Louisa King (Cohort 2014) is an alumni of the Teach First NZ programme, a teacher of Te Reo Māori. Here she shares what has inspired her and driven her to be doing what she does.
I didn’t go to school here in Aotearoa, I grew up in Australia, and being part of the Teach First NZ programme opened my eyes a lot more to the inequalities that are present both here and in Australia. I enjoy working in a mainstream school, because those kids are me when I was at school. I can relate to them and I feel that I push them more so that they see the opportunities they have earlier in life. It’s also about providing a person that gives them that sense of being Māori, even if it’s just for an hour a day, but for them to know there is a space for them. With the current education system, I feel that too many of our rangatahi fall through the gaps and get lost in ‘the system’, I want to find a way to help these future leaders find success.
I am interested in two different things with teaching. I’m interested in Māori academic and pastoral support and achievement, which is something that I want to continue further. I will eventually base a Masters of Education research around this particular topic, as I would like to look deeper into ways in which schools, whānau and communities can support Māori Students. Another area I’m wanting to learn more about in is literacy, with a focus on Māori literacy. At my old school, Massey High School, there were so many awesome programmes to support students with lower literacy levels. Programmes like these can help to grow students confidence and is something I am eager to learn about.
The question I'm faced with is 'How do we encourage change?' I believe that if a teacher has a good relationship with their students, then the students are going to be receptive of learning. Teaching is a reciprocal thing. It’s more student centred than teacher centred these days. We’re moving into a modern world and I think that it is important to allow kids to bring themselves and their cultural identity into the classroom so that they are able to grow into the leaders with a strong sense of identity and confidence.