Cultural Responsive Relational Practice

Week 27 – Reflection

It is the second week of term and we are already behind. One of the key steps in our Action Plan is to include our Arts Captains in facilitating a connection to our contributing schools. In this inquiry, we are focussing in on a small school that we have identified as having more at-risk students.

The first meeting of our Arts Captains, intended for week one, moved out to week two because things just tend to get complicated in that first week. I am already seeing that the timeframe is evolving. And that is OK, we will adapt.

I send out an email to the “A Team” of Arts Faculty student leaders – our best and our finest, inviting them to a meeting. I’m waiting there with food to greet them at interval and no-one shows. Crossed wires, miscommunication and they rock up full of enthusiasm at the beginning of lunch. That’s OK, we are adapting I tell myself. Two by two they walk in the room, Dance, Drama, Visual Art, and Music Captains, all excited and bright-eyed, and I am all full of hope for the future. But wait, where are the Kapa haka students?

So where are the best and the brightest of our Maori students? Why are they missing when everyone else has managed to make the meeting? Deficit thinking would have me say “these kids just don’t care” or “are they even at school? Maybe they are bunking?” but deep down when I examine the reality of how this has played out I have to look at my approach to setting up this meeting. I have no relationship with the Kapa haka students. They do not know who I am. They do not know the other Arts Captains. And the penny drops and I am horrified.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. In reality, if I am taking a culturally responsive approach, and I need to have that in every aspect of my teaching, I should go to them and introduce myself. I need to contact their parents and congratulate them on the success of their child being awarded this honor. And I need to build the Parent – Child – School triangle (Kemp 2015) that we are talking about in our Inquiry question.

Having the theory to back up your reasoning is all well and good but if you are not walking the walk it is all just lip service.

So where to now? I do a little backtracking. I contact the teacher in charge of Kapa haka and confirm I have the correct students as I have a feeling one has left school. I contact ALL the parents of the Arts Captains because we know that what is good for Maori students is good for ALL our students.

And then I put my money where my mouth is and do some serious relationship building. I model the behavior I want these students to use with each other and the students from our focus group. Lead by example.


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