Kia ora e te whānau!!!!
First, credits and thanks go to the participants of our Teaching Assistants and New University Teacher Workshops who brought my idea to life and made it more than what I had imagined it to do. Second, to my darling for letting me share the photo from his work, hosting rugby fans at the Lions Rugby Fan Zone 2017 at Auckland’s waterfront.
Alison this one’s for you x
Inspiration from this idea of guesting and hosting came first from my passion for manaaki but what really niggled at me was a phrase my supervisor Professor Alison Phipps said in a presentation she made whilst visiting our institution. She said something to the effect of, “what if instead of Hospitality, we considered Guestality”.
Well, this post is more of a share of a technique I have been sharing in my workshops for Teaching Assistants and New University Teachers. It was one of those, “Let’s give it a go!” activities. So here’s what I did. I’ll use the example of the Teaching Assistants as they are always that one degree closer to students than our lecturers.
Why did I do this?
The concept of manaaki is a value and practice I am really wanting to unpack and investigate, breakdown and reapply in different contexts. I’m interested in how caring about the relationships, physical and conceptual, can become more integral to learning and teaching. When we consider teaching and learning as rituals of constant encounters with people and ideas how may this transform the learning experience for both teacher and student?
How did I do?
Step 1: Ask students to make a line, self-allocating where they stand in the spectrum of whether they prefer to be a Host or a Guest.
Step 2: Request volunteers to lead facilitate the discussions, preferably drawing from their preferences in Step 1. I often ask students to work in pairs so that it’s not too daunting. So I get two students for Hosting and 2 for Guesting.
Step 3: Give facilitators the learning outcomes.
“Identify the role and responsibilities of being a good host/guest”.
Step 4: Facilitators then lead the class in achieving the learning outcomes. Hosting first, then Guesting. Below are examples.
Roles and Responsibilities of a good host
After the Hosting session, I asked the students why I had done this exercise with them? What relevance does Hosting have to be a teaching assistant?
I won’t share all their answers, but in essence, they saw the parallel between hosting an event or party to teaching, where knowledge becomes the food and drink. They saw that to some degree, as a lecturer or teaching assistant, all these roles and responsibilities are considered.
Roles and responsibilities of a good guest
Again after the Guesting session, I asked the students why I had done this exercise with them? What relevance does Guesting have to being a teaching assistant?
And yet again they saw the parallel! This is the expectation of how to behave whilst in class – of course again, gift, food, and drink was translated to prior knowledge and student’s own attributes.
Now before anyone thinks this is only for teacher training, it’s not. Doing both the Hosting and Guesting students see the student-teacher relationship in a new way. Many acknowledge and empathise that hosting is difficult, stressful and a lot of work. They know having a good time at an event or party requires them to make the effort to contribute to that vibe and that outcome. Learning and teaching become much more than content-delivery.
The other factor of this exercises is student’s identifying their responsibilities in the classroom, a code of conduct or tikanga. And the great thing is students’ established this, not the lecturer or the institution. I can tell you I love it! At the end of the session, I was able to say to the students. “Now remember to be good guests and do #5. Clean up :)”
How I would develop this further
Remembering the lecturer’s roles and responsibilities, I feel there is a level of transparency and honesty required by the lecturer to take stock of what they are capable of delivering and sharing with students. And remembering that if what the students have created in Guesting is to be a code of conduct for the class (virtual and physical), it’s for the entire class, lecturer and teaching staff included. Lead by example.
My next challenge is looking into when the host and guest flip roles. When the student becomes the host and the teacher become the guest. For Māori we know this as ako, and this will be something I will be trialing as I work with mentors of differing cultural backgrounds and what happens in one-on-one or small group mentoring. So watch this space for that one.