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Sharing success stories for our Pasifika learners

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Started by Togi Lemanu 17 Jan 2013 12:42pm () Replies (14)

Talofa lava and warm Pasifika greetings to you all 

I am wanting to share on this online space Pasifika success stories that you have that you may want to share and discuss in this group.  All stories are most welcome and this will be a great opportunity to get great insights of what teachers are doing.

Some questions to think about with your stories:

1.  What works for Pasifika students?

2.  What is working well for you and your your Pasifika students?

3.  How do you know as a teacher that your Pasifka learners are engaged and learning?

4.  How do you establish/strengthen relationships with your Pasifika families?

Your responses are valued and respected on this page.  It would be awesome to read your success stories and to share with others in our VLN group

Faafetai lava and looking forward to your stories.


  • Moana Timoko (View all users posts) 17 Jan 2013 5:29pm ()

    Kia ora Togi

    I am very interested in reading future replies to this discussion post.  This post made me check out the info available via the Ministry of Education site here: Pasifika Education.  

    My bit to add to this discussion is that the Pasifika Education Plan (PEP) and Ka Hikitia - Managing for Success; both emphasise the importance of education which is responsive to the identity, language and culture of learners.

    After reading the Government goals for Pasifika Learners 2013 - 2017  I am thinking yes...in order to be responsive we need to react quickly and positively by reading about Pasifika Education - I personally did not know that there was a Pasifika Education Plan until 2012 - And how bad is that!!!!  (I'm now wondering whether or not I should post that but too bad, so sad...for me.... we can no longer sacrifice the education of our talented tamariki).  I attended a MOE workshop last year and the question was asked...Is your school Pasifika capable?  Now to fully understand this I need to familiarise myself with the PEP.  This is something that I am going to do - so part of my personal success story is that the PEP was placed in front of my eyeballs - I was awoken by the question about being Pasifika capable - I thought about how I worked with Pasifika students in the past and I thought about how I could have done things better.  I have taught in schools where we have had a high percentage of Māori students and very few Pasifika but those few, even 1 or 2 are very important and there is a need to be Pasifika capable for them - by responding readily, with interest and enthusiasm about their culture, their language and their identity - acknowledging, utilizing and sharing what they bring to the classroom.

  • Togi Lemanu (View all users posts) 17 Jan 2013 5:46pm ()

    Thank you for your post Moana.  That is great. It makes me wonder about the Pasifika Education plan in the past, and how I had asked schools that I have visited last year about it.  Quite frankly teachers did not know where to get it from.  It makes me think where the Principals are putting them??? 

    You have raised a lot of good questions that others can look into and also respond to.  There are also useful readings on the Pasifika Education on the MoE site if you are wanting to found out more on what is going on about our Pasifika learners. 

    The question that you have raised about - "is your school Pasifika capable?" is great discussion for others who would want to respond to this.  

    What do others think??? Feel free to comment.

    Tino pai Moana, you go girl....

  • Nane (View all users posts) 25 Jan 2013 12:42pm ()

    Kia orana and warm Pasifika greets also,

    Togi thankyou for asking such questions and giving others an opportunity to share their ideas and great to read your thoughts Moana. I was interested in the concept of 'Pasifika Capable'. If someone asked me that question is your school 'Pasifika capable', I would have to ask what do they mean? 'The mind boggles' to be honest'. Should I answer yes, if our school is responsive to the language, identity, culture, ethnicities and world views of pasifika peoples? Would that be enough then? So what would that look like at the 'chalk face'? How do teachers make sense of each of those dimensions and then be responsive? What do I do if I have 5 different pasifika groups in my class, who are first, second and third generations, where some speak only their native language, others who have English as their second language and the rest who only speak English? All of these students will have worldviews that are more diverse than the class put together! What about culture? all pasifika peoples belong to several and as far as identity goes well .... as we know this is never static as with culture it is forever evolving. Where to stop! Does it mean if a school acknowledges the PEP it is Pasifika Capable?

    To come back to your question then Togi what works for Pasifika? I think it is a combination of two key concepts that will be blatantly obvious I suspect but unfortunately, not always so in schools and that is, effective leadership and practitioners. The important point here is ... what do both of these dimensions ‘look like’. I think this is where a school needs to collaboratively work with their learning/academic communities and build an understanding so that everyone! is on the ‘same page’. I am not saying this is the answer, but it’s a good start for shifting Pasifika and Māori achievement.

    What works well for Pasifika students is having an effective teacher in front of their class who knows how to engage their learners, can extend and provide a critical consciousness that will provide the ‘tools’ and means so they can negotiate between their worlds and of those locally, nationally, and globally.  By the way, this teacher can only do this is he/she is a learner themselves. Of course there is more to say but will leave it here and look forward to hearing what others have to say,

    Kat kite ano


  • Sonya Van Schaijik (View all users posts) 28 Jan 2013 2:25pm ()

    Malo lava Togi mo lou galuega i luga o le upegataaiilelagi o le VLN.

    I thought our fellow Pasifika teachers in particular might be interested in seeing this example of blended learning.


    This snapshot describes the development of a collaborative inquiry learning model undertaken by Virginia Kung, the assistant principal at Newmarket School, which resulted in connections being made with a New Zealand author, students and their teachers globally. Newmarket Primary School is a small inner city school located in central Auckland, New Zealand. It has a roll of 300 children and has a diverse ethnic mix of children and staff. Respecting the diversity of cultures is reflected in planning, learning, and sharing and this is underpinned by the school’s vision statement, which has specific references to Māori and Pasifika.

  • Togi Lemanu (View all users posts) 28 Jan 2013 7:33pm ()

    Thank you for this Sonya, this will be a really good resource to share with others.  Faafetai lava

  • Aiono Manu Faaea-Semeatu (View all users posts) 19 Feb 2013 9:53am ()

    Malo lava Togi!

    I have enjoyed reading the discussions on this topic.

    I will use your questions as a framework for the success stories that I have had with Pasifika students

    1.  What works for Pasifika students?

    What works for Pasifika students is allowing time for discussions about their learning process and thinking about how they learn best.  The best way I could do this was to survey an entire class about how they learned best and who motivates them with learning and academic success.  I have also used metacognition strategies, approaches for giftedness that work equally well for Pasifika students.  

    2.  What is working well for you and your your Pasifika students?

    Setting very high expections and empowering students with a sense of self-belief by focusing on Pasifika cultural concepts has helped to nurture success strategies.  By being explicit with the learning outcomes and how the learning is useful and meaningful by transferring it to other academic subjects has helped students to connect with their desire for success.

    3.  How do you know as a teacher that your Pasifka learners are engaged and learning?

    Once I have manage to motivate the students and see how they can succeed, they are able to sustain self-engagement by using critical thinking skills, asking themselves questions about how they can extend their potential, realise their potential and transform their potential into academic reality.  Meaningful teacher feedback has also been a critical factor in ensuring that students see what they have achieved, and what other areas they can improve to gain excellence grades.  The struggle had been in allowing Pasifika learners to really believe that they are capable of success, when they have been repeatedly told, that they will amount to nothing.  When they have asked me, why I believe in them - I always answered with - I was once like you, but I had teachers who helped to facilitate the transformation of my potential into academic success.  

    4.  How do you establish/strengthen relationships with your Pasifika families?

    I established relationships with Pasifika families with positive phone calls home about their child's progress.  I would target a few students in my class a week and phone home about what I valued about their child, how the child could improve further.  I made sure to stay away from what the child was not doing, because I wanted to come from a place of strength and empower the parents to see that they have a critical role to play with their child's academic success.  I was then able to strengthen the relationships with Pasifika families by inviting them to meet with me at their convenience first, they attended parent teacher evenings.  Sometimes we forget that we need to foster a scaffolding approach to Pasifika parents being involved in their child's learning.  By taking this approach, I was able to build a Pasifika parent group and gain their trust, allow the Pasifika parents a platform in which their voices were heard, and eventually empower them to consider running for the Board of Trustees.  The more time teachers and senior management of schools are able to invest in getting to know Pasifika families, the stronger the environment for success will be.

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 25 Feb 2013 2:58pm ()

    Kia orana and meitaki, thanks everyone for being so generous in sharing their strategies for engaging Pacifika learners and their families.


    It has been valuable reading the stories, as well as links to current Ministry support material. I enjoyed your snapshot for learning too Sonya - where the kids were able to take ownership and control of their own learning through the use of e-learning (social networking tools).

    As well as inviting whānau/fanau/aiga/famili to be part of the school, I’m particularly interested in hearing the successes or challenges of connecting parents/wider community with their child’s learning - through the use of e-learning tools

    Some schools invite parents in to view their child’s digital work, while others offer more focused access and ‘training’ on computers for Pacifica students and their families.

    Has anyone trialed blended ways of working with Pacifica students and is there a particular ‘kaupapa’ for this?

  • Anaru White (View all users posts) 15 Mar 2013 4:40pm ()

    Kia ora and talofa lava.

    I enjoyed this discussion started in the Enabling e-Learning rōpū on Polyfest. Check out the awesome video and the discussion on culture, education and technology.

  • Adrienne Ackerman (View all users posts) 27 Mar 2013 7:23pm ()

    Well this is my very first post in the VLN and what better way to start than in a group that i am passionate about 'Pasifika students'.  One of the many stories i have to share begins with building relationships and self-esteem.  One Niuean student that i had was always finding himself offtask in class and making inappropriate choices in the playground.  So i got to know him and realised that he enjoyed a particular style of music.  I then created a hip hop group and requested that he be involved.  8 years on, this child now a young man, is a part of a dance group (cultural) and he has thanked me for changing his life because i hooked him in.  

    What we could do now is find students that we have taught and ask them what it was that we did that may have added real value to their learning.  (Just a thought as i write this)

    We need to clone success and i believe that the success with pasifika students is knowing them and finding a passion with/for them.

    Take time to plan for our students - buddy them up with another student so that they have a role model and someone else to ask for help.  Ask them to be the expert and teach others what they do really well.  I have teaching clinics in my class and students sign up for particular lessons in maths based on their gaps.  Once students are confident in a strategy they become the expert and can teach others.  This works for my pasifika students (in fact all students) and its a clear picture for me that they are engaged in learning because they take turns as the teacher and the learner.  

  • Chrissie Butler (View all users posts) 27 Mar 2013 8:13pm ()

    Hip Hop dancer Talofa lava Adrienne.

    Thank you for your awesome post. It was sitting at the top of my inbox and I'm glad I read on beyond the title.

    What danced about on the page was the fact that you responded to this student as a person not a problem or a behaviour. Your response was to genuinely get to know him.

    And my guess is, you also had some expectations that if you did this you would glean what might interest him and then you could remove some barriers and create some bridges, some opportunities for him.

    The cool thing is you acted on what you discovered and not only your student, but a whole bunch of others were offered an option, a point of access that they hadn't had before.

    Creative Commons image credit: Dalbera 

  • Vanitha Govini (View all users posts) 27 Mar 2013 7:59pm ()

    Talofa everyone. Thanks Adrienne for reminding us about cloning success. There was a  South Auckland fono at the end of last year in Otara and a key message given by our Pasifika students and community was that we need to share more success stories of our Pasifika students. Success stories could be published on school webistes, media, suburban newspapers and we could probably share these stories during visits to schools or through our awesome VLN. Another little story, I just met a lecturer at the Wananga who shared that his favourite teacher had high expectations, challenged him in class, had conversations with him at the school gates and showed him that she was genuinely interested in his well being. It was a great reunion between the lecturer and his favourite teacher at our leadership communities meeting. I think I need to pick his brain a little bit more to find out what worked for him. That's my next mission!

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