I am a class teacher for Year Four and five students and a team leader for the middle school. My class and I are a part of the Manaiakalani Google ClassOnAir.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Bringing Cultures into the Classroom

I am originally from India and have settled in New Zealand for the past 14 years. When I look back at my childhood I remember going to school and a whole saga of fond memories float in front of my eyes . We started our day with prayer and it was in my language, Hindi. I talked to my friends and it was in Hindi. During Morning Tea and lunch times the playground was full of chitter chatter and everyone spoke in hindi.  I sang songs in hindi and my mother taught me Hindi poems. My grandmother was monolingual and so she would read me stories and narrate myths and legends from our culture in my language. I enjoyed every bit of my childhood and cherish it even today. When I look back I am filled with gratitude for all the people who helped me and supported me in making my childhood a happy one.

When I became a mother and had little kids I made a conscious effort to teach my children their mother tongue as they were very young when they left India. I was not very successful with the younger one but my older daughter is bilingual. The younger one can speak in hindi but does not know to read and write the language. I am still in pursuit of teaching her and she knows that some Hindi lessons are in line for her during her vacations.

Today when I look at the students in my class, I find them a bit detached from their roots. The onus of making students aware about their cultures has shifted from home to school. I feel that they are missing a great deal about their cultures, about knowing who they are and where they belong? I want to see them sing songs in their language and talk freely to each other in their language, “Just the way I was brought up”. I encourage this a lot in my class and students who are fluent help others to communicate in their mother tongue.

I am very fortunate to have two team members in my team who are fluent in Te Reo and Tongan. Salena Kahika is very skilled at Te Reo and has taken to teaching Te Reo in our syndicate. Students enjoy learning Te Reo and maori songs of her and I feel very enthused and delighted to be able to provide an opportunity through our planned Te Reo Maori lessons that Salena loves to take for our students.
"Thank you Salena for Teaching Te Reo to our students"

Luti Tafea is a fluent in Tongan and when I go into her classroom to observe her I find her talking to her students in Tongan. Students respect this and take her commands instantly.
Luti makes a deliberate effort to bring languages into her day to day teaching. She is also in charge of the Tongan dance that she does every year for Performing Arts. Through her we have been able to bring the wider Tongan community closer to us and it was very evident when Tongan mothers got together to sew clothes for all Tongan participants for our Fiafia Night. I was amazed how they sewed, cooked, made head gears and other accessories in a couple of days. I could see how they loved to be acknowledged for their culture and how they thanked Luti for teaching their children about their culture.
“Thank you Luti for making our Pacifika parents feel welcomed.”

I think I am doing my bit, where as a Team Leader I am providing opportunities and opening avenues for my team members and most importantly our students to bring their culture into the classroom!

1 comment:

  1. Well said Archana...we are lucky to have teachers and teacher aides on our staff who are skilled in so many areas. Each area of strength put together to make one strong, high performing unit! Loving the performing arts in our school...so much whanaungagtanga, manaakitanga and toku marie, makes my heart sing!