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.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Physical environment that reflects the culture of your students

Most of my students in class are from Maori and Pacific backgrounds. This year I decided to make the physical environment that reflects the culture of my students so that the students who come to my class feel welcomed and 'at home'. More importantly, I wanted them to make connections by sharing their stories and recognise a common thread between different cultures to understand the idea of 'Unity in diversity'.

One of the Principles of Ka Hikitia is that ' Indentity, Language and Culture count'.

Students do better in education when what and how they learn builds on what is familiar to them, and reflects and positively reinforces where they come from, what they value and what they already know. Maori students are more likely to achieve when they see them selves, their parents, whanau, hapu, Iwi and community reflect in learning and teaching.

I wanted to look at each aspect of the classroom.

So to start with, I went looking for borders that I thought would be more familiar and attractive for my students. I bought some fabric that would solve the purpose. Yes, the borders in my class are out of fabric. The positive to this is that they and can be used year after year.

Students noticed them instantly and said things like " these are all the Kiwiana things". " I know this is a symbol for a fern". " Oh that's a tapa cloth and a maori pattern". " Here's the Pohutukawa and the flax weaving, and then they started to talk amongst each other about the Tapa cloths that their aunty has in their lounge and the fern that grows in the backyard, the weaving in the Marae,  and the list goes on. I was thrilled by their observation. Their personal stories that they instantly recalled were the most precious. I had not envisaged that a small thing like borders could bring this kind of an outcome. This is the first step towards acknowledging my students. I am excited to explore what else I can do to encourage my students to love and be excited about their class. 


  1. Always great to hear how you deliberately plan to meet your learner needs including the child through-culture, language and identity. Even the simple idea of borders which reflect and positively reinforces where they come from, what they value and what they already know. Great work. I look forward to reading your blog posts.