Make up artistry Lecturer in the Beauty Department at UCOL Wairarapa, Riki Anderson (Ngāti Kahungunu ki Tamatea) has recently become a Te Atakura Coach.
The aim of Te Atakura
is to increase Māori student success but research shows the approach benefits all students by creating a family-like context in classrooms and using discursive (interactive) practices.
The role of a Te Atakura Coach is to support teachers to reflect on their practice. They do this by facilitating observation cycles (pre observation meetings, observation, post observation meeting) and co-construction meetings, where evidence is examined and individual and teaching team goals are set to support the improvement of students’ educational outcomes.
Riki admits when he first became involved with Te Atakura he was nervous about the programme.
“I’ve been teaching for 12 years in total, and I’ve seen lots of success in my classrooms but could never actually recognise why, or what was going on.”
“After the first coaching experience I suddenly had theories to back up my teaching practice. I’m now recognising what I’m doing, and then sharpening it – I’m always building on my own practice.”
“At Wairarapa UCOL, Te Atakura started with the Hair and Beauty students, and it’s just gotten better and better. It’s great to see the whole campus involved now. I couldn’t be prouder of UCOL.”
The Wairarapa campus is the first of UCOL’s campuses to fully implement the relationships-based teaching programme, with the support of Cognition Education Limited (Culture Counts Plus).
Riki says that the success he’s seen in his own classrooms proves that Te Atakura is not just about the Māori students.
“I think with most Māori tutors it is intrinsic in our values and culture, but whilst Te Atakura might be based in Māoritanga, it’s for everyone. To teach in this whānau-based context, it helps everyone. And the thing is, you don’t have to be Māori – culture is not just ethnicity, it’s a lot more, and everyone can tap into the strengths from their own culture to help others.”
He believes the challenges faced in classrooms are similar at all levels and across different subject matters, and that what’s important is Kotahitanga – a unified front. In the Te Atakura programme, what this looks like in the classroom is students and teachers having a shared understanding of what is required for their success, and understanding that student success is the top priority.
“With Te Atakura, there’s no threat. It’s empowering to have words and theories to define what needs to be done. Teaching in this way is not an easy thing to navigate. It’s also about Ako; you have to have the confidence to let go of control, so students can learn off each other and assess each other. Showing vulnerability is important, to build trust. You’ve got to take the time to be vulnerable, as well as to reflect on practice and celebrate success.”
“The waves from reflection strengthen everywhere, and we can become even more unified. I think modelling communities of practice is important, mixing lecturers together and sharing experiences.”