1 March 2013

Cultural, intercultural, bicultural, multicultural - 2

Ko te kai o te rangatire he kōrero (leadership is putting words into action) summed up Deanne Thomas and Wharehoka Wano's  ICOT2013 breakout Cultural Leadership

When I saw De and Whare presented, I jumped to the opportunity to "meet" them. I had listened to their Keynote Language, culture, identity and raising student achievement a while back. It had sat at the back of my mind since for two reasons:
 - the importance and place of story and personal story telling
 - the importance of history
in any educational context and more particularly the educational context of Aotearoa.
De and Whare in this Keynote pointed out that some Maōri students know little about their language their culture, their place, and that is a slow process to re establish that. Part of this process is acknowledging local histories and tikanga of the students, so that all are "comfortable in (their) own self, (their) own boots before moving on into the wide word".  

Can iCLT techiques, which aim to foster interculturally competent learners who can confidently navigate intercultural interactions and relationships, apply to support Maōri learners learn as Maōri?

I need help understanding what cultural responsive pedagogy encompasses. For that I wrote  Tamara Bell  an email to ask her if she could help:
"... I was wondering if you could put me in the direction of a couple of edtalks or other short videos that could be used as a starter and/or support to conversations around teaching and learning strategies for Māori learners and raising/working on cultural responsiveness in the Language secondary classroom please.
I see there is a wealth of information out there. But I would like to make the right choices to instill curiosity and foster reflection for the participants at upcoming workshops for French and Spanish teachers, organised by ILEP,*  to continue to look into this post workshop, to make connections with what is happening school wide in their institutions
Language teachers base their curriculum on the Six principles for intercultural communicative language teaching and if you had any suggestions to make on how this can, potentially, link with cultural responsiveness, I would be grateful for your input... "
Tamara graciously replied really shortly afterwards with a wealth of resources! I felt so supported!

Here are some clips Tamara has recommended
to watch:
(>what follows each resource are my quick notes upon listening)

Russell Bishop "A Culturally Responsive Pedagogy of Relations"
> care for Maōri students as Maōri, for their performance, that they learn/embrace/give opportunity for the funds of knowledge they bring to the classroom, interact, negociate, use strategies to engage effectively, keep evidence of student performance to guide where the teacher is taking the teaching and the students know their outcome in a formative way.
> improving teaching strategies and the effectiveness of teachers in increasing the engagement and academic achievement of Māori students.

Phoebe Davis "Critical Elements for Raising Maōri Achievement"
> forming relationship with students and whanau is fundamental
> know that there are a range of kids, which iwi  and acknowledge whakapapa
> it says that you are for real and they are for real > what matters is that you try

> make the effort, think of activities that connect the teacher and the students (eg: acknowledge the different places, the people you may know in common etc)
> being culturally located >  talk to maori iwi > Where is our school? what does it mean? acknowledge the community

Maria Tibble "Professional Responsibility to Maōri students"
> what has had the most impact for Maria are Te Kotahitanga and Ka Hikitia as both allow to move away from an emotional approach to an evidence based professional approach to discuss the types of relationships, the pedagogy that make a difference for Maōri students.
> Rather than the teachers intellectualising the situation it is the students' voices that said that pedagogy, culture and relationship make the difference to Maōri students
> Maria urges all teachers to read, reflect, keep informed and relentlessly look into what makes a difference to Maōri Students, to commit to change.

Maria Tibble "Culture Counts"
> locate yourself culturally (where I am from, who I am )
> show you care about students as people (you invite students into your world as you culturally locate yourself, this opens a pathway for the students to follow and in return bring into the classroom their story)

> engender a relationship that has to be authentic,  spend the time, authenticate your commitment to Maōri students by saying to them "your culture counts"
> show you care about their learning

Questions: So what to take away from these videos? Do I recognise the cultural differences?  What does cultural responsiveness look like in the language classroom? How is the scene set? How do we know the rapport is building? Which activities foster inclusiveness? What has been tried and tested? Where is the part of the Target Language? How do we know it works? What do I adapt in my teaching?

Tamara also shared this acronym listing key ingredients to consider to that effect :

Questions: Which of these ingredients make it regularly, all the time, seldom in the language classroom? What do they look like in practice? Which activities are they incorporated in? How aware of them are we? What contributes to embedding them? What do we action to know the students in front of us? How do students and teachers keep trace of their performance? How do we know it works?
Another two great resources Tamara shared for feeding the conversation and the reflection:
  • Culturally Responsive Practice in a mainstream school
  • a Refresher about What Works for Maōri Learners a forum on the VLN where educators exchange stories and ideas. Lots to read and learn from, and definitely the type of conversation to aim for with Language Learning in mind. Many Language teachers work with Te Reo teachers and form the same Department. What can be learnt from each other?

    Where am I at now? Can iCLT techniques apply?
  • To move on to implement a more culturally responsive pedagogy there is need for conversation amongst teachers who are actively involved, for seeking and finding evidence, keeping track of it (taking responsibility for their learning), for making connection with the students, knowing what they have got to say, bearing it in mind in the teaching, using it to inform the next steps of learning,  connecting and interacting with family and community, enabling support from within the institution, for wanting to keep informed and reflect on practice often and meaningfully.  These to me are the tenets of effective pedagogy.
  •  What if a more culturally responsive pedagogy brought about the better more effective teacher and thus benefited all of our learners, regardless of cultural and ethnical backgrounds?
  •  And in order to make this learning journey "visible, traceable, rewindable and sharable" what if it was the perfect opportunity to blend in tools and online spaces in the practice to assist in this journey?
Writing this post is about raising my own awareness of what Cultural Competence entails. I am hoping to learn from your own experiences and other colleagues' who may have been more exposed than me in their school environment and have started to embed or are embedding these competences in their teaching. 
I also start to see where culturally responsive pedagogy and iCLT interweave as there is a common vocabulary and a common intent.  It may be worth bearing in mind the teams of extremely competent educators that might support Language teachers in their inquiry, namely TMoA at Core Education and Te Toi Tupu Blended learning PLD (that I am aware of). I would like to suggest that NZALT and ILEP make contact with these organisations in order to invite them to facilitate workshops and give presentations.
*the workshop that I will facilitate aims to raise awareness of moments of learning, capturing these moments in order to be able to say how we know where we are at and decide on a next step: this can happen with the digitalising, collecting and organising of learning evidence (for students) and of professional engagement(for teachers) and the tools that support the necessary reflection that emanates from this process.


  1. Thanks Pascale for your mihi - ka rawe tō kōrero tino hirahira, ka mau te wehi!

  2. Kia ora Tamara, you contributed greatly to this piece, there is plenty else for me to explore and understand now.


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