Nyra Marshall on re-Indigenising education

Nyra Marshall on re-Indigenising education

Jan 24, 2020 - Voices

Barrister and solicitor turned teacher turned Teach First NZ Programme Kaihāpai Teacher Educator, Nyra Marshall (Kairapu alumni of Cohort 2015) shares some of her thinking as she enters a new role:

Tēnā koe Nyra. Please tell us - what are you excited about for 2020?

Ngā mihi o te tau hou ki a koutou katoa! 2020, ushers in a new year, a new decade, a fresh start, and new opportunities. For this year, I am most excited about starting in my new role and to be working with an amazing team of inspirational people.

Where will you be working this year and what’s your role?

After five years working at my original partner school and supporting many awesome, young people and their communities, I am joining Ako Mātātupu as a Kaihāpai, Programme Manager. The decision was a difficult one to make, but the opportunity to broaden my impact as an educator was one that was too good to pass up. I am also so grateful to be able to ‘give back’ to an organisation/whānau that I am so proud to be a part of.

I see a big part of my role as being responsive to the needs of current participants in the early stages of their teaching journey. In particular to work with Te Reo Māori teachers, providing the pastoral and curricular support they need - walking with them on their journeys, supporting and sharing with them, and caring for them. As a sole charge te reo Māori teacher, I have walked this path and know the many challenges they will need to navigate along the way. Te reo teachers also have added responsibilities outside of their school to their own whānau, hapū, marae and to themselves. As they forge their own pathways, and begin their journeys - who is cradling the participants? As a Kaihapai, I see this as a critical part of my role.

What have you noticed or been thinking about recently when it comes to educational inequality?

Educational inequality in Aotearoa is a very pressing and complex issue. Tied to this, is the fact that our world is changing and there are huge global issues like poverty, climate change, and loss of language/culture to grapple with this century. Our young people need to be well equipped to face and solve these ‘big’ issues. There needs to be a shift from ‘teaching to assessment’ and rote learning towards our learners acquiring soft skills like empathy, creativity, curiosity, resilience, and being able to work well with others. We also need an education system that acknowledges in an authentic way the Treaty partnership between Māori and the Crown, schools and Manawhenua. What works for Māori learners works for all learners.

What is clear to me is that past and current approaches to education in Aotearoa are not working for many of our young people. We need more brave thinkers who can think outside the box, and brave leaders with heart - responsive to the needs and aspirations of the communities they serve; catalysts for real change to our education system.

Do you have an approach or tip that has made your life more balanced or nurtured your wellbeing?

Everyday we create routines for the classroom and school, but forget about our own needs. The key tip I would offer to participants is to make time in your day for your own wellbeing. It may look like taking time each day to eat your lunch, drinking water at the end of each period or getting a massage each month. For me, joining F45 and setting time early in the morning to exercise, has increased my energy levels and wellbeing ten fold! Starting the day right, gives me enough energy to sustain the demands of teaching all day and still have the energy to be active with my son and present with family at the end of the day. You cannot care for others if you are not caring for yourself.

Who or what inspires you at the moment?

My Dad is my hero and my inspiration. He lives a simple life, close to our Marae on the western shores of Lake Taupo. Over the Christmas break I went home and was reminded of what an amazing person he is. There are three key qualities I admire in him - hard work, dedication and integrity. He is up at the crack of dawn, working tirelessly, chopping firewood, cutting scrub, mowing lawns and going to Hui. He is totally dedicated to caring for our Marae, welcoming our visitors, keeping our Marae beautiful, sharing knowledge, and supporting our wider whānau. Lastly he is the most reliable person I know. What he says he does, and it is done to the best of his ability. I hope to be half as good as him. These key attributes will serve me well going forward.

Ngā mihi, Nyra! We are so lucky to have you walking alongside our new participant teachers.

Kieran Gainsford on Education Research

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