Being part of the wider community

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Title slide: Being part of the wider community

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

To engage Pacific learners in our school environments is, you know, it's something that I do and that I have found success with is finding what our Pacific learners are interested in and using those things to re-engage them back into their learning. One thing for me, you know, I have passions in sport and technology. So I find that if I have learners in my class that have those passions too, re-engaging them through those can be very successful.

I think as a teacher, not only do we have the role of being there for them during the day, you know 9 till 3, but I think that also extends outside of the classroom to sports, cultural activities, things like that. I think being present is something that is very important and that's something that I value. You know oftentimes I'm more than happy to get out there on the field and cheer and support on the weekends. Whether you pop your head in for five minutes to watch a game, you can really see the faces light up when they see a teacher there in the crowd sort of supporting them.

Groups of students playing sport outside

Yeah, I think little things like that, letting them know that you care about them as an individual, as a person, rather than just a student in your classroom.

Reverend Pennie Vaione Otto, Deputy Principal, Manurewa High School, Auckland, facing camera

All of my working life has been outside of Manurewa. So for me, it's bringing back an appreciation for my neighbours, you know, for the kids who live next door who come here. When I told the kids that I live down the road and I told the name of my street, they were like, “Wow that's my street”. And so I did that because I wanted them to feel that, you know, you don't have to be living out in a Palagi area to achieve like a Palagi. You know you can still be successful from home, from where you are. So for me, I guess this year it is around ensuring that our young people understand themselves as being multi-ethnic or as being from Manurewa and really valuing that and not allowing people to, you know, to dictate or to stereotype us or put us into a box.

Off the back of the cancellation of Polyfest right, so our principal gets up there, he's really sad and he's telling the kids and the kids are like, really sad. But then one of our group leaders gets up and she says, “You know what? Polyfest might be cancelled but we are not cancelled, we are Manurewa”.

Groups of students performing

And then she just started going off about the strength of themselves as being proud of who they are, where they come from, and you know to be really, I guess, firm in knowing that their culture will survive the more they get involved in things like Polyfest.

Conor McHoull, Teacher, Northcote Intermediate, Auckland facing camera

There's lots to love about this community. I think the biggest thing for me, there’s a lot of siblings coming through, there's a lot of, you know, everyone sort of knows everyone, sort of connectedness.

You know if you spend five minutes leaving the classroom to go and see some of the things that they get up to in their personal lives, I think that can be very powerful and can earn a lot of respect and I think that's where a lot of it starts.

Rebecca Wood, BOT Chairperson, previous parent, Kingsford School, Auckland

I think it would be helpful if the teachers were able to attend certain Pacific Island events.

As awful as it sounds, a funeral. I've learned so much from the Tongan culture by attending a funeral, attending a celebration, a wedding, which is totally different to the Palagi side of the culture. I think as Palagi we are really restrictive on what we do, as the Polynesian culture some of the focus, a lot of it, is around food and celebration.

In this video, Pennie Otto, Manurewa High School, shares her outlook about community identity, which is an important driving force to create a sense of belonging, self-pride and a feeling of unity. Community identity enables learners to recognise their personal identity and where and how they fit into the community. Connor McHoull talks about community empowerment, involvement and the links back to classroom learning.

Relevant turu
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  • Turu 3

Reflections for individual teachers

Both stories illustrate how community identity empowers learners. As you watch this video:

  • Think about how you can incorporate community identity in your lessons, and how to empower learners by encouraging them to take pride in their community, surroundings, and cultural backgrounds.
  • Think of exercises and activities that support a community culture of care. Give your learners the opportunity to speak about their sense of identity and belonging. Empower them to participate in a community environment.
  • Reflect on your own learning experiences outside the classroom. How could you improve your own teaching practice? How will you connect and engage your learners by talking about your own local community and culture?
  • Some teachers do not live in the same geographical area as their learners. Work together with your learners to create a resource for newcomers. What is the pacific history of your area? Where are the Pacific “hubs”; for example, the churches, language nests, sports grounds, markets, and food venues? Try to connect with the wider community at events inside and outside of school.


Reflections for staff or departments

If you are watching this video as an individual staff member or as a member of a departmental team, reflect on your wider team or how your school can increase parent and community involvement.

  • Does your school have a community consultation plan? If yes, how familiar are you with the plan for how each key group can help your school reach its academic and resource goals? If not, how will you go about collectively creating a community-empowered plan?
  • Now reflect on the school-home partnerships and consider how you can strengthen partnerships with parents, whānau and communities, and involve them in supporting learning. Think about your local curriculum and how it supports community and parents engage with their child's learning.
  • As a staff member, how will you contribute to the implementation of successful school, family and community partnership activities?
  • How will you support each other for a teacher-training workshop on the utilisation of parents and community mentors/role models in the classroom?