This is the second part of Anjali's story.
Anjali's Story (part 2)
Narrator: “Hiria encouraged Anjali to move the students into cooperative groups, encouraging them to consolidate their understandings before advancing.”
Anjali Khurana – Teacher: “That’s when my hand-written worksheets went out and they would sit and help each other in a group.”
Student in class: “You plus them and then you get your answer... and then you divide it by 2.”
Anjali: “They were only supposed to take my help if all four or three of them couldn't solve the problem. So here I became a person in the background, for a while, while they were trying to work out the problem within themselves.”
Students in class: “Aw, You got to find the most common number and then like if there’s two 14s that’s the most common number.”
“Is that the mode?”
Student interview: “We actually learn more as a group because we have other kids in our group that know a bit more than us.”
Student in class: “And that one there, that has no other numbers that are like it so if there was another 14 that would be the median, oh, the mode sorry, but it doesn't have one so it will be no mode, but you can’t write zero mode because that’s not the answer, it’s just no mode.”
Narrator: “Hiria also spoke directly to the students to ensure they understood that their teacher was trying hard to adapt her teaching methods to more closely meet their needs.”
Hiria Wallace (Te Kotahitanga facilitator): “Yea, just talked about how when they are working in groups, how they can help each other, and how they can use their, their skills and knowledge together. Um, and that the teacher would be trying out different things with them. Maybe stuff that they hadn't tried before.”
Anjali: “The next thing suggested by Hiria was that they needed instant feedback on how they have progressed on that worksheet. So an answer sheet was prepared where, I mean I had a complete working of the sums, so that they exactly knew where they had gone wrong, if they had gone wrong. I had to build up those relationships, that’s how the Māori students were going to work. I had to make that effort of coming and meeting them more than half way. I think the relation building exercise became much more, um, dominant in my mind, that I had to really make a very good effort, um, to make, to have that good working relationship with my student. Um, and those little things suggested by Hiria of you know, the two cultures coming together, that was a very positive thing. After every test we would celebrate it, where I would cook something from my culture. They would bring something from their and we would sit and we would have it together.”
Narrator: “That relationship would extend outside of school hours with students and their parents sometimes receiving phone calls from Mrs Khurana.”
Student interviews: “She left a message on my phone saying this is Mrs Khurana, remember your gear and everything. I was like shocked, because like no maths teacher has ever rung my house before and I was like real shocked, but yea she just wants us to be up there and be on task with our mathematics and stuff.”
“I had a test the next day, oh this was Thursday, I rang her at 5.30 in the evening and, um, asked if she could meet me in the morning to help me and she said yes. Cause I'd missed out on Tuesday’s class.”
Anjali: “When my husband picked up the phone and, um, this girl wanted to talk to me. ‘Is it okay for Mrs Khurana to come early morning, before the staff briefing, to give me a lesson because I really want to do well in the test.’ I could not have believed that they would ask for help like this from me. I mean these were the students who were saying to me in the beginning of the year that they didn't like the subject, and for them actually to want to do well, that itself was a big turning point. She actually took her test paper home from me. She wanted to show it to her mum. ‘Mrs Khurana I've never ever got marks like this in mathematics.’ Um, they didn't have any belief in themselves.”
Student interviews: “She’s someone that wants to learn our culture, and she wants to teach us something from hers. So we’re getting like something back from each other, kind of thing, so we really interact well.”
“My mates in this class reckon she is the best teacher in the whole school because she actually makes us learn.”
“When we first known her we didn't really know her that well. But, but something about her it's just the way she teaches us and she's got like a belief in, kind of thing. She got a belief in students gaining or achieving something in mathematics, and that’s what everyone likes about her.”
“Yea this class is really learning. Like last, in the last year, beginning of this year, I wasn't really getting the average grade. But now I'm getting over average. And I kind of like this class. I wish I would be in this class next year as well.”
Comments are provided by a maths teacher, her students and a Te Kotahitanga facilitator about the way in which the teacher worked to build relationships with her Māori students and the benefits this brought. This includes comments about:
- moving to co-operative learning groups and responsive feedback
- celebrating success
- willingness to support student learning outside of school time
- positive outcomes for Māori students.
“...I became a person in the background, for a while, while they were trying to work out the [mathematics] problem within themselves.” (Teacher)
“We actually learn more as a group because we have other kids in our group that know a bit more than us.” (Student)
“I think the relation building exercise became much more dominant in my mind that I had to really make a very good effort to make, to have that good working relationship with my students.” (Teacher)
“I mean these were the students who were saying to me in the beginning of the year that they didn't like the subject, and for them actually to want to do well, that itself was a big turning point.” (Teacher)
“She’s someone that wants to learn our culture, and she wants to teach us something from hers. So we’re getting like something back from each other, kind of thing, so we really interact well.” (Student)
Things to think about:
Question Focus - Those new to Te Kotahitanga:
- What elements within this section of Anjali’s story resonated with you?
- What questions would you like ask the students and / or their whānau in this story?
- What do you see as the connections between having high expectations for learning and building relationships of care and respect with students?
Question Focus - Participants in the Te Kotahitanga Professional Development Programme:
- What do you see as the connections between the STRATEGIES used by Anjali and each of the element so of GEPRISP (Goal; Experiences; Positioning; Relationships; Interactions; Strategies; Planning)?
- To what extent do you consider all the elements of GEPRISP alongside your selection and use of various teaching strategies within your planning?
- Anjali’s efforts saw her willing to connect her personal self with her professional one through such things as providing students with her home phone number. In an interview with Michael Deaker (2010), Mere Berryman talks about the desire of Māori to connect at a personal level and understand what you are able to contribute within the given context. To what extent do you compartmentalise your personal and professional selves? What are the implications of this in terms of your ability to be ‘culturally responsive’ to your Māori students? What are the implications for you, as a culturally located individual?
Question Focus - In-school Facilitators and Senior Leadership Team Members:
- How has this section of Anjali’s story contributed to your understanding of the Te Kotahitanga reform at the classroom level?
- How do you see you are able to use the elements of GPILSEO to support these changes within pedagogy?
- How might you, as a facilitator, work to support high implementers, such as Anjali, continue to deepen their understanding and implementation of a Culturally Responsive Pedagogy of Relations? What are the implications for your own practice?
- How might you, as a senior leader, work to enrich the relationships with students and their whānau that teachers, such as Anjali, are working to foster?
Reference: Ministry of Education. (2010). High-Impact R&D BES Spotlights. Michael Deaker chats with Dr Mere Berryman. Iterative BEST Evidence Synthesis (BES) Programme. University of Otago. Retrieved from http://www.v7.breezeserver.co.nz/InterviewDeakerBerryman