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Strategies at work

Teachers use many different strategies to engage their Pasifika learners and help them to achieve. Their strategies work best when they are grounded in responsive and caring relationships with their Pasifika students and the focus on their learning is clear.


Key content

Successful teachers have many different ways of helping their Pasifika students to learn and achieve. These teachers adapt their pedagogy to the needs, interests, language and culture of their Pasifika learners, enjoying them as individuals and caring about them as learners. While keeping the lesson’s learning focus clear and explicit, they use strategies that motivate, engage, challenge and support their Pasifika learners in ways that help them to become confident, successful and independent learners. 

“If we are to make a difference to students, improving teaching practice should not be considered an end in itself but should be judged according to the impact on students”.  Teacher Professional Learning and Development: Best Evidence Synthesis Iteration, page 12


Thanks to the principals, staff and students of Aorere College, McAuley High School, Mangere Bridge School, Sylvia Park School, Mary MacKillop School and Wymondley Road Primary School for their contribution.

Things to think about

  • What impact do the strategies you use have on your Pasifika students? Are some more successful than others? How do you know?
  • Do you feel that you are constantly improving your teaching practice to be responsive to your Pasifika learners? If so, in what ways? If not, why not?
  • Can you give examples of some strategies that you have used and find particularly effective with your Pasifika students? What outcomes have they achieved as a result? Have you shared this information with others? If so, who? If not, why not?
  • Do you ask other teachers about the strategies they use with their Pasifika students and which ones they find particularly successful? If not, would that be a useful thing for you to do?
  • What do you think you need to know in order to deepen your professional understandings (for example, your pedagogical content knowledge) and extend your skills so as to have a positive impact on your Pasifika students’ learning outcomes? If there are things you think you need to learn, how will you go about doing this?


Inna - student
I like learning off people who actually enjoy themselves and are fun. You know someone who gets excited about teaching. 

Gus - student
I think a good teacher is someone who can lead you in the right direction so you can go on independently.

Camilla - student
Even when we don't get it they will try and find another way for us to understand. It's good when they explain it properly.

Liz Crisp
A style of learning which allows Pasifika children to engage in hands on way is particularly effective. I think it's effective for other children too, but particularly so for Pasifika children. Young children who come in and haven't had a lot of experience with English, immediately that gives them a context to talk. And I think talking, explaining, making connections, and realising that they have a lot to bring to the classroom is really important. 

Jacqueline Yates
I like to keep my kids moving all the time that's why I go outside a lot. I incorporate music in my lessons, art work, but it’s still at quite a high level of academics, I expect them to – it’s not just playing around, so also having a sense of humour with these kids they just love it. And I think what happens is that they build that respect for you, so that you’re joking with them, and it’s about keeping their attention.
Aina Masina
My teaching style is broken down in sort of like a process of doing things, step by step ... making sure that all the kids are following the step. The steps that I’ve wanted them to achieve by the end of the lesson. 

ACTUALITY – Aina teaching in class

So you want to give them a little bit at a time and then you move onto something else. I like to keep it quick and fast.

ACTUALITY – Aina teaching in class
They can get easily bored, distracted, and they go off task. But if you keep the task simple, challenging, but effective where they’re doing things together, I think I will get more out of the lesson. 

Faaifo - student
A good teacher give us strategies to work out problems and they have lots of fun with us.

Moyeen McCoy
I can't just say ‘oh girls you know you're going to do an essay today, you know go to it’. I have to take them through step by step a pathway to achieve that and to explain how to do things in each part of the structure. So I would use writing frames for that, or some sort of structure that might not be as complex as a writing frame in its total entirety, but it will be a form of structure. Because I'm a visual thinker, a lot of our girls are and they find it helpful to have a framework, even if it's a metaphorical framework. 

Jacqueline Yates
First thing I probably look at is their learning styles. So I look at how they learn, do they like to learn through touch, do they like to learn through singing, do they like to learn just through rote learning – for example when I’m doing maths – I try and incorporate music and I take teaching points through the songs that I’m doing or I will use playdoh and they have to break the playdoh up and count the dots or make playdoh numbers. I do alot of learning outside, so we play games outside so that I’m catering to the children who need to release alot of energy.

ACTUALITY – Jacqueline teaching in class