Updated: 5 days ago
On the 10th of July, the Te Hononga Akoranga COMET STEM team hosted fifteen STEM educators for a workshop on culturally responsive pedagogies. This event was a special hui to bring together the project leads of the WeSTEM and Curious Minds south Auckland participatory science projects for a day of connection, learning and reflection.
We had the privilege of hearing from two amazing speakers who shared what culturally responsive pedagogies meant to them, and how these could be applied to classrooms, science projects and educational programmes to enrich learning for all students.
With a background in social work and a PhD on storytelling through tatau, the first speaker was Dr Sonny Natanielu, who spoke about how each participant has their own story to tell. He emphasised the importance of honouring these stories and using them as a foundation for connecting with tauira. By sharing our personal histories and asking about theirs, educators can show that they care about each student as an indivdiual and value creating an authentic relationship.
Sonny’s top tips for utilising our unique “cultural capital” in teaching include:
1. Know your story
2. Know your students’ stories
3. Seek external support to grow your kete of knowledge for your learners
The second speaker was Noah Meggitt (Kaituhono Māori, Te Hononga Akoranga COMET). Noah shared his experience working as a Te Reo Māori HOD and reflected on how that often left him in the unofficial position as cultural advisor for the school. He offered suggestions for how kaiako could be proactive in seeking out new knowledge.
Noah reinforced the importance of doing right by our learners. “If you’re doing what’s right for your learners, you aren’t doing anything wrong.” He encourages all teachers to be confident in their mahi and embrace indigenous knowledge, especially mātauranga Māori, through doing. "My google is the same as your google," Noah said. "Being Māori doesn’t open up any additional expertise. Do your own research before asking someone to do it for you. Just give it a go."
The workshop was rounded out with a brainstorming session for participants to discuss key takeaways and actions that they could implement in their participatory science projects. Inspired participants made new connections and identified concrete steps to take to nurture a more culturally responsive learning environment.
The speakers were both inspiring and thought-provoking. They left the workshop participants with a renewed sense of purpose and a commitment to creating more culturally responsive learning environments.
A Call to Action
This workshop was a call to action for all educators. There are many strategies and policy documents in place to promote diversity and inclusion in education, but meaningful change starts with a teachers’ relationship to their students. Fostering that relationship is the key to creating learning environments in which all our learners can thrive.
Educators can start by:
Valuing the stories and experiences you bring to the class – what can you share to create a personal connection with your students?
Getting to know your students as individuals - what are their stories, interests and backgrounds?
Creating authentic learning opportunities that are relevant to your students and their whānau.
Providing opportunities for students to share their stories with each other.
Being confident in your abilities, especially if your intention is always to do right by the learner.