Tuesday, November 03, 2009
While doing my usual snooping around for new blogs to read and comment on I came upon this wonderful site, the Yendarra School Kiwis.
What caught my eye was a post on several of the teachers of the school visiting Samoa to learn about the island. I also learned from the post that a tsunami had recently hit Samoa.
I left a comment asking about the Samoan schools compared to the schools in New Zealand. Soon I received this email.
Hi Mr C
Just thought I would answer the questions you left on our blog about Samoa. First of all, thank you for leaving the comment. My name is Vanessa Venturi and I am the classroom teacher here in Room 14. Yendarra School is in Auckland, New Zealand. The ethnic make up of our school is 70% Pacific Island (mainly Samoan, but also Tongan, Cook Island and Niuean) and 30% Maori (native New Zealanders). Earlier in the year, some of the staff went to Samoa to gain a better understanding of where our Samoan children come from and to better enable ourselves to transition children who move from Samoa to Auckland. What an eye opener! The schools there have little in the way of resources, no equipment, very little paper, some classes had no desks or chairs. Some of the classrooms had up to 45 students and some teachers taught two classes at the same time, just running between two rooms. Because of the heat, the classrooms have no windows. Because of the huge number of children in each class, we didn't see any group work happening. The teachers teach in both Samoan and English. It was amazing to see what they can do with so little, the children were incredibly happy and very proud of their schools. The Samoan people are incredibly musically talented and their performances were stunning.
Schools in Auckland are very similar to yours, I would imagine. We have lots in the way of resources, computers, books, internet access, interactive whiteboards, playgrounds etc. We work very hard to be at the cutting edge of education in New Zealand. Visiting Samoa has really helped me to understand where my students and their families come from and relate to them more effectively. We were very lucky that we didn't lose any of our students in the tsunami because we were on school holiday when it hit and many students were at home in Samoa. Families at our school lost a lot of extended family members, auntys, uncles and cousins etc. The other question you had was about karakia, karakia is the Maori word for prayer. At the end of each day, one child stands up and leads the class in a karakia. This isn't something we have to do, but one of my boys asked at the beginning of the year if we could do it and its become a really special way to end each day together.
Thanks so much for commenting on our blog, I hope I've answered your questions for you. Please let me know if you have any others!
Have a great week :)
Vanessa Venturi and Room 14
What a wonderful surprise for me. I suspect most people think that most of the learning in school (and especially in my lab) happens with the students. This is obviously not the case today! Again, our ability to communicate and learn from people all over the world is amazing. Thank you Vanessa!