“Why I Teach”: A kōrero with two wonderful wāhine of Onehunga High School

“Why I Teach”: A kōrero with two wonderful wāhine of Onehunga High School

Aug 16, 2021 - Voices

Sarah Dillaman (C14 and past teacher at Onehunga High School) popped in to visit Phinia Evans and Janel Tolentino (both members of Ururoa, C20) in their classrooms at Onehunga High School, to see where the magic happens, and ask them why they joined the Teach First NZ programme, and what they love about teaching.

“Empathy goes a long way”


Janel is in her second year serving at Onehunga High School in Auckland, where she teaches Physics.


SD What’s your favourite thing about teaching?



JT "My favourite thing about teaching is my students - they're an instant mood-booster and very funny, and I love the whanaungatanga that we cultivate together."


SD What’s something you’ve discovered through teaching that you didn’t necessarily expect?


JT “Something that has really struck me from my teaching experience is that empathy goes a long way - you don’t know what your students are going through outside of the classroom, and it really helps to try to understand that and how that might link to how they’re behaving in class.”


SD Can you share a success you have observed in your students?


JT “It's made me happy to see that students who initially were having trouble being engaged in class are now the ones leading the learning for the rest of my students.”


Janel in her classroom!

“Knowing the Reo of their Tipuna”


Phinia is in her second year teaching Te Reo Māori and Māori Performing Arts.


SD Why did you join the Teach First NZ Programme?



PE “I joined the Teach First NZ Programme because I love Te Reo Māori and I think it’s important for rangatahi Māori to have access to their reo, and to feel affirmed and valued as Māori in kura auraki (in English-medium kura).”


SD What’s your favourite thing about teaching?


PE “My favourite thing about teaching Te Reo Maori is seeing rangatahi Māori feeling successful knowing the reo of their tipuna - perhaps they’re the first person to get the reo back in their family and it’s so wonderful to see their pride.”


SD What’s something you’ve discovered through teaching that you didn’t necessarily expect?


PE Something I didn’t expect was how easy it would be to form relationships with our rangatahi - I came in thinking I needed a ‘teacher’ persona, but just by being myself I've been able to form strong, authentic relationships with them."


SD What’s a key success you’ve been delighted to see in your students?


PE “I’ve loved seeing tauira coming into my akomanga who might be a little bit reluctant to kōrero - they might not want to involve themselves too much - but over time, and having built up their confidence, they’re now leading karakia, leading waiata, and standing up to deliver their whaikōrero.”


Phinia in front of the OHS mārae - Te Haerenga

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