Cultural Diversity

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.

Am I Nuts?

I’ve been a bit quiet this year… Well with my blogging, but all with good reason. I decided in late December 2012 that I would complete a Graduate Diploma in Primary Teaching in 2013 while continuing to work full time. Nuts? Yes, I know!

Although I have a strong teaching philosophy from my early childhood background I wanted to know more about the primary curriculum. Fortunately, because I have experience in the primary sector as an ORS teacher, it has not all been completely new to me. I have been able to build on my prior knowledge.

I am currently on teaching practice and that itself was slightly weird to begin with. The office manager thought I was a reliever so asked me for my MOE number (which I have as a registered teacher), the reading recovery teacher is the ORS teacher for one of my moderate needs students at a different school and one of the parents is the education support worker for one of my students. It seemed that I couldn’t just ditch my “professional” hat to be the student teacher. I’ve engaged in a professional discussion with the Principal’s mentor about e-portfolios, discussed literacy in early childhood with another teacher and attended an education rally with the Principal.

It has turned out to be quite an interesting experience!