A teacher changes her practice to better meet the needs of her Māori students.
Anjali's Story (part 1)
Anjali Khurana – Teacher: “Morena class.”
Anjali: “Kei te pēhea koe?.”
Class: “Kei te pai ahau.”
Anjali: “Now how was Mrs Khurana’s pronunciation today?”
Class: Many different responses.
Anjali: “Oh that’s not good. Okay, um, do you know how to greet in my language?”
Anjali: “Namaste, oh very good, excellent. Okay now in this lesson today we have finished with our statistics…”
Narrator: “This group of Year 10 maths students at Whakatane High School are something of a model class. The students certainly appreciate their teacher and the progress they’re making.”
Student interviews: “This may sound a bit cheesy but, some of us wish that all of our teachers were like Miss Khurana because she explains everything so well, and goes over it until the whole class knows it.”
"She cares about our learning.”
“And she don't just write it on the board, like she explains to us and makes us get it easily. Well the other teachers they just write it on the board, and just leave it and then let us do the work and we don't even know what to do.”
“We all know our work and we've come up like two and a half levels since the beginning of this year. We were level 3 and now we are doing level 5 slash 6 I think.”
Anjali: “And one more comparative graph.”
Anjali: “Yes the one Mrs Khurana hasn’t written well at all isn’t it? What marks do I get for this writing?”
Anjali: “Two out of ten, okay.”
Narrator: “The classroom wasn't such a happy place when teacher Anjali Khurana first met her students at the beginning of the year.”
Anjali interview: “Originally I come from India but I have been in New Zealand for the last sixteen years. Um, all these years I was teaching in South Island and then we moved up here. And my experience when I started at Whakatane High School I thought I was teaching in another country. That is how it, different it was from teaching in South Island compared to here. The reason being more Māori students here. And I started teaching the way I've been teaching all along, and that's when I realised things weren't going right in my classroom. Um, I was absolutely stressed. The kids were giving me a very, very hard time.”
Student interview: “We thought she was a snobby lady that just immigrated from India. Nah, we were all naughty at the beginning of the year. We didn't know Miss, we, we sort of judged a book by its cover. And like heaps of people used to wag at the beginning of the year.”
Anjali: “I had actually gone and weren’t really giving it to them without asking them had you actually first asked each other?”
Narrator: “Anjali sought guidance and support from Te Kotahitanga facilitator, Hiria Wallace.”
Hiria Wallace (Te Kotahitanga Facilitator): “She came and approached me and talked to me about some of the problems that were going on, and yeah she was quite, um, upset and ready to throw, throw the class away. Um, and in fact talking about throwing teaching away.”
Anjali interview: “Instead of feeling happy these kids were coming in my room, um, I already had apprehensions that the class wasn't going to go okay for me. Um, I didn't like teaching them at all. I even came out of class one day crying. Um, and that is when Hiria stepped in and I talked to her and she came to observe a lesson, what I was doing wrong. Um, and that's when after the lesson we sat together and it was like a feedback session to me. Things that she wanted changed in the classroom.”
Hiria: “She was prepared to do anything, anything, any little thing that would help, um, change the situation that she currently had. And in some ways she was quite traditional, in that she did stay at the board for a quite a long time.”
Anjali interview: “When I was on the board trying to explain things, I was doing too much of explanation, and the students after ten minutes were bored listening to me. So the whole topic had to be broken up into small segments, and I was to teach them just one little thing at a time.”
Comments are provided by a maths teacher, her students and a Te Kotahitanga facilitator about the teacher’s realisation that her traditional teaching practice was not effective for Māori students. This includes comments about:
- recognising when things are not working
- steps taken by the teacher to address the issues
- willingness to try new approaches
- positive outcomes for Māori students.
“I was teaching in South Island then we moved up here [Whakatane]. I thought I was teaching in another country ... I started teaching the way I’ve been teaching all along and that’s when I realised things weren’t going right in my classroom.” (Teacher)
“She cares about our learning.” (Student)
“She was prepared to do anything, anything, any little thing that would help change the situation.” (Facilitator)
Things to think about:
Question Focus - Those new to Te Kotahitanga:
- What elements within this section of Anjali’s story resonated with you?
- What resources are available to you, within your own context, to provide you with the support to critically reflect and make changes within your own practice?
- How might you seek to make such changes if such resources are not currently available?
Question Focus - Participants in the Te Kotahitanga Professional Development Programme:
- Kotahitanga, one of the six metaphors within the Effective Teaching Profile, talks about a collaborative response to a shared goal or outcome. What links do you see between this aspect of the Effective Teaching Profile and this section of Anjali’s story?
- Anjali talks about the dissonance within her teaching practice caused by her move from the South Island to Whakatane High School with its high percentage of Māori students. To what extent have you experienced dissonance resulting in your commitment to change your practice either before or during your participation in Te Kotahitanga?
- What questions would you like to ask the students in this story?
Question Focus - In-school Facilitators and Senior Leadership Team Members:
- How has this section of Anjali’s story contributed to your understanding of discursive repositioning?
- Anjali talks about Hiria, the facilitator, pointing out things she was doing wrong and how she needed to change, thus positioning Hiria as an expert. How might you work to model a tuakana role in such a way that this is recognised and understood as such by your learners (teachers)? What are the implications if you come to be seen as the ‘Te Kotahitanga expert’?