Te Wiki o te Reo Māori wero

After taking up the challenge this week to reflect on one of the 7 roles of leadership described in Tū Rangatira, I decided to take a look at He Kaiako, the role of teacher and learner.

By embracing the concept of ako, I believe there is a power shift from the perceived societal construct of teacher has knowledge therefore teacher has power to the act of learning itself holding the power. I’ve never pretended to know it all and have always been honest when I can’t answer students questions. Maybe this is part of the reason students feel comfortable enough to share their knowledge with me. It is through these sometimes brief, sometimes not shared learning experiences that the power shift starts to occur. By utilising the tuakana-teina relationship model, anyone young and old, can learn from anyone. We all have something we can share.

For me, being a teacher is about facilitating learning. We are there to encourage the process of learning for life, to help make sense of a young persons connection to the world. As a teacher, learning is something I enjoy. It’s fun to learn new things. It is a challenge and that’s what makes it interesting. One of the biggest challenges in the classroom (or field, bush or river…!) is keeping the learning relevant. This means I have to know my learners inside out and find out what makes them tick. Learning about their personal identity (their highs, lows, friends, whanau, achievements, interests and personal traits) is constantly evolving as they grow into young adults which can sometimes make it a little tricky to keep up with.

At some points this year, putting together the level 2 PEO programme has been a struggle…I feel like I’ve come up against many barriers but the whole experience of putting together the course has been a learning curve. I’ve hunted out some awesome people that have helped me from Auckland to Hutt Valley as well as here at Aotea. Next year, the programme will take on quite a different shape and format based on what I’ve seen, heard and experienced this year. As one student put it to me the other day when I said something about the programme “don’t worry Miss, were the guinea pigs” and he’s right… If we don’t have a go and experiment, we’ll never know.

I encourage my students to step out of their comfort zone daily (especially 9SH) but sometimes I can be reluctant to take my own advice. As a creature of habit like most other people, I stick to what I’m comfortable with and what I know. I’d really like to get out there and connect more with other teachers/educators on Twitter and in house and might have to just take the leap soon and believe that I have something of value to contribute to education outside of my classroom (this is sometimes a struggle). At the moment I tend to just watch what others are doing. One of my favourite motivational (?) quotes is If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got so I guess there’s no time like the present to take that leap and learn a little more.

I can’t help but think that this reflection will forever remain unfinished. There is always something new to learn. Although I chose to reflect here on just one role of leadership, I believe they’re all connected and cannot stand alone. Because of this, I felt the need to work it all out in a good old fashioned brainstorm and I have to say, this really became quite an important exercise for me to undertake. Being able to see my place as a leader and how I could become more effective in each role was not only rewarding but a good way to look to the future and refine some goals.

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About Jo Smith

Health & PE teacher and TIC Outdoor Education at Aotea College.
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