Whānau as agents : exploring ways to improve relationships between whānau and teachers

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Aperahama, Sarah
Author ORCID Profiles (clickable)
Master of Applied Practice
Unitec Institute of Technology
Mane, Jo
Maurice-Takerei, Lisa
Masters Thesis
Māori students
primary students
early childhood education
community-school collaboration
whānau view
kaupapa Māori
teacher-whānau relationships
Aperahama, S. (2017). Whānau as agents : exploring ways to improve relationships between whānau and teachers. An unpublished thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Applied Practice, Unitec Institute of Technology, New Zealand.
RESEARCH QUESTIONS: ● What is the nature of whānau relationships at my school? ● What can whānau teach us (teachers) about forming relationships that improve the learning for their children? ● How can whānau voice improve my teaching practice? The relationship between whānau and schools in education is not new but is an area that many schools focus on and want to improve. Literature from both New Zealand and globally highlights the positive outcomes of engaging with whānau and the implications this has on student success. Relationships between whānau and teachers can be strengthened where whānau voice is used to drive teaching contexts and improve practice. The school-based project undertaken as part of this research aimed to improve the relationships between whānau and teachers by using a variety of communication methods focused on collaborative knowledge building. This study highlights the importance of kanohi ki te kanohi (face to face) meetings to build relationships followed by the use of digital and online platforms such as ‘See-Saw’ or Facebook to continue ongoing reciprocal communication. It is through this sharing that the relationship is strengthened, teaching is strengthened, and outcomes for the students are strengthened. This research used a Māori centred approach which acknowledges the value and significance of Māori perspectives. The research explored the nature of relationships within the school environment, what whānau can teach us about the forming of relationships and how whānau voice can influence and change teacher practice. This thesis contributes to the literature on whānau engagement in New Zealand, highlighting the positive implications of working with whānau and the changes this can make to teacher practice. The major findings of this study were specific to understanding the nature of the relationships between whānau and teachers at the project school, improved relationships through student interest directed learning and the changes in teacher practice in the way we communicate with whānau.
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