Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Culture Matters in Teaching and Learning

The communities I grew up in, were mostly Pakeha populations. Throughout school I rarely interacted with Pacific people, so I know very little about Pacific culture. One of the reasons I was really excited to work at Tamaki College, was the opportunity to work with young people in a community where Pacific people are the majority, to learn more about their traditions, values, and beliefs. Upon reflection throughout the year, although I have learnt a considerable amount, I feel I still need to include and be conscious of cultural practices and traditions in my teaching. So a goal for 2017 is to build on my culturally responsive pedagogy.

After reflecting on this, quite timely, our principal shared this lecture - Culture Matters in Teaching and Learning. I went along intrigued to hear what it would be about, in hope to start working towards my goal. Professor Konai Helu Thaman presented her educational journey as a Tongan woman, and shared some simple tips for educators of Pasifika people. I found the seminar incredibly interesting and I felt blessed to be in her presence. Some key things I took away to think about further as a colleague and teacher include the following;

Students who speak English as a second language may speak little throughout class, this may not be because they are unable or do not want to, but because they are afraid. Afraid of judgement, punishment, making mistakes in a language which is not their own. This highlights the need for positive, supportive classroom cultures.

We know we should attempt to integrate and incorporate activities, language and traditions from students' backgrounds and cultures, however something Konai said that stuck with me was cultural democracy. She explained how lacking inclusion of student culture into the learning environment is culturally insensitive and undemocratic. 

There is a stereotype that Pacific people cannot think critically. Konai strongly insisted that educators provide as many opportunities for Pacific students to ask questions, to challenge their thinking and learning so their critical thinking skills can flourish. She said many PI students share their thoughts, opinions, ideas and questions in small groups with their friends, but are often afraid to share their thoughts and questions with their teachers. Therefore, it is important teachers shape their lessons to provide students with opportunities to critically think, and scaffold student confidence and ability to critically think with others outside their friend group.

Konai suggested if you have students in your class who are misbehaving, try not to break down or yell at the students, as many will not respond to this. Rather, she said to question the students upbringing; what their whanau expectations are of them, and how they have taught them to act. This is likely to encourage students to consider how their behaviour may reflect on their families.

Finally, if English (written or spoken) is hindering their success, encourage students to express their ideas and creativity in their own language. Once the students are comfortable with their learning and creations in their language, to increase their confidence with English, ask them to translate back into English.

There were many other gems throughout the presentation, and I cannot wait to read her work as an academic. Her story was wonderful to hear, and a reminder that all students have equal opportunities, as long as we, the teachers, provide them. This is also a powerful message to the students; although they may be on the backfoot, they could become Professors if they really wanted to!

To learn about Konais metaphor for education, the kakala (a special garland), please click here!

Friday, 25 November 2016

Goodbye Paper CVs

For our final digital immersion day, we had a photoshoot, a shared lunch and created an online Curriculum Vitae for ourselves. We reflected on the biggest challenges and highlights of the year and had the scary realisation that we have nearly completed our first year of teaching! Although I will miss having the Fridays, I am looking forward to having my own classes and spending 5 days a week with them, starting next week!
Creating this CV, I realised how much I have actually achieved this year, and how much stuff I have learnt. To say I am a lifelong learner is definitely an understatement! I used the same design as my appraisal site, which is under development too. The tree represents my growth as a beginning teacher, more leaves will be added once I have more experience. Let me know if you think I am missing anything major from my appraisal or CV :)

Thursday, 17 November 2016

In Case of Emergency

Two years ago I trained to become a pool lifeguard. Part of this process involved completing my Basic First Aid certificate, which is due to expire next month. Today I was fortunate enough to spend the day renewing my certificate, which I think is incredibly important for all teachers, particularly teachers in the HPE field.

Throughout the day we had theory lessons which we then implemented into realistic situations or scenarios we may find ourselves in, in the workplace. These included cuts, breaks, sprains and burns at a low priority level, through to open wounds with things sticking out of the body.

The most serious part was the revision of DRABC, and the ability to provide CPR and the use of an AED. I feel much more confident with my ability to provide first aid to people in a variety of situations until Emergency services have arrived, which may save a limb or more seriously a life in the future.

A basic rundown of DRABC:

Danger: Assessing the situation of any dangers which may be present at the scene of an accident such as people, equipment, vehicles, gases, liquids etc. The most important thing to remember when wanting to help someone is not putting yourself in danger to do so.

Response: Check whether the patient is responsive to you; can they hear you talking? Do they groan/twitch when you squeeze their fingers? Can they open their eyes when asked? If they are completely unresponsive, always call for an ambulance, and an AED.

Airways: Tilt the head back slightly and open the mouth; check the airways are not obstructed by anything (liquid or solid), clear if necessary.

Breathing: Put your ear close to the patients mouth - can you feel their breath on your cheek? Can you feel them breathing? Can you see their chest rising and falling?

Circulation: Feel for the pulse, check response to squeezing fingertips (does colour come back)

MOST IMPORTANTLY: If you don't know what is wrong, always call for an ambulance!!

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

A Day at The Movies

As posted earlier today was the annual Manaiakalani Film Festival! This provides the opportunity for all students and teachers in the Manaiakalani Film Festival to exhibit their movies on the big screens at Hoyts. 

We, the MDTA, spent the day as helping hands for the running of the day, mostly ushering students into their seats and ensuring all are ready to go on time, as there was no waiting - the show must go on!

The hype and buzz from the kids was amazing, and incredibly infectious! The students were so happy, excited, positive and proud of themselves and their peers, which was so lovely to see. I need to encourage more created from  TC!

I enjoyed having the opportunity to be involved with this day, not only to see the students, but also have a glimpse into what the other schools had created. I have already reflected on the day, and what I need to improve for next year. See the short films created here (about 100!), and my film here.

As the students in my film are on study leave for their exams, I did not expect them to come to the cinema and present their film. So, I asked two girls from my SOS class, and they did an amazing job! Check out their intro below. I was pleasantly surprised when the boys from my film showed up to watch though!

Looking forward to next year, especially as it is the 10 year celebration.

Film Festival Day

It feels like so long ago since this was filmed and created, but today is Manaiakalani Film Festival day! I am excited to see some of the other films that have been created throughout the cluster. Check out the fun afternoon we had, literally just dancing!

I would have loved to have had more time, as the editing is average and I am not 100% happy with the footage, but with an extremely busy timetable, I think this is a good first go. Bring on the challenge next year. If you would like to see more of the the films from the cluster, click here :)

To see more from Tamaki College check out TCTV which includes my film here.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

A Celebration of Success

Last night was the end of year senior prizegiving. This is a celebration of students success in the classroom as well as across the wider school. I was blown away by the positive, supportive and inclusive environment I was surrounded by. The whanau were incredible. I felt their love towards their children, nieces, nephews, cousins etc, so much so I was quite teary! There were songs, dances, screaming, cheering and lots and lots of leis! 

I was intrigued as to where the tradition of leis came from, after seeing dozens of them last night. In the islands, leis signify feelings of love, respect and appreciation of a person and are woven from beautiful flowers. The tradition has changed a little to be leis of lollies, money and various other items as the plants are not in NZ. After the prizes were awarded stacks of people came to the front to support the child with hugs and leis. I thought it was so lovely!

Friday, 4 November 2016

Nearly Half Registered

We were lucky to have today to develop our sites as our evidence towards our registration. I have neglected this a little this year, so I am grateful to have the time to work on this. We have 12 criteria to provide evidence for throughout our first two years of teaching, in order to become fully registered teachers.

I have begun to develop a site which I can use throughout my entire teaching career for appraisals. The tree represents me. Each year a new leaf will be added onto the tree, so as I gain more experience, the tree will blossom! In addition, as I gain more experience, the winter theme will disappear, and I will transitions through the seasons as my tree fills.

Each leaf delves further into the evidence and things I have been doing throughout that year. I am excited to see how this develops in the future!