Preparing New Zealand's Teachers to Use Culturally Responsive Relationship-Based Pedagogies

Preparing New Zealand's Teachers to Use Culturally Responsive Relationship-Based Pedagogies

Mary Beth Ressler, James D. Ressler, Barrie Gordon
DOI: 10.4018/IJTEPD.2021070102
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This article addresses culturally responsive relationship-based pedagogies as a foundation to quality teaching and learning. Framed through an examination of the Masters of Teaching and Learning (MTchLrn) program in Aotearoa/New Zealand, this qualitative study was conducted using naturalistic inquiry. A study of how this program works across multiple contexts forms a basis for determining whether it could serve as a model for other institutions and countries. Results indicated the MTchLrn program, through the infrastructure of the program and triad relationships so central to the program, holds promise for effectively preparing teachers in culturally responsive and relationship-based practices.
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This research is situated in Aotearoa /New Zealand and was conducted by two American researchers who are university faculty in different teacher preparation programs in the United States and one New Zealand researcher who is a faculty member at one of the institutions discussed in the research. The research team, interested in the effectiveness of the newly implemented initial teacher licensure program, the Masters of Teaching and Learning (MTchLrn) program, worked collaboratively in designing the study in the United States and New Zealand and conducting onsite research in New Zealand. The researchers, each from different universities, identify as a white female, white male, and Pakeha (NZ white) male respectively. All have worked within their own institutions to build teacher education programs that focus on building equity and inclusivity in both teacher training and preparation as well as in schools in which their preservice teachers will teach. This investigation was undertaken as independent research financially supported in part by each of the American researchers’ institutions and approved by the third researcher’s institution. The research was prompted by the individual and collective inquiry of the authors. While many aspects of the design of the program were investigated, the focus of this particular inquiry is the ways in which the MTchLrn program is both informed by and informs culturally responsive and relationship-based pedagogical practices. The intention is to shed light on considerations for both this nationwide program to consider and for other governments and institutions considering ways to make culturally responsive and relationship-based pedagogical practices foundational to the work of teacher preparation programs.

Over the last few decades there has been a consistent conversation globally, among educational academics and researchers, as to how to best address the minoritization of students within schools through building a more impactful response to students’ cultural identities (e.g., Delpit, 1988, 1995, 2012; Ladson-Bilings, 1995; Lee, 2001; Gay, 2001; Acquah & Commins, 2013; Aquah, Lampin, Tandon, and Lempinen, 2015). Minoritization, which has been identified as a destructive underlying force in educational systems (Bishop, Berryman, Wearmouth, & Peter, 2012), is used in this context to refer to the ways in which students are treated as if their position and perspective is of less worth than those from the dominant culture (Shields, Bishop, and Mazawi, 2005, & Sleeter and Bishop, 2011). Working towards ensuring all students are achieving personal success and have access to the “culture of power” has been identified as one means towards combating the influence of minoritization. In order to achieve this, educators must reflect on their own attitudes and behaviors and work towards anti-deficit thinking and practices (Delpit, 1988, 1995, 2012).

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