After the last few weeks of settling in to my new role as a teacher at Mairtown Kindergarten, I have been taking some time to reflect on the importance of strong trusting relationships, along with a feeling of belonging and community.
Relationships are the foundation of our journeys through life. In early childhood, relationships are the building blocks upon which our Kindergarten functions. These partnerships or relationships are one of the underpinning principles of our New Zealand Early Childhood curriculum Te Whāriki and also of the founding document of our nation Te Tiriti o Waitangi, which our bicultural curriculum is based upon.
My own experience of arriving at Mairtown Kindergarten as a new face, into an environment where there are already friendships formed, a shared culture and knowledge, along with new rituals to learn, have given me the chance to understand how our children experience the transition to Kindergarten and acknowledge how they may feel during this process of building new relationships. Keeping this experience close to my heart will enable me to show care and empathy as I walk this journey alongside the many future tamariki of Mairtown Kindergarten.
Our Kindergarten Philosophy states:
“At Mairtown Kindergarten manaaki (care) underpins everything we do”
“Relationships and partnerships, based on trust, respect and open communication are central to our philosophy. Kanohi ki te kanohi (face to face conversation) is something that we value immensely. When these genuine, authentic and reciprocal relationships are established, Mairtown Kindergarten becomes a safe and secure place for children, whānau and teachers”
I have been privileged over these last few weeks to experience our Kindergarten philosophy in action as I have been shown the most wonderful manaakitanga. This manaaki has not just been a token effort from one person, it has been felt like a warm cloak wrapped around my shoulders and is clearly embedded in the culture of our Kindergarten.
From the wonderful mihi whakatau to welcome me, the friendship and kindness so freely given by the tamariki as we get to know each other, the whānau who have all made time to chat with me and make connections, and my colleagues who have supported me, answered my questions, checked in with me and walked alongside me as I learn. The wairua of Mairtown Kindergarten feels good, and I am excited to become part of such a special community.
A beautiful koha aroha received from Isla T to welcome me to Kindergarten on my first day
As a teacher I am led by my heart, and I believe that by teaching from the heart, relationships will flourish. I was recently lucky enough to hear Professor Welby Ings speak in Kerikeri. He is the author of a book called Disobedient Teaching – Surviving and creating change in education. He did an interesting experiment where he asked all of the audience to think back to a teacher that really had an impact on them during their early years.
You might like to pause and take a moment to do this yourself before reading on and see if his theory is true for your experience.
It turned out that almost every person in the audience chose a teacher who impacted their life based on the way that teacher made them feel, rather than any facts or information they were taught by them. This highlights to me the importance of relationships, manaakitanga and heart-led teaching. It also reminds me of one of my favourite quotes which I think embodies the entire community of Mairtown Kindergarten.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said,
people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel”
– Maya Angelou
Ngā mihi nui,