Let’s talk about… reflecting on Manaakitanga

Photo courtesy of Raynah Thomas
Photo courtesy of Raynah Thomas

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Manaakitanga: A deepening understanding

A reflection as part of the EDBOOKNZ collaboration project

Defining Manaakitanga
Manaakitanga is the concept of respect. This involves having care for others and their wellbeing, generosity of spirit, hospitality, kindness and support. It revolves around the notion of developing and maintaining respectful relationships so that all can thrive in an environment conducive to growth.
Manaakitanga allows people to connect with others in the group and, like Whānaungatanga, serves to strengthen each member of the group.
Tataiako explains Manaakitanga as showing integrity, sincerity and respect towards Māori beliefs, language and culture.
Graduating Teacher Standards associated with Manaakitanga:
There are three Graduating Teacher Standards associated with Manaakitanga. GTS 3, GTS 4 and GTS 6.
GTS 3: Graduating Teachers understand how contextual factors influence teaching and learning.
Key Indicators:
a. have an understanding of the complex influences that personal, social, and cultural factors may have on teachers and learners.
b. have knowledge of tikanga and te reo Māori to work effectively within the bicultural contexts of Aotearoa New Zealand.
c. have an understanding of education within the bicultural, multicultural, social, political, economic and historical contexts of Aotearoa New Zealand.
GTS 4: Graduating Teachers use professional knowledge to plan for a safe, high quality teaching and learning environment.
Key Indicators:
a. draw upon content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge when planning, teaching and evaluating.
b. use and sequence a range of learning experiences to influence and promote learner achievement.
c. demonstrate high expectations of all learners, focus on learning and recognise and value diversity.
d. demonstrate proficiency in oral and written l anguage (Māori and/or English), in numeracy and in ICT relevant to their professional role.
e. use te reo Māori me ngā tikanga-ā-iwi appropriately in their practice.
f. demonstrate commitment to and strategies for promoting and nurturing the physical and emotional safety of learners.
GTS 6:Graduating Teachers develop positive relationships with learners and the members of learning communities.
Key Indicators:
a. recognise how differing values and beliefs may impact on learners and their learning.
b. have the knowledge and dispositions to work effectively with colleagues, parents/caregivers, families/whānau and communities.
c. build effective relationships with their learners.
d. promote a learning culture which engages diverse learners effectively.
e. demonstrate respect for te reo Māori me ngā tikangā-iwi in their practice.

Photo courtesy of Raynah Thomas
Photo courtesy of Raynah Thomas

The PTC associated with Manaakitanga:
There are two Practising Teacher Criteria associated with Manaakitanga. PTC 2 and PTC7. Fully certificated teachers engage in appropriate professional relationships and demonstrate commitment to professional values. Fully certificated teachers make use of their professional knowledge and understanding to build a stimulating, challenging and supportive learning environment that promotes learning and success for all ākonga.
PTC 2 is about commitment to promoting the wellbeing of all akonga.
Key Indicators:

a. Take all reasonable steps to provide and maintain a teaching and learning environment that is physically, socially, culturally, and emotionally safe.
b. Acknowledge and respect the languages, heritages, and cultures of. all ākonga/learners
c. Comply with relevant regulatory and statutory requirements.

PTC 7 is about a collaborative, inclusive and supportive learning environment.
Key Indicators:
a. Demonstrate effective management of the learning setting which incorporates successful strategies to engage and motivate ākonga/learners.
b. Foster trust, respect, and cooperation with and among ākonga/learners.

How could we tell someone about Manaakitanga?
Manaakitanga is about respecting people and their culture. We can tell people about Manaakitanga by showing it in everyday life. It is about treating colleagues, students and their families fairly and with respect, for example pronouncing Māori (and non-Maori) names well, if not perfectly, knowing about the local tikanga and understanding the values, traditions, and sense of humour of the community, using te reo Māori in class and encouraging students to speak Māori or home languages if the students so desire.
We can tell people about Manaakitanga in the way we show respect for and embrace Māori language and culture. Including whanau and the Māori community in school decisions and school policies through a process of regular consultation shows Māori contributions are valued by the school. It tells the community their perspectives and values are respected. Teachers, leaders, staff show they care about students and their families by talking positively about them. It leaves no place for deficit thinking or deficit talk.
What is an alternative explanation of Manaakitanga?
There is power in diversity. Our similarities help us to connect with one another initially but it our differences that allow us to learn from one another.
• Take time to know each other
• Make connections
• Acknowledge similarities
• Celebrate differences
• Respect for all
• Listen to one another
• Learn from each other
• Love one another
• Live together in understanding

What impact might Manaakitanga have on our practice?
Building and nurturing respectful relationships with students, whanau/ families, colleagues and peers. Knowing how all the students in our classes learn, what helps them to learn better and what hinders their learning. Having a holistic understanding of our learners so that we can make connections.
Acknowledging everyone, regardless of who they are, or where they come from, has the right to be respected, to learn safely, and in a way that is meaningful to them. It is not the students’ role to learn the way we teach, but for us to teach the way our students learn. Opportunities for collaboration, co-operation

What are the positives of Manaakitanga?
There has to be many, probably far too many to mention here. Every school should have Manaakitanga at its heart, weaving through every brick, wrapping itself round every member of the school. Schools should, in my opinion, emanate the principles/ values that are Manaakitanga because this is how we connect to each other. This is how we feel safe, physically, emotionally, mentally, psychologically. This is how we are enabled to step up and step out of our comfort zones and take risks in our learning which ultimately lead us to being the better us. This is how we learn with and alongside others, for the benefit of ourselves, our peers, our whanau and our communities.
Manaakitanga allows us to value others and in turn to feel valued. It is about acknowledging the needs of others as well as ourselves so that we are adding to, as well as taking from, the kete.
Manaakitanga allows us to be our true selves- a right we all should be given.
What are the challenges of Manaakitanga?
Building trust between students and between students and teacher is essential to empowering all students to reach their potential. Taking the time to build relational trust is essential yet easily overlooked in the busyness of the school day and full curriculum. If we value this then we must make time for it.
A teacher’s life is a hectic one- there are never enough hours in the day to do all the things we want to do but just as we must make time to build a culture of trust within classrooms so to we must do this in the staffroom with our colleagues. We need to support each other and be generous in our praise of the work that our teachers do. At the same time we need to respect one another enough to have those challenging conversations and hold ourselves and each other accountable.
For me a sign of the depth (if that is the correct term) of Manaakitanga is when students and teachers have built a learning focused relationship whereby each gives and receives feedback and holds each other accountable. For some altering the dynamics in the student- teacher relationship so that there is a shared locus of control is challenging.

What are we still wondering about Manaakitanga?
We wonder
• How well Manaakitanga is understood in our schools
• How well Manaakitanga is happening in our schools.
• How we can gather evidence about Manaakitanga.
• How, in an ever increasing multicultural society, we ensure that all of our students’ backgrounds and cultures are valued and represented.
• How much time we spend explicitly teaching the values encompassed in the concept of Manaakitanga
• We wonder if we provide enough opportunities to really get to know our learners holistically.

Whose voice is not being heard?

As a class teacher I would regularly write a class list from memory. The missing name on the list, or if my memory had served me well, the last couple of names on the list were my ‘invisible children’. They were the students who were not renting space in my head for one reason or another. This quick activity allowed me to refocus my attention towards them. If they are the invisible students they are quite possibly the voiceless ones too.

Photo courtesy of Raynah Thomas
Photo courtesy of Raynah Thomas

I wonder how good we are at hearing the voice of our wider community. We consult families but do we need to cast the net wider? Many of our five year olds have been to pre-school and I wonder how good we are at engaging with them to gather information about our new students so that we can better know our learners.

References:

Tataiako

Graduating Teacher Standards

Practising Teacher Criteria

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