Be a learner

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Title slide: Be a learner

Whaea Marama Faitua, Teacher, Equippers Early Learning Centre, Auckland, facing camera

I think we have to lead the way, whether we are culturally aware or whether we have a cultural background or not. It's our responsibility as educators, as carers of our children. It’s not just something where we just tick a box and say “Yep, got that out of the way”, “Yes I have a few words on the wall, yes we sing a few waiata everyday”. But it's actually something that we want to do, that we take it upon ourselves to research, not only because we're educators but because we are learners as well.

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

In my classroom, you know, I’m no expert in anything that I do, especially when it comes to culture. You know, I know my culture and where I’m from, but when it comes to other students, ethnicities, cultures and things like that, I take their lead in that, because they know where they’re from, they know who they are and what things that they can bring to the table. So you know, when we’re doing cultural activities, such as te reo Māori, I take the backseat. I’m a learner in that situation and I let the kids tell me the protocols and the things that they, you know, hold true to them.

Tessa Lockwood, Teacher, Manurewa High School, Auckland, facing camera

When meeting the needs of our Pasifika students, something that can be a really good opportunity is if you put yourself in their shoes, you leave your expertise at the door and you enter the space as a learner yourself. And I think the benefit of that is being a learner without prior knowledge and without kind of the knowledge to move into that space. But also showing the students that you were willing to have them as your teachers and to put their something that you value and something that you're willing to learn from. And not only can you kind of connect with them because you're entering their space of expertise but, you know you learn a lot from putting yourself in the position of a learner.

Kate Faavaivaiomanu Va’aelua, Parent, Christchurch

Teacher with students in classroom

I think some of the things they can do are maybe just simple things like greeting them in their language, saying good morning, Talofa, Kia ora.

Kate Faavaivaiomanu Va’aelua, Parent, Christchurch, facing camera

You know just little things just to know that they know that they are Samoan, that they are Fijian, that they are Tongan. Just little things and that'll give just that much confidence for the child to even use their own language to greet their teacher back as well. And it also shows that student that my teacher actually does care about, that I am Samoan. They're taking the time to learn themselves, that's how you say ‘good morning’ or ‘hello’ in my language, yeah.

Exterior of school. Young children performing and singing

Rita Iosefo, Teacher, Supervisor, Matiti Akoga Kamata (ECE), Wellington

As a Tokelauen learners ...I think I had to understand all Pacific Island nationality that come here in our centre to make sure they are feel confidence and they feel welcome and have a sense of belonging in our centre.

Rita Iosefo, Teacher, Supervisor, Matiti Akoga Kamata (ECE), Wellington, facing camera

And I had to make sure, I had to learn what is the different from our culture. And I had to make sure I took, to meet the needs of other Pacific Islanders they come here in the in Matiti. Like an example, the Vietnamese, I know their culture is more similar to our culture. And I had to make sure I had to ask the parents to include their voice as well. I had to make sure their language, we know some of their simple words. I can respond to their children if there are needs in here, in our learning environment.

Teacher with young children

And we really proud because you know those are other Vietnamese they come here they really like, they love. That's the feedback, that's the really good feedback for us. Because they said they feel, they feel warm, they feel welcome in how, the way that we care for the children. They love it.

Young children performing and singing

This video illustrates that teachers are learners too. You will hear teachers express themselves from the learner’s point of view. One teacher talks about taking the back seat when learners talk about their culture. Another teacher talks about meeting the needs of Pacific learners by entering their space. It is important to show the learners that their teacher is willing to be a learner too. An example in the video is for teachers to learn to greet learners in their home languages. Another example is ensuring that other learners, who are not Pacific, feel welcome. Listen to the voice of a Tokelauan teacher in a Tokelau early childhood setting talk about Vietnamese children who attend the Centre, how the parents are welcomed, and the warmth and care their children receive. Teachers who put themselves in the position of a learner foster reciprocity, and it can be a fulfilling and rewarding experience.

Relevant turu
  • Turu 3

Reflections for individual teachers

As you watch this video, think about how you can shift to a learner mindset.

  • Think about the disconnection between the classroom learning experiences and the learning experiences your learners have at home and in their communities. How can you put yourself in the learner position, both inside and outside of the classroom, in order for you to recognise this disconnection?
  • What activities do you provide for your learners so that they can learn at their own pace? How do give them opportunities to choose what they learn and how? How are you nurturing yourself as a learner?
  • How do you find ways for your learners to explore their culture, and how are you integrating your experience as a learner for the benefit of your learners?
  • Watching the video of teachers describing their approaches as learners, share an example of how you have been guided by your learners. How was your experience driven by your learners’ achievement?


Reflections for staff or departments

  • A school goal should be to inspire learners to want to learn more. As you watch this video, as a staff member or member of a department team, consider how your school is motivating and encouraging staff to ensure that classroom learning, and how learners understand it, is connected to their culture and what matters to their communities.
  • What other ways are you training non-Pacific teachers to be culturally competent so that their teaching practice is relevant and personalised to the learner?
  • Teachers need to understand that Pacific learners inhabit different realities. Share the many ways that your teaching staff engage with their Pacific learners, and the insights they gained when they put themselves in the position of the learner.