Pasifika and the road to success

My early morning lecture begun with one of the most interesting and enjoyable lectures I have had this year. The lecturer Fa’amalua Tipi outlined ways in which, as teachers, we could effectively teach Pasifika students.

Although I’m Pakeha myself, by 2050 60% of New Zealand children will identify as either Maori or Pasifika, so this is something that I cannot run or hide from. I have to find ways in which I can be a great teacher for Maori and Pasifika learners, because those are the cultures that make up the fabric of my country. I not only need to care about Pasifika learners, I have to care; and diversity in school is something I should celebrate.

So, here are some tips (to myself) for teaching Pasifika students:

– Engage with the community! Find out what they like, what will draw the parents to the school. Go to sports and cultural events where the parents will be. Doing this will show that you care. And caring is central to relationship.

– Cultural activities are what the parents are experts in, so my involvement will let them see that I can learn from them, because I actually am interested in the culture of my students.

– There is a difference between involvement and engagement in the classroom. This difference is relationship. If I don’t bother to build relationships with students, then they will be ever involved, but never engaged.

– Recognise and understand the cultural capital of students. Their culture is so important, so in my teaching I need to show them this. I also need to understand their worldview, to know where they are coming from.

– Relationships bridge the gap (it always seems to boil down to relationships)

To end, here is a (not word for word) quote from Fa’amalua that resonated with me, a quote that I need to tell myself often, maybe stick it on my wall: “To be effective you just have to care. You don’t have to be Pasifika to make a difference. You are individually inspiring, even if you are Pakeha. You don’t have to be Pasifika to impact Pasifika kids – you just have to care.”

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