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How do we feel about the refresh?

by Steve Saville and Rebecca Thomas

With just three months to go until the election, we all wait with baited breath to see if Te Mātaiaho will become a reality. Naturally, some schools are choosing to adopt a wait and see approach before committing too much energy into this curriculum refresh.

Whilst waiting may reduce stress, sometimes if we do nothing we run the risk of having things being ‘done to’ us; we lose our opportunity to feel empowered.

Despite the uncertainty ahead there are some things we do know with confidence about our educational landscape. With ANZH and Ka Hāpatiea being legal documents, what we do know is that our responsibility as Tangata Tiriti isn’t going away. We also know with certainty that we do need to increase our cultural capability, and we must continue to reflect on our culturally responsive pedagogies; our students demand and deserve us to be responsive in this area.

How are teachers feeling about all of this?

Listening to the voices from those around us, we know that there is apprehension at the chalk face about the implementation of, what is, a beautifully crafted Māori framework to be delivered by a predominantly Pākehā workforce. The reason for this apprehension is not because they don’t agree with it, or that they are not open and willing to learn, but mostly because they are worried about whether they will be able to do it justice, and yes, it does have the potential to shine the spotlight on our developing cultural competence.

It is important to acknowledge that cultural differences, including educational frameworks, can sometimes create a sense of discomfort or uncertainty. It is also important to acknowledge that any concerns about responding to Te Mātaiaho might arise from respect and desire to do what is right. It’s almost like in the excitement to embrace an indigenous framework we forgot to think about what dispositions and mindsets we need to equip our teachers with in order to keep them culturally safe, and encourage them to be open to new learning and growth.

Now is certainly the time to increase time and money into teacher professional development, to help teachers drive changes with tikanga and fidelity. However, for those schools who have tried to access the regionally allocated funding since January you will know that that option has been considerably restricted, at a time when we probably need it the most.

Developing our cultural capability is one thing we can do to enable all of us to feel more secure in our delivery. This involves reflecting on our bias, assumptions and privilege. We need to do so in a safe space with people we trust.

For these reasons we have put together this electronic Culturally Responsive Action Book. It will support leaders in schools (especially with limited/absent PLD funding) to be empowered on their continual journey to growing cultural competence in their context. In it you will find over 20 engaging, practical 'hands on' sessions and includes our brand new North-East Leaders and Weaving Whakapapa tools as well.

(read more about what the content is like here)

Everything we make and design as ELV (Engaging Learning Voices) has always been in response to the voices we hear in front of us. The reason we can respond so quickly and with confidence is that we are a small two person band not controlled by a power house of board members or executives that are worried about their reputation, nor do we feel the need to stand on eggshells around Ministries or Politicians. Yes, we are a little quirky, yes, we don’t have a string of letters after our names, but what we do have is a firm moral compass and honesty that wants to acknowledge and support the realities of the classrooms and schools we work in daily. Our only driver is to help.

If you are interested in owning the changes ahead with agency and confidence, and want to support your staff in finding their place in the partnership as we move closer and closer towards an equitable curriculum that our students need, then this book is your map. It is your way to navigate the landscape, informed by the voices of educators across Aotearoa, and crafted with a culture of care.

We wish you well educators and hope you begin Term 3 feeling rested, but also feeling empowered.

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