CISC8100 Applied Practice in Context · Mindlab · Māori · Technology

Week 28: Indigenous knowledge and cultural responsiveness in my practice

Culturally responsive teaching: making connections between what is known and what is to be taught next (Teaching Tolerance, 2010)

What does this have to do with me?

I will admit upfront that as a pakeha immigrant to New Zealand, who still holds an Australian passport my indigenous knowledge, has many gaps, which I fully acknowledge and strive to fill. On the other hand, I began my teaching career some sixteen years ago, training adults in a Māori owned and operated training organisation, and then at a decile 3 rural college with a Māori roll of over 50%. In addition, I teach Digital Technology in a Technology faculty that champions the ideas of individual voice and personal learning and production.

The term culturally responsive teaching as a pedagogy (Gay, 2002) is a student-centred approach to teaching in which the unique cultural experience of ākonga are identified and nurtured to promote achievement and a sense of well-being around their own cultural context. Gay (2002) suggests ‘teaching to and through (student’) personal and cultural strengths, their intellectual capabilities, and their prior accomplishments. Culturally responsive teachers contextualise instruction in cultural forms, behaviours and processes of learning familiar to students.’ Bishop (2012) says culturally responsive pedagogy is about relationships involving caring and learning, applied to all students, not just Māori, at the same time acknowledging the change required to teach Māori students (based on performance data relating to the achievement), to adopt agentic thinking, and avoid deficient models. Cowie (2011) suggests cultural responsiveness be included in classroom practice, using oral and visual presentations (rather than always written), dramatisation videos of physical models or artefacts, teaching of younger or less skilled students.

The School Response

Currently one of my school’s professional development foci is on improving engagement with Māori students and community to promote student engagement, and enhance achievement. We participated in the He Kakano project and currently are part of Kia Eke Panuku. Last year’s pre-service day saw the all staff engaging in the local landscape exploring significant sites to manu whenua, before a pōwhiri to our local marae. Māori liaison officers communication with families, there is a Māori student leadership group, as well as evening to celebrate Māori students success and an annual Māori prize-giving. Our whanau group, Ngā Poutiaki, has representation on the board of trustees, and Māori students have access to a revitalised kapa haka group, a local schools kapa haka festival and events such as a biennial Māori students’ careers expo, held on local marae. Each year a year 9 Whanau Evening welcomes year 9 Maori students and whanau introducing them to staff, SLT members, heads of Faculties, the Year 9 Dean as well the Guidance, Careers and Administration teams. Smaller things such as school signage has also been updated such Nāhi for Nurse.

My Response (Practice)

Being open to new ideas and (admittedly limited but developing) co-construction of learning and assessment, allows for new learning opportunities, that I hope empowers all my learners. I admit to my students to being a learner as much as a facilitator of their learning. Sharing cultural understanding and learning experiences providing valuable discussion and again I hope acceptance of other cultures. For the last couple of years I have used Pair Programming in my pedagogy, and have been exploring Tuakana-teina relationships or a buddy system model.

A National Response (Resourcing)

From my subject association was shared a glossary of (over 3000) Māori Digital Technology terms, which I have begun to incorporate into my teaching space. TKI have a range of material including how Māori achieving success as Māori can be brought to life at your school, via the NZC Spotlights series.

[Update 28 June: Draft for consultation] Yet to fully emerge, but very exciting is the rewritten Digital Technologies|Hangarau Matihiko that includes four learning progressions – two dual progressions for both English and Māori medium education, and two unique progressions to Māori medium education.



Bishop, R. (2012, September 23). A culturally responsive pedagogy of relations. Edtalks. . Retrieved from

Cowie, B., Otrel-Cass, K., Glynn, T., & Kara, H., et al. (2011). Culturally responsive pedagogy and assessment in primary science classrooms: Whakamana tamariki. Wellington: Teaching Learning Research Initiative. Retrieved from

Gay,G. (2002). Preparing for culturally responsive teaching. Journal of Teacher Education, 53(2),106-116.

Teaching Tolerance. (2010, June 17). Introduction to Culturally Relevant Pedagogy. . Retrieved from



Nā te mea ka taea te pūmahara te muku i roto i te ‘kohiko’, ka kīia he ‘puku kohiko USB’. Because the memory can be erased in a ‘flash’, it’s called a ‘USB flash drive’.

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