1. Who is Ako Mātātupu: Teach First NZ and what do we do?
Ako Mātātupu: Teach First NZ is a social justice organisation, fighting to eliminate educational inequity in Aotearoa. In our flagship training and leadership programme, we support trainee teachers to serve in schools in low-income communities across the motu. Our teachers (called programme participants) work in a school, teaching and having full responsibility for their classes, for two years while they complete a Postgraduate Diploma in Secondary Teaching qualification. Part of this qualification is a leadership project which sees our participants work with their school community to effect change.
2. What is the most important piece of advice we'd give people aspiring to gain a place on the Teach First NZ programme?
The most important thing is that you really see our young people, and truly believe that every young person in Aotearoa can realise their potential. You will need to show this not just in your application for a place on our programme, but in every day of your teaching life. So the “heart part” of why you want to join the programme is super important. But almost as important is your ability to be reflective, responsive to feedback and open to new learning. The Teach First NZ journey is challenging, both practically - because learning to teach is huge and will present joys as well as challenges - but also emotionally, because what you will learn, understand and engage with - and the young people themselves - will show you how meaningful this mahi is.
3. What are we looking for in an application? What do applicants need to show to progress to the next round of the recruitment process?
We assess all applicants across 10 competencies to ensure we are bringing people onto the programme who will not only flourish and be successful in what is a rigorous way of training as a teacher, but more importantly who will bring out the best in our rangatahi. Core to this is you telling us what experience you have had working with young people, and why you care and want to teach - but probably the most important thing is to show your understanding of the inequity in our current education system and what some of the causes are, and your ability to reflect on that knowledge, show humility and openness to learning. We’re not expecting people to come to us knowing everything and having all the answers, but it’s important you demonstrate that you are a constantly evolving learner. The teaching profession talks about teachers and students being “lifelong learners”, and being able to challenge what you thought you knew to be true, and be open to new understandings, is critical - both for you as an effective teacher, and as a successful participant on the programme.
4. For applicants who make it onto the programme, what advice would we give to help you survive and thrive in your first year? What shouldn't you do?
When you start your two years teaching, make sure you go into your new school humble and open to learning. Some of our trainee teachers are highly educated, with PhDs and all sorts, so you may feel you’re an expert in your subject matter but you’re not an expert in teaching. Go into your school open-hearted, as well as open-eared, and ask, listen and learn - from the staff there, but especially from your students, who will teach you more than you ever imagined. Not just about how to be an effective teacher, but how to manage relationships in your daily life!
5. In one sentence, why should someone apply for the Teach First NZ programme?
Because you’re here, you’ve had a great education and you are on your own journey of success - and the best way to pay that forward, and to make Aotearoa a truly fair and equitable society, where all our rangatahi can flourish, is by working to serve and lead the young leaders of tomorrow.
If you’d like to find out more about the Teach First NZ programme by having a kōrero with one of our team, please contact [email protected] and we will arrange a chat!
“Why I Teach”: A kōrero with two wonderful wāhine of Onehunga High SchoolVoices
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If you would like to find out more about our programme, how it works and who we are looking for, we have created an information pack just for you!