This year I was presented with a very special group of year 5 students, who for many different reasons required a lot of strategic strategies and routines to be formulated, tried, put in place and often reformulated in order to optimise student engagement and begin working on my proposed inquiry into my teaching practice.
Recently, I read the Code and Standards put out by the Education Council and many of the things that I really had to focus on and incorporate into my teaching practice this year are easily summed up by the 4 te reo Māori words listed as the values: whakamana, manaakitanga, pono and whanaungatanga.
The idea of whakamana been one of my favourite aspects of my job especially when working with our learners who struggle the most for whatever reason and striving to find the necessary tool that would allow for that individual student to reach their highest potential. Incorporating key strategies introduced by Dr. Janni van Hees has really helped many of my students reach their highest potential in literacy this year.
I have always believed that by being aware of Manaakitanga, and increasing a student’s sense of well-being and confidence directly impacts their ability to learn. Taking interest in a student’s day-to-day life promotes a sense of self-worth and importance, and allows for me, as their teacher, to understand possible barriers that need to be overcome for a child to succeed.
Showing integrity by treating my students fairly and respectfully is something that I am proud to say that I have heard students both past and present say is one of their favourite things about being in my class. This allows them to know where they stand and that they have a voice. It is my strong belief that by formulating this type of relationship with my students is what ultimately allows accelerated learning to take place. The concept of Pono also lays the basis for whanaungatanga to occur. Once that relationship has been fostered, a sense of Whanaungatanga is felt and students realise that their class is a whanau within the village of Pt. England School, they feel free to participate in dialogic conversations, take risks in their learning groups when answering tough questions, and in every aspect of their school life they are always striving to do their best.
Without these 4 values strongly evident in my classroom, I would never have been able to conduct my inquiry into my teaching this year, and my students would not have benefitted as a result of it.
I am currently in the process of administering the last of my end of the year tests, and as soon as that data is all in I will be sharing it on my blog and comparing it to the data from the beginning of the year.