Sunday, October 1, 2017

Mindlab Applied Practice in Context Week 28

Culturally Responsive Pedagogy

In appreciating Maori achieving as Maori (Ministry of Education, 2013), we have moved away from looking at only the visible indicators of culture and are now more aware of the invisible indicators.  This means understanding that culture consists of values and a lens through which to view the world but that students are individuals with individual needs.  This avoids making culture a trait reliant on race and ethnicity and deters from making sweeping assumptions (Teaching Tolerance, 2010).  We have used the Education Review Office indicators of culturally responsive practice as self review (Education Review Office, 2016).  These are manaakitanga, whanaungatanga, ako and mahi tahi.  We find these indicators particularly applicable to Maori and Pasifika students and we find that they also sit closely within our Catholic culture of inclusivity and interdependence.

According to the Mauri model (Potahu, 2011), as the school level we have strong engagement with our cultural groups.  We have regular meetings where the groups come together to share experience and kai.  These groups feed forward to the Board of Trustees and on this level we are probably Mauri Ora (actively engaged). We employ an English Language Learning coordinator who is very proactive in developing cultural connections and understandings.  Staff are strongly encouraged to uncover and build prior understandings of all of our learners into our classroom learning.  We are presently engaged in culturally responsive maths professional development for Pasifika learners which is helping us to understand the importance of learning community and shared understanding.

An area for development where we are more Mauri Moe to Mauri Oho – where there is potential but it is not fully activated - is to build up culturally responsive practice from the grassroots level.  Russell Bishop describes agentic teachers as teachers who believe students can learn, and refrain from deficit thinking because they believe they have the skills to address learning and they believe students can be successful (Edtalks, 2010).  I think our teachers are agentic teachers but perhaps need more support and development in connecting with cultural capital.  Culturally responsive teachers are cultural translators and bridge builders, building on students’ prior knowledge (Teaching Tolerance, 2010).  We have been focusing on visible learning, giving good feedback and feed-forward and making the learning journey visible to the students.  We are now moving into a re-focus on our student-led curriculum and the need to bring in the cultural capital and interests of all of our students in a meaningful way.

A further support of development of grassroots manaakitanga would be to provide more development for our teacher aides on culturally responsive practice and support them to facilitate tuakana/teina learning relationships between children with similar cultural understandings and interests.  This would further activate the ako potential of all of our learners, where the teachers can also learn from the students.

Edtalks.(2012, September 23). A culturally responsive pedagogy of relations. [video file].Retrieved from

Education Review Office (2016). School evaluation indicators – effective practice for improvement and learner success.

Ministry of Education (2013). Ka Hikitia Accelerating Success 2013-2017, the Maori Education Strategy. Wellington: New Zealand Government.

Potahu, T. W. (2011). Mauri - Rethinking Human Wellbeing. MAI Review, 3, 1-12. Retrieved from

Teaching Tolerance. ( 2010, Jun 17). Introduction to Culturally Relevant Pedagogy.[video file]. Retrieved from

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