Transitions

Transitions happen at many stages of a child’s educational life.  There is that first transition into education (daycare, playgroup, kindergarten, home-based care) and then into school and within school (primary, intermediate and secondary) and then that transition out into tertiary education (university, polytech) or the workforce or supported living/day programmes.

From the perspective of working with children with disabilities, these transitions are to be treated as signficant changes in the child and families life.

But who does them?

My experience is that the school that I work for (as an itinerant teacher) is far more involved in this process than other providers simply because of our  family-centred approach.  We do it by default.  We have strong relationships with students and families so it makes sense that we support them on their journey.

So what makes a good transition?

  • Time.  Being prepared months in advance.
  • Knowing the student/child. Planning the transition based on their needs.
  • Communication. Everyone knowing the plan.
  • Flexibility.  Things change, people change. It’s OK.

And possibly the most important thing is if things don’t go to plan; reassuring the family that everything is going to be OK. Think of a duck on a pond.  Relaxed and calm on top and feet going full speed underneath to stay afloat!!

Whanaungatanga

Key ideas around whanaungatanga:

  • relationship through shared experiences
  • process of getting to know each other (whakawhanaungatanga)
  • associated values
  • belonging
  • connectedness
  • collective responsibility
The discussion today focused on how we look after our students, how we work as a team and how we use a holistic and integrated model of how we work with students and families.
I shared some key ideas from an article by Jenny Ritchie and Cheryl Rau called “Enacting a whakawhanaungatanga approach in early childhood education” (Early Childhood Folio 10: 2006). This is one of the first articles I read as a Teacher that made me go “ahhhh…” there is the connection between my values and Te Ao Māori.
I read out my favourite bit:
“Foremost was the effort by educators to generate a sense of whanaungatanga, so that all members of the centre community felt included as part of a caring collective with common aspirations and values and shared responsibility, inspired by educators demonstrating their willingness to identify and support the needs of all members of that collective.”
I always think of early childhood centres and schools as being the “hub” of their community. They can have huge impact on the socio-cultural values of the wider community. Surely if children learn to look after each other in these communities this will transfer over into who they grow up to be?
Powerful stuff.

Tū Pono

Tū pono: knowing oneself and identity

Whakapapa: Geneology

I chose these 2 values to share with the team today because they linked in with our 12 week Te Reo Māori challenge to prepare a pepeha or mihi.

Knowing your whakapapa is an important way to make kinship connections but also establish a sense of belonging and of pride. I wanted to highlight why this was an important part of Māori culture. A pepeha is a way of introducing yourself in Māori that establishes those important links to your whakapapa and where you are from.

My own reflection on how this fits with being a teacher is mainly around having a sense of belonging. In a documentary on Māori culture that I watched one of the women interviewed made a statement that had a profound effect on me:

“Māori have access to all the programmes and resources to be resilient so it has to be the way that they are brought up. So if they are brought up feeling hard done by, then it’s not going to go away its going to get worse. If they are brought up feeling warm, strong and encompassed by who they are and by family it doesn’t matter about money, or even education. It’s about knowing who you are and feeling that love. If that isn’t there when they are little… if it’s not there by the age of 5 it will never be there for them. All Māori have access to those things so we don’t consider ourselves to be disadvantaged”.

So making sure that all children feel that sense of belonging in the educational setting they are in is important to me. It may be making links between cultures or language or it may be about inclusion. Either way I want that child to know that they are in a supportive, caring environment where they can grow as a learner.

My own pepeha connects me to my tipuna. I was fortunate to be able to learn it when I was 16 and spending time at my local marae Torere in Howick. It makes me feel proud of my heritage.

Ko Taupiri te maunga

Ko Waikato te awa

Ko Tainui te waka

Ko Oraeroa te marae

Ko Waikato te iwi

Ko Ngati Māhuta te hapu

Ko Stubbing te whānau

He piko, he taniwha, He piko, he taniwha

 

I especially like the last sentence because it links me to Tainui where they say a Taniwha or Chief is around every bend of the river. This inspires me to be a leader.

I hope that the rest of the teaching team are able to do their pepeha to help them make connections to where they come from and what is important to them. One has done her’s so far and got some help from a te reo speaker. Hopefully we can share these as a team.

 

References:

Barlow, C. (1990). Tikanga Whaakaro: Key concepts in Māori Culture.