A significant feature of Te Ika Unahi Nui is building relationships with whānau through holding regular meetings in their houses. From the outset engaging with the whānau was a priority and I therefore wanted to hold our first hui at our house. Meeting in environments outside the kura help the whānau to feel comfortable and relaxed and allows them to share their ideas, questions and wonderings in a safe place. It is also important to think about when you want to hold the meeting and who you will invite.
At this stage organising meetings for Te Ika Unahi Nui is a responsibility shared between myself and the boys’ teacher. As the relationship and trust is built with whānau the hope is that the whānau will eventually welcome us into their homes. We like to invite the whole whānau so this eases the workload for them at home. Another key ingredient is sharing kai together and then magic happens. As a former teacher, I understand that engaging with whānau is a challenge but I also understand that going that extra mile can make a huge difference when making initial contact with whānau for the very first time. In my experience relationships are more meaningful and whānau make an effort when they are contacted personally through a phone call or in some cases visited in their homes with a koha of food. Okato is a small rural community and engaging with the boys and their whānau is made easy for me because I see them often either at the local Four Square, at the skatepark or at the marae. I have had many meaningful discussions with whānau about our wānanga during these unscheduled encounters.
Prior to organising a hui I send out a text message to all the whānau to find out if they are available on a particular night. When they have confirmed their availability I put together a basic agenda, organise my equipment, which usually consists of my laptop, cords, dongle, iPhone and iPad. The internet is not always reliable so I always have my iPhone handy just in case I need to connect to the internet via hotspot.
Meeting in homes has many benefits for strengthening relationships between kura, learners and their whānau. Home environments are relaxed and whānau feel okay about participating in discussions. In our hui we usually mix and mingle for about 15 minutes and then I start our hui with a karakia and mihi. Generally I provide an update about what the boys are learning about at the marae, some of the practical activities we have completed and which iPad apps we have used to support their learning. I also show them examples of the boys’ work either through our blog or a short movie I have created. I invite feedback, questions and clarifications throughout the hui and then we plan the next activities together. I conclude our hui with a karakia and then we share food and more discussions take place. I enjoy engaging with our whānau in this way because it keeps them informed, up to date but more importantly, it is an opportunity to get to know them, encourage and praise them for the commitment they have to the education and wellbeing of their sons.
I look forward to each of your blog updates.
I wonder how could translate with larger class sizes?
I remember when I invited my whole class to my house for cordial and cake on the walk home from an event. They were intrigued that their teacher had the normal things that they had. Maybe they expected to see an alien life from!!!
Tēnā koe e hoa,
Kātahi te kaupapa rawe, ko tērā!
Great work Jas! I really like how you say "going the extra mile" It can be a thankless job, but the mahi you are doing now will be embedded, not only on the devices you use, but more importantly, in the memories of the kids you are working with and their whānau.
Kāore e kore, ā tōna wā ka hoki ngā mahara o ngā ākonga o naiānei, ki te wā e mahi ngatahi ana koutou i raro i te maru o Te Ika Unahi Nui.