One of my excitements as an educator is when I hear teachers speak passionately about their learners in positive ways especially about their heritage, language, identity, beliefs or culture. I am even more excited when I hear them make an effort to pronounce their learners home names correctly and notice when their learners have taken on a ‘school name’. I see some cultures embrace this more than others and do not expect their child to take on a school name when they come to our school. I love it when our teachers make an effort to find out how to greet the parents in their home language. This is not an easy task at our school as we have 37 different languages listed as home languages..
This year I have been super excited to see the team I am currently a part of fostering a learning culture that celebrates diversity and inclusion through using a social media ‘WeChat.’ The exciting part of wechat is the simplicity our families have of easily translating what the teacher has written into their own languages. I recently sat Google Educator Level 1 exam and passed. However during my study time, I discovered how easily our families can translate the newsletters into their own language if we also offered a Doc option and not just a PDF. Therefore I will highlight this important feature to my school.
One key strategy I use when I teach is providing opportunities to build on a learner’s home language and culture in the learning setting. You can read more about these strategies in mine and Pam’s Book, SOLO Taxaonomy and English Language Learners.
I also allow our learners the ability to access their home language when using their chrome books. We have just updated our device management system and I noticed that this feature was locked down so I will be unlocking this again for our learners.
One of our support staff takes a group of senior students who are literate in their first language and she creates Duality maps with them. This ensures that heritage, language, identity, beliefs and culture is shared in both languages so that the students can celebrate who they are with their class mates and teachers. This is such an important learning activity that I ensure that time is given to this on a regular basis. You can see some samples here in our newsletter. Check out: 3 July 2017.
I myself model learning about histories, heritage, language, identity, beliefs and culture of my learners and what is important to them by continually learning. I am reminded of my TeachNZ sabbatical where I visited 13 countries in 11 targeting the countries where most of our learners come from.
Recently I have been learning Chinese so that again I can feel what it is like to be in our learners shoes. Learning Chinese has taken me to China on three visits and my recent visit was highlighted on the International Exchange and Pathways portal (ILEP). This journey helps me understand that my world views are different from those of my learners and that I am willing to learn what it must be like for them to learn in New Zealand.
I am an Across School Leader for ACCoS Kāhui Ako and I use this opportunity in my leadership to affirm and draw on the cultural capital that all learners bring with them to their learning experience by giving teachers in our Across Sector Groups the opportunity of sharing about their diverse learners and families in their schools. I believe in this so much that I have recently invited an ESOL Verifier to come and share to our Kāhui Ako so that this adds voice to the work that I believe in.
I really like this video from Rae Siilata speaking about the importance of teachers to recognise learner’s differences and have shared this with some of our staff and remind them that language is central to culture, identity and heritage and that the right to use your own language in learning is an internationally recognised human right.
If you want to know more about our professional responsibilities to our learners then you must read the updated Code of Professional Responsibility. This blog was inspired by section 2.3 on Page 13.