What do you want teachers to know about you?

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Title slide: What do you want teachers to know about you?

Liston Helu, Year 8 student, Northcote Intermediate, Auckland, facing camera

Teachers think that if an Islander, or a Māori, or a Polynesian comes into their class, the first thing they think is “they’re naughty”. Not naughty, but like they have a bad attitude and they’ll have to keep an eye on them.

Rosmini College Students, Auckland, facing camera

First of all, our teachers look at us as ah, you know, we get the idea that boys are here for rugby, and that boys here just for sports. But, not all of us are here for rugby. We're also good students and good learners and we also want to succeed well in school.

Students performing

Yeah, I just want my teachers to see me as a good student.

Rosmini College Student (second speaker), Auckland, facing camera

If I had one message for teachers, past and present is, not judge a book by its cover.

Niuean student, Manurewa High School, facing camera

I guess mine would be just try to understand where we are coming from because I know that we are hard to handle, so like, we’ll cater to you if you cater to us.

Niuean student (second speaker), Manurewa High School, Auckland, facing camera

We’re not the easiest people to control and handle. But, if you guys respect us for who we are, we’ll respect you for who you are.

Niuean student (third speaker), Manurewa High School, Auckland, facing camera

I’d say, um, please take your time with us. Once you do understand us, it will be a lot easier for everyone, cause we’ll understand you and you’ll understand us.

Rathey Lataimoega, Student Prefect, Kelston Boys’ High School, Auckland, facing camera

I would say just get to know me more because I think like a lot of teachers don't really know our backgrounds and don’t really know more about us. So they only see us at school and they only see, like the type of person that we are at school but not outside of school. So yeah.

Epi Matanakilagi, Student, Kelston Boys’ High School, Auckland, facing camera

Yeah, what he said; just getting to know us better and really understanding what it means for us and stuff.

Mele Vaiangina, Student, Onepoto School, Auckland, facing camera

With people that are Pasifika, or from other countries and they don't understand, you could probably give them advice of asking the person that's in their country to like talk to them so they understand.

Rosmini College Students, Auckland, facing camera

Teachers being more like, more open to us and inviting themself into it, like, being more of a teacher, they can also be that but like being like a parent … Someone who you get to know and not just “Oh, I'm your teacher, you do this, set up that”.

Students performing

I want him or her to actually get to know me and see what I'm like and not just put me into a stereotype.

Rosmini College students, Auckland, facing camera

They don't know if I'm... what I'm good at and what I'm not good at.

Sione Tonga, Student, Northcote Intermediate, Auckland, facing camera

If there’s kids just like me going through this struggle, get to understand them more and like let them express their feelings and emotions, so that they feel more comfortable, and not like letting them, like, get angry and stuff. Just like, “okay”. Like if they need to express their feelings like, let them just don't let them take it out on furniture or anything. Just tell them, if they need to let it out, just like tell them to talk it out.

Keano Kini, Year 12 Student, Rosmini College, Auckland, facing camera

Probably just see us all as a level playing field like, just try to help us out as much as they can. I think they're doing well at the moment but just try and understand us a little bit more.

Students performing

Take all the feedback that we try and give them and we'll help them out as well.

Nu'uuli Latu, Student, Hornby Primary School, Christchurch, facing camera

I think they should learn some Samoan because.. .and learn a bit more because Samoa and the Islands that they go through a lot of tough times because they don't have that much money. And they mostly plant their food, which takes a lot of time and patience.

Sunema Tepulolo, Student Prefect, Kelston Girls’ College, Auckland, facing camera

Compared to other groups, I reckon Pasifika Islanders are like, we learn differently, so sometimes it's a slow process for us and we just want our teachers to understand that we're not choosing to not finish our work but we just need just a little time. And to be accepting, to not look down and think that, you know, we can't do something but to encourage us and say, like, “You can do it”. Something like that.

In this video, Pacific learners share what they want their teachers to know about them. Students urge their teachers to move beyond cultural stereotypes and engage and respond to their distinctive identities, values, cultures, and life experiences. Building strong teacher-student relationships and deepening cultural knowledge are key messages. 

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:

“...teachers need to create relationships for learning with learners who have cultural knowledge, languages and experiences different to theirs. Knowing yourself is not only about identity and self-reflection it is to also understand one’s own biases, prejudices and actions of privileging.”

In pairs:

  • Discuss the biases and prejudices experienced by the Pacific learners in the video. Have you experienced biases and prejudices based on your ethnicity?
  • How might the understanding of your “own biases, prejudices and actions of privileging” help you become a better teacher?
  • Work collaboratively to identify a range of actions and practices you can use to create relationships for learning with learners who have cultural knowledge, languages and experiences different to yours.


Reflections for staff or departments

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

  • Work with your staff to help them understand their own identities and cultures, and how they influence the way they think and behave as teachers. Encourage them to consider their own upbringing, their relationships with people from different cultures, the cultural stereotypes they have been exposed to, and the biases they have.
  • What knowledge do you and your team have about the values, customs, and cultures of the different Pacific nations represented in your student community? Where are your gaps in knowledge?
  • Find out what groups or initiatives that support and develop our diverse Pacific languages and cultures are in your community. Consider ways that you can connect and build relationships with these groups so that you may draw on their expertise.