Over the years, in watching the teachers who are successful with the [Indigenous] kids and the teachers who aren't, I think one of the first basic rules is that the teachers who are successful are the ones who build relationships with the individuals, not with the whole class but with the actual individuals. They take an interest in the kid, who they are, where they're from, who they like, who they don't like, what sorts of things they like to do, what they don't like to do, how they connect with their family, their mum and their dad, or their aunty or their uncle, whoever is important in their lives, their community, their background. The teacher who tries to connect with each individual is the one who has the basis for success in teaching and learning...
When I first came to this school, I think that one of the understandings that we basically operated with was that you worked with a community, and the community could be any number of people, both parents and kids, but they were kind of like this 'group'. It wasn't specifically with a particular person, it was — if we could talk to somebody in that community, that would be good.
We also had a bad misunderstanding I think, and that was that people in a community could represent each other regardless of roles and relationships in a community. Over the last ten years, our understanding about Indigenous cultures have increased enormously and our practices have changed incredibly.
Instead of thinking about community groups, we now talk individually with the individual kids and their parents or guardians. Much, much more effort is going into actually tracking and make connections with individual parents or guardians. And so you will hear people talking now that, over the last couple of years, we can actually interact with parents in a meaningful way. Largely, I think the consciousness has just changed at the school, that we are working with the individual parents, with individual kids who have their own circumstances and needs and interests and drives.
There was a concept that it was really difficult to talk to our parents, that they were out there in some sort of void. Now we know that that's not the case at all. There are still parents that are difficult to connect with but, on the whole, we are building our connections with our parents in a really significant way.