During Semester One, the AET focused its attention on providing Challis staff with the opportunity to develop their understanding of culturally responsive practise. In doing so, we welcomed Renarta and Charmaine from North Metropolitan Education District into our school to deliver the “Blanket Ceremony Activity” to our entire staff cohort. This activity strengthened our knowledge of the history, nature and intergenerational impact of the Stolen Generations, and invited staff to reflect upon their personal learning and engagement with such themes. Teachers were given time to share not only their reflections but how their reflections would impact their future teaching. The blanket ceremony was an emotion and thought-provoking learning opportunity that’s impact has lasted year-round. Renarta and Charmaine returned twice later to our school to deliver two age-appropriate variations of the Blanket Ceremony to our Year 2-6 cohorts.
The Aboriginal Engagement Team worked alongside Principal, Lee, to plan and deliver a professional learning session on the Aboriginal Cultural Standards Framework. Staff were guided through three components of the session; a revision of the ACSF, reflection of personal and team performance against the ACSF, and strategies for improving cultural responsiveness including the 8 Ways of Aboriginal Learning framework and a strengths-based pedagogy. Staff had to work within their teams to discuss and reflect upon where they currently sit across the cultural responsiveness continuum against the five domains. Goals for improvement were then agreed upon (these goals were later reviewed at the beginning of term 3).
When the AET analysed the ACSF Continuum, one of the themes that emerged was the need to better support teachers with embedding Aboriginal culture, histories and perspectives within curriculum content. In response to this identified need, the AET developed a comprehensive “Aboriginal Education Resource List” which complied and categorised over 80 culturally responsive resources into one location.
Building on our 2021 focus on improving the attendance rates of our First Nations Students, during Semester Two, the AET re-visited this focus through the implementation of targeted, routine and data-informed approaches to monitoring the attendance of any student sitting below 80%. Such students were assigned to an AET staff member, who was responsible for daily attendance checks, communication with caregivers and the development of a protective-relationship to maximise their feelings if safety and belonging at Challis. A reward-incentive program was put in place for students sitting below 60%, whereby students had to attend 4/5 days in order to receive a different reward each Friday. This program proved to be highly effective where we saw an almost immediate increase in attendance which was sustained throughout the year. Engagement initiatives such as milo club continued to run daily, alongside whole-classroom and individualised attendance schemes. Every 5 weeks, attendance data was analysed and compared against previous and whole-year percentage averages so that the AET could focus its’ attention on “at-risk” students whilst celebrating the growth in attendance of students who had shown consistent increase. This feedback was appropriately shared with students, staff and families and adaptations to support was changed accordingly. Our AIEOs led daily attendance checks, followed up with phone calls to parents and communicated relevant information to teachers. The AET ensured that teachers, caregivers and the student themselves, were all consulted regarding attendance, with the intention of keeping lines of communication open and having a “whatever it takes” attitude to making sure students attend school daily and felt supported to do so.
About the Aboriginal Engsgement Team:
The Aboriginal Engagement Team is made up of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous staff members, all of whom possess the same passion, goals and commitment to the Indigenous education agendas at Challis. The AET prides itself on its capacity to model respectful, harmonious relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal People, and in doing so, contributes to the spirit of reconciliation at Challis.
As always, the AET’s aim is to close the educational gap that exists, and in doing so, this year our AIEO’s were given greater time to support Aboriginal students inside of the classroom. This meant that Aboriginal students (and all students) were able to receive immediate support with their learning. This naturally promoted a heightened sense of self esteem, success and confidence in our First Nations students, which by extension proved to be beneficial to attendance rates and feelings of connection and belonging.
At the end of term one, we farewelled three AIEOs and welcomed two new AIEOs.
NEW NOONGAR FACTION NAMES:
At the end of 2021, we had our Aboriginal families nominate suggestions for the renaming of our sports factions. An “elements’ theme emerged as the most popular and we were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to consult with Elder, Irene Macnamara in regards to the appropriate Noongar naming of “water” (kep), “air” (maar), “land”(boodja) and “fire” (kaarla). Following this, we issued a series of voting polls for both our students and school community to express their preference regarding the allocation of colours. Challis then collaborated with Cecil Andrew’s Follow the Dream Students, who designed visually aesthetic and culturally relevant artwork for each faction. This artwork and the official naming of factions was unveiled
Another focus for 2022 has been ensuring that we celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Culture year-round. At the end of 2021, a “First Nations Days of Significance” calendar was created and handed out to every teacher in the school to display in their classroom. Using this calendar, the AET identified the days of significance that we wanted to recognise/celebrate at Challis in 2022. We successfully engaged with Harmony Day, Sorry Day, Reconciliation Week, NAIDOC Week, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Children’s Day and Indigenous Literacy Day. Celebrating these days included sourcing and providing teachers with educational material to improve their personal knowledge, and developing appropriate resources to facilitate learning in the classroom with students. Of significance, Indigenous Literacy Day was celebrated for the first time this year at Challis, and involved a week’s worth of daily celebrations. To support teachers, the AET developed a junior and senior book series, containing the videos of select Challis leaders reading a First Nations themed book. 5 age-appropriate stories were included in each series, and teachers played one video per day in their classroom. The videos were then embedded into a PowerPoint for teachers and included relevant information about the authors of each book and their language group as indicated on the AIATSIS map.
The purpose behind doing so, was driven by a desire to positively impact and inspire our First Nations students (and our Non-Indigenous students), by seeing teachers that they look up to, interacting with the Aboriginal Culture. As a predominantly Non-Indigenous teacher workforce, our engagement with the culture is reflective of/communicates the value and interest that we place on learning about First Nations People, Culture and Histories which by extension, aims to nurture feelings of connection and belonging for our Indigenous students.
NAIDOC Every year, NAIDOC is a massive event within our school community which has a long-awaited lead up. Celebrating NAIDOC offers us the opportunity to engage both our Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal Students, in a conversation regarding Aboriginal People, History, Culture and Perspectives. In doing so, our students are able to continue their cultural learning journey, whilst our First Nations students are offered a platform to shine and share their culture with their peers. In order for NAIDOC to have the biggest impact, a heavy focus is placed on ensuring that the attitudes, beliefs, learning and focus that is placed on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Culture, during NAIDOC Week, is not just a once-off emphasis. Instead, at Challis we embody a year-round relentless drive to ensure our students are continually learning about these themes in an authentic, rich manner.
NAIDOC OPENING ASSEMBLY
Our NAIDOC Assembly was incredibly powerful and moving. We were joined by community Elders, the HON Matt Keogh and representatives from Curtin University, Tronox and Footprints, as well as Principals and AIEOS of surrounding Schools. Most importantly, we had a great turnout of families who showed their support. The assembly was hosted and led by a group of our Aboriginal students who did an outstanding job representing their culture and enlightening the school on the history of NAIDOC and the 2022 theme, including their personal interpretations of what “Get Up, Stand Up and Show Up” means to six of our senior students. The event was kickstarted with a Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony conducted by James Kearing, followed by an Alternative National Anthem sung by the whole-school. This anthem was one that is inclusive of all people and recognises Indigenous Australians as Australia’s First Nations. To hear this sentiment echoed from little Pre-Primary students, right through to our most experienced teachers, was inspiring. Led by the deadly Aunty Sarah Kearing, our Challis Girls Dance Troupe, “Kwobidak Djookan”, put on a spectacular performance which included 6 cultural dances that told different stories. This assembly was an important opportunity to nurture the pride and sense of self-esteem our First Nations students feel, as well as spotlight their continuous strength, talent and excellence.
ENGAGEMENT WITH 2022 THEME “Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up!”
The 2022 NAIDOC theme invites the coming together of all Australians to create positive change, that of which contributes to a reconciled, inclusive, and equitable Australia. “Get Up”- In order for students to be aware of and contribute to wider change, a strong sense of cultural awareness and knowledge is required in order to sensitively and respectfully navigate Indigenous issues and affairs. To equip students with the learning experiences and skills necessary to make gains in their personal understanding of Aboriginal Culture, the schools tapped into the wisdom and inherent knowledge of their AIEO’s, community Elders and First Nations families/community member when planning the following activities. At Challis, a Sensory Exhibition was created for students to tour through during NAIDOC Week. Set up in our Kaarditjiny Dandjoo Centre, students had the opportunity to tour through various rooms, all of which are connected to a particular sensory experience. Three spaces were created; a room full of artefacts (touch, sight and smell), a viewing room (sound & sight) and a food-testing area (taste). Classes from K to 6 transitioned through our Kaarditjiny Dandjoo Centre and rotated through the three cultural spaces, allowing hands-on, interactive and engaging learning experiences to take place through immersing students in rich exposures to culture. The room assigned to touch (lead by one of our AIEO’s) featured a range of cultural artefacts such as kangaroo skin, emu feathers, didgeridoos, boomerangs and tapping sticks, and also includes a scent-station for students to smell a range of native scents such as lemon myrtle, sugar gum, river mint, wattleseed and aniseed myrtle. The viewing room was set up in a dark space with a projector displaying a compilation of local Dreaming Stories. The final station included an outdoor space, where a range of foods were served to students by our AIEO’s and community members (cooked by the generous Aunty Grace Comeagain). This included the tasting of kangaroo stew, lemon myrtle cake, choc river mint cake, emu kebabs and damper. An additional way our students were given exposure to culture, was through a very exciting visit from Gina Williams and Guy Ghouse.
“Stand Up” This year’s theme was a great opportunity for us to reflect upon the many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People who have made incredible contributions to our Country and to their People and Culture, both in the past and as of current. To engage with this element of the NAIDOC theme, Challis created a “Get Up, Stand Up, Show Up” gallery that featured the profiles of six influential First Nations Activists (Adam Goodes, Cathy Freeman, Patty Mills, Gurrumul, Archie Roach and William Cooper). Similar to a museum, students ventured through our re-designed school library and read about the inspirational stories of these icons. The purpose behind this concept was to present our non-Indigenous students with empowering depictions of First Nations Peoples, whilst hoping to inspire our Indigenous students and encourage their aspirational thinking. Each year level was assigned an icon to study in the lead up to NAIDOC, with one specific question being given to each classroom to respond to. The final product included a large pin-up board display per icon, created by the year level responsible. This gallery was open to our Aboriginal families on the final Friday of NAIDOC, where select students presented a short spiel on each of the icons, based upon the learning that has taken place over the week.
“Show Up" More than ever, this theme was a call to action for both non-Indigenous and Indigenous Australians, to work together to create mutually respectful relations, long-lasting change and reconciliation; all of which are central to the ethos at Challis. To achieve this, we launched an “Ally programme” which included the explicit teaching of term “allyship” and what characteristics are embodied by an “ally”. This is a programme that will continue on, into 2023, ensuring that it’s influence exists beyond NAIDOC, adding to the authenticity of the approach. The program will include key principles.
1. Allies allow Indigenous people to speak for themselves, allies promote the Aboriginal voice and stand behind them, as they lead the way. We will support their efforts, and only add our voice when asked to do so. 2. Allies make sure everyone feels safe and included. 3. An ally is someone who doesn’t just do it now and then, they can always be relied upon. 4. Allies make an effort to always expand their personal knowledge about Aboriginal Culture. 5. Allies create inclusive environments that make everyone feel welcome
We finished the week with a Closing Assembly, which featured Challis’ first boys dance group, “Kaarakin Ngooni”, who were led by Uncle Adrian Tanner. Additionally, Challis music students put on a musical showcase, performing an array of cultural pieces. Students, staff and community members had the opportunity to reflect on the enormous week that had been.
© 2019 Challis Community Primary School