Saturday, 21 February 2015

Can you say yes to these 5 signs of culturally responsive learning environments ?

We are only three weeks into the new school year and have already held a Family Learning Hui ( Maori for gathering ), a Board of Trustees meeting and a Pasifiki Fono (Polynesian for meeting). We have our Filipino Pagsasama (Tagalog for gathering) also booked in and have plans for our first Chinese meeting during the first six weeks of  term.

Inclusive educators are reflective and pro active and willing to adapt to the evolving needs of their community. Valuing and respecting the immense taonga (Maori for treasure ) of people resources that exist within our own family groups are vital. Utilising these powerful human resources  can create invaluable support networks for our vulnerable, priority learners who are struggling to adjust to unfamiliar languages, culture and environments.

This is an example of such a network in action already this year.

A new child was struggling to settle into school. The school pastoral liaison person visited the family. The class teacher and the principal made contact with the school Pasifika parent leader. The planned Pasifika fono was immediately moved forward. One of the leaders visited the new family and personally invited them to attend the fono. At the fono, the principal was able to openly ask for support for the new child and family. A discussion was held in Tongan and a number of parents and other children were willing to offer support. The outcome was that the whole group wanted to help the new child to settle in. A meeting was arranged for two of the leaders to meet with the new parent and the class teacher the following day at school. One of the senior school children offered to be available to help and support the new child. Within the first three weeks of the new school year, a safety net of care and love with direction and purpose was activated from the taonga of people resources already existing within the school community. 

Culturally responsive checklist for educators. Can you say a resounding  yes to these 5 indicators ?  

Do you...... 

1. Connect with learners and build sincere and authentic relationships with them and their families ( smile, greet them in their own language, learn to pronounce their name correctly, make home visits, attend school cultural meetings, community gatherings and events outside of your own classroom or workplace ) ?

2. Ensure that all the learning spaces have visual connectors ( artwork, pictures,signs, maps, symbols, photos ) that learners from other cultures ( representative of all cultures within your class or school ) can immediately connect with ?

3. Include stories, texts, inquiries and projects that are inclusive with themes that relate to other cultures in your teaching and learning ?

4. Walk in your learner's shoes and see learning through their eyes and adapt teaching and learning accordingly. How would you feel, what would you think, hear and see if you were suddenly expected to adapt and learn or work in an unfamiliar cultural environment ?

5. Have a growth mindset and an open heart and are willing to embrace new learning from other cultures that can genuinely nourish and broaden your own life skills and values ?

Can you add to the list ? Please share more ways to create culturally responsive environments in the comment box below.

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