Culture of the classroom – cultural respect, recognition and support
“ Certainly, all research that I have come across has at least two common elements. Firstly the need for students to have a strong sense of their own Identity. They need to know who they are and where they belong, what their place is and what their role is in community. Who are their mob, their mentors and who are their carers? Where they come from is just as important as where they will end up. This leads us to the second common element: relationships. The importance of trusting, honest, caring relationships with educators, principals, support workers, family, community and friends is the true essence of success for most Indigenous students.” (Brian Giles-Browne 2008)
What makes the difference?
Gina Milgate, Educational researcher with ACER
‘These people weren't just teachers; they were motivators and inspiring people.
I grew up in a house with no books, just some magazines. These people introduced me to books.
They had an interest in what I was doing outside school - ?I heard you played basketball, how did the team go?'
They always said I could do better but never put me down.
They gave us time to think.
They were great listeners.
They made learning fun, and took learning outside the classroom.
They understood your strengths and weaknesses. They understood different students' learning styles.
They stimulated you with things you could relate to.
They often wore funky clothes. You'd love to go to their class because you didn't know what they'd be wearing next time.
They always knew your name and what you were interested in.
They sat down with students rather than standing in front of you.
They believed in your ability. ‘
Consider all the parts of the equation:
+ ready communities
+ ready services
+ ready education
= children ready for school
What does your classroom
and sound like
and feel like
and think like
for everyone in the room?
‘ Despite their aspirations for their children, many Aboriginal parents are ambivalent about schools. As a result of their own experiences, and those of their children, may view schools as negative and threatening places.’
(Howard Groome 1995:50)
What has come before is how you will be seen until you change that view!
‘ Preparation for life and learning begins at birth’ (Jane Cameron 2008)
How do you build the capacity of families to support their children’s learning?
‘Our expectations determine how well children do’ (Jane Cameron 2008)
‘ Our schools can never be
If you want to learn about
you need to go out into the bush.
What schools have to be
is culturally inclusive –
acknowledge my background,
where I come from,
the skills I bring.’
Robert Somerville, Director of Aboriginal Education in Western Australia
The Quality Teaching framework asserts the importance of valuing non-dominant cultural knowledges and values in pedagogical practice.
This is legitimised when there is explicit valuing and authentic consideration of cultural identity represented in such things as beliefs, languages, practices and ways of knowing’. (Amosa and Ladwig 2004:1).
So, regardless of what subject you teach, whose beliefs, languages, practices and ways of knowing are heard in your classroom and whose are silenced?
‘ It is about making parents feel wanted and making kids feel respected’
(Stan Sheppard 2008)
Where, when and how to parents get to see you, watch you and speak with you? Take a step back and see yourself through their eyes.
When and how and why do you communicate
with Indigenous families?
‘ Recognise and meet identity needs’ (Howard Groome 1995)
What does your classroom learning environment look like, sound like, feel like and think like?
What does your school environment say about how you value people?
‘ Understand the worlds which impact on Indigenous students’
(Howard Groome 1995:83)
Who are the children in your class?
What has the morning been like for them before they get into your classroom?
What waits for them at home?
‘ Acknowledge and address issues of power’ (Howard Groome 1995:93)
Classrooms and teachers operate from a position of white privilege.
‘ Ask “what is the alternative?”
before judging’ (Stan Sheppard 2008).
How do you share teaching practice with families?
How do you empower families to see their own teaching practice?
‘ I like ya Mrs, hey, ‘cause ya aren’t a wanker’
(Eileen Lawrence 2000),
or, walk your own talk!
Do you believe that ‘every child who comes to school is a capable learner’ (Bob Perry 2008)?
Are you an advocate for all children?
How do you measure up?
Visit http://www.whatworks.edu.au/docs1.htm and complete the questionaire on page 7 of the workbook.