This activity supports a staff group to seek their students’ perspectives about how inclusive the school is.
"Carefully woven into the inside of a whatu pōkeka or baby blanket are feathers to provide warmth, comfort, security and refuge from the elements. The pōkeka takes the shape of the child as it learns and grows, just as the development of a curriculum is determined and shaped by the learner."
Ministry of Education, 2014, page 2
The activity introduces teachers to the whakataukī in Success for All – Every School, Every Child and outlines a task for them to complete with their students about what makes them feel valued and feel like they belong at school. (This task can also be adapted for capturing whānau voices.)
Task 1: Collaborative whatu pōkeka
Introduce the activity by sharing the whakataukī and its "unpacking" in Success for All – Every School, Every Child. Distribute copies of the document or view it online.
- Take two feathers and record your responses to the following two sentence starters (one on each feather):
- I feel valued at school when …
- I feel I belong at school when …
- Make a small group with three or four others and share your statements. Consider how you could do this task with your class (or classes) and use alternative sentence starters. (for example, I’m happy at school when …)
Bring everyone back together and ask each small group to share their discussion with the whole group.
Create a group whatu pōkeka by gluing the feathers onto a large piece of paper for hanging in a communal place in the school, such as the staffroom.
Ask everyone to create a whatu pōkeka with their class (or chosen classes) using the sentence starters they developed.
Task 2: What do students say about how inclusive the school is?
Once the class whatu pōkeka have been created, reconvene the group and ask everyone to share the whatu pōkeka created by their class.
Put the whatu pōkeka up around the room. Ask people to work in small groups and move around the whatu pōkeka to read what the students have said.
- Work in a small group and read the classes’ whatu pōkeka. Look for common messages and note down students’ comments that you find particularly powerful.
- With your group, discuss these questions and record your main points on a flip chart or electronically to share with the whole group:
- What do the students’ comments say about what an inclusive school means to them?
- What do the students’ comments say about how inclusive our school is?
- What inclusive practices exist in the school that underpin the students comments?
- Are there any comments that you find surprising, or comments that you expected to see but were not present?
- To what extent do the whatu pōkeka reflect the voices of every child in the school?
Bring everyone back together and ask each small group to share their discussion with the whole group. As they do this, summarise the main ideas on a whiteboard or Google Doc under the following headings:
- What are we doing well?
- What are our next steps?
Facilitate a group discussion about how to adapt this activity to capture whānau voices (for example, at a whānau meeting) about what an inclusive school means to them and how inclusive they think the school is.