Mana Kaiako!! Happy teachers’ day!!
We’re celebrating Teachers’ Day here in Aotearoa by kicking off a new series profiling our members, starting with teachers first.
‘A Day in the Life’ will highlight the incredible mahi done by our NZEI Te Riu Roa members. It will show the reality of our educators who care for the tamariki of Aotearoa, and celebrate all the parts that make us a diverse and inspiring bunch!
Q1: Tell us about yourself!
Waikato Taniwharau, he piko, he tanīwha. Ko Taupiri toku maunga, Ko Waikato toku awa, Ko Tainui toku waka, Ko Waikato toku iwi, Ko Ngati Werokoko me Raukawa wharepuhanga oku hapu, Ko Te Taumata te marae. Ko John Te Ika Maupoho Poihakena – Jackson toku pāpā, ko mate ia. Ko May Matekohe Ratima toku māmā. Ko Delwyn Baird ahau. No reira tena koutou katoa.
I was born in a small rural settlement in Southland. I spent my childhood playing outside, building huts, playing with the neighbours, and beach holidays with our extended whanau. My education journey began at the local primary school and I migrated to the nearest high school 50 minutes away to complete my college years. After completing my time there, I attended a Polytechnic in the city.
Jump forward 30 years and I am a mother of three, nana to eleven, and a devoted wife of thirty-two years to an adorable tāne from Ngāi Tahu. Currently, I teach at a predominately Māori kura tucked in the back of the city of Whangārei. I’m trained in teaching our junior students but have also happily stepped up to the role of teaching in the intermediate section of our delightful school. I’ve also taken on roles like sports coach, supporter, organiser of community events, leadership roles to support educators across the country, stall organiser, kapa haka tutor, fundraiser supporter, and of course camp cook and uber driver!
Q2: Who was your favourite teacher or biggest mentor/supporter growing up?
Throughout my life, I have been privileged to be part of some amazing experiences. Through Kōhanga Reo to Playcentre, primary to intermediates, high schools to community groups, I remember all the educators who had faith in me. My late father, John Poihakena Jackson, my primary school teachers Mr Wilcox and Mr Brown, and my high school teachers Mrs Anscombe and Mrs Sommers. These were truly great leaders who inspired me to use my natural ability to communicate and built my love for teaching.
Q3: What do teachers do all day?
Teaching is not for the faint-hearted! Planning is ongoing and evolving each and every day. Educators teach themselves. I’m up at 6.15am and with two grandchildren in tow, aim to be out the door at 7.40am.
At school, I’m met with a range of emotions and talking points, depending on how my students’ night has gone at home. Once that has been dealt with its making sure most of them have had some food to get them through our day of mahi.
Then, it’s moving on to adjust the day’s learning due to staff shortages or sickness. This is all before I even get tamariki in the class to acknowledge them coming to kura.
Once we start, we deal with a myriad of challenges and achievements throughout the day. Interval is our opportunity for a quick toilet break and fuel up (if we get the chance to step out of the class) and lunchtime is our opportunity to reconnect with many of the students across the school (or a quick five minutes to recoup).
By the end of our school day, it’s time to say farewell to our students with the hope that we have made the day exciting enough for them to come back the next day. Once our akonga have left, it’s time to prepare mahi for the next day and to reflect with my colleague and team members about the days’ highs and lows. That’s when we don’t have curriculum meetings, staff meetings, or team meetings.
I’m glad to be walking out the gates with my two moko in tow by 4pm or at the latest 6pm. Once at home, I move into another realm of mahi with different kaupapa – sporting commitments, cultural events and workshops, and mahi to advance working conditions for all educators! This is what I do in my spare time, and I love it. By the time my head hits my pillow, it’s usually after 10pm or later if I get carried away, just so that I can get up and do it all again.
Q4: People think my job is…
to teach tamariki to read, write, do maths and behave, but actually, it’s being able to instigate students to build engaging relationships for my learners, growing problem solvers, encouraging tinkers to be inventive, instilling worthwhile values for young people to be the best that they can be, give them tools to deal with emotional situations, and to let them know that each and every one of them has unique traits and abilities that are needed in our leaders for āpōpō!
Q5: Favourite part of my day?
When I get to converse with my ākonga about their whānau, their mahi, and their learning.