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Effective pedagogy for our Māori and Pasifika students

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At Sylvia Park School, staff believe that Māori and Pacific student achievement is based on effective pedagogy and that effective pedagogy looks the same for any child. This story explores what these beliefs look like in practice.

There are three stories in this series:

  1. Our inquiry framework
  2. Using language, symbols, and texts to explore art and identity
  3. Effective pedagogy for our Māori and Pasifika students

Professional learning conversations

These questions and suggested actions encourage you to reflect on your own school context

Promoting professional conversations

The Quality Teaching for Diverse Students in Schooling: Best Evidence Synthesis Iteration (BES) identifies ten characteristics of quality teaching methods for diverse students:

  1. Quality teaching is focused on student achievement (including social outcomes) and facilities high standards of student outcomes for heterogeneous groups of students.
  2. Pedagogical practices enable classes and other learning groupings to work as caring, inclusive, and cohesive learning communities.
  3. Effective links are created between school and other cultural contexts in which students are socialised, to facilitate learning.
  4. Quality teaching is responsive to student learning processes.
  5. Opportunity to learn is effective and sufficient.
  6. Multiple task contexts support learning cycles.
  7. Curriculum goals, resources including ICT usage, task design, teaching and school practices are effectively aligned.
  8. Pedagogy scaffolds and provides appropriate feedback on students' task engagement.
  9. Pedagogy promotes learning orientations, student self-regulation, metacognitive strategies and thoughtful student discourse.
  10. Teachers and students engage constructively in goal-oriented assessment.
  • At Sylvia Park School, staff recognise the diversity within cultural groups as well as between them. How can you make this happen for your learners?
  • In what ways do you ensure that your curriculum is relevant and authentic to your Māori and Pasifika learners? How can you make your curriculum more relevant and authentic?
  • How do you explore and use the 10 characteristics of good teaching practice with the diverse learners in your school? Is there a need for a greater focus on some of these characteristics?


We believe, or we know, that Māori and Pacific student achievement is based on effective pedagogy. And our challenge, as a school, is to make sure that we deliver that every day. Not just when there are observations or when there are visitors or things like that or when I feel like I’ve got enough energy but that we deliver that every day. And I guess our other belief is that effective pedagogy looks the same for any child. Doesn’t actually matter whether they’re Māori Pacific, whether they’re rich or poor, it means that they’re in a classroom with a teacher that knows where they’re operating at in terms of their literacy in terms of their numeracy, it means that they’re with a teacher that knows what they’re interested in because they know that child as a learner. One of the things that we have focused on for years is making sure that our Māori and Pacific kids - which is the bulk of our children, have really good outcomes in literacy and numeracy - and they have. And it’s not rocket science, as far as we’re concerned it’s about having great data, using data robustly, making sure that we’ve built our ability to analyse and interpret the data and to ask ourselves questions about what our next teaching steps are in order to teach our kids well. That the research is out there the Best Evidence Synthesis Quality Teaching for Diverse Students is something that’s really driven us. Those characteristics about what effective teaching looks like for our diverse kids are something that really resonate for us. And I guess the other thing that I want to say, is that, you know, Māori and Pacific kids is a really convenient kind of term because actually when we look at our Māori and Pacific kids one thing that we know is that they are incredibly diverse and sometimes the fact that they’re Tongan may be the smallest thing they have in common with other kids. So we need to know our children as learners, and not make assumptions about our brown kids.

You know we want to ensure that students are exposed to a wide range of learning experiences. We’re don’t want to constrain or put any kind of - you know, follow stereotypes about Tongans or Māori this, all our students are learners and what’s good for one student is good for the other. And it is about quality teaching, effective pedagogy. And so, for us, our responsibility as teachers is to ensure that the learning is real, and that there is a tangible outcome and that they can relate to it. So whether we’re looking at people or studying places that they have some kind of relevance to what it is. For an example, we’ve chosen to do the inquiry this term around a triathlon and part of the challenge for us was finding brown people for this triathlon, role models. It was a challenge for us when we were looking into it.

And we don’t want to pigeon-hole them. And to say sometimes those stereotypes about it’s an individual pursuit so maybe is that sort of culturally appropriate? So we want to make sure that they have an opportunity to be exposed to everything.

And the other thing that we do with all of our students is we have a high standard. We expect excellence. And we encourage them to believe that they can achieve excellence, because we believe they can. And we provide all those opportunities through our inquiry, through numeracy and literacy so that they can achieve as high as they possibly can.
And in saying that, we do make sure that when we are looking at content and thinking about our art unit we made sure that we had Māori and Pacific artists. But the thing that we didn’t want to do, we still needed to have a good look at those artists and say well is their work the sort of work that’s going to really turn these kids on to learning? So it couldn’t just be any old artist - we wanted them to be contemporary, to be a bit funky, the kids might think yeah I could relate to that yeah I want to do some stuff a little bit like that - making sure that we chose content that matched up with them and even with the triathlon looking at those athletes that we have chosen that have been beyond the triathlon to make sure that they’re ones that the kids can connect with.

So we’ve exposed our students to a range of role models and people and obviously looking at like Whaea Barb was saying the Māori and Pacific Island because most of our students are here and we want to hook them in. It’s their learning, it’s got to be fun and that’s part of the challenge I guess as teachers, we’ve got to ensure, is this 21st century? Is this going to hook them in? Is this contemporary? Can our students relate to it? So that’s part of the challenge all the time for the inquiry team, that we can frame up something or the issues that we choose, the topic is following that.

Published on: 16 May 2011