By Tania Gaffney – Deputy Principal Primary
From about 6 or 7 years ākonga (students) are developing their reasoning minds and continuing to build on their independence that began in preschool. As teachers, we guide them towards becoming independent and an integral part of society. It is during this time that ākonga begin stepping out further into the world to figure out how it works and where they fit in, by physically interacting with it.
‘The Going Out Programme’ was developed to help with this and involves a small group of ākonga, who arrange to go somewhere, usually for one of three main reasons – to get supplies for class or school, to look further into an interest or to do some sort of community service.
The point of ‘going out’ is not the end product, i.e. of getting the ingredients; rather it is the journey along the way. When adults run errands, much of the planning is instinctual, based on years of experience and done on the fly. An equivalent comparison for us might be going to visit a new country, where we don’t speak the language.
There is scaffolding from adults around the planning side of these ākonga trips – all planning is looked over by teachers before ākonga leave school – resulting in them being abler to arrange things for themselves as they get older.
When planning for a ‘going out’ there are many things to think about before ākonga even step out the door – where to go, how to get there, what to take, arranging an adult, sorting money and a timeframe, practicing and then making phone calls, writing up what could go wrong, how to prevent it happening and what to do if it still does! Finally, everything needs to be signed off. And only after all that comes the outing.J
To get on their way ākonga now need to make sure they have everything – money,
first aid kit, maps, lunch, correct clothes and shoes and their adult. They must sign out of the office in good time to perhaps catch a bus, get their tasks done and return to school in the time that they said.
Accompanying ākonga on these trips is part of the teacher assistant’s job in the 6-9 programme, but in the 9-12 classes we are reliant on the good will of our parents to help us out. The adult’s role as a safety net is an important one. They are a shadow, walking a number of paces behind and not interacting, but allowing the ākonga to operate independently of them. I have been on a few of these and have had to train myself to step back, don’t help, don’t ask or answer questions. It can be a bit of a challenge sometimes, but oh so rewarding to watch and be a part of.
So I am calling for whānau in any part of the school, who have some time during the school day and are happy to add their name to a list of potential accompaniers. There will be a training hour at 8.50am-ish on Monday 20th August or Tuesday 21st August at 7pm in the new staff room.
Even if you’re not sure, come and hear more and see if it might be something you could do. By the way you don’t need to say yes when asked to join a ‘going out’, as it is part of the journey for ākonga to find someone who is available.