Students find their voices

Issue: Volume 98, Number 15

Posted: 2 September 2019
Reference #: 1H9xpQ

Two Hawke’s Bay teachers have found that Story Hui empowers children to explore their successes and talk about achievements, giving them a voice and strengthening the relationships between schools and whānau.

Two Hawke’s Bay teachers have found that Story Hui empowers children to explore their successes and talk about achievements, giving them a voice and strengthening the relationships between schools and whānau.

In 2017 teachers Kerri Thompson and Sandra Howard were awarded a TLIF (Teacher-Led Innovation Fund) project to investigate the use of Story Hui with their students.

Story Hui involves small group meetings led by a facilitator (a teacher or a student) in which three to six students each tell a story about a challenge they have successfully overcome. One student is the illustrator and draws the learning success story in sections, while others in the group question the storyteller to encourage deeper thinking and understanding of the student’s strengths.

“One of the main reasons Sandra and I got into it, was that for too long teachers were the ones telling kids what they have been successful at,” says Kerri, who is currently introducing Story Hui to Tutira School in Hawke’s Bay.

“We wanted a tool that was going to empower our kids to work that out for themselves and also realise that a success can be small, or it can be big.”

Sharing success through stories

“Through Story Hui, learners share a story and are then questioned by their peers and asked to delve deeper into what their challenge was and the strengths they used to overcome the challenge,” says Kerri.

“They all have an opportunity to share what success means for them – it is personal and meaningful and told through story. The mana stays with the storyteller, who is the hero of his or her story,” says Kerri.

Historically, success has been measured through the lens of standardised testing, which is problematic for all, especially Māori students. Many Māori students and whānau describe success for them in their culture as taking on a much more holistic view.

Kerri says that research is increasingly showing that capabilities such as creativity, collaboration, perseverance and citizenship are equally important skills for workplaces of the future. It is important that schools embed culturally responsive practices so that all Māori learners experience success that is meaningful to them.

“With Māori traditionally being an oral culture, the idea of telling a story about a learning journey was really appealing. But more than that, the thought of combining storytelling with a visual narrative, or whakaahua, really excited me,” she says.

The hui have covered a range of topics, from success using MathsBuddy as a learning tool to students who have collaborated successfully with other students.

Recently, says Kerri, a student used Story Hui to understand why his behaviour was creating some stress in the classroom, working through what would make things better for himself, his classmates and his teacher.

Some strong themes have emerged, such as success being accomplished with the help of others. Another strong theme has been perseverance.

“Many hui had our kids identifying this capability as a major part of why they were successful,” says Kerri. “They realised that they had the mindset to keep going and not give up.”

Changing ideas about success

“Many stories later, it is the students who are leading the way forward, using Story Hui to create a culture shift about what we see as success, what might be important to learn today, and how we might share it.

“They actually find out who they are through Story Hui because they get to delve deeper into what has made them work towards a success,” says Kerri.

Story Hui can be introduced into the classroom by asking students about success and what it means to them. Kerri uses a video(external link), which covers a hero’s journey and what he or she does when challenges arise. Students discuss what makes a hero, and the idea that everybody is the hero of their own journey.

She says Story Hui can be integrated into other areas of the curriculum.

“Sandra and I have both used it for scaffolding writing because it has a beginning, middle and end structure to it and we have also used it to co-construct success criteria for pieces of writing.”

Powerful interactions with whānau

Using Story Hui for family conferences has built relationships between home and school in a unique way, says Kerri.

“The student-led conferences are where we share the students’ learning and achievements and areas to work on. Sometimes the teacher does a lot of the talking, so using Story Hui as a technique where the student is doing the sharing of a success for them is really exciting, because it’s completely different for the whānau as well. The communication between the teachers and whānau is improved because of that process.

“There was a really proud moment in a conference with one of my students using Story Hui. We had a photo with Mum, Dad, the brother and the student with the Story Hui and there was just this sense of pride that their child had a voice that is important.”

Story Hui was trialled throughout 2014 and 2015 by the Māori medium cohort of the Te Toi Tupu Learning with Digital Technologies programme.

Kerri and Sandra introduced Story Hui to Tamatea Intermediate in 2017.(external link)

For more information about Story Hui.(external link)

What students say about Story Hui

“I like telling my story. It makes me realise how much of a success it is – it becomes more
of a success.” Cora, Year 7

“It feels good to share my success story because you know everyone is interested. The questioning is good because it makes me think about how my success happened.” Stefan, Year 6

“It is pretty interesting because other people get to know how hard I work. I have learnt that I can think deeply and get more information out when others question me.” Trevor, Year 5

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 10:01 am, 2 September 2019

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