Kelly Watts

Kelly Watts

Te Reo Māori Teacher, Carmel College
Master of Teaching and Learning

Ngāti Kahungunu

She appreciated that her studies focused on the future of the education system, says Kelly Watts who completed a Master of Teaching and Learning, supported by a Teach New Zealand Kupe Scholarship.

“The Master of Teaching and Learning is a future-focused degree that encourages critical and creative thinking and prepares students for a changing, innovative and exciting profession. The emphasis on cultural responsiveness grounds the degree in the unique context of Aotearoa.

“What I enjoyed most is being part of an amazing group of people, all studying and training together. Being able to build relationships with my lecturers and programme leaders was so beneficial to my learning, and I loved discussing issues, concepts and ideas with my classmates and lecturers.”

The noho marae experience at the start of the degree was one of the highlights of the year, Kelly says.

“It really helped to build strong relationships between the students. Being able to experience manaakitanga and aroha at AUT’s marae, Ngā Wai o Horotiu Marae, was a really special and memorable experience.”

The road to becoming a teacher
She had long dreamt of becoming a teacher, says Kelly who came to AUT after completing an undergraduate degree in music and Māori studies at another university; a qualification she achieved after returning to study after 12 years of raising her children.

“I wanted to find a job as teacher in a collaborative and responsive teaching environment that allows me to bring a strong focus on te reo Māori.

“What appealed to me about AUT’s Master of Teaching and Learning was the benefit of having a master’s degree, and the fact that school leaders had told me how highly they valued the degree. I really liked the small classes, the close contact with the academic staff and the location of the AUT North Campus. It was close to where I live and easy to get to.”

Balancing study with family life wasn’t always easy, she admits.

“The biggest challenge was juggling the demands of the degree with the demands of being a mother of four children. The Master of Teaching and Learning focuses on resilience and wellbeing, which helped me to keep myself centred through a demanding and chaotic year, particularly through the COVID-19 period. The lecturers would check in on me and see how I was managing, and that support helped a lot.”

Advice for other students
Kelly, who completed her degree at the end of 2020, has some great advice for other students.

“My advice for other students is to make the most of the opportunities you ‘re offered while you’re at AUT.

“It’s important to build strong relationship with the people around you. And my final piece of advice is to work hard and enjoy the ride!”

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