Communicating with parents and whānau

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Title slide: Communicating with parents and whānau

Reverend Pennie Vaione Otto, Deputy Principal, Manurewa High School, Auckland, facing camera

Last month we had our first Pasifika Talanoa for our families and it was a five o'clock start, seven o'clock finish. We provided food and we invited families to bring their children. Because of that we had over hundred and forty parents in our staffroom. It was packed. And I guess it's about removing the barriers. Yes, so you don't have to provide dinner we will provide dinner for you and your family. You don't have to look for a babysitter bring your kids. It's really important that at this school as well as capturing and strengthening cultural space for our kids, it's about capturing their families as well. And so bringing in the parents, the grandparents, but also the younger siblings who will hopefully remember, “Oh I went to a meeting at the high school when I was little”.  You know just making it ‘normal’ rather than something to be fearful of. 

Phil Muir, Principal, Northcote Intermediate, Auckland, facing camera

So we've got a number of feeds into the community through our Facebook and our websites and other social media feeds which are really popular. And we find that's a good way to connect with our community. We're visible too. So we get out and we visit our feeder schools as often as we can and just little things too like being outside the front of the school before school and at the end of the day. So it's just making opportunities to be visible. Whether it's you know physically or whether it's online or whether it's through a form of media through newsletters. So yeah we've put a lot of energy and effort into trying to be connected and be visible and be part of our community. 

Rosaline Tavelia, Deputy Principal, Kingsford Primary, Auckland, facing camera

I think also with that opening up the communication lines, we're quite lucky that we've got social media like Facebook. You got the school website and other means of communications. Our parents were actually kind of sitting up and going, ‘Well actually’ I can walk through that door and like and Anna did say earlier about with our teachers making that first initial phone call back home to the families. And it's funny that we could sit there you know, you would be sitting with your colleague after that first phone call, they’re like ‘Wow, that was an awesome call.” You know I you know I, I expected this but I got that.

Conor McHoull, Teacher, Northcote Intermediate, Auckland, facing camera

To bring parents into the school in my classroom I think having a clear open sort of communication policy. I don't think anything should be a secret between teachers and parents, communities, whānau. I'm quite active with our team Facebook and our class. We've got a website and things, so touching base on that quite frequently, trying to reach out to whānau that might be a little bit reluctant to come in to parent-teacher interviews, and trying to work in a schedule. I know sometimes there's been you know parent-teacher conferences that don't quite fit with timetables. So I think it's working with the community and whānau to find a time to fit where they feel comfortable to come in and talk to you, you know because a lot of the time they don't. People just won't willingly want to come in and say ‘Hey I need to talk to you about something’. It's reaching out and making those connections.

Rosaline Tavelia, Deputy Principal, Kingsford Primary, Auckland, facing camera

And you know the communication we just you know I think with a lot of our whānau they've had bad experiences in the past. And the thing is we're not you know what, we're here to help you overcome those experiences because you know what, we have your tāmariki with us and we want to provide the best experience that they could get, and it all starts with us. And making that phone call and like and it's not a blame, it's that, there is no blame game in what we do in education in our classroom. It's a learning journey that we're going to go, that we take together. So that we get the best outcome at the end of the day. And it's not at the end of the year. We are serious about every single day, making it count as learners within our classroom.

This video is about communicating with parents and whānau. In the video, a teacher shares her school’s approach to first engagements with Pacific families, and how they remove barriers that prevent families from attending these meetings. Engaging families and whānau strengthens cultural space for Pacific learners. The video also emphasises the use of communication channels to reach parents and whānau. The use of technology, and timing, are considered when encouraging parents and whānau into the classroom. Schools should be responsive, reasonable and use multiple channels to reach parents and whānau in collaborative and respectful relationships.

Relevant turu
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Reflections for individual teachers:

As you watch this video, think about how you communicate with parents, whānau, and communities.

  • Share the ways you build strong relationships with parents. Reflect on opportunities to talk with parents, for example, when they drop off and pick up their children.
  • Reflect on the attendance of Pacific parents and whānau at school interviews. How are Pacific parents responding to emails, newsletters, written invitations, phone calls, or home visits?
  • How do you engage with Pacific parents over potential problems or particular issues concerning their child? Share your thoughts about how you work on a shared responsibility that strengthens parent-school partnerships.


Reflections for staff or departments:

As you watch this video, think about how your school takes cross-cultural communication, work and family commitments, second language use, the structures and timings of meetings, and the ability for Pacific families to express their views into consideration?

Think about the relationship your school has with Pacific parents and families. How has your school built strong and positive relationships with Pacific parents that encourage parents to feel comfortable about coming into school, getting involved, and sharing their views?

How does your school communicate with Pacific parents who have limited, or no, knowledge of the English language? Share ideas about how your school could facilitate conversations and enable families to use their first language to express their views.

Think about school efforts to encourage Pacific parents to become school trustees, help in the school canteen, or help with organising school activities and events.