Whānau matters - how you can create partnerships for learning

As a teacher who is also Māori, I place significant value on whanaungatanga – building and maintaining relationships. And, as an educator, I know how critical it is for schools to build learning-focused relationships with parents and whānau.

At the beginning of the year it is important to consider ways you can effectively begin building this important relationship with the parents and whānau of learners in your class.

To get you started, here are just three things you may want to consider:

  • First impressions can be lasting impressions - Make sure they are good ones! What do colleagues think when they enter your classroom? Is it consistent with the impression you want your learners and their whānau to have?
  • Make the most of every moment - Life can be a busy juggling act and family life is no exception. This may mean that the times that schools make available for formal meetings do not suit all parents. If you know the time a parent drops off their child, say hello and introduce yourself. After a period of time, these relaxed or informal chats form the foundation of a positive relationship, one that enables both the parent and the teacher to best support the child.
  • Home court advantage - As teachers we sometimes forget that, although at school we feel comfortable, not all of our parents share our comfort levels. Find out if there are things your school can do to help parents feel at ease. For example, many schools have looked at holding meetings in a different setting such as the local marae, or inviting whānau to bring a support person with them.

By strengthening partnerships between teachers, parents and whānau we value and recognise the expertise that each brings to enable tamaiti to succeed.

I’m not suggesting that schools can be everything to everyone. However, if we truly value a partnership between home and school then we must be prepared to learn what we can do to achieve this.

“Increasing whānau and iwi authority and involvement in education is critical to improving presence, engagement, and achievement. To achieve this, parents and whānau must be actively involved in decision-making and in their children’s learning in all education settings.”

Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success: The Māori Education Strategy 2008-2012, p.28

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Tags: assessment for learning learning focused relationships

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