About Elm Park School
Elm Park School's special character is the cultural diversity that includes 40 different ethnicities. We pride ourselves in providing an inclusive caring environment in which we value individual differences (EPS website).
Cultural diversity of the school:
- 30% New Zealand European
- 20% Pasifika
- 15% New Zealand Māori
- 13% Chinese
- 10% Indian
- 5% Other European
- 7% Other
Stakeholders of Elm Park School
There are two groups of stakeholders in our Elm Park community.
- Approximately 600 students
- Principal, three deputy principals, 29 teachers, and 15 support staff.
In what ways do they influence my practice?
The cultural and social background of the students in my school community has a huge influence on my practice. With the culture diversity of our school it is important to get to know the students in my class. What culture they identify with, their interests and passions and their family life. I feel knowledge is power and knowing this about the students in my class gives me an insight into what they are interested in, how they learn, and what could be possible barriers to their learning.
As Wenger (2012) points out, members of a community must develop a "shared repertoire of resources" (p.2).
To do this we must meet regularly, discussing issues, planning and working together using the sorts of activities such as:
- problem solving
- drawing on each other's experience
- re-using assets.
The experience and wealth of teachers in my school has enabled me to grow as a teacher. I have the confidence to step out of my comfort zone and know that I have the supports of my colleagues and students.
What are the current issues in my community? How would I or my community address them?
One of the main issues that I see in our community is the lack of home/school partnership and lack of parent support. Many of our parents/caregivers are working full time to support their families, therefore during times of parent support we lack that partnership. We have a great PTA team in our school but this team consists of the usual hardworking parents that often give up so much time to support of many different ventures.
Twice a year we have Student Led Conferences which is often well attended. Throughout the year we as a school provide many opportunities for our community/parents/whānau to be involved in. Unfortunately they are usually poorly attended.
One way that we are trying to address this is by providing a landmark learning partnership programme. This programme is the Ministry Of Educations initiative, Mutukaroa (2015).
Mutukaroa is a home-school learning partnership that seeks to accelerate learning progress and achievement for students in years 1, 2 and 3.
The Mutukaora programme is a process that fosters the active engagement of parents and whānau in learning partnerships and provides them with the tools and knowledge necessary to support the development of core skills and their children.
As a teacher of māori decent, it has been a privilege to work along side one of our deputy principals ensuing that māori tikanga is been respected.
What are the challenges that you face in your practice?
Often I complain about all the challenges that I face while teaching. But in reality when it comes down to it there are only ever two challenges that I continue to face every day.
#1 Time! Or lack thereof! I seem to constantly battle between a balanced home and work schedule. There never seems to be enough time to get everything at school done. Therefore marking books, planning etc usually are done at home. According to Wegner (2012) a community is a "group of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regulaly" (p.12). Having this community supporting me is essential to keeping a balance between work and life.
#2 Achievement and Behaviour. Addressing the needs of low achieving students and students with behavioural concerns is another issue. Finding ways to reach these students can be a challenge.
As I have said, there are always challenges in teaching and learning. But at the end of the day the most important part of my teaching life is the students! It is my job to make sure that I am providing opportunities for my students to become life long learners.
Elm Park School. (2015). Retrieved October 9, 2015 from Elm Park School: http://www.elmpark.school.nz/index.php?mid=2
Mutukaroa. (2015) Retrieved October 10, 2015 from http://mutukaroa.org.nz/
Wenger, E. (2012, January 6). Communities of practice: A brief introduction. Retrieved October 10, 2015, from http://wenger-trayner.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/06-Brief-introduction-to-communities-of-practice.pdf