By Kumu Kainoa Bowman-Tam
Kumu Kainoa offers experienced-based recommendations for any team planning interdisciplinary teaching and learning.
In April of 2022, the papa ʻeono faculty of Kamehameha Schools Hawaiʻi Middle School were offered an opportunity to take part in an ‘Ōiwi Edge pilot as a result of recommendations created by the Middle School ‘Ōiwi Edge redesign team during in the 2021-2022 school year. The pilot team consisted of five core Kumu, who taught Math, Science, Social Studies, English/Language Arts, and PE/Health. Kumu on the team ranged in experience at Kamehameha School Hawaiʻi Middle School from 12 years to less than one year.
The vision for ‘Ōiwi Edge teaching and learning at the Middle School was identified by the redesign team as: “At the Kula Waena, our goal is kanaka IDENTITY. Our path is ʻŌiwi Edge PERSONALIZATION through PROBLEM-POSING education that EMPOWERS our ʻŌiwi leaders to lift the lāhui.”
The Kuanaʻike Mindset of Hoʻoili a Ili was central to the work undertaken as a part the ‘Ōiwi Edge pilot. The act of Hoʻoili is centered around transference, the intentional passing of something from one party to another. The transference, in this case, was multifaceted. Most obvious was the transference of ‘ike between Kumu and haumāna. A less obvious case of transference in the pilot was the transference of the ownership of learning. Through the pilot, Kumu were able to create learning experiences for students that shifted the role of expert from teacher to student. Traditionally, Kumu have ‘ike that they teach students, but through the pilot, students were provided opportunities that allowed them to become the expert on a topic, shifting educational transference from the more traditional model to student to teacher.
Another case of transference in the pilot was from one educational team to another. As the first team to undergo the pilot experience, the papa ‘eono team had the larger kuleana of transferring this work to the next team to participate in and take up the pilot. This required the creation of tools and systems that would allow future teams to transition into the role of pilot team more easily.
‘Ōiwi Edge Learning & Teaching Expectations.
The ‘Ōiwi Edge pilot was developed with the ‘Ōiwi Edge Learning & Teaching Expectations (ʻŌEL&T Expectations) at the forefront. Most notably, the Naʻauao expectations were foundational in the learning opportunities provided to haumāna. The pilot team sought to create authentic learning opportunities centered around issues of importance to the lāhui in alignment with the expectations found in the Naʻauao pillar. Most significantly, student learning throughout the pilot was centered around the following ‘ŌEL&T Expectations:
Learners strengthen their voice and choice by understanding that there is kuleana in learning—accessing, collecting, and creating ʻike.
Learners create opportunities to share and express their own perspectives to internal and external audiences.
Learners respectfully engage in authentic issues of importance to our lāhui and world in order to establish their personal convictions as an advocate for social justice.
The goal of this research was to share practices within the pilot to inform future teams undergoing similar work and potentially guide their experiences towards success. The research sought to address the following questions:
What makes for a successful ‘Ōiwi Edge Pilot?
What impacts does an ‘Ōiwi Edge Pilot have on kumu?
Ongoing data collection included asking Kumu participants to reflect on their experiences in the pilot over the course of the school year. Their input served as the basis of the findings from of this study.
Insights Gathered from this Study
There is no magic equation for successfully integrating ‘Ōiwi Edge Learning & Teaching using a team-based approach. The following suggestions and strategies come from the sixth grade kumu at the end of a year of piloting full integration of ‘Ōiwi Edge Learning & Teaching. The team worked inter-disciplinarily and utilized cornerstone assessments as they worked towards operationalizing the use of the ‘ŌEL&T Expectations as the foundation of their practice. Many of these suggestions also aligned with Elements of the Next Education Workforce published by the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University (ASU).
Suggestion 1: Time. The provision of time was cited by multiple kumu as an integral factor in the success of the pilot. Kumu were provided with 30 days of planning time, in two-day intervals, spread throughout the school year. The two-day intervals allowed for kumu to continue planning over an extended period of time.
Suggestion 2: Planning Meeting Facilitation. Identifying a clear facilitation model that aligns with the values of the group is essential to the success of a pilot. Some potential formats included administration led, rotation teacher facilitation, and single teacher facilitation. The team ultimately decided on a single teacher-led model. Having a single individual responsible for facilitation allowed for a clearer understanding of individual kuleana.
Suggestion 3: Development of Norms. Foundational to the smooth running of any team is the development of norms. Norms should be collaboratively created and should align with the tasks undertaken by the team. The pilot team settled on the following norms:
Collaborate in order to achieve our goals. All hands on deck; “Kākou Thing.”
Listening by acknowledging, validating, and adding on to the ideas of others.
Presume positive intentions.
Communicate with all members of the team.
Arrive mākaukau with all kuleana prepared beforehand.
Don’t say “NO,” say “might we consider...”
Revisit norms and values at the start of each two-day planning session.
Decisions should be grounded in ʻŌiwi Edge.
Suggestion 4: Clear Goals and Vision. One of the first tasks undertaken by the pilot team was to develop a vision statement that encompassed their unique views of ‘Ōiwi Edge Learning & Teaching and how it should look within the context of their team. The team brainstormed the elements that they felt were necessary to the success of students and teachers involved in the pilot and organized their ideas in a circle map. From there, the team incorporated those ideas that captured the goal and vision of their participation in the pilot, resulting in the following statement: “Our goal is to design a feasible, formal process to create authentic learning opportunities that are responsive to our lāhui, collaboratively facilitated, thematic, flexible, student-centered, and foster the development and reclamation of ʻŌiwi dispositions. These learning opportunities will fuse reading, writing, and mathematics with interdisciplinary content through cornerstone assessments.”
Suggestion 5: Planning Tools. The team created a document template for interdisciplinary planning based upon their team goal. The team adapted a 2010 template created by ConnectEdCalifornia, which is no longer available online. The template included more traditional teaching methodologies such as Essential Questions, Standards, and Compelling and Supporting Questions. The team added more culturally centered methodologies such as Manaʻo Nui (Big Idea), Kāhea ‘Ana (Call to Action), ‘ŌEL&T Expectations, Hākilo (Look Fors), and Cornerstone Hōʻike. Content areas were color coded in the planning document and content and skills aligned with the standards were identified.
Suggestion 6: Organizational Strategies. The level of collaboration undertaking a pilot required a robust organizational system. Meeting agendas were housed in a Microsoft OneNote notebook for easy access to current and past meeting agendas. The Microsoft suite of tools provided a higher level of security than Google Drive, which was another benefit to using the software. The collaborative nature of the notebook allowed multiple users to edit agendas, however, simultaneous editing caused some issues for users and the team will be looking to other options in the future to facilitate more successful collaborative editing.
Suggestion 7: Open-Mindedness. In one way or another, every Kumu surveyed mentioned that open-mindedness was a key component to the success of the pilot. One strategy that helped the team to be more open-minded was the creation of their team goal. “Don’t say ‘NO,’ say ‘might we consider…’” Eliminating “No” from the team vocabulary helped team members to be more open to new ideas and the role they could play in implementing them.
Suggestion 8: Pilina. The single most important element to the success of the pilot team was a strong sense of pilina. Bruce Tuckman identified four stages of group development: Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing (Collaborative On-Line Research and Learning). It is important to define the stage that your group is in and utilize strategies to help your team to progress.
Impact on Kumu
Kumu stated that participation in the pilot positively impacted their relationship with their students. Some indicators of these positive impacts included: knowing students better, more comfortable learning spaces, students finding more personal connections to their work, an increase in side-by-side learning with less top-down teaching, and students advocating for their needs by choosing when and which kumu to work with. Kumu shared that they built more empathy for their colleagues. Collaboration allowed the team to understand and share the pressures of a variety of initiatives and tackle challenges together. Finally, Kumu indicated an understanding of the benefits to a holistic, interdisciplinary approach to teaching and learning. While each Kumu comes with their own area of expertise, all Kumu are able to help and address all of the content areas.
There is no one size fits all method to successfully navigate team collaboration. It is up to the team to identify strengths and areas for improvement and then implement strategies to take them to the next level. Evaluative strategies, such as the distributed expertise matrix (Figure 1) and identifying the team’s stage of group development on Tuckman’s scale are a great place to start for any team beginning to work together. Team-based planning and instruction has many benefits, and while it is by no means easy to start, the growth of Kumu is undeniable. Hopefully, the aforementioned suggestions will help other teams to find success as they attempt to work more collaboratively.