadership in Aotearoa/New Zealand. (Unpublished master’s thesis). Hamilton: The University of Waikato.
Thin-Rabb, P. (2017). Listening to the winds of change: Assessing culturally responsive and relational pedagogy. (Unpublished master’s thesis). Hamilton: The University of Waikato.