Associate Director Primary Teacher Education, Faculty of Education,
The University of Auckland
In 2009, I was associate principal in a low-decile primary school when I was offered the opportunity to work closely with the Faculty of Education at The University of Auckland in the Reframing Practicum Project, which is focused on addressing the theory-practice divide in initial teacher education. Given the Faculty of Education’s determination to see schools and the university partnering to provide robust and authentic professional experience for student teachers, it was an easy decision.
My involvement in the project furthered my growing interest in working with student teachers during practicum and presented me with opportunities I had not anticipated. I worked with university academics as a colleague and I was provided subsidised access to further study.
The courses that I was able to enrol in for my Master of Education were closely aligned to my areas of interest and strength, both academically and professionally. I was offered a one-year secondment to the Faculty in 2010 and made the final commitment to initial teacher education in 2011. This was not an easy decision. I left a 30-year career in schools, but it was the right decision for me.
I chose to move to the Faculty because I enjoy the research-based, evidence informed focus of the university environment as this challenges my thinking and enables me to advance my own learning. I also saw the opportunity to participate in critical initiatives in ways that were not available in a school.
The work that our faculty and school partners are doing together to design practicum experiences that provide connection between teacher preparation and professional practice as a teacher gives me confidence in the future of teacher education. Regardless of regulatory or policy requirements or initiatives, together we can ensure that student teachers make the transition from preparation to teaching. Because we continue to believe in our work together, we are learning together. We are proving that the theory-practice divide can change on many levels.
It is a privilege to be teaching tomorrow’s teachers and while we have many student teachers who thrive at university, it can be a difficult environment to navigate for some student teachers for many reasons.
As a programme leader, my work with our student teachers must take account of the New Zealand Teachers Council’s Graduating Teacher Standards, the expectations of a research-led, innovative university and my own commitment to the Registered Teacher Criteria. This role can be extremely challenging and it is immensely rewarding – often both at the same time.
Teaching at this level of education is justly demanding and I am now a teacher who is learning to be a researcher. While it is not easy, I will persevere. Initial teacher education needs researchers in our universities who are committed teachers. This is a whole new world for me. I believe that it is a world worth investing in, as a university initial teacher educator and with my colleagues in schools.
Te Manaaroha Rollo
(Te Mahurehure-Ngāpuhi & Ngāti Tahinga/Ngāti Te Ata-Waikato)
Faculty of Education, University of Waikato
Ko te manu e kai ana i te miro nōna te ngāhere
Ko te manu e kai ana i te matauranga nōna te ao.
The bird that partakes of the miro berry reigns in the forest
The bird that partakes of education reigns in the world.
Education has always been the pillar of my life, and what makes me the person that I am today. When I talk about education, I talk about mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) to which the marae was my school, and my elders were my teachers. The alternative education was mātauranga Pākeha being educated at Matihetihe Native Māori School in Mitimiti, Hokianga, and Hillary College in Otara.
After leaving school, completing form seven (Year 13), I held many positions as a youth worker, managing community and cultural centres, kapa haka tutor, and a full-time entertainer. However, my real passion was to be a teacher in secondary schools, as I enjoyed my educational experience at Hillary College.
After returning from my overseas adventures (where I lived for 10 years in Melbourne, Australia and three years in Linz, Austria), I remember calling Ngāpō Wehi (my kapa haka mentor) who encouraged me to get a degree so that I could achieve my dream of becoming a teacher. This was accomplished here at the University of Waikato, where, after graduating with a BA (Honours), and Masters, I am currently undergoing my PhD oral examination. Although I was a pōhara (poor) student and felt the pressure of managing my learning (especially submitting assignments), I really enjoyed my journey here at the university.
Teaching at secondary schools was very rewarding as it gave me an opportunity to put theory into practice. I enjoyed teaching, building productive relationships with students, staff and the community. However, the main reward was seeing my students grow, achieve and move on to employment or further education. If my students were happy, then I was happier. However, work at secondary schools was not always easy, as I felt that my creative teaching pedagogies were overshadowed by the demands of administrative work.
In 2012, whilst employed as HOD Māori at Melville High School for seven years, I applied for the position as lecturer at the Faculty of Education in the Professional Studies in Education department. At first I was half-hearted about the application, as my heart was still with my students.
However, I needed a change and more challenges in my educationally driven-world. After accepting the position at the Faculty of Education, my whole life has been given a new focus, a new direction. Although, I felt that I made a difference to student’s lives at secondary schools, I now have the opportunity of training new secondary school teachers to make a difference to the upcoming generations.
Over the past two years, I had to endure the learning process of designing paper outlines, coordinating papers, upskill my computer skills (Moodle, MyPortfolio), prepare my lectures and tutorials, teaching, attend meetings, complete my PhD, under research, attend conferences and support graduation ceremonies. Has it been busy at the Faculty of Education? Absolutely. However, the core business as a lecturer is to ensure that the students get the best education, and develop as competent teachers. I believe that students reflect teachers, and my main aim as a lecturer is to support student teachers to become unique, individual, effervescent, inspirational and productive teachers. After all, New Zealand and the world depend on our future teachers, and so do our secondary school students.
Education has always been the pillar of my life, and will continue to be…
Ko au te manu e kai ana i te matauranga, nōku te ao.
I am the bird that partakes of education, the world is mine.