Successful transitions

Show video transcript

Title slide: Successful transitions

Exterior images of Waltham School

Felicity Morton-Turner, New Entrant Teacher, Waltham School (at Sydenham), Christchurch

When any child transitions, but in particular Pacific learners, we think of that transition as being a six-month journey. So probably from about three months ... 

Felicity Morton-Turner, New Entrant Teacher, Waltham School (at Sydenham), Christchurch, facing camera

… before they start school we will make some contact with the family. That may be through the preschool or a phone call to let them know that within a month before they start school we would like to meet with them – either a phone conversation, or they're welcome to bring their child into school and themselves after school, and we'll sit down with them and organise some school visits. We typically have four school visits and we're really flexible about when these happen. 

Some of the strategies that we've found being really successful to support our Pacific learners, it always comes back to that relationship. So keeping that relationship at the centre, really knowing the families, and meeting them where they are. Understanding what's happening for them at home, trying to have those conversations with parents in the morning, just regular checking in or a phone call to see what we can do to support their families. That's been really helpful. Talking to them about the other children that aren't necessarily at our class or other things that are happening. Definitely, I think being really approachable and accessible. We don't pretend to be the experts and I think that’s really really important. You know if we're planning for a special event, for example, like recently we planned some activities for Samoan Language Week. We connected with those families and we said, “You know, what is important to you?” And we don't expect them to also have all the answers on that day either, we say “Go home and have a chat and if you've got some great ideas, come back to us”, you know. So yeah I think just keeping the lines of communication open, yeah always, yeah. Keeping the relationship at the centre of everything you do is so important.

Dr Ali Glasgow, Lecturer, Victoria University of Wellington

Teachers and students singing

I've interviewed mostly Pacific language nest teachers and they get it. You know, things like leadership, respect, love, family, all of the values that sit around the Pacific Education Plan.

Dr Ali Glasgow, Lecturer, Victoria University of Wellington, facing camera

I can see those being delivered just in everyday context, you know, without even thinking. Teachers work together. They use their language, and children are immersed in what I call a modern day village because this is their village. They have nowhere else in New Zealand where they can go and learn from their mamas or from their elders how to be Samoan, how to be Cook Island, and the ways of being and doing and just, you know, this is what essentially my identity is about. 

Teacher and students singing

When they get to school, we don't have the same emphasis I think on that cultural learning.

Dr Ali Glasgow, Lecturer, Victoria University of Wellington, facing camera

And that's just how the systems work. But if a teacher... and I've spoken to... like we did some more research on transition to school. I mean, I've been involved in quite a lot of this. A lot of our Pacific families were hunting around the area to find out where there were Pacific teachers in the new entrants classroom. Even if that teacher wasn't part of... from their community, they were more keen for their children to go to a classroom which had a Pacific new entrants teacher. Because at least there was some hope for those kids to hold onto their language and those cultural practices. 

Another research told us that by the end of their first year, these children who are coming out of the language nest fluent in their home language, they'd lost it. They were thinking and speaking in English by the end of their first new entrants year. So all of that work that had been done was being lost.

Felicity Morton-Turner, New Entrant Teacher, Waltham School (at Sydenham), Christchurch, facing camera

One of the things that we think is really important as far as transition too, is the environment that the children come into. It's something that we have probably... are putting a lot more focus into over the last few years and we're learning quite a lot from Sydenham Preschool as well, around being really selective about what's in our space and how it reflects the children and the Pacific learners and all the children and their families. 

Classroom cultural artifacts

There's some real artifacts in our class that support the kids as they transition from one sector to the other. And I think probably that’s something moving forward, we want to be even more deliberate about cultural treasures that we have in our classroom.

Felicity Morton-Turner, new entrant teacher, Waltham School (at Sydenham), Christchurch, facing camera

And I suppose that again we’ll go back to talking with our families around how we can display some of those things. Yeah. And just making sure that we update it regularly and it stays really meaningful to the children that are in the space at that time.

This video is about transitions to, and within, schools. Successful transitions for Pacific learners require time and are an important part of learners’ journeys and development.  Supporting parent and whānau engagement will enable learners to navigate transitions. Felicity Mortin-Turner, a new entrant teacher, speaks about a six-month journey before a learner starts school. This is the stage when the school should make contact, and start forming a relationship with the family. A strategy that has proved to be useful in supporting Pacific learners is keeping relationships at the centre of all interactions. This is achieved by knowing the families, meeting them where they are, understanding what's happening for them at home, and initiating regular conversations with parents by checking in or phone calls to ask what the school can do to support their families.

Relevant turu
  • Turu 2

Reflections for individual teachers:

As you watch this video, think about your strategies for working with parents and families for successful transitions for their child.

  • What steps do you take to ensure a successful transition from home to centre or classroom? Who is involved in these processes and how is their effectiveness evaluated?
  • How do you encourage Pacific learners to tell their stories about their experiences, and insights into their learning environment?

How do you create a dialogue with parents and whānau so there is continuity for children’s learning and how do you know if this has been effective?


Reflections for staff or departments:

Transitions are an important part of a learner’s school life and learning. How is your school managing different expectations and transition points for Pacific parents to support successful transitions for their children?

  • In what ways does your school or early learning service learn about, understand, and acknowledge the culture of Pacific learners and their families as they join a new setting?
  • What do successful transitions look like from immersion early childhood services to non-immersion schooling?
  • How does your centre or school establish and support respectful, reciprocal relationships between everyone involved in each transition?

To what extent does your early learning service or school support and enable successful transitions? Are they more relevant for Pacific learners?