Teach First NZ in action

Issue: Volume 99, Number 19

Posted: 19 November 2020
Reference #: 1HAEab

On-the-job training is proving transformational for teachers and schools engaged with Ako Mātātupu|Teach First NZ employment-based trainee teacher programme.

Onehunga High School has long partnered with Ako Mātātupu|Teach First NZ, employing up to five new programme participants each year since 2014.

“We fully support Teach First NZ’s aim to develop top graduates and professionals into highly effective teachers and inspirational leaders in schools that serve lower decile communities,” says principal Deidre Shea.

“Their participants better represent our diverse communities. Participants go through a rigorous interview and selection process, and have much to offer education and young people.”

In particular, the programme addresses the difficulties experienced by decile 1–5 schools in recruiting quality teachers of science, technology, mathematics, English, and te reo Māori.

Teach First NZ graduate Reid Douglas joined the school in 2018 and teaches product design, technology, and design and visual communication.

“We were thrilled when Reid applied to return to teach at his former school! He has a Master of Product Design, considerable industry experience, and is a person of integrity who relates exceptionally well with others, including his students. As a former student and a local resident, he is deeply connected to our community,” says Deidre.

“Product design teachers are rare, and outstanding product and design teachers like Reid, extremely so. Reid has contributed two outstanding years as a teacher already. He is now qualified as a teacher and will continue in his role permanently from 2021.”

Apprenticeship-like role

Reid says Teach First NZ has facilitated his career transition by providing an apprenticeship-like role.

“I would likely not have pursued teaching if it hadn’t been for this work-as-you-train model. I wanted a job where I would be reminded of purpose every day and working with students to share my love for creativity and design seemed a good place to start.”

The practical aspect of being able to continue in employment while training was also a big attraction for environmental scientist Teina Wells-Smith, now teaching science at Whangārei Boys’ High School. But Teina’s main driving force was to contribute to positive change in education equity.

“The goals of Teach First NZ aligned with my own. Education inequity has been part of Aotearoa since before my grandparents’ generation and I was keen to be a part of a movement committed to overcoming this.

“In previous roles I had worked with school groups guiding tours or running environmental workshops, and I saw the positive impact I could make on these rangatahi. My younger whanaunga never really considered science as an option because they didn’t see themselves represented in that field, so I found I could share my passion for science and encourage our young Māori to get into this field.

“One of the strengths of the programme is trying to place the participants in schools in a community where we’re from. Many of my students are whanaunga of mine so I know I’m making a direct impact on my own people.

“I also believe in our school values. They are Māori values, their meanings are universal, and when they are embedded in our teaching and learning we will be able to develop our students of Whangārei Boys’ High School into fine young men.”

Bringing science to life

Principal Karen Gilbert-Smith says Teina brings a wealth of knowledge and a focus on bringing the sciences to life, particularly for Māori students, which has led to an increase in their interest in pursuing sciences.

“A great example of this was his work with students to develop science fair projects focused on Māori concepts. He also leads professional development within the faculty again focused on weaving Māori concepts through the science curriculum. An example of this was manufacturing kawakawa balm with Year 9 students.

“He is a key driver in reviewing the junior science curriculum with a view to utilising more community expertise and increasing student engagement. The reciprocity is evident in that we can provide opportunities to Teina to add his valuable voice and expertise and the outcomes for our students are improved as a result.

“Teina is definitely a curriculum leader and we are excited about the opportunity to work with him into the future.”

Partnership opportunities

Ako Mātātupu|Teach First NZ partners with eligible secondary schools who share a passion for addressing educational inequality. Programme participants are recruited for their potential to be effective teachers and leaders, and to teach in high-demand subjects in low decile schools.

To date, more than 54 per cent of candidates have taught STEM subjects and 17 per cent have taught te reo Māori.

Partnership opportunities include: co-hosting events and workshops; sharing best practice with the Teach First NZ network; receiving professional development (mentor training, cultural responsiveness development); hosting school visits; or employing one of the participants.

For information on eligibility and how to partner with Change to Ako Mātātupu | Teach First NZ(external link).

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 11:42 am, 19 November 2020

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