In my second year of teaching I wanted to make some changes to the level 1 program. Previously at level 1 students looked at the Waterview Connection as a contemporary issue. However, this felt slightly outdated as the Waterview Connection was build in 2017. I wanted to try something new that would be a little more engaging for students at Tamaki College. I decided to try a unit on Child Poverty in Aotearoa, New Zealand.
Students were required to describe the issue, explore different perspectives and discuss solutions. I found this to be particularly fun to teach since students in my Level 1 class seemed to feel passionate about the issue of child poverty and were keen to participate in class discussion (something I struggled to get students to do with the Waterview connection unit).
While the class were able to describe the issue in detail (perhaps an issue a little closer to home for many TC students than the Waterview tunnel) I noticed exploring different perspectives was a bit of a challenge. I asked a friend of mine from Auckland Action Against Poverty (AAAP) to come and speak to the class from her perspective.
This was an awesome experience as the class were engaged and interested in what she had to see. This perhaps made it a bit easier for students to identify a unique perspective as it was being told to them first hand.
My HOD asked her to come to her Level 3 Social Studies class to talk to some students who were looking at the issue as well. The feedback from these students was incredibly positive and students felt inspired to make positive social change in the future. One student even said to me “Was that your friend, she’s so cool. I want to be like her when I’m older. How did she get into working for AAAP”. Having guest speakers is definitely a great way to bring perspectives and current issues to life and see how real people are making positive change in New Zealand’s society.
Changing the unit also reminded me it is important as a teacher to teach topics that you as the teacher feel passionate about – students definitely pick up on enthusiasm (or lack of it) and being genuinely interested in a topic can contribute to a positive and engaging learning environment.