Saturday, 7 October 2017

Week 28 - Cultural responsiveness

To me culturally responsive pedagogy is understanding that we all have a unique culture that affects how we learn and the experiences we have had. As it is explained in ‘teaching tolerance’ (2010) the most important part is understanding what culture is. To me culture is about a person’s worldviews, language, values, how they make sense of things, perspectives and assumptions. As an educator it is important to be aware of each child’s culture and respect their culture. As apart of this it is important that we are being a learner, as we don’t necessarily know a lot about their culture, it is about being willing to be the learner (Cowie et al., 2011). This is the tuakana teina relationship and often involves creating a partnership with the whānau too. We need to think about the unique background each person comes from, the knowledge they bring and the diverse ways they learn best. We have to then use this understanding of culture in how we teach, creating a program that provides opportunities for everyone's cultures to be recognised and the types of learning that are happening work for the children’s cultures. This about the link between what is known and what is being taught. This is good practice for every child so the culturally responsive practices we might use for some children will also benefit other children.

We have been using the Education review office indicators at our school (Education Review Office, 2016). These are  manaakitanga, whanaungatanga, ako and mahi tahi. These work well for the cultures in our school and this is what we base our culturally responsive practice around.
I believe our school is the Mauri Ora state for communication methods for our main cultures, we are actively engaged and communicating effectively. We have regular meetings where cultural groups come together with our ELL coordinator and some teachers and discuss their children’s learning and how the school is working for them. This is fed back to the board and changes are made where needed. We also have a Pasifika teacher and she is very good at communicating with families too. Our ELL coordinator really helps us to be at the Mauri Ora state as she coordinates this effective communication. We also as teachers have good relationships with our families and regularly are in contact with them. At times some of the teachers are Mauri Oho stage as they are not as actively communicating with their families the same as the school systems are communicating.
I believe our school is at Mauri Moe sleep level to the Mauri Oho level for learning activities. I feel like we have a good understanding of culturally responsive practice as a staff but often our understanding isn’t implemented in the classroom through the learning activities. We need to work harder at being more proactive when we are planning to ensure we are using cultural contexts, enhancing vocabulary and encouraging oral language for our learners. We are currently having some culturally responsive maths professional development which I feel is helping people to see how easy it can be and how a lot of what we do already is actually culturally responsive but if we want to be Mauri Ora we have got a way to go to actually embed this cultural practice in our learning activities.

Teaching Tolerance.( 2010, Jun 17).Introduction to Culturally Relevant Pedagogy.[video file]. Retrieved from
Edtalks.(2012, September 23). A culturally responsive pedagogy of relations. [video file].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

Potahu, T. W. (2011). Mauri - Rethinking Human Wellbeing. MAI Review, 3, 1-12. Retrieved from


  1. Wow Morgan it sounds like you have a very culturally responsive school in terms of communication. You have lots of strategies in place for everything to work effectively. ALthough you are at Mauri Moe sleep level, you are taking steps to address this need in your school. Tino Pai

  2. Again - I agree with everything you've said. I think its part of the big picture culture that you discussed two posts before this one. We have the big picture of cultural engagement at the school and board level. What we don't have yet, is it feeding down consistently into all classrooms. Our ELL coordinator has given staff meetings with ideas of how to get vocabulary enriched classrooms and we've got our Pasifika pd happening. It would be really good to see this being taken up at the grassroots level with individuals realising the importance and as you say its not that hard to incorporate once you get the idea. This is something for our SLT to consider - how to get it consistent in all teaching spaces without having to make a big deal about it.

  3. Again Morgan, you have some fantastic points about being culturally responsive. I love your statement about not needing to know everything about the culture, its about wanting to learn about the culture. With the growing number of diverse cultures in our classrooms as a teacher this expectation about having the attitude about wanting to learn over having to know is very reassuring. St Joseph's has so many different support bases in place and it is clear to see they are a culturally responsive school.