Pono Investment

Kapolei High

This is just a  moʻolelo about what a pono path and an investment in the future can do to move mountains in a short amount of time.

My brother, Dr. Walter Kahumoku came to UHWO in January and quickly created a very logical logic model/change model on paper to create a pathway from the public schools to UHWO back to the public schools. This was a grow your own teacher education pathway that included early college courses, bridging programs, tutor support, financial support in the form of work study, college prep and testing support up to availability for a masters program as well as a teacher leadership cadre to also grow our own teacher mentors for the high school and college teacher candidates.

By March of the same year, a few of us were on the road to sell the program to principals, complex area superintendents, community non profits, anyone who would listen. Then there was a big meeting to reiterate the story, talk about the path and answer questions.

This is December, same year, and brother and his very invested staff, made up of several veteran teachers from the area who left their schools to work with UHWO (work with Walter) have just held their first hōʻike with the teacher leadership academy high schoolers from Waiʻanae HS, Kapolei HS and Campbell HS. It was a sight to see. Packed multipurpose ballroom, happy parents, excited students.

The teachers are invested. Even my student teacher at Waiʻanae who is able to still work for the writing center at UHWO but as a tutor at Waiʻanae is invested. These have become her kids. Our principals are smart enough to use our student teachers as TLA tutors and instructors. Those same principals who said well this kind of thing has been tried before are happy!

It is a moʻo worthy project. I am honored to be on the fringes of this movement.


Unleashing the Mana


As Hawaiians, of course we use moʻolelo as a GPS for surviving and thriving in this world. We are all moʻolelo. Here is my presentation to PAMLA Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association 2017 at Chaminade University. I was a last minute add because one of the English professors at UHWO reached out to see if I could offer up a paper in one of the open sections so I saw that Folklore and Mythology was open. This is the moʻolelo of how I used a moʻolelo ka wā kahiko to inform how I was going to create the lashings for the kauhale I was building (middle level secondary teacher education).

It was called Unleashing the Mana from the Goddesses: Lessons from Pele and Hiʻiaka. My notes are here.

The cool part was that one of the professors from Ohio that came specifically to hear my paper talked about it in the evening forum on tales from Kahiki and succinctly said that I would connect with their work because I was talking about teaching teacher preparation in a Hawaiian way which was pretty spot on.


House of English


My language arts methods students read a chapter from Jim Burke’s English Teacher’s Companion and were asked to talk about their own “House of English” as a way to speak aloud (thus giving their words mana or power) their own beliefs on “what is English?” They are young. They will student teach next semester. However, Burke says, and I agree, that our own “House of English” continues to shift and settle and strengthen the longer we teach, so these young ones must start now to speak their growing truth so that when the hard days of pressure and compliance come to take their identity away (and those days will come), they are  and ready to stand and withstand because they know who they are and what they believe. They must be aware of their own beliefs now so that they have a lens to ʻike, not just their own information and wisdom, but also their line of sight.

Here is my House of English. I wish I could link to their presentations too because it was much more fabulous but they own it. Not me. We all cried and laughed together. We were together to bear witness to the magic and my heart is full. That’s more than enough.

What is your House of English?

Tagged ,

What the Work Looks Like Now

There is a new campaign out of the University of Hawaii system but I realize, that this is my work now  – teacher preparation. I am no longer coaching or evaluating teachers, or even teaching English, but I am. Just a little differently. It was nice to see some colleagues, mana wahine, as well as a student I had in 8th grade.

This is what the work looks like now. I know it’s important for the lāhui when Hawaiians get their doctorate, but really, this doctorate was my way to create an opportunity to move to this new work. I could not have done this work without the “pepa.” Part of doing moʻo worthy work is to do the work. I am feeling blessed that this is the moʻokūahuau and the moʻolelo worthy of my moʻopuna. E ola.

Reading Goals

phases s

In my reading and writing across content (it really should be literacy across content but I did not name it), I need to make my reading goals clear. This is the one academic year where I offer this course every semester so I have a chance to test out, tweak, revise.

Here are my reading goals that I am trying out:

Students will be immersed in reading experiences where they have to

  • visualize ideas and situations in text (doodle notes)
  • make connections (bulletin board discussions, post it connections, yarn bridges)
  • ask questions (questions as feedback, positive presuppositions, question as paraphrase)
  • draw inferences
  • evaluate and determine what’s important (creating mini lessons to teach each other)
  • notice and analyze the author’s craft (reading circle, writing circle, model texts)
  • recall ideas (discussion, doodle notes, alaka’i)
  • self-monitor while reading (brain map)

I need more ideas on drawing inferences but it may not be a stand alone. More like a simile is a type of metaphor is a type of figurative language strategy but not necessarily true that a metaphor is a simile. Not sure if that makes sense but is is just on the edge of cognition and clarity.

Teach for Aloha: a (k)new framework for change

pcc17This is not a new idea. This is just being formed by my three years at UHWO and some other presentations. I connected this to the long term planning goals  of UHWO, it is attached to the many years of CBE research and it is tied to what I am trying to teach and how I learn from my students. I have had some of them for three years now, so it is really about the story of their journey and my experimentation based on gut instinct and 23 years in the classroom.

The PDF is herePCC 2017PCC Notes

WiPCE 2017


I am headed to the World Indigenous People’s Conference on Education 2017 in Toronto at the end of this month to talk about nurturing cultural humility in our pre-service teachers. It is a combination of creating a third space within my classroom, using cultural humility and culturally responsive practices to model what I want my students to do in their own placements in the school. Finally, use deep reflection and ancestral knowledge as a way to tap into the kinds of lifelong reflection on practice necessary to nurture cultural humility in these young teachers. I am still working on those questions that will bring about the kinds of reflection that I want, but the semester is coming up in August so I will be able to continue to research. In the meantime, I am sharing my slides here.

WiPCE 2017 presentation.pptx

Tagged ,

What Happened to Reading?



I don’t know what happened to the endless hours of reading under the shade of a tree on a beach or splayed out on the couch, cocooned in bed, in the muggy heat of the laundromat, the corner of the library under the armadillo. . .

I try to get up early, do my must do items that come with being an adult, then sit on my not so comfy but cheap office chair, stare at my computer and read. It does not last long and I barely get through one long article when my heel starts hurting, my hip aches, my neck stiffens.

What happened to reading without pain? What happened to the ability to quiet the outside world and immerse into the worlds of Pearl Buck or Amy Tan. How come I do not hear the authors speaking in my ear?

I have become a skimmer, sadly. Here is what I am skimming now. “Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s Imaginary Portraits” by Zadie Smith, New Yorker June 19, 2017.

This is what kept me skimming:

This red has the effect of bringing a diverse selection of souls together, framing and containing them, much like a novel contains its people, which is to say, only partially. For Yiadom-Boakye’s people push themselves forward, into the imagination—as literary characters do—surely, in part, because these are not really portraits. They have no models, no sitters. They are character studies of people who don’t exist.

I want to be able to immerse myself into character studies of people who do not exist. I want to read that way again.

What You Get When You Give a Little


There are people in my life that connect on a level that is spiritual and timeless. The relationship does not need to be stoked and watched and baby’d. It survives on a plane that is metaphoric. One of the people that I have that kind of connection with is Manulani Meyer. She is a mentor to many, a part of many Hawaiian educators’ moʻokūʻauhau, but I am lucky to call her my buddy. Our lives continue to intersect when we most need it to and I try to stay attuned to the wind and movements of the earth so that I can also be that HĀ for her.

I told her that I was having a hard time writing because I would rather write poetry than academic prose and she sent me this.

Lee Irwin, Visionary Worlds: The Making and Unmaking of Reality. (93)

It is not anarchy, but the loss of place and position that threatens so many who would truly live another way, an alternative world. There are many who would give up reason for imagination if they could do so and survive; this is the great need, the driving force behind cultural collapse and struggle.  It is not the “irrational” but the imaginative, the artistic, visionary, and alternate that appeals. Reason has its place, as does language and sensation, but life is far richer, far greater and more alive than reason can reconstruct.  If reason is liberated from its bonds, it will rediscover its union with imagination, vision, artistry and mystical illumination as essential to its own further becoming. Reason illuminated is reason freed from externals and aware of its own illuminating potential. After St. Thomas Aquinas had long finished his Summa Theologica, he had a profound spiritual awakening that took him far beyond the bounds of reason. Asked afterward about all his many labors to write his great work, he replied: “Straw for the fire!”  So it is with the empirical worldview, the positivist stance is preparation for death and transformation, for a great dying and rebirth. There is reason to fear, for many suffer already in their unwillingness to let go, and thereby cause others to suffer.

What is so sacred now:

  • The reason behind “cultural collapse and struggle” is our need to give up imagination for reason in order to make enough to survive.
  • Even if we are able to free ourselves from externals, when we have spiritual awakenings, the large “aha,” we must quantify, qualify, analyze, reason and our laborious thoughts are “straw for the fire.”
  • Perhaps Lee Irwin knew Aunty Minnie Kaʻawaloa of Kalapana who said, “if you no listen, everybody suffer.” She was talking about the fact that the kūpuna from Kalapana were urging the catholic diocese to leave the Painted Church in Kalapana because the Painted Church looked mauka to protect from land and the Kalapana Maunakea Congregational Church was across the street looking makai to protect Kalapana from the ocean. The town had several scares over the years but the lava and tidal waves did not hit Kalapana until the diocese did not listen and moved the Painted Church. Now Kalapana as Aunty Minnie knew it from her youth is gone. So see, everybody suffer.

I guess the struggle is not so much do I listen, but what do I do now that I hear?

Hōʻike as Assessment


In Hawaiian, hōʻike means to show or exhibit ʻike. The key part of the word is ʻike because with those 4 letters (the ʻokina or glottal stop is its own letter), the complexities of the world rest in that word.

In Hawaiian education, the hōʻike is like the large summative “project” or assessment. The difference though is in the way it is “assessed.” In western education, large summative assessments are usually end of the term or end of unit tests or projects. They are weighed, they are measured, and sometimes found wanting (sorry for the Knight’s Tale muddled reference). In other words, there are points, a lot of points, tied to the assessment. There is a rubric or some clear expectation of what should be in the assessment in order to do the weighing and measuring. There is usually a grade to it and it affects all the other grades that came before.

The hōʻike is not about evaluation. It is about celebration of understanding and learning. It is not about grading. It is about bearing witness to each student’s growth, whether it is large or small. It is about honoring the process and sharing in the learning. It is NOT graded.

I just went to a hōʻike put on by the Malama Learning Center, a non profit STEM educational group that works in West Oʻahu. From their mission and vision statements:

Mālama Learning Center is a place in West O‘ahu that brings art, science, conservation and culture together to promote sustainable living throughout Hawai‘i. MLC strives to unify area schools, residents and businesses around a shared ethic of caring and conservation.


To teach and inspire communities to create healthy living environments

To me this is where science teachers go when they retire.

What impressed me about this hōʻike was that there were so many witnesses. The groups presenting their Nānākuli Watershed projects ranged from an honors biology class at Kapolei High School to 6th graders at Ka Waihono o ka Naʻauao. The witnesses were from the schools represented: the two complex area superintendents, principals or vice principals for all of the schools, families, siblings, the students, friends, university folks like me who brought our own students to also bear witness to the potential and magnificence of these students, elders from the area, cultural experts, and sponsors.

What it tells me is that I cannot just use the word hōʻike at the end of my syllabus and leave it open to my students to just share. I need to also encourage them to bring their own witnesses forward. I need to fill the room for my students. That is where the power lies and that is how hōʻike as assessment needs to happen.

Tagged , ,