Sunday , October 24 2021

Foreign teachers can fight with NZ classrooms – principals


Hundreds of foreign teachers recruited to address the teacher's shortage of a culture shock in New Zealand classrooms, the bosses say.

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Photo: 123RF

The Ministry of Education said that more than 3,000 overseas teachers had responded to a recruitment campaign and approximately 550 had completed the screening of their qualifications and were ready to be employed.

School principals said it was good that schools had a larger pool of teachers to consider for their 2019 vacancies, but they warned that foreign educated teachers sometimes struggled with New Zealand's teaching methods and with Māori and Pasifika cultures.

Secretary of the Union's President Mike Williams said that some of the teachers simply would not adapt to New Zealand.

"While you may have a degree and a teacher education, it is very important if the context of New Zealand's cultural skills," he said.

Mr Williams said that New Zealand's educational style was also important.

He said it was based on a "relational" model and most teachers did not stand in front of their classroom and lectured their students.

"Many overseas teachers struggle with that change. Much makes the adjustment really good, but it is a big challenge for them in many cases," Williams said.

The head of multicultural Mount Cook School in Wellington, Sandra McCallum, said foreign teachers often struggled not only with New Zealand's educational style but also with the students' cultures.

"When it comes to working with our Māori and Pasifika students, it's something that we as New Zealand educated teachers constantly work to constantly improve our practices and I think it's a big hope for someone to come from another country ."

But some foreign teachers make the adjustment.

Ōtāhuhu Colleges English head Emma Norgate said she moved to Auckland from England just two years ago.

"It was an incredible cultural shock. I was not fully aware of the impact of the Pasifika communities in New Zealand, especially in southern Auckland," she said.

For example, Ms Norgate said it was time to learn that Pasifika teens showed respect by not looking at her teacher when they were disciplined.

Ōtāhuhu College chairman Neil Watson said it did not take long for good teachers to adapt to New Zealand classrooms.

"To be honest, a term or so they have quite well got it sorted," he said.

"It's getting better and better when they get used to our students."

But Mr. Watson said it was not clear how many good teachers were among those who had been approved to work in New Zealand.

The Education Department's Deputy Secretary for Early Learning and Student Performance, Ellen MacGregor-Reid, said that cultural competence was an ongoing work for all, not just foreign teachers.

But she said that education for teachers would start later this year.

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