Mindfulness

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My contribution for #EdBookNZ 2016.

Listen with your heart to what your mind is telling you.

  • Ko tō ngākau ki ngā taonga o ō tïpuna hei tikitiki mō tō māhunga.
  • Turn your heart to the treasures of your ancestors as a crown for your head.

I have chosen to undertake understanding mindfulness because at our school our personal focus is on well being. I am also an across school teacher for the Auckland Central Community of Schools and understanding how mindfulness affects learning is one of our underlying concepts to unpack.

What is Mindfulness?

I believe mindfulness is about training of self to be more aware. It is about focussing and resting the mind so it has time to relax. The benefits of understanding mindfulness as a skill is reduced stress, effective emotional regularity and an improved working memory. Mindfulness nurtures positive mind states like kindness and compassion.

Psychology today defines ‘Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention to the present. When you are  mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.’

However I have recently uncovered this definition from Mindful Schools where children explain what mindfulness means titled ‘Just Breathe.’

As I read about mindfulness I identified components to understand the interplay of mind and body feelings such as:

  • Taking care of the soul through outdoor activities such as exercise or just being outdoors enjoying the natural environment;
  • Taking care of the body through nutrition, hydration and sleep;
  • Taking care of the mind by allowing it to rest, daydream and imagine;

In addition there appears to be a ripple effect of steps when experiencing mindfulness. Mindfulness stresses the importance of loving self, loving others and loving the environment. These all have an effect on mind because all are intertwined. I was recently reminded about the importance of mindfulness in indigenous cultures and how closely mindfulness is linked to our place in our environment. From my Samoan side I am reminded of the term Fa’alupega which is a part of Samoan culture and custom.  Knowing Fa’alupega allows you to connect individuals to families and to land and origins of their past. I was taught, ‘O ai a’u?’ Who am I? If we, as educators, teach the whole student, then shouldn’t we be providing them with the skills to harness their mental, emotional, social, intellectual potential and make links to their place in the community via mindfulness?

The opposite of mindfulness is: self destructive behaviour; stress and burnout problems; under-achieving; lack of self-respect; substance abuse and other self harm behaviour.

Let me unpack the steps to develop mindfulness for teaching and learning further. In schools we often focus on exercise and activity for our learners. We teach about the importance of nutrition and hydration for well being. We work with families to reduce the appearance of processed food and sugary drinks at our schools. We stress if our learners appear to be tired from lack of sleep. In this day and age we have the added stress of being permanently connected to devices which brings both benefits and challenges. However when do we give our learners time to rest their minds? How do we take this non-judgmental approach to observing our thoughts and feelings during mindfulness into how we exist in the world? How different would the world be if we could observe without judgement?

Looking after self by resting the mind

There are three steps to follow that focus on mental stillness and attention to the present moment. All three can be used to rest mind or can be used individually.

  1. Anchoring which is when attention is anchored to a chosen object by staying close to the object despite mental activity.
  2. Resting allows the mind to relax by resting gently on breathing.
  3. Being which is just sitting and experiencing the present moment.

We can teach our ourselves and our children the importance of having digital detox. We can create comparisons with junk food and media junk and look for the effects of both on our well being. We can take care of our minds by practicing dreaming and imagining and just giving our minds a chance to rest and be still. You can explore Chade-Meng Tan’s ideas for settling the mind here. You can have a quiet chuckle here. Deep breathing has been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and lessen anxiety. Deep, slow and even breaths can be a powerful calm-down tool.

Giving service to others

Another idea of mindfulness is about kindness, compassion and about looking after others in our community. In our curriculum how can we acknowledged the importance of service to others? That is the giving of self to community so that we can develop the sense of purpose and contribution of our place in the community. Our older children do some of this via leadership activities. They choose an area where they give time such as looking after the library or looking after younger classes during wet lunchtimes. They commit to activities that benefit the school such as taking part in Travelwise or sports. But how can we foster this idea further so they can move this out into the community?

What other opportunities for our community of learners can we develop so that they can make connections with each other? We already do this with camps and productions and school wide activities. But I wonder if we can be doing even more especially now that we are part of a greater community of learners in the Auckland Central Community of Schools? How can we develop further the ideas of nurturing and sharing across our community of learners so that kindness and compassion develops?

Loving the environment

As educators we focus predominantly on environmental studies and in the case of my school we pride ourselves on our Green Gold Enviro status and our silver status for Travelwise. Yet how often do we focus on using the environment for us and our well being. We know that breathing fresh clean air and feeling the sun on our skin can be rejuvenating. However exposure to sunlight and fresh air actually offers our body health benefits that can last a lifetime. Exposure to the sun gives vitamin D benefits that fosters bone growth and improves general overall health. Exposure to sunlight at the same time each day reduces a chemical in our bodies called melatonin and this helps us sleep better. Walking through trees exposes us to phytoncides which reduces the stress hormone cortisol. You can read more about the effects of being outdoors here.

The benefits of mindfulness

How can we be of genuine service to others and create lasting connections within our communities if our mind is a busy whirlpool of fleeting and ruminating thoughts? Being aware of and practising mindfulness with our learners brings several benefits including decreased negative effects of depression and anxiety. Learners become more self regulated and compassionate. They become more focussed and stronger academically. Being aware of and practising mindfulness improves the working memory. Practicing mindfulness is a powerful antidote for stress, distraction and selfishness in the world. Most important of all mindfulness lays a powerful foundation for all other learning skills.

Mindfulness and learning

I have listed and described the  steps that develop mindfulness and explained how and why mindfulness helps learning and by making my learning visible. I can teach others to explain why mindfulness helps learning. However I have finished with even more questions to explore and a greater sense of calm as I put into practice some of what I have learnt about mindfulness.

Acknowledgements and Sources:

I give a shout out to Kim Mackrell ‎who took some time to give me some fabulous feedback and more questions for me to to think about.

Alton, L. (2014). Deep breathing skills to lower anxiety and blood pressure. Retrieved October 12, 2016, from http://www.naturalhealth365.com/anxiety-deep-breathing-1135.html/

Hess, E. (2014) Get-U-Fit. Get out and smell the roses. Retrieved October 17, 2016, from https://blogs.uww.edu/warhawkfitness/2014/04/06/get-out-and-smell-the-roses-the-benefits-of-fresh-air/

Mindful Schools. (2015). “Just Breathe” by Julie Bayer Salzman & Josh Salzman (Wavecrest Films). Retrieved October 20, 2016, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVA2N6tX2cg

Stosny, P. B., (n.d.). Psychology Today. What is Mindfulness? Retrieved October 2, 2016, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/mindfulness

Tan, C. (2016). How to Settle the Mind – Mindful. Retrieved October 18, 2016, from http://www.mindful.org/how-to-settle-the-mind/

New Zealand Chinese Language Week

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Newmarket School recently celebrated its first Chinese Language Week. In New Zealand Chinese is the fourth-largest ethnic speaking group. However at Newmarket School it is our largest group. Our school is nearly one third Chinese and we wanted to celebrate who we are.

As a school we promoted Chinese language and culture through a range of activities. Students were involved in several events such as calligraphy, traditional Chinese games, making and cooking dumplings, investigating and creating Chinese art, eating Mooncakes, and a celebration assembly. Our children also used WeChat to talk to a kindergarten and then our sister school in China.

We had a special day on Wednesday when children were invited to celebrate their own culture by wearing traditional dress. We asked for a gold coin donation to help with the publication of a student created book telling the story of Chang E. I am still working on this with our children.

Friday was a special day for us because the youngest members of our school led our assembly. The whole school had been learning songs and a dance that we incorporated into our assembly. Mandarin has been identified by our school community as being important. So much so that we offer after school classes in addition to the language being taught in all our classes.

We have undertaken this journey because our Ministry of Education research shows that Mandarin is an upcoming global language. I also know from experience that learning a second language contributes to literacy skills in our children’s first language. As a school we are part of the Asian Language Learning in Schools (ALLiS). Therefore I am a student of Mandarin and am teaching the language to our five and six year olds.

The week long events highlighted our Chinese students and chance for them to step up and be leaders. At the same time many of our senior school students stepped up too and led morning tea game activities and supported many of the in class art activities.

We were one of the lucky schools to receive funding from the Asia New Zealand Foundation to hold events. This funding was used to purchase art equipment and Chinese food ingredients for our children.

We also had Lily Lee as a guest speaker who shared her book Sons of the Soil and told us stories of her time at Newmarket School.  Confucius Institute Auckland supported us with a guest calligrapher and support team who shared his skills with us. In addition we were most fortunate to have parents who gave time to share their skills too.

For clearer photos, do visit our school’s facebook page.

Where to next?

This coming weekend I have been invited to share our story at the Oceania Chinese Language Conference. Here is a link to my slides.

Our junior classes will continue to flatten their walls of learning as we take part in the Flat Connections Project beginning in term 4. The project is called K-2 Building Bridges to Tomorrow. We will be working with schools from around the world as we connect, collaborate and share our learning together. One way of doing this is using WeChat and all our junior school teachers are signed up and on board.

Mid Autumn Festival

Background

This year I have been learning Chinese as part of my Teacher Professional Development Languages (TPDL) learning. TPDL is an in-service year-long professional development programme for teachers at all New Zealand schools.

I chose to take on the challenge of learning Mandarin as part of being the ALLiS teacher for Newmarket School. I also took on the challenge as I wanted to foster closer relationships with the children that I work with at Newmarket School. Nearly one third of our school is made up of children who speak Chinese. I have visited China twice already but with limited vocabulary and my second visit happened during their Chinese New Year.

chang e Chang e -drawn by Seroung

Mid Autumn Festival 中秋節

Soon in China it is the Mid Autumn Festival 中秋節, also known as the Moon Festival. One key idea I have learnt is the importance of festivals and celebrations to bring families back together. My first visit to Chine was just before the time of the Mid Autumn festival. During this visit I was introduced to moon cakes. Again I had very little knowledge of the importance of sharing moon cakes.

The Mid Autumn Festival  falls on the 15th day of the 8th month in the Chinese lunar year. Myself I naively thought this meant the 15th of August. However had omitted the phrase Chinese lunar year in my first round of information. I know now that Mid Autumn Festival takes place in September because Chinese New Year happens in February when we compare the dates to the Gregorian calendar or the calendar which the western countries use. This year the date for celebration is the 15th of September.

The Mid-Autumn Festival has its own special food. People eat moon cakes for celebration. The moon cake is a kind of pastry with various fillings and the surface is printed with different artistic patterns.  Mid-Autumn Festival is also a time for family reunions. As the moon cake is round in shape, it symbolises the reunion of a family.
So for this Mid-Autumn Festival our children at Newmarket School will enjoy a delicious moon cake at school and at home they will probably also enjoy a Moon Cake shared with family.

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New Zealand Chinese Language and Culture Week

Last year New Zealand celebrated Chinese Language week around this period. The first I heard about it was after the event. I have been watching for this years dates and checking the internet for the confirmed week. This year there is now a site for this event.

This year I was determined that at Newmarket School we would celebrate this new national event. So at Newmarket School I am working with a group of senior students to coordinate a week long list of activities. I have just finished a paper on Intercultural Language Teaching which clarified the need to communicate in the first place and seek to teach culture in a way which develops intercultural communicative skills at the same time as developing language skills. Intwined with cultural activities is the opportunity to develop language. As a Mandarin teacher I have been focussed predominantly on language. Partly because of my own focus of learning Mandarin. 

NZCLW at Newmarket School

With my senior students we have developed a list of activities that they have chosen to lead over this week. The activities planned include:

  • Elastics
  • Long skipping rope activities
  • Pong pong
  • Chopsticks activities
  • Diabolo spinning
  • Jianzi- hacky sack-  Shuttle Cock kicking

One key activity is a language activity as I really want our children who learn Mandarin to have the opportunity to celebrate their learning. I will also give the children the chance to practice a formulaic speech and for this activity I will use our fluent speakers as judges to help me judge this. The second part is to identify our fluent speakers because next year I will prepare them for the oral Mandarin speeches.

In addition I am keen to develop literacy skills for our Mandarin speaking children. So I have set the challenge of writing a book in English to retell the story of Chang-e. The lady in the moon. Our children who are literate in Mandarin will help me with translating. Also we have our parent community who will help me with the final draft. I have a group of artists who have chosen to develop the images that will be used.

In class activities that teachers and classes can choose to include in their programme are:

  • Dumpling making
  • Calligraphy
  • Painting cherry blossoms
  • Painting Panda
  • Decorate a tea tin
  • Make and fly fish shaped kites
  • Mask painting
  • Paper cutting
  • Making lanterns from recycled materials

Health and Well Being

One of our school wide goals for 2016 is ‘Heath and Well Being’. So by incorporating mindfulness into the weeks programme through exercise, physical activities and meditation I am proactive in developing a positive health awareness culture in our workplace. I am conscious too that by sharing moon cakes during this week I must take into account the children in our school who have allergies to egg and nuts. Again it is about being prepared and identifying those children for their safety and well being. My next step is to work with my student organising committee and identify any hazards in their physical activities so that injuries for participating children will be minimised. I also need to reconnect with our National Chinese advisor as I wish to strengthen our working relationship. I also still need to reestablish connections with a past pupil of our school by inviting her to our events.During my research for the types of activities to run I have made connections with Confucius, Asia New Zealand, our local secondary school, several parents in our school community, our after school Chinese teachers and of course our children who are running several morning tea activities.

WeChat

Those of you who work with Chinese children and are not yet aware of Wechat, then use your phone and locate the app. Wechat is an amazing social media tool to use to create connections with our Asian neighbours. I use Wechat for communication in the Connect with China Flat Connections initiative. I use Wechat to build communications with some of our parents. I use Wechat to maintain connections with our previous Mandarin Language Assistants and to communicate with New Zealand teachers who have shifted to China. I use Wechat to develop closer relationships with our sister school in Ningbo. I have used Wechat to make connections with a kindergarten who will communicate with our junior school during the upcoming week of celebration. 

The week long celebration is now just two weeks away. I have let our parent community know that it is happening via our newsletter. I have alerted teachers to the dates and to be aware of their contribution in class. I have met with the student leadership team to design the activities that will be run. So now it is down to the finer details.

Those of you who are in an ALLiS cluster, what kinds of events have you hosted to raise awareness and to celebrate our children?

Intercultural communicative language learning

Part 2 of my reading log for EDPROFST 360 

Course Director and Lecturer: Dr. Constanza Tolosa

Liddicoat, A. & Scarino, A. (2013). Intercultural language teaching and learning. New York, NY: Wiley Blackwell. [Chapter 2: Languages, Cultures, and the Intercultural. pp 11-30]

Key concepts relevant to intercultural communicative language learning

Intercultural language teaching places the need to communicate in the first place and seeks to teach culture in a way which develops intercultural communicative skills at the same time as developing language skills. This is an approach to the teaching of culture which sees language and culture as intimately linked and which recognises that culture is always present when we use language.

Intercultural Language Learning Learners engage in developing cultural competence from the beginning of their language learning. Learners engage in understanding their own languages and cultures in relation to the additional language and culture. iCLT is more than just learning the culture and compare to one’s own. Learners must make choices when engaging in meaningful communication in another language

Intercultural competence involves at least the following key concepts:

  • accepting that one’s practices are influenced by the cultures in which one participates and so are those of one’s interlocutors;
  • accepting that there is no one right way to do things;
  • valuing one’s own culture and other cultures;
  • using language to explore culture;
  • finding personal ways of engaging in intercultural interaction;
  • using one’s existing knowledge of cultures as a resource for learning about new cultures;
  • finding a personal intercultural style and identity.

Ideas about iCLT that are new to me

In taking an intercultural perspective in language teaching and learning, the term is new to me but the ideas are not.  Such as the central focus for culture learning involves more than developing knowledge of other people and places.

Or, iCLT is about raising an awareness of the pervasive presence of culture in language. Even,  iCLT uses learning processes such as interacting, exploring, comparing, and experiencing languages and cultures to develop in learners the competencies that allow them to communicate effectively across cultural boundaries; that is, to display intercultural communicative competence. Therefore iCLT reflects a social and dialogic perspective on learning. These ideas are already in my schema. However to activate them I need to unpack them further.

  • Learners involves purposeful engagement in interpreting  in interaction with others.
  • Learners continually make connections between language and culture and learning.
  • They continually make connections between first language and target language.
  • The learners continuously learn and build from interacting experience.
  • The learners continuously reflect on how we think, know and learn about language, culture, and their relationships.
  • Learners learning depends on learners’ attitudes, dispositions and values.

The ability to learn beyond the classroom is probably more important than any particular information that students may learn about another culture during their school year.

My personal response and reaction

The goal of iCLT learning is to develop an intercultural identity as a result of an engagement with an additional culture.

  • The move from static to dynamic
  • The nature of content: artefact-practice
  • The nature of learning: fact- process
  • The nature of the educational effect: cultural – intercultural

In approaching language education from an intercultural perspective, it is important that the view of intercultural Language Teaching and Learning culture be broad but also that it be seen as directly centered in the lived experiences of people.

The aim of intercultural language teaching and learning is not to displace language as the core focus of language education but to ensure that language is integrated with culture in conceptualizing language learning.

Learning another language can be like placing a mirror up to one’s culture and to one’s assumptions about how communication happens, what particular messages mean, and what assumptions one makes in daily life.

Intercultural Language Teaching and Learning culture can be broad but also that it be seen as directly centered in the lived experiences of people.

To sum it up I believe intercultural communicative language learning is whanaungatanga in Maori and va fealofani in Samoan.  iCLT is about building relationships with others so it is more than just language learning and more than learning about culture. iCLT is about people learning and the space that happens between that cannot be seen. I really like the use of the mirror analogy to help me as a learner understand my own culture.

Applying what I read to my language classroom

When I teach iCLT in my Mandarin language classroom the focus needs to shift from language to include culture. The focus needs to be on my learners making connections with the target language and culture.

The learners are:

  • actively involved in constructing knowledge through exploring cultural practices
  • making connections between cultures, and between existing knowledge of culture and language, and new learning
  • involved in social interactions that involve communicating across cultural boundaries
  • reflecting ‘critically and constructively on linguistic and cultural differences and similarities
  • taking responsibility for their intercultural growth, assisted by teachers who, for example, foster engagement with difference and awareness of stereotypes.

Opportunities need to happen for my learners to  participate in social exchanges and the most effective for iCLT is role playing by seeking explicit comparisons between the two cultures to develop empathy. Activities that develop noticing of cultural similarities and differences are also suggested for iCLT.

The following are examples of this:

  • Comparing what one has noticed about another language and culture with one already knows
  • Reflecting on what one’s experience of linguistic and cultural diversity means for oneself
  • Interacting on the basis of one’s learning and experiences of diversity in order to create personal meanings about one’s experiences

Overall iCLT is more than just learning the culture and compare to one’s own. It is more than a body of knowledge but rather a framework in which people live their lives and communicate shared meanings with each other. Learners must make choices when engaging in meaningful communication in another language through activities rather than just discussion.

 

 

Language and learning

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At my school we have children and staff from all over the world.

Combined together we speak a total of 23 languages including English and Maori.

As a trained second language teacher with a National Diploma of TESSOL and have a specialist Bilingual Certificate, I have a fascination with linguistics. Myself Samoan is my first language and I learnt English at school. I can get by in basic French and Dutch. At teachers college I specialised in Maori language and  later on I learnt Japanese for two years in order to empathise with children from Asia learning a different literacy script. In addition I learnt a little Tongan when I was immersed in a Tongan speaking class for one year. This year, I hope to learn some Mandarin too.

First Language Maintenance

I love hearing our children speak in their first language and encourage them to share with others in their own language if they are developing understanding of concepts. My bilingual training allows me to trust this strategy because of the work of educators who have come before me and have tested the theory of BICs and CALPs from the research of Jim Cummins. At my school we offer Chinese after school for our children and each year we see more and more mainstream children join these classes. In addition we are part of the Mandarin Language Teacher programme and we have a mandarin teacher work with our children teaching language and culture. We also teach Maori within our classes and have an itinerant teacher of Maori who works with us whenever we can.

Data

I spent a few terms as an ESOL verifier and began to learn how to analyse data. However my fascination with data has been as a second language teacher for twenty years and as a Bilingual Team Leader for two. I have worked alongside staff continuously and alongside bilingual educators during this time.

When I run English Language Learning professional development with staff I remind them of the graph from Collier and Thomas that charts how long it takes to learn a second language for academic proficiency. I remind them of how fragile language is and that it takes two generations for a language to die in a family. This is accelerated by children learning only in English at school. The language that children learn at school is the language that their children will grow up with. I am a living example of this. My own children speak English as their first language. They have a small bank of words in Samoan but nothing to survive with.

If we do not foster first language maintenance in our schools, our children will loose their home language within two years. We can see this by year three. You ask your children to say something in their home language, you can see them struggling to find the word. If English second language children are drowning in an English medium setting and not encouraged to think in their language they loose a 100 words of their first language a week. The faster they loose their language the slower they will be academically in English.  As children learn English they require a proficiency of 100 new words each week to reach the 5000 word yearly target to catch the moving target of the first language learner. In order for children to respond to your questions in a sentence they must have a 10,000 word vocabulary bank. This is the number that an average 5 year old English speaker begins school with. It takes an accelerated second language learner two years to match this number.

Therefore those of you who say your year 3 and 4 second language children who are at benchmark on our National Standards, I applaud your teacher judgement because you far out perform the thousands of bilingual educators who aim for 6 years at school to reach standards.

I am continually amazed at educators who place their students at national standard after being in New Zealand for 2 to 3 years at school. I monitor our data and I regularly see the year 4 drop in data. Two things cause this. The first is that often junior school teachers over score the children because they take the ‘surface’ data at face value. When cognitively applied language proficiency hits the learner and the data shifts to depth in literacy and knowledge across all numeracy strands teachers can no longer justify the surface gathering of data.

Educators who work with large numbers of second language learners know exactly what I am writing about because they are the ones who have to justify the drop in data. There is often the feeling of failure as a teacher because of this drop and questions are raised as to what kind of teachers are in the year 3 and 4 areas because the fabulous earlier school data has been allowed to drop. I often hear school principals ask, ‘What is going on? There should not be a change in data at years 3 & 4.’ However again I reiterate, this drop happens because at the earlier years the data gathering gathering is at surface level and teachers are going by what they can see at surface levels of learning to make their overall teacher judgements (OTJs) and are not taking into consideration that their children are learners of English as a second language before making that OTJ. Therefore that initial early data will NOT hold when the children hit academic levels of proficiency. From personal experience of continually working with data and from the ongoing research I have learnt from expert bilinguals,  this drop will continue to happen until a school understands how long it takes for a second language learner to meet national standards in English. I repeat myself that the data begins to even out by year 6. If only we followed the learning from Finland who do carry out data gathering and benchmarking of their children until their children have been at school for 6 years. Pasi Sahlberg calls what we do GERM or Global Education Reform Movement.

The next time I usually see a drop in data is at year 5. This happens as greater cognitive academic proficiency is expected from the children. Often I look at the year 4 expectation and I know from teaching this year level that they are expected to make an 18 month progress in one year. This is particularly noticeable in mathematics.

I also sometimes see children who have maintained progress for a few years suddenly hit year six and their data takes an accelerated jump to out perform average data that I would expect to see from intermediate aged children. Again, this is because their learning data has levelled out. However their teacher become so excited that they overscore the children. Again this happens when class teachers have been working for a few years with large numbers of second language learners. They become so excited when they see the acceleration of language learning happening. Again the work of Thomas and Collier shares that the acceleration happens then when a school has all its thinking correct around second language learning. However a reminder again that second language learners overtakes mainstream learners at intermediate because the acceleration takes off at year 6. Teachers begin to see this and suddenly place their children above national standard data.

Did you know?

From the conventions on the rights of the child, article 30, that children have the right to communicate in their language when other speakers are around?

children

If a child is literate in their first language then you can expect to see an 18  month gain in their learning each year at school? This is why I particularly love working with new migrant children at year 5 and 6. I literally watch their progress using graphs.

The younger the children are, the less academic exposure they would have had to literacy in their first language and this slows down their academic progress in English. This can be seen by the year 3 and 4 data. They appear to learn English very quickly and this is know as basic interpersonal communication skills or playground English. Therefore just because they appear strong orally in English, does not mean they yet have the academic proficiency in English.

From school wide data I would expect to see the data even out by year 6 if the school and teachers understand how to benchmark the children accurately against National Standards. If the data is too high in the junior school then expect to see the drop in year 3 & 4 data.

Mathematics generally moves first, then reading and then writing. If the children’s writing data is higher than reading, I ask our teachers to look again. Either they have misinterpreted the reading data or have over scored the writing data.

I also check historical data and if I see a shift of 2 or more sub levels in a semester that alerts me to an accelerated push and I ask to see in class evidence. This is usually something that takes place in the second gathering of data. This means, has the previous teachers got their data wrong or is something else going on here.

So as you return to school for this second term, I give a shout out to the year 3 and 4 teachers who are looking at the data. particularly when your class settles and your reading groups need reshuffling because the previous data does not match what you see in your class. Last year our teachers of year 2 and 3 children produced a realistic gathering of data so I know that the children’s new teachers will not have this problem.

In class support versus withdrawal

As I group our funded children for support, I always aim for as much in class support as I can give them. Research shows that children who have been identified as needing extra learning support do not need to fall even further behind their peers by being withdrawn. Colliers and Thomas research shows that withdrawal is the least effective form of second language acquisition. If I do withdraw children then I come in as an additional teacher to the team that has the most needs. Whatever they do in class I do that with the withdrawn children. Sometimes teachers think the ESOL teacher only teaches reading and writing. ESOL teachers are first and foremost trained teachers and can teach anything. We have have had additional training in second language acquisition. Sometime I teach maths to my withdrawn group.  I do feel anxious when my withdrawn children tell me that they are missing physical activities, science or art. I know from experience that often our second language leaners shine in these areas and the one chance they can get to shine in class is taken off them because ‘they need more English learning.‘  As much as I can I target teams during their literacy and numeracy times.

If I am working in class alongside a teacher, the teachers who have the mindset will sometimes have me take an accelerated group in their class while they work with the ESOL children.

At my school, I am conscious of always having my time in a classroom as a classroom teacher and I ask that part of my programme involves classroom teacher release or beginning teacher release. I like to do this as it gives me a sense of data normality. So when I am working with groups, I am clear about how hard to push my children in their learning.

Questions

  • What do you do as a school to ensure first language maintenance is happening?
  • Have you had experience with the year 3 and 4 data drop?
  • What are your views on allowing your students to discuss curriculum concepts in their first language?
  • Do you allow your children some opportunities to write in their first language?
  • Have you carried out personal research to identify where your children come from and would you be able to greet them in their language?
  • Does your school teach an additional language that is one of your children’s home language?

O Lau Malu


O lau Malu
‘Talofa lava, malo le soifua ma le lagi e mama. O au o Sonya Van Schaijik. O lou aoga o le aoga tulagalua o Newmarket, i Aukilani, Niu Sila. O lou galuega, o au o le faiaoga mo tamaititi e lua gagana. O lou pito ata mai o le faaogaina o le tekonolo ma tamaiti ma faiaoga.’


E iloa le tagata lona tulaga i upu e tautala ai
My tattoo journey begins with my Grandmother a treasure of our family. She was not blessed with a malu but her mother Simeaneva was. So in my family, the malu skipped two generations. I am conscious that I am the ‘uputi’ of Nana’s ‘laau.’


O au matua o mea sina mai le Atua
When I asked my parents if I could get my malu, my mother’s response was initially why?
My fathers was, are you sure sweetheart. Are you aware of how hard it will be to remove?
I said I am not asking for your permission , but I am asking for your blessing. They both gave their blessing.


O lou tina tausi
My godmother however was totally supportive. She said, ‘Good on you girl. I am so proud of you. If I was young again I would join you.’


Teu le gafa
The why part is interesting. I have huge pride of being Samoan. I am aware that on the outside I do not look Samoan, however on the inside my Samoan blood is thick and pure. I know who I am and where I come from. I know my ancestry thoroughly because I am one of the family genealogists. Through that work, I learnt that my great grandmother Simeaneva Fonoti from the village of Le Pa in Falealii had a malu.


O au mamanu
Before I undertook my malu, I spoke at length with Noel McGrevy who had interviewed Samoan Tufuga and collated their photos and stories. I learnt about the malu patterns and the difference between female and male Mamanu.


Le Mata o le Malu
I specifically asked for some male patterns because of my knowledge and identity. I am a
mother of sons and the atualoa is associated with my two sons. I have a stylized mata o le malu unique to me. In addition, I have the upega as my connections to my aiga, my gafa and in a way the way I connect online.


Tufuga Ta Tatau
When I first approached my tufuga, his response was ‘E ta muamua lou laulaufaiva na ta lea o lou tino.’ Meaning was I committed to my Samoan language and culture? Now when I meet Tuifaasisiga Tuloena Sua, I meet my other father. When I meet any of his other subjects, we are brothers and sisters of his family because together we spilled blood under his tools.


E le o se mea e tau faaalialia
Some Samoans say ‘Show your malu when it needs to be shown’. Only someone with a malu
can really respond to that statement. When I first had mine done, I would flash glimpses of it whenever I could. I was so proud and excited about having being blessed that I wanted to show the world my gift. However with age comes quieter pride. So you might only see it when I think you need to see it.


Process of Tatau
I placed my trust into my tattooist. My body was his canvas. I undertook the pain for 36 hours. six hours per day over six days. My tufuga and I both were both responsible for my tattoo. His is the job and mine is hygiene and taking care of myself during and after the sessions as the skin heals.


A leai se gagana, ua leai se aganu’u. A leai se aganu’u ona po lea o le nu’u.”
-Aione Fanaafi Le Tagaloa
There was a huge responsibility to complete my tattoo because I did not want the shame of a pe’a motu – the unfinished tattoo. With the blessing comes the responsibility to my language and culture. “Without language there is no culture. Without culture, darkness descends’,  Aiono Fanaafi Le Tagaloa


O lau Malu o Mea Sina mai Samoa
There are obligations of being a Samoan tattooed female, knowing what it represents and what it means. For me the malu sums up an old Samoan saying. ‘O le ala o le pule o le tautua.’ The path to leadership is through service. In my school of Newmarket I identify stronger with our historic motto: Not self but service.


Uso ma aiga
A malu is something that’s not undertaken on a whim – it takes focus and bravery. While the
tufuga tattoos you, a ‘solo’ wipes off the excess ink and blood. In addition I was surrounded by family and friends singing along to encourage me as I lay half exposed while one third of my body was being tattooed.


Ta Tatau
As the ‘au’ bit into my skin and the ink forced into the wounds, I could hear and feel the vibration in my bones. The feeling is indescribable. Each ‘Tufuga Ta Tatau’ has a rhythm and I coped with Tui’s rhythm by singing in a monotone to the rhythm of the ‘au’ and had holders grip my head, ankles and wrists.


Le Pea ma le Malu
When I was growing up, I hardly saw anyone with a pea or a malu, However that has recently
changed as more of us take this step of cultural pride. I am Samoan. I have royal blood so yes I have the right to wear a malu. From Simeaneva Fonoto descendents I am one of 5 who has been blessed with a ‘tatau.’


Samaga Pea
We celebrated the completion of my malu with the gifting of fine mats to the ‘Tufuga’ and special visitors. With this is a connection to my Grandmother Matalaoa as several mats came from her funeral via my parents. My sons were part of this process therefore paving the way forward for who they are.


Taofi mau i au mea sina
There are different kinds of malu and you can usually tell by the spacing between the skin. Mine is ‘gigii’. There is not much space between my patterns. A malu is completed when the hands are blessed. That will be the final stage of my malu. My Malu is a covenant between myself and my culture I hope to do that before ‘Tui Fa’asisina’ becomes too old. ( I give a shout out here to my friend Vaemasenu’u Zita Martel who has also been blessed with a malu. She lives and breathes her covenant. )


Falealupo
So where to next, the next time I share with you I will share my digital tattoo and describe my digital journey. Just as the ‘tatau’ journey ended in Samoa at the village of Falealupo in Savaii, so do I end my personal tattoo story with you . But before I finish –
Lea la ou te faalele lou pea malu ma outou e faitau lau tala manatua lou fesili. E ta sou malu?.’

If you want to make contact with Tuifaasisiga Tuloena Sua, here is his contact cell in New Zealand, 021295 6482.

My descriptive week.

On Tuesday I was part of a team of presenters presenting with Julie Lindsay at the Global Education Conference.  I shared about #TeachMeetNZ the New Zealand project that I host on google hangouts.

In addition I shared about #EdBookNZ where 10 New Zealand bloggers collaboratively wrote a chapter to unpack current generic education terminology.

Here is the recording from the session hosted by Julie from Flat Connections.

http://bit.ly/1xZwlbB

On Wednesday we had the final session for our ESOL area cluster group. The session was held at Stonefields School and after the meeting we were given a tour by @KirstyPanapa.
I was interested in seeing their new building.


That evening I supported Virginia with our Chinese dance group who performed at the Auckland Town Hall as part of the Auckland Primary Principals Association Festival.



On Thursday I presented the final part of a Trilogy. I had set a goal to present three times this year at Eduignite and I have fulfilled that goal.
The first presentation was my Personal Tattoo, the second was my Digital Tattoo and the third was on Citizenship. In addition I had set a final presentation goal which was to present without notes by talking from the slides and I did.
If you want to find out more about Eduignite then follow the twitter hashtag. I wrote about presenting at Eduignite here.
This Thursday’s Eduignite had some fabulous presenters as we normally do and they were @digitallearnin @DianaWilkes @CaroBush @BridgetCasse @f_leaupepe @HmsMoore. It was great to catch up face to face with educators who have also presented with me on TeachMeetNZ.
This time we sent through our slides to @cowieandrew as link on twitter so that there was smooth transition between presenters.

Digital tattoo 

Then on Friday night some of us from school attended our Mandarin Language Assistant Graduation held at Confucius centre at Auckland University. Bingqin has been with us for nearly the whole of 2014. We share her with two other local schools.


Finally on Saturday I attended another learning session with Julie Lindsay with our #FlatConnect cohort. I enjoy these sessions as I know I am learning so much from my team mates about being a Global educator. We were given our final task of designing our own global project and I am keen to begin the framework for our Ningbo sister school in China.

So in all another busy and fun learning week.