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Last updated by Anne Kenneally 

Resources and ideas for supporting Pasifika learners shared on list by Michelle Johansson.

Know the Learner. 

I’ve taken principles identified by the Talanoa Ako group at Team Solutions as key components of effective teaching for Pasifika learners.

Over the next few updates I’ll be unpacking the list one by one. The complete list is here: 

·         Know the learner

·         Use the home language(s), knowledge, and experiences of Pasifika students as a valuable learning resource in the classroom

·         Ensure that students’ prior knowledge and experiences are activated and used to build a bridge between what they already know and new knowledge.

·         Provide a range of culturally relevant texts, topics, contexts and perspectives.

·         Provide deliberate and explicit instruction about language as well as learning content.

·         Provide high challenge with high support.

·         Provide multiple learning opportunities with a focus on learners using academic language.

·         Make productive links with family and community



1.      Know the learner

There is a reason that this comes in at number one! Positive learning-focused student-teacher relationships are vital and underpin each of these principles. At the heart of this is the teacher’s willingness to know the learner and engage with them at more than a superficial level...and perhaps underpinning that is the idea that the teacher is not there to simply deliver a curriculum - we are there to actively interact with our students and help them to engage in the collaborative making and creating of meaning.


We all go about this in different ways in our classrooms. Our methods might range from simple conversations with our students to the gathering of hard data directly relating to their academic progress.

As teachers we might also take an active interest in their lives outside the classroom – we might know their parents, go to their concerts or sporting events, engage them in conversations on subjects of real interest to them, celebrate their strengths and support them in the areas in which they excel.


Question: In your classroom, how are you using data to inform your practice, shaping your programme around the students’ learning needs and letting them know that you care about them as individuals?


(The principles are synthesised from: the Pasifika Education Plan; NZC; the evaluation of the Effective Literacy Strategies: Pasifika Focus professional development project; LEAP(Language Enhancing the Achievement of Pasifika); Adrienne Alton-Lee’s Quality Teaching for Diverse Students in Schooling: Best Evidence Synthesis; Making Language and Learning Work DVD and from the group’s own experience as learners, teachers and facilitators in the area of Pasifika education)


Mahalo, and have a good week!


Michelle Johansson

Pasifika Facilitator

Literacy/English/ESOL Online