Module 2. Whanaungatanga: Establishing connection (Weeks 1-2)
The first few weeks (as Meegan Hall notes in one of the videos below) is all about whanaungatanga. It's about starting to establish connections with students, facilitating their connections with each other, and reassuring them that they belong here and that, while University is challenging, we’re going to help them figure it all out. This can be especially important when there are disruptions to on-campus delivery.
2.1 Student understanding in the first few weeks
Perhaps the most useful advice in thinking about the first few lectures that emerged from the transition workshops in FHSS and FoE, is to take some academic content or detailed explanations about how the course works out of the first 1-2 lectures. Instead replace it with, or rework it into, activities designed to allay student anxiety and build a learning environment that they are genuinely going to feel comfortable in. To find out why, watch the “Considering Student Focus” video below which discusses a workshop exercise that repeatedly emphasised just how useful this might be.
2.2 Ideas for Easing Transition
In the first few weeks, time spent on cultivating a sense of belonging for all students is likely to have a positive impact for the rest of the course on class attendance, academic engagement, and student well-being. This Easing Transition in the First Few Weeks document is a collation of ideas to help facilitate this, many of which can be used in synchronous dual delivery (and may help connect offsite students to the class). The ideas are drawn primarily from staff discussions and experience, and almost all of them have been used in courses in FHSS and FoE. It's important to remember that transition lasts longer than the first few weeks, and most of these ideas can be used (or adapted for use) in classes throughout the course.
2.3 Inclusive Teaching From the Start
There are things you can do in the first few weeks that establish an inclusive learning environment. This video contains advice from staff who have been involved in at supporting student diversity at Te Herenga Waka.
2.4 Sondra Bacharach on Modelling How Learning Works
In this video, Associate Professor Sondra Bacharach discusses techniques she uses in first-year Philosophy courses to help students understand the diverse ways we learn. These include:
- emphasising the importance of mistakes
- highlighting the different paths staff and students take to success
- building a culture of collective learning
- modelling learning by incorporating class responses into teaching materials in real time
2.5 Further resources
The following University resource hubs may be helpful in ensuring your teaching is inclusive:
- Pasifika Learning and Teaching
- Teaching students with disabilities
- Resources for or teaching Māori students or Māori content
- International students
- Digital Learning Hub: Accessibility and Inclusivity