The student-teacher relationship

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Title slide: The student-teacher relationshipTitle slide: The student-teacher relationship

Images of students on the playground

Daniella Latoa-Levi, Principal, Onepoto Primary School, Auckland

Here at Onepoto School if you want to work here as a staff member, it doesn't matter if you’re a teacher aide or teacher, ...

Daniella Latoa-Levi, principal, Onepoto Primary School, Auckland, facing camera

… first and foremost you have to want to be here. You have to have a heart for our kids and know that every decision that is made here at the school that you support 100 percent because it's actually not about us. We've had our time to learn. 

Students exercising on the playground

We're still learning in a different way as adults but it's really, everything that we do is for our kids, in the best interests of our kids.

Sarah Yandall-Vaega, Pacific Dean, Whānau Leader, Kelston Girls’ College, Auckland, facing camera

We always make, you know, what we're hearing here from them, if students play up, “How come you listen to Miss Yandall-Vaega? How come you listen to Miss Smith? How about us?” So we had to go back to the teachers and said: “look”. And we have to, you know, remind the students, we're all the same. But we look at the approach and the relationship and we always remind the non-Pasifika, you know, allow whanaungatanga. Allow yourself to build, you know, even if it’s just having casual conversation – “Hey, come; how was…?” Not really straight into the learning you know, but have that, you know, informal conversations with the students. “How’ve you been? It’s good to see you.” Positive. They’ll fall in that, you know, and then getting to know them. And we're trying to make them come in, say, you know, relationship, just make. 

So during whānau times and all that, we just remind. Like we have Friday meetings with our teachers, we just remind them “relationship”. “Oh da-da-da…”, I said, “try it again”. We'd like them to you know, rather than us coming in, we'd like them, you know, just take the lead. And then use the Pasifika students who work with you and then it worked. 

Pasifika students in class

Fua Sofaea, Parent, Grandparent, Rosmini College, Auckland

Kids are kids and I think if we sorta make them realise you know their value as Pasifika it could go a long way in identifying themselves …

Fua Sofaea, Parent, Grandparent, Rosmini College, Auckland, facing camera

… as Pasifika people, you know. And there's no harm in putting a lot of effort into academia and then sports and then culture, which should be right up there. So I think if you mix the whole three, you know, I think it will really work out well.

Jamie Sofaea, Parent, Rosmini College, Auckland, facing camera

And just a little bit of praise, a little bit of praise and encouraging, motivates self-esteem, which the kids embed and they will strive off education and wanting to learn because they feel valued – that they have a voice and that they’re important.

Conor McHoull, Teacher, Northcote Intermediate, Auckland

Student and teacher working together

Students don’t just necessarily need a teacher, they also need someone who they feel that values them…

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

… for who they are, as someone who has their back and cares about actually things that are going on in their lives outside of the classroom. Because just like every person, every culture, every being, we have a back story of who we are and I think that that’s important.

Jamie Sofaea, Parent, Rosmini College, Auckland, facing camera

I would like the teachers to encourage our Pacific people. Teach them values, but encourage them to communicate in a formal environment as well, cause Pacific people are always inclined to speak in social aspects and social settings…

Students and teachers in the classroom

... but less inclined to speaking in the classroom. So we need to encourage and share their ideas and validate their responses. So whether it's right or wrong, 

Jamie Sofaea, Parent, Rosmini College, Auckland, facing camera

… just validate them and just teach them simple boundaries like responsibility, accountability, and make them more employable for the future.

This video is about the importance of student-teacher relationships. The video describes the value of whanaungatanga; encouraging teachers to actively engage in respectful, working relationships with Pacific learners. Through whanaungatanga, learners will develop a greater sense of worth and belonging leading to increased engagement and success. 

Relevant turu
  • Turu 2

Reflections for individual teachers

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

In groups discuss the following questions:

  • Turu 2 in Tapasā (pp 12-13) is about building collaborative and respectful relationships between teachers, students, parents, families, and communities. How do the messages in this video support the Turu 2 indicators in Tapasā?
  • What do you do in your everyday practice to strengthen relationships with your Pacific learners?
  • What is one action or strategy that you can adopt today to enhance the student-teacher relationship with your Pacific learners? Use the Turu 2 indicators on pages 12 and 13 of Tapasā for ideas.


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.

  • Whanaungatanga is one of the cultural competencies for teachers of Māori learners as described on pages 6 and 7 of Tātaiako (2011). What messages around whanaungatanga are communicated in the video and how can whanaungatanga meet the needs of Pacific learners?
  • Read through the behavioural indicators and outcomes for whanaungatanga on pages 6 and 7 of Tātaiako and consider how these ideas can be transferred and adapted for your Pacific learners.
  • What are the similarities and differences between the messages around whanaungatanga in Tātaiako and Turu 1 and 2 in Tapasā?
  • How do you reflect the importance of relationships and whanaungatanga in your charter, strategic plans, and curriculum?