Involving family in learning and curriculum

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Title slide: Involving family in learning and curriculum

Phil Muir, Principal, Northcote Intermediate, Auckland

Exterior of Northcote Intermediate

We talk, we meet, we listen. It's about being connected. It's about communication. 

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

There's a range of ways that we encourage our students to explore their culture and identity through their learning. We have, you know, there's things like cultural days certain areas will hold. We have school-wide celebrations.

Gary Roberts, Principal, Hornby Primary School, Christchurch, facing camera

So recently I was fortunate enough to win a sabbatical and so my project I investigated was – What does a successful transition for learners in our Pacific early childhood setting look like when they transition to a mainstream palagi school. I got to talk with teachers, parents, and children so it was a fascinating experience. But the main themes that came out of that, and I've touched on these already, was the value of relationships and connections and when Pacific families walk through the gate there is some connection there. But I think something that was pivotal, so in the Pacific Education Plan at the very centre of it they talk about the child, the learner, and the family. Often through a palagi lens, we talk about the importance of the learner and they are central, which is true. But in a Pasifika setting, it's the child and the family and the extended family and the community. I think too often the trap may be that we just focus on the child, the learner, without considering the family/the aiga and the wider group. So that was one of the pivotal learnings for me in my sabbatical that you... yes the child is important but you need to focus on the family and the wider family grouping community.

Tessa Lockwood, Teacher (TIC Niuean group), Manurewa High School, Auckland, facing camera

So one thing that's been really positive for me is coming on board as the TIC for the Niuean group in preparation for Polyfest. That's been a huge learning curve. 

Niuean student group performing

And I said to the kids on day one that I'm coming into this space as, you know, a real humble learner and I'm eager to kind of see them lead in the space and for them to lead me in this space.

I've been able to connect with parents who I wouldn't have encountered day-to-day otherwise. And it's meant that we've kind of had the opportunity outside of school hours…

Tessa Lockwood, Teacher (TIC Niuean group), Manurewa High School, Auckland, facing camera

… where we've got our students and their parents and members of the community all together, working together, which is really nice. And it's something that I'd like, knowing the strength and that now, that I'd like to make the most of more.

I think that being part of Polyfest has allowed me to see that when students are working from a space where they’re knowledgeable and they're comfortable and they are the experts, that they really thrive and they kind of come out of their shell, and you've got that bigger sense of connection with the students. So I think we need to consider the ways that we can incorporate that in our learning in the classroom. And how we can take the strengths of the whānau and family involvement and the community involvement and bring that into our classrooms and our learning experiences. And that's something we're kind of looking to do this year by using NCEA and assessment to, I guess, validate the learning that's naturally happening in our Polyfest experience.

Jane Clifford, Teacher, Hornby Primary School, Christchurch, facing camera

Some of the ways that I connect with Pacific learners is, at our school, we have a parent meeting at the beginning of the year. And just by having the environment in my classroom reflecting Pacific cultures – I've got lots of tapa and my fan and various other things – just to make people feel welcome and to actually send a message to the Pasifika families that I value their cultures. 

I really love to have children's parents come in and chat to me at the beginning and the end of the day and I, sort of sometimes, work through the children themselves and say “Hey, why don't you bring mum in to show what you've been doing today”. And also that opportunity at the end of the day or the beginning of the day to talk about their children's learning and to celebrate something that maybe they've done this week. It's very easy as a teacher to pick something out of the air that the child's done that day and just mention it every now and then to family when you do see them. Then it makes having a difficult conversation at some point if needed, a lot easier or just to check in on something that's not going as well, you've already got that connection there with family.

This video is about involving family in learning and curriculum. The video explains that engaging with the learner is not enough; teachers need to build relationships with the parents, families, and wider communities of their Pacific learners. Reflecting Pacific cultures in the learning environment and inviting parents into school to share in their children’s learning are some of the ways that you can build strong relationships with family.

Relevant turu
  • Turu 3

Reflections for individual teachers:

As you watch this video think about your role as a teacher working within a Pacific context.

Tapasā (p.7) states that:

“According to Pacific learners (and Pacific parents), a ‘good teacher’ knows that I want my parents to be part of my learning journey and that my parents value being part of that journey.” 

  • What strategies were described in the video to support parents to be part of their children’s learning journeys?
  • What can you do at your school or early learning service to develop closer relationships with the parents of your Pacific learners?  
  • How can you involve your parents in your students’ learning journeys?


Reflections for staff or departments:

If you watch this video as a staff member or member of a department team, think about effective leadership practices in Pacific cultures.

  • What actions and practices can schools and early learning services use to demonstrate and develop respectful relationships and reciprocal partnerships with Pacific learners, parents, families, and communities? 
  • Which of these actions and practices do you use in your context?
  • Which actions and practices could you develop further?

Connect with your Pacific learners, parents, and families and invite them to help you develop a list of actions and practices they would like to see you using in your learning context.