Interviews, recordings, reflections and more!
Leading for Equity: Laurayne Tafa, Equity as a Measurement of Leadership
What explanations do you hold in your head for why students in your system, your school, succeed or don't succeed? From our Leading for Equity event, held in September last year, we are thrilled to present a fantastic session with Laurayne Tafa - Equity as a Measurement of Leadership. Focusing on breaking deficit theories and building affirmative action around disparities and inequities in New Zealand schools, this session was a fantastic analysis of how we can all build more equitable leadership. You can view the session below - and find more recordings of our Leading for Equity sessions here.
1 min read
Reflecting on Leading for Equity, with Newmarket School principal Wendy Kofoed
Wendy Kofoed, principal at Newmarket Primary, is energised. When we speak over Microsoft Teams for a spare half-hour she has carved from her day, the pace of the conversation is rapid – not necessarily because of time constraints, but because she is simply bursting with discussion. Russell Bishop’s ongoing work, the pains of working from home, Pasifika education planning – the ground we cover is immense to the point that this discussion is pared down from some 1,500 words of notes. Her willingness to take ideas and run with them shone through during our Leading for Equity event. Despite being an online series of sessions, Wendy was engaged directly from the get-go, posing questions and provocations to speakers and participants alike. Seeing that desire for continued learning during the event, we thought Wendy would be fantastic to speak to for her reflections on the sessions – here are some of her thoughts. Moving beyond schooling traditions Wendy decided to attend the event after seeing the calibre of speakers – particularly keynote presenter, Professor Russell Bishop. “I didn’t want to miss this professional learning event. I loved the notion of being able to pick and choose which sessions I attended and bring in people in from our leadership team based on their interests.” “Russell’s work has been huge for me, and as a primary principal I found Teaching to the North-East to be very relevant to our current work at Newmarket School. To have him reinforce the importance of school culture, of a relationship-based atmosphere, whanaungatanga to the fore, where people enjoy learning – it reinforced a lot of the connection-based work we used to support our students and their whānau during lockdown.” “Russell’s style of delivery was very engaging, but with such a hard-hitting message – that we can solve these issues, that there are actions we can take.” But with the reinforcement came some challenges, particularly when it comes to class structure. “I felt challenged by Russell on the concept of streaming. Even if we don’t have explicit streaming in primary schools our organization of students reinforces the same ideas. But how to move beyond it, beyond those traditional school organization methods? We can do it in some areas, like with our mathematics classes – but we struggle to move away from ability grouping when teaching reading.” Putting plans into action Where Wendy’s energy is focused right now is action – and how to translate some of the ideas offered up during Leading for Equity into practical steps. Though she is very aware that any changes need to be well thought through, mindful, as 2020 has been a challenging year for all. “Laurayne Tafa spoke a lot about interruptions – and it got me thinking about what interruptions actually are now, considering we’ve just been through the biggest one possible!” “It tied in nicely with Russell’s work – if we’re valuing culturally responsive pedagogy and relationships, we need to look at who gets interrupted by what. What is interruptive for one person could be a vital piece of learning for someone else, and we need to start working through those ideas.” “The board are reviewing our Annual Plan and our Strategic Plan in the wake of COVID, making sure the goals are those relevant for these new times. We have our ongoing work implementing the updated Pasifika and Māori Education plans, a strong focus on local curriculum, and for a hauora and wellbeing focus I am interested in whether it is possible to structure a school to support a four-day week schedule.” “What’s the saying? You can’t let a good crisis go to waste? The community is telling us that, and we’re excited to see what we can put into action.” “The lockdowns were not as difficult for our school as it has been for others as we are 1-1 device right through the school, teaching and learning continued fairly smoothly with feedback from students and parents very positive. Some of the principals I spoke to in the breakout rooms during Leading for Equity described the many inequalities their students faced under lockdown, which was gutting and should not happen in a country like New Zealand.” The challenge from students A moment that stuck with Wendy from the Leading for Equity event was during Michelle Johansson’s session, where she spoke to teachers and leaders viewing children through their personal lens, and not the child’s own. “Work in school can sometimes be more about the convenience of the adult, or the more traditional and safe ways of working dominating in the classroom – some things are hard for we adults to let go of.” “At Newmarket, we’ve got a strong and articulate student body, who love to give us feedback. They challenge us with their perspective, which ensures we have their lens, their needs to the fore. It’s the kind of thing that helps us cement relational pedagogy on their terms.” This is all work that preceded the Leading for Equity event, but Wendy has welcomed the reinforcement on the direction her school is heading in. And while it isn’t a learning in and of itself, there was a key message in the ASB & Springboard Trust panel session that provided some welcome reassurance. “It was useful hearing that people, that experts don’t have the answers!” “There was amazing pragmatic discussion, but the honest admission that silver bullets don’t exist for every problem – that was really nice to hear.” That, we hope, is a key message for everyone who came to our event. All the frameworks and ideas in the world won’t necessarily translate into easy practice for every school – but focusing on what’s ahead of you and accepting the unknowns can still be a positive start.
5 min read
Leading for Equity: Five thought-provoking ideas from our Learning Event
We learned a lot from – and reflected in depth on – the range of speakers on display at our Leading for Equity event. But the learning only continues from here. In the coming months we’ll be keeping those conversations going, launching into new initiatives and furthering our work in the space of equitable leadership in schools. But first, a recap of the two-day event – with five thought-provoking ideas or moments from the sessions! 1. “Redistributing the wealth in society has always been a sound thing to do, and I’d be very supportive of doing that” Professor Russell Bishop ONZM, University of Waikato & Te Kotahitanga During Professor Bishop’s Q&A session, he was asked about defining success for students – and while he took a roundabout way to answering the question, he did touch on this always-great point on the way. 2. “When we assess kids, what are we asking them to put aside?” Michelle Johansson, Teach First NZ In a session filled with challenges and talking points, this one from Michelle Johansson really stuck out. Focused on the topic of traits that are more important to some cultures than others, she saliently noted that assessment – and in fact a wide array of how we teach – teaches to an assumed set of behaviours. 3. “It’s convenient for teachers – it's not the best for kids” Laurayne Tafa, Education Consultant & Tafa Ed Ltd Laurayne Tafa on the ongoing streaming debate, amidst a fantastic presentation on interrogating how a leader’s decisions affect people at different layers in equity terms. 4. “Most of the variation we see in student outcomes is explained by out-of-school factors” Pasi Sahlberg, Gonski Institute for Education Following a vote on the most impactful elements on student outcomes, Pasi broke down a series of stats showing how outside and structural factors tend to have the biggest impact – with teachers having the most effect within a school. 5. “They haven’t really been touched by poverty that is here in our community” Julianne McMillan, KPMG KPMG’s team on their breakfast club work in Tauranga, an honest acknowledgment of the privilege that many of their staff have – and how working with schools in the region has brought out a massive swell of desire to help those in need. Every session brought its own refreshing perspective on equity in education, and we hope it was as invigorating a time for you as it was for us. We’ll see you for the next one!
3 min read
Russell Bishop: Teaching to the North-East Webinar
What a week we all had. Wednesday and Thursday last week was our Leading for Equity event, and we’re astonished by the amount of learning that got packed into such a short space of time. Presentations dovetailed with one another, attendees were challenged and challenged speakers themselves, and we’ve come out of the event just bursting with ideas. In the next week or so, we will be sharing recordings of the event with those who bought tickets, so keep an eye out for that hitting your inboxes. But some things are too good not to share, and Russell Bishop’s Teaching to the North-East webinar from Wednesday is most definitely in that category. That’s why we’re happy to provide a full recording of the session below, along with the Q&A session afterwards. In a week for the celebration of Māori language, it serves as a fantastic reminder of the work we all have to do to ensure Māori students can learn, grow and thrive – as themselves.
2 min read
Eyes on the North-East: An interview with Russell Bishop
"When teachers and other school leaders effectively engage in establishing caring and learning relationships, they are then able to use the pedagogies that we know make a difference for Maori and other marginalized students’ learning.” Russell Bishop, ONZM, hopefully does not need much by way of introduction. He is the past Director of Te Kotahitanga, now Emeritus Professor of Māori Education at the University of Waikato, and author of a wealth of essential research on Kaupapa Māori education and education reform processes. Perhaps most relevant for us right now, he is also the keynote speaker at our Leading for Equity event on September 9! Ahead of Russell’s presentation, we caught up with him to discuss his latest work Teaching to the North-East, and how both teachers and leaders can improve their practice in this regard. Where to find the North-East “The North-East is a metaphorical position,” Russell explains, “on a scatter plot with two axes – relationships and interactions. When teachers are teaching in the North-East, they are proficient at establishing caring and learning relationships (the ‘East’ on the relationships continuum) and using these relationships to enable those dialogic interactions we know make a difference for students’ learning (the North on the Interactions continuum). "When you teach in the North-East, you are able to teach all students – rather than just some, or just those of the majority culture.” “Teachers in the North-East perform well on both axes – they implement effective relational practices in the classroom, and they also use the pedagogies that make a difference. It isn’t enough, particularly for Maori and other marginalised students, to do one without the other – you must have both.” It’s a model borne out of Russell’s theories about the centrality of relationships for researchers and teachers being able to undertake their work more effectively, tested through Te Kotahitanga, then developed further with Cognition Education, laterally with a focus on how to sustain teaching and leading in the North-East. “Sustainability is enabled by teachers continually monitoring student’ progress and the impact of the processes of learning on student learning so as to be able to modify relationships and interactions in a formative manner. Such modifications are supported by coaching so that you’re teaching everyone involved in a classroom and the school to learn, so they can help others. In this way, creating a cycle of self-determined learners at all levels.”Creating the right conditions from the top "The simple message for school leaders who are wanting to promote equitable outcomes in their school is to replicate in their practice what they expect their teachers to do. That is, North-East Leaders supporting North-East teachers in what will become a North-East school." Be they principals, senior leadership team members or any other leaders, they need to learn to create caring and learning relationships, interact dialogically within this context and monitor learners’ (in this case, teachers’) progress so they can modify and sustain their North-East leadership practices. “A further major role of leaders here is to challenge and support – particularly those who persist with strategies we know don’t work and in fact, are harmful to students’ learning. The aim is to promote a common code of effective practice at all levels in the school.” “Leadership in this approach is essentially a coaching process. And just as we coach teachers into the North-East position, leaders need to be coached and mentored as well so that all are working to the agreed common code of practice.” “If you don’t constantly emphasise a relationship-based environment, and then interact and modify practices within this environment in ways we know make a difference to students currently not benefiting from their participation in schooling, then the chances of Maori and other marginalised children realizing their potential is very limited.” Russell Bishop is the keynote speaker at Leading for Equity – a Springboard Trust learning event on September 9 and 10. For more information and tickets, please click here. For more information on Teaching to the North-East: Relationship-based learning in practice, Russell’s book is now available through NZCER press.
4 min read