Growth mindset in the te reo Maori classroom

Fixed mindset vs growth mindset.
As a teacher I practice growth mindset in the akomanga but as I am discovering I have been holding many fixed growth mindset thoughts as a learner.
This year I decided to embark on a year long te reo  journey to further my te reo. So biting the proverbial bullet I enrolled in Te Wānanga o Aotearoa ki Manukau to experience the rumaki reo o Te Aupikitanga.Rumaki reo is full immersion class where only te reo Māori is spoken.
I chose this particular course for 2 reasons;

  1. The tutors/pouako are two of the very best there are. They are patient, clever wahine demonstrating manaakitanga and tikanga in every aspect of their being.
  2. In order for me to extend my reo I was needing  a full immersion environment  (memory issues!) This is the only course at this level where I am able attend 4 days per week from 9-2.(whoop whoop) Oh and did I mention it is FREE?

It also meant I could continue my PD work.
As a Practitioner I have always tried to have a non-threatening learning environment. But being in the seat of the learner certainly is a scary place to be, no matter how “gentle” the environment is. I was about to experience that again.
Day one. The fear. Standing up to introduce ourselves and mihi to the rest of the class.
 I have done this so many times before. No matter how often I stand to speak it never feels totally comfortable. What if I make a mistake or use a wrong word? Forget ” there’s no such thing as a mistake”. Right now is not the time for learning from my “mistakes”.
Before it was my turn I was half listening to the speakers before me and trying to construct a half decent kōrero. Shall I be short and sweet, or try to put some cleverness or funny kīwaha in to the mihi? No. No-one likes a smarty pants. I’ll just keep it basic.
 After the short relief that the mihi part was over it was time for me to sing my waiata. 
The panic set in. Maybe the tune or words won’t come out of the tensed up voice box or I might forget the words. And… I did forget the words, and the squeaks were at least in tune.

So after the first month of uneasiness I questioned all of my insecurities and one day it just got too much.” I’M GOING TO GIVE UP. I’m too busy, I don’t need this.” Blah  blah blah.
The discomfort and feelings of not being as good as I wanted to be, were too strong. Added to all of that my wonderful classmates are so good at speaking te reo and I just felt too intimidated. Obviously our Pouako is quite used to that because she gave us the opportunity to express any worries or concerns  about our learning.The thing is, the kaupapa is awesome. The other tauira are amazingly kind and inspirational.The work is pitched at the right level. Our tutors are beautiful human beings. So what’s the problem? Learning, being in the learners seat like all those tamariki we teach every year- it’s not easy! Actually, IT IS HARD BEING A LEARNER!
So I had a good talk to myself. This course is something I have wanted to do for the past 2 years. I have to say one of the most important aspects of learning te reo is actually learning about the culture through the spoken words. The depth and spiritual connection, the wairua, the connection to land and to each other…it’s all beautiful.The process.The journey.It is all relative and to be enjoyed.
Above my desk I have one of my favourite whakataukī.

Pai tū pai hinga nāwai rā ka oti

Whakataukī to use with growth mindset

Good to stand, good to fall, eventually the work is completed. As with many whakataukī this has somewhat different meanings to different people. To me this has been effective in getting me back on track.
You begin your learning journey and stay focused on your goals.

 You will have times where you fall over, have difficulties and make ” mistakes”.This is your opportunity to take growth mindset action, talk back to your fixed mindset with your growth mindset voice. When you have made your decision to carry on, stand up again, move forward. The getting up and falling may happen again BUT if you continue eventually your goal will be completed.It’s the journey, the climb the process.

Part of the work I have been implementing in a school is based on te reo Māori/growth mindset material. The poster below has the whakataukī and in the thought bubbles are some prompts for growth mindset.

Growth mindset



Then the thought bubbles can be filled in by the ākonga.


Growth mindset worksheet


So here I am, looking forward to next term to return to Te Aupikitanga and through this “mindset” process I am more relaxed about the outcome and focused on the journey and the incredible wisdom of the kaiako and of my other classmates. I’m grateful to have the space to actually work on my own growth mindset. It sure does relieve the pressure.     So for now….

“If I don’t try I automatically fail.Where’s the dignity in that?”

Thanks Carol Dweck

If you would like to try this whakataukī and growth mindset sheet download below.

Have you used whakataukī with growth mindset in your akomanga? Please leave a comment if you have any pearls of wisdom to share.
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If you are considering Te Aupikitanga or would like some further inspiration to learn or improve your te reo have a watch of this clip of Jennifer Ward Leyland and hear about her te reo journey.

ngā mihi,
nā Michele