Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Blast from the Past...

Just realised that I hadn't mentioned yet that an ex student of mine - one from my bi-lingual class at my last school has moved down to Heights. It was seriously the coolest feeling seeing her in my class.

I actually had a really weird moment of being unsure where I was because she was so familiar and yet she wasn't at our school. I actually nearly cried. Huge happy  smiles and hugs and laughs and catch ups.

She was in one of the very first classes I ever taught. I've said before how there's just something about the connections you make with those first classes. For me, that bi-lingual class changed my way of teaching and thinking about learning. They moulded me and transformed me into what they called a "Māori Freedom Writers teacher" like Ms Gruwell.

Back then we did so many cool projects and ideas to transform the learning and understanding of the texts we were covering. I don't know why but I've never done such creative stuff since. Perhaps it's because of the increased workload compared to back then in my first year teaching or just the mere difference there is in teaching a bi-lingual class within the unit compared to mainstream classes.

The first thing out of T's mouth was, "Whaea, do you remember all those things we used to do like that court session we did?" I'd thought they all would have forgotten by now! That lesson was easily one of my favourites.

We were studying Katherine Mansfield and Witi Ihimaera's differing versions of the Pearl Button stories and were trying to figure out who exactly was responsible for any harm to Pearl. We had such a cool court session role play, completely conducted by the students and as a result they showed the range of differing perspectives within the story and the racial tensions that came through our reading and interpretations of both stories.

With that class that was the one thing I worked incredibly hard to dissolve - racial stereotypes and racism. At the beginning of the year the kids were unsure how to take me, white and fob as I am, and by the end of it had fully embraced me, understood ranges of perspectives and could appreciate different peoples point of view and upbringings. The haka they did for me when our class finished brought me to tears. I just hope one day I can find a copy of the recording!

Anyway.... every day I am just so stoked that T is now in my Y12 English class. To just have a little bit of the unit feeling makes me feel at home here finally. Was missing it so much and was missing it in my teaching. Hopefully having her here for the year will remind me about the amazing teacher I can be when extra stuff doesn't bog me down.

I miss teaching one on one or groups because you get a stronger whanaungatanga with the kids. You develop and retain those relationships.

Each year should have that passion of a new class and each student should feel valued and appreciated.

I'm just so incredibly stoked she's here and hope she can overcome that same old shyness to make friends at Heights and have an awesome last year of school too. :)

Nau mai, haere mai e taku tauira :) He mihi mahana ki a koe ano :) Ka kite koe ki te timata o te maunga teitei. Ka haere  atu koe ki oku haerenga i nga whetu... Dream big. Go hard and good luck :)