Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Irresistibly Engaging! Lorraine Sands

I last chatted to Loretta Lepa from Samoa Taumafai A’oga Amata (Tokoroa, New Zealand) she was bursting with excitement and by the time she finished telling me her news we were both laughing and crying together. The reason: For the last two and a half years the teachers at Samoa Taumafai have been writing Learning Stories telling their children and their families what they think about the learning progress they see happening in their setting; their A’oga.
This has been a celebration of what children can do and the more the teachers have written about the learning they see, the more connected their culture of learning and teaching has become to the children’s passions, energies and spirits. They have discovered that tapping into what really matters to learners activates a thirst for learning, that takes learners to the edge, where they stretch their skills and knowledge. This happens because they are intrinsically motivated through habits of learning that have been nurtured inside learning communities, intentionally designed to enable these dispositions to flourish. Habits like curiosity, persistence, empathy, kindness and determination. It is never the other way round.Skill teaching alone goes no where near children’s passions,energies and spirits. If you want proof of this, read Stratosphere 2or check out Ken Robinson’s TED Talk “Bring On the Revolution”. These fabulous teachers have been deeply immersed in the learning revolution that Ken Robinson, Michael Fullan and an ever growing number of people refer to as education fit for the twenty-first century.
The vehicle the Samoa Taumafai teachers have been using to spread this meaningful learning, enabling partnership with their children and families, is the children’s folders, full to the brim with stories of achievement, struggle, fairness, kindness, collaboration and heaps of effort and practice to achieve the goals children set themselves. They’ve done this, all the while valuing their language, culture and identity and made this happen in ways that connect with their families. How do we know this? The news Loretta and I were crying about because it was so fabulous, was their Learning Story Portfolio night when 60 parents and their children came to share their stories together and celebrate learning!

The new Pasifika Strategy’s 2013-2017 goal is five out of five success! The A’oga is licensed for 30 children, 60 families at an evening like this hits the stratosphere for successfulness. They had never had this many people attend before, so the word is out! Irresistibly engaging is what these photos sing to me. Congratulations Samoa Taumafai learning community. 

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