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R*E*S*P*E*C*T: A value vital for Pasifika learners

Fuapepe Rimoni and Robin Averill

“Respect” is a value that underpins Pasifika ways of being, Pasifika learner success and wellbeing, and strong home–school partnerships with Pasifika families and communities. When teachers acknowledge and respond appropriately to students’ Pasifika values, such as respect, learning is enhanced and cultural identity nourished. To inform our work with student teachers, we asked teachers about their perceptions of respect and how they demonstrated and nurtured respect in their teaching. We carried out one-to-one interviews and lesson observations with Pasifika and non-Pasifika primary and secondary school teachers. Findings included that respectful classroom environments can be nurtured through simple classroom actions that are consistent with students’ backgrounds and that nurture a sense of family. Respect can be shown in many ways, from using correct spelling and pronunciation to more sophisticated ways such as drawing from deep understandings of Pasifika communities and cultures to design relevant learning experiences. Our work shows that there is potential for the Pasifika value of respect to be underestimated by some non-Pasifika teachers, and that professional development may be needed to ensure Tapasā can be swiftly implemented. In this article we offer practical ideas for ensuring learning environments are respectful, drawn from lesson observations of both Pasifika and non-Pasifika teachers, and describe ways these actions can contribute to ensuring the Pasifika value of respect is evident in classroom learning.

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