One of the things I was really excited about when I first saw my class of year 3 and 4 students was the different faces I could see in the room. Having a culturally diverse classroom can provide a certain richness in ideas that a homogeneous classroom may not. There is also a level of understanding about respecting each other and ones’ culture.
On my second day one of the girls suggested that I call the roll to help me learn all of their names. I used as many languages as I could to greet them but what really surprised me that was instead of copying me, they responded with their own languages!
Later that day a couple of the kids commented to me about how I did the roll differently. I said ” did it surprise you when I spoke in te reo Māori?” “I’m Māori!” One of them exclaimed enthusiastically.
You know those lectures , readings and Ministry of Education documents that suggest that students do better when their culture and identity is acknowledged? It’s such a buzz when you do something you believe in and the outcome proves that what you value is valid.
Coming from an early childhood background I would never think twice about speaking in te reo or any other languages for that matter. I have almost taken for granted that the ECE environments I have worked in have been culturally rich places that have woven children’s cultural identities into the fabric and stuffing of their education.
It all comes back to having a sense of belonging. I belong here, I am respected and I feel safe.