Tānia Gaffey is a dedicated early childhood educator and mentor who has shared her experiences with using Storypark’s new planning tools and how Te Puna Reo o Ngā Kākano (an urban-based, kaupapa Māori, Bronze Enviroschool in Thorndon, Wellington) have customised plans to suit their unique curriculum.
In New Zealand, Provisionally Certificated Teachers (often newly qualified educators) need to complete induction and training over two years in order to gain full certification and meet all of the Practising Teacher Criteria. The Practising Teacher Criteria are standards for quality teaching that educators in New Zealand must meet to be issued with and renew a full practising certificate.
Tānia is currently mentoring a couple of Provisionally Certificated Teachers (PCTs) who are both diligent and resourceful in their process of evidence-gathering for full certification. Because PCTs must show quality evidence of their training to meet the Practising Teacher Criteria, Tānia has created a specialised plan using Storypark’s new planning feature that is specific to their needs and represents their personal evidence in a more visual way than before.
Previously, this evidence was gathered from a variety of places to illustrate key components of their work in accordance with the Practising Teacher Criteria, some of which are very jargon-filled and seem to sit in isolation from one another due to the way they’re listed beneath their umbrella categories (Professional Relationships and Professional Values, and Professional Knowledge in Practice), and despite the Education Council’s recommendation that they should be perceived as overlapping.
Tānia explains that categorising anything that has a strong Māori foundation or focus within this type of structure will always be challenging, because it’s equally about the Treaty of Waitangi, te reo Māori, tikanga Māori, wellbeing (whakapapa/genealogy, atuatanga/connecting and identifying with our Māori deities, sustainability/our relationship with Papatūānuku), and more.
“So, thank goodness for Tātaiako: Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners! Because here at Te Puna Reo we feel really deeply that no one concept, whakaaro (idea), or tikanga (convention or practice) ever sits in isolation – certainly not the uniquely Māori ones, and this is especially true if you’re applying a Māori lens to your practice. I think Tātaiako does a great job of reiterating and validating that, as does Te Whāriki, and so too do the new Standards for the Teaching Profession (more on those later).”
Storypark’s new planning feature has allowed Tānia’s educators to show evidence within a kaupapa Māori setting
Tānia’s Provisionally Certificated Teachers use the competencies within Tātaiako to categorise their evidence – an obvious choice given that its concepts, Behavioural Indicators, and Outcomes have all been designed with the educational success of Māori learners in mind, and for teaching with a corresponding cultural lens that’s specific to us here in Aotearoa New Zealand. “Without a doubt, we are uncompromisingly dedicated to that”.
“This choice makes dealing with the Practising Teacher Criteria and their jargon a great deal easier, given the clear links and overlaps that are specified throughout the pages of Tātaiako – once you’ve decided upon the competency your evidence falls under, the PTCs simply are what they are accordingly.”
Tānia has paraphrased and tweaked the guiding statements of Tātaiako and changed the Outcomes to a series of reflective questions specific to their Puna Reo, and placed them in a self-designed Storypark plan template.
So, by reviewing these statements and asking these questions of themselves, Tānia’s Provisionally Certificated Teachers are able to be decisive about their personal evidence, categorise it with confidence, and then add it to the plan in whichever format best suits them (e.g a comment, a photograph, a current paki ako, or a PDF or Word file of a private Storypark conversation, past paki ako (Puna Reo’s in-house term for ‘learning stories’), portfolio entry, or parent-teacher interview report – and even multiple examples/media for the one kaupapa (topic)):
Tānia says about the templates she has created “Then it’s tangible: wherever there are gaps in evidence, or wherever it sits abundantly, those are your areas of focus or strength. That’s your direction, moving ever forward. You can see it really clearly for yourself, every time you open your ‘open plan’.
Plus, this new planning feature enables me to share these plans privately with each individual PCT, so we’re both able to add evidence to their plan, and work together.
Adapting to changes
While creating these templates, Tānia needed to acknowledge the Education Council of Aotearoa New Zealand’s recent collaborative work in replacing the PTCs with the new Standards for the Teaching Profession. Obviously, Tātaiako as a document currently aligns with the PTCs, and this makes for an effective plan template for Te Puna Reo o Ngā Kākano, Tānia says. “What I’ve also done, though, is unpack these new Standards enough to likewise weave them into my template so my PCTs and I can begin to use them now, before their official implementation from the start of January:”
“Of course, we’re awaiting the eventual amendments to documents such as Tātaiako by the Education Council regarding the position of the Standards in relation to the competencies we’re currently working within our plan. For now, though, I think it’s wise and perfectly acceptable for other educational leaders to have a go at unpacking them, and exploring where they might contextually and experientially fit in an evidence-gathering plan like this one that’s unique to their centre, their ‘place’. Any necessary adjustments can indeed happen over the next little while through consistent professional dialogue and self-reflection, or later with the official word from the Council and the relevant PLD. But to be courageous with it all is a wonderful start, I think.”
Positive outcomes for educators
“I really believe it sets them up to SUCCEED!” Tānia says about this new way of planning.
“I reckon as mentors we should be constantly striving to support our Provisionally Certificated Teachers to gather their very best evidence from a variety of sources – for example, sometimes that’s an on-the-floor observation, but sometimes it’s also a really well-written, detailed paki ako telling the same story, only with multiple voices (professional leader, teacher, parent, even student, thanks to Storypark). With this particular planning tool, you share it with each other and you contribute to it together, from all angles, to only gather that very best evidence. It’s possible to make every area an area of strength by the time you’re done, and you’re able to tangibly track and appraise the evidence, whether you’re the PCT or the mentor.
Ultimately, you’re able to see your successes grow as you go.”