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Reach Out to Reach In

by Steve Saville and Rebecca Thomas

As we gear up to proofread reports destined to be sent out to whānau, we find it challenging to report on what Term 1 and 2 has brought. Some of our children we barely know due to a string of fluctuating rolls.

Throughout Term 2 the revolving door continues.

I wonder what would happen if we reversed the usual Term 2 reports. I wonder what would happen if we asked parents to write us a report on how they and their children have found the last two terms of school. After all, some of our students may have been at home longer than they have been at school. I wonder what we would learn from their comments.

Steve and I in our day jobs as consultants for Cognition recently aired a webinar called Building Community Bonds. Back in our Engaging Learning Voices bat cave after hours we reflected on the kōrero.

The voices we collected were concerned, concerned about a distance that has been creeping in between the school and its close community, its whānau.

After spending two years keeping parents at arm’s length to protect young people behind monitored gates, there is an increasing concern that new norms we have created are sadly becoming too ‘usual’. Parents are beginning to drop and run, numbers for usually popular dates and events are thin on the ground, some school gates remain locked. A mistrust in our relationships due to enforced mandates has driven an invisible wedge between our casual interactions.

We discussed ideas on what we can do to show our communities that we are open for business, and that we need them back in our biome- whānau, Kaiako and tamariki together.

# Idea 1

Recreate NEW events where we bring the community together. Instead of unearthing the old school disco, the mid-term school production, or three-way conferences, plan something different - something that will cause mystery and intrigue.

# Idea 2

Take the students out into the community. Invite them to paint a mural in a local space, tidy up a garden, tell stories in the local library, perform kapa haka in the street. Remind the community that our young people are missing them. Being seen in an open space will ignite a conversation and a sense of protection.

(Below are some photos from Pukekohe High School Art students who did just that)

# Idea 3

Invite students to share the school values with people at home. Put the students in charge and get them to ask their whānau to model and demonstrate the same values at home. The young people could even hold the adults accountable for their behaviour - put the kids in charge!

(There is a simple tool here that can help called Support Crew Rewards).

What are your schools doing to reach out?

As for us, we too are reaching out, reaching out to educational communities across the globe - we signed up for the Teaching Education Summit to share our stories, to share our New Zealand voices and experiences with the world. Our aim will be to amplify the voices of our teachers and ignite a conversation about the new norms we need to create.

Sometimes we need a conversation with someone different to help us light up the dark!

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