How do we fit together?

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Title slide: How do we fit together?

Lemmo Gallagher, Learning Assistant, and Matua Lewis Anderson, Te Whare Ako, (speaking) Farm Cove Intermediate, Auckland, facing camera

Identity to me, myself, is knowing who I am. Knowing where I'm from. Knowing my whānau and how I can translate that learning to other children from different cultures. It's also about tikanga Māori, where they learn in the Māori world, how to practice the values that we have in Te Ao Māori so that they have respect and identity at the same time. So that they learn a lot of things like hands-on Harakeke, Waiata, Kapa Haka. Te reo Māori obviously underpins everything that they do in te whare ako.

With our Pacific learners, they're able to use their own culture to express who they are in their own language so they have that choice of speaking in their language, writing in their language, and also creating art in the way that they think who they are.

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

I've come from a school where I went to school and I had a lot of cultural capital. I understood the school and I understood the students. And coming into this school has been a challenge for me because it's been me who's had the experience of not having the cultural capital or the prior knowledge. I think that that's been a really good moment of personal reflection for me because I've been in the shoes of our students when they don't feel that they have the prior knowledge to engage in their learning, and they don't have the cultural capital to feel like, you know, they’re set up for success and achievement.

Because we've got such a high number of Pasifika and Māori students in our school, you can't brush over the fact that our education system is not always set up to support their learning and achievement. You know, they are the bulk of the students that we see every day and so we need to be responsive. And we owe it to the students to be responsive to their needs and to kind of generate a situation where they can be successful and they can be themselves.

Cultural identity is the key to increasing the level of education for each learner. Identity includes their culture, language, experiences – who they are and their understanding of their world. Cultural capital and prior knowledge impact on a learner’s educational experiences. Recognising the effect of cultural capital will help to build an education system that responds to the needs, and supports the achievement, of all learners. This video demonstrates awareness of the diverse identities Pacific learners bring to the school environment.

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Reflections for individual teachers

This video demonstrates valuable links between cultural identity and learning. As you watch this video, think about deepening your own understanding of the different cultural identities in your classroom, and how you can lift educational achievement by motivating your learners to express their cultural identity.

  • How are you addressing the cultural identities, experiences, and background of your learners? What do they tell you about themselves and what they value? How do they express themselves? How do they feel about themselves?
  • What activities can you create to enable your learners to express their self-identity, heritage, and whānau? How can you translate that learning for other children from different cultures?
    • Ask each learner to bring a photograph of a successful person who they think they will look like themselves when they grow up. Display those photographs on the wall, and ask your learners to talk about their photographs. This will encourage identity, cultural sharing, and self-awareness in your lessons. 


Reflections for staff or departments

If you are watching as a staff member or member of a department team, you may see ways to collectively change your systems and influence your wider team or school planning to become more responsive to the cultural needs of each learner. Which of these ideas could you address now?

  • How are you encouraging staff and department teams to create identity-enhancing classrooms, as a place to foster belonging and value for all students of all backgrounds?
  • How are you cultivating cultural competency as a resource for learning for teachers of Pacific learners? How are you challenging the system to ensure that it is culturally responsive to the needs of the learners, and supports their learning and achievement?
  • How is your school providing a caring classroom environment that enhances positive student relationships as a foundation for trust? Genuine warmth, and blending humour and lightheartedness with academic content, helps to create a sense of belonging for Pacific learners.