The first few weeks of school are crucial to a positive learning year, says says Apii Takitumu principal Carly Ave.
They invest a lot of effort in getting them right.“We work on getting to know each child – their strengths and challenges. We work with the previous year's teacher to understand what dynamics a class have and how to best work with them.
“The first two weeks we are focusing on building a positive class culture. This means establishing building children's confidence, establishing routines, class rules or treaties and teaching students how to use independent activities and IT equipment.”
Only after those that do teachers begin their full teaching load, in the third week – and this year, Takitumu’s school inquiry topic will look at traditional knowledge and contemporary practices of gardening and fishing, with a new school garden to make the learning real.
Further south down the road at Apii Te Uki Ou, their year is getting off to a colourful start.
Senior student Mila Nicholas says: “We have been doing lots of name art and getting to know each other at school. All of the teachers are actually really nice, there are lots of new teachers and lots of new juniors because they came over from preschool.”
Georgia Harman says she likes her teacher because he “is not like an angry and shouting sort of strict. He’s a good teacher.”
Tamuera Newnham says: “I like learning with my teacher because she likes to do things outside of the classroom and I don’t really like staying in
“I’ve been here since year one, and I used to think the year eights were really big. But now I’m just like, wow I was so little. I’ve been seeing them and now they just look like normal people, and before they used to be role models. So now it’s our turn to lead, which makes me pretty nervous.”
Tamuera also spoke of the dance-off that the school held yesterday morning, and how he was hosting it. “As well as speaking, I was dancing, and our class won. I’m in Kakaia. It was really fun to see how all of the other classes danced.”
Apii Te Uki Ou principal Mark Harris said the main goal of the start of the year was to establish really strong positive relationships.
“From there it’s about setting the expectations for the year and it’s about creating the sense of community, as well as an understanding that we all need to be able to work together to be successful; that’s really important in the first part of the year.
“The other thing for us is making sure all of our new staff and new students, and new families, feel really welcome.
“That’s really important, so next week we’re having a community umu to bring all our kids and families together, as well as bring that sense of community to life.”