Whakawhanaungatanga – relating to others

As a thank you for the warm welcome to the blogosphere, I thought I would share a positive experience about inclusion that I had while out on one of teaching placements in 2011 – a lesson idea that incorporated one of my favourite resources Teaching Tolerance, and some classic Kiwi content Kia Kaha.

The lesson was scheduled the week after Australian school-boy Casey Haynes became international news for fighting back against bullying. The lesson was used in an environment where respect for others and team work are already being taught through everyday dialogue and celebrated at school assemblies.

Teaching Tolerance is a web-based initiative for promoting inclusive learning spaces. I found it in my first year of training when I was writing an enormous essay on countering gender stereotypes in classrooms.
Kia Kaha is the New Zealand Police’s anti-bullying initiative for schools.

I opened the session by showing this youtube clip  (I was working with 7-8 year olds but they thought it was alright – a nice way to ease into a serious topic). Afterwards we brainstormed what ‘tolerance’ and ‘relating to others’ might look like and mean. All the students got the Big Idea that it was about accepting different kinds of people – even people who can be annoying.

I used the ideas from Teaching Tolerance’s ‘Gender doesn’t limit you’  – teaching the students responses that they could use to challenge intolerant discourse, “Give it a rest, no group is best” and “You can’t say [boys/girls/you] can’t play!” (which became a favourite).

I explained that students would be in groups of 4 to make a small movie (using a digital camera) about a situation where there is an opportunity to demonstrate tolerance. Keeping ‘on-theme’ the students then took the initiative to peacefully self-organise into groups!

I asked them to suggest school situations where they have possibly felt that someone was intolerant or where they felt excluded. Point to note here: nearly every student suggested a playground setting, which indicated to me that the playground is where intolerance and exclusion occur most.
So, we moved the learning outdoors and I gave them their cameras and the freedom to choose a scenario where they would first act out a ‘normal’ interaction – followed by the demonstration of challenging intolerance and relating to others. After a quick reminder to use their rote responses, they were off. (All the digital cameras were pre-set to film, the students only needed to turn them on and press ‘record’ – many of the students were already very comfortable with using them and could refocus, zoom, pan etc. with no issues).

The learning overview took 15 minutes, so we had 25 minutes to film and some groups produced multiple short movies – I did have one group who went from producing a rugby scenario (getting picked for teams was a hot issue) to a zombie apocalypse (sigh) but they continued to show tolerance by being very inclusive of the zombies, so … not completely off-task.

Post filming, we had sharing time – each movie was screened on the interactive whiteboard with explanatory commentary from the team who created it. Many teams also included disclaimers about how their group had worked together – who had the initial idea, who filmed, any issues that arose where they had needed to negotiate. One group had even made four clips so each team member had a chance at being the camera-operator, the star, the director etc.  I made sure to praise their fair treatment and respect shown for fellow team-mates.

I would love to be able to share these short films, but they are not my creative works to upload. What I can share is the idea, the sources and the encouragement to give it a go.

How are you promoting skills students can use for relating to others?

Links to the NZ Curriculum: Health & PE; Drama; and the Relating to Others key competency.


4 responses to “Whakawhanaungatanga – relating to others

  1. Hi,
    I just wrote an entire unit plan on a very closely linked topic (anti-bullying) and remarkably much of it was very similar to your lesson so it was great to hear how some of my plans might go in action.
    Another thing I included was for students to brainstorm the different forms bullying can take and then, with one form, draw the bedroom of the bullying victim. For example, if the form of bullying was stealing, the picture might show the victim’s favourite toy missing from his/her labelled spot for it. My purpose was to emphasise to students that the effects of certain behaviours go home with their victims and can have a much more lasting effect than what the person doing those actions may have thought or intended. Also thought this was on a deeper level than simply asking the students how something would make them feel and could trigger empathy.
    Thanks for the post, loved the zombies part!

    • Hi Anna,
      Bullying can become such a huge influence on the atmosphere in the learning space (and, as you point out, has wider repercussions) so I think it is fantastic that you have written an entire unit plan!
      In NZ, we have the Kia Kaha programme which students will do as a unit each year – but I thought building on it was totally worthwhile. It is important for children to develop empathy and a sense of responsibility when relating to others – and I think you have suggested a great example of how you can encourage that with your picture activity.
      Thank you for stopping by and sharing your idea.
      C. (post-zombie apocalypse teacher)

  2. I sometimes wonder if language plays a part in how we view relating to others. I for one hate the term anti-bullying as I think it assumes the default is that there is bullying and we need stop that rather than relating to others, or building friendships which assumes most people are good and want to do better.


    • Hi Stephanie,
      Thanks for your comment. The Police use the term anti-bullying to promote the Kia Kaha programme, while the Relating to Others key competency focuses on effective interactions – including listening, empathy, tolerance, negotiation and cooperation. You are absolutely right in suggesting that relating to others can be practiced in a variety of ways that don’t directly link to bullying (or anti-bullying) and can be valuable tools for maintaining a happy, healthy learning community.

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