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Learning conversations

 

Key content

Where Pasifika students are part of the conversation about their learning and achievements, they gain deeper understanding of their own specific learning needs and challenges. Approaches such as ‘learning conversations’ foster Pasifika students' abilities to define their own learning goals, ask questions, anticipate the structure of curriculum experiences, use meta-cognitive strategies when engaging with curriculum and self-monitor. When Pasifika parents are included in the conversation, they gain knowledge about their child’s learning in language that they can understand.

Pasifika parents who extend their range of strategies to help their children learn and do well in school are also empowered to support their preschool children as well. Those parents, family and community members who volunteer to help at school also increase their ability to influence their children's educational outcomes. 

“Students learn as they engage in shared activities and conversations with other people, including family members and people in the wider community. Teachers encourage this process by cultivating the class as a learning community. In such a community, everyone, including the teacher, is a learner; learning conversations and learning partnerships are encouraged; and challenge, support and feedback are always available. As they engage in reflective discourse with others, students build the language that they need to take their learning further.”
The New Zealand Curriculum, page 34.

Acknowledgment:

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 is your understanding of good teaching for Pasifika students? How is that different from your understanding of good teaching for other students? On what do you base these understandings? And how do you share these?
  • How do you go about establishing common ways to think about the nature of high-quality teaching for Pasifika students?
  • To what extent do teachers in your school have a deliberate and collective focus on reviewing their teaching approaches in relation to Pasifika student achievement patterns? Could this focus be strengthened? In what ways? What would happen as a result?
  • Do the conversations you have with other teachers about the achievement of Pasifika students in your school provide you with a professional learning opportunity? If not, how could they be improved?
  • Is there any particular teaching style or technique you use that works particularly well for Pasifika students in the classroom? Who do you share this information with? If you do not share these things, why not?

Transcript

Judy Hanna
What I believe is that by involving the parents with their children, is the way to get the parents involved in the children’s learning by making their children part of the conversation. And today was a good example. We invited the parents to come and have lunch with their children at school, and we had a wonderful turnout.

Jan Bills
It's about making friends; it's about feeling comfortable with each other. It's about making cross connections, it's about knowing what each person is capable of doing before asking them if they can help you in some way. And it's about building the relationship. The luncheon was fun and I think it involved the kids and the parents, and everybody had a great time, and they’re keen to do it again, so it's about building on that. I think the fun thing is really important actually. It’s important for the kids and for the parents to enjoy themselves. It can get serious sometimes, and it's not supposed to be serious.

Merita Amani-Heisifa
We do student lead conferences, where the students report back their learning of the term so that's another way we get our parents involved in their learning. Like next week year 5 to 8 will be celebrating their topic with the parents. So we invite them to come in, have a look at what their children have been learning. We have some wonderful Pasifika parents, who are very supportive of their children, but we would like more.

Melanie - student
We come in and the teacher tells our parents what we've been doing and sometimes the kids talk about it. And tell our parents like how we’re doing in our learning. And sometimes our parents ask questions about what we need to work on and how they can help us achieve our goals.

Ana Manu
Sometimes teachers don't realise when they are talking to a parent that the language that they use are everyday teacher language. But most parents don't know what that means, and especially Pasifika, they’re really shy to ask what does that mean without having to look really silly, so sometimes just saying simple things, um, makes a lot of sense to the parents.

Jan Bills
I think what the parent interview do is it helps Pasifika parents to understand the kind of learning that their children do at school. It also gives them the power to understand the sort of language that schools use, and so when they’re having a conversation with the children it helps them to know what to ask their children.

Actuality - Student led conference: Marcel

It helps for all three people to be speaking that same language. I think too in the parent interview when the child is there it focuses the interview on the child. Not on the parent's needs, not on the teacher's needs, because sometimes they can have their own particular needs. But actually on the needs of the child, and the child keeps it as a focus, it's the centre.

Actuality - Student led conference: Marcel

Marcel - student
The parents get to know your teacher and see if your child’s doing all right and see what they need to improve on, see what they’re good at at the school.

Glen Ryan
What we ‘ve done this term is we've invited the new children to come into the school, the parents to come in and the child has invited them, so it makes it easier for the parent to come, cause you can't turn your five year old down, you've got to come. Together with the DP the five-year old will present their learning and what they are up to. At the same time we are also finding out the siblings, and getting the relationship with them, making them feel at ease and then offering them what we can help them with. Having little workshops that they can come to with other parents around reading, writing, whatever they'd like to know about, we’re hoping that will go back into the family and support the 2 year old, the 3-year-old who’s coming through. So we are going to work through our new children to help out the ones that are coming through. We'll see how it goes.

Malia - student
We like give invitations to them and the students families, to come and support their children, so they won’t feel left out. And they get involved in the students learning as well.

Jacqueline Yates
I think one of the successes in my class is the parents and the communication I have with them. Because I know when those kids go home, if the parents are on the same track as me, we’re going to get those kids moving. And they do. I know the kids that are working at home they come back and I see movement. I see movement over the holidays, I see movement from the weekend and then I can grab that and I can move them at school. And they’ve got every chance of success. And the parents I tell them they’re welcome to come into my class anytime and they do.

Actuality – parents working with kids in Jacqueline’s classroom

Then I’ve got the parents that come in and help, I sit them at a table with a little group of kids and what I like about that is that they’re learning as well. I’ll be doing an activity with the kids and they’ll say, oh that’s a good idea, oh that’s a good idea, I’m going to do that at home, and then they go and play the game at home that they’ve just seen. So I’m very lucky to have that, have that parent support. And alternatively, they teach me things. They teach me the language; they teach me what goes on at home. Which is very important for me to understand where my kids have come from.


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