AIMING FOR STUDENT
ACHIEVEMENT: HOW TEACHERS
CAN UNDERSTAND AND BETTER
MEET THE NEEDS OF PACIFIC
ISLAND AND MAORI STUDENTS
Jan Hill and Kay Hawk
• The Ministry of Education is funding a 5yr development
programme titled Achievement in Multi-Cultural High
Schools, or AIMHI. The goal of the project is to raise the
achievement levels of students of the 8 participating schools
who have a high population of Pacific Island and Maori
• Almost all staff were interviewed as well as 900+ students;
and Pacific Island and Maori researchers talked to extended
family and parents.
• As such, many powerful influences on student achievement
were identified, many of which is out of the schools control.
However a teacher should take into consideration that the
students live in various different ‘worlds’ and should always
try and consider the bigger picture. However, there are key
ideas which Hill and Hawk suggest that schools can do to
help their students:
YEAR 9 STUDENTS
• Better prepare them for the transition from
primary/intermediate to secondary. Many
students reported that their previous school’s
teachers told them intimidating stories about
• Teachers move class rather to help with
• Try to have the same teacher teach the same
class more than one subject.
• Peer support programmes for yr9’s.
• Phone each parent in class once a term. Teachers
involved in the AIMHI project observed that their time
and energy always paid off.
• Use Pacific Island Language radio station to inform
parents of school events and education issues.
• Try and arrange alternative times for parent-teacher
interviews/talks if parents cannot make schedule
• Work through the churches, try and get to know the
• Post newsletters and important documents home,
rather than leave the responsibility with the student.
KEY TEACHER QUALITIES THAT AIDE
• A Teacher which looks after themselves- healthy
body; healthy mind
• Respecting of students and treats them as individuals
• Kind, caring, encouraging yet with a sense of humour
• Can relate to cultures other than their own
• Are knowledgeable and prepare varied and
• Put learning into context; explains and scaffold
• Firm but fair
• Confrontational, angry and negative
• Put-downs and racism
• Favouring students (usually the bright ones)
• Making assumptions that students have
understood and moving on too fast.
• Relationship building (with students, whanau,
and the wider community).
• Student generated questioning.
• Co-operative learning
“A Constructivist Classroom is a Student-Centred
Classroom” (Educational Broadcasting
How do I apply constructivism in my classroom?
Get into groups- in your groups you can pick from one of
the following options. You have 5 minutes before you
present it to the class.
• Come up with several questions you might ask your
students in a survey designed to gain an insight to the
learning styles and interests of your students.
• Create a rough lesson plan where the aim is to co
construct classroom expectations.
• Script a conversation that you might have on the phone
with a parent or caregiver. This is a call you have made
for in order to build relationships.
• Pick any one of the points on the summary and present
an example of this to the class through role play.
• Hill, J., & Hawk, K. (1998). Aiming for Student Achievement: How
teachers can understand and better meet the needs of Pacific Island
and Maori students? SET: Research information for teachers 2.Item
4. Retrieved from NZCER Journals Online.
• Educational Broadcasting Cooperation. (2004). Concept to
Classroom. Retrieved from
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