We are almost there – the end of the school year is in sight, hurtling towards us at an odd pace that is both too fast and can’t come soon enough. For many, this term has been a short one with schools coming together after long lockdown breaks and for many this has been a disrupted term as schools adjusted to a new covid normal. The workload hasn’t gotten smaller, just the time to complete it. Both kids and teachers have shown amazing resilience as they pivot in an ever-changing environment with expectations of them changing at an unprecedented rate.
We have all definitely earned some fun this year; some time to rest, recharge and fill our cups as well as the cups of those we love. A few of my friends have admitted to putting up their Christmas trees in mid-November, an early start to festivities and a symbol of putting 2021 behind us. But for me the true sign the year is almost over is when the Christmas craft starts coming home with the kids. I love seeing what they have made and how proud they are to add their newly-made treasures to the tree. It feels like every time I look at the tree, someone has moved their carefully crafted beauty front and centre, a silent tussle for the prime position, where his work cannot be missed.
This year the Wingaru team have worked with two amazing Aboriginal artists – Dunghutti artist Aunty Cynthia Younie, and Marlee Webb, an emerging Darug artist – to bring you some new Christmas crafts for you to share with your class. This year we are excited to add gorgeous gift boxes and tree decorations to our growing collection of Christmas resources. If you are looking for something to put into the gift boxes, check out last year’s wattleseed shortbread recipe – who wouldn’t love to receive a gorgeous box of tiny treats!
I have shared a couple of activities below and Wingaru Kids subscribers will find more Christmas crafts in the ‘Teacher Resources’ section of the dashboard.
I hope you get the chance to stop and look around in these last busy weeks. To enjoy the laughter and chatter of the kids in your class and find a moment to join them as they colour, cut and create, eager to get their stories out and to hear the stories of those around them.
I’d love to see your class’s creations so please share them!
Our free Aboriginal craft activities for Christmas - Download from link below
I can’t believe how fast this year has gone! I feel like I blinked and now we are getting ready to roll out the Christmas activities! As well as classrooms full of Christmas crafts (we have some deadly ones coming so keep an eye out!) the end of term 4 is a time that many families like to give their classroom teacher a small gift.
Teachers don’t expect gifts but a small token of appreciation can brighten someone’s day. As parents, it is something we do each year to say thank you for all the hard work in supporting us throughout the school year and my boys love choosing the gifts for their teachers.
This year so many small businesses have been impacted by Covid-related restrictions that we are trying to shop small where possible. Giving back to the community we are part of is important to us and supporting small business is such an easy way to give back. Supporting Aboriginal businesses is something we do all year round and there are so many deadly offerings that are perfect for teacher gifts.
If you are buying teacher gifts this year, I encourage you to check out the many gorgeous gifts that First Nations business are offering. Here are a five of my favourite things for gifting this year:
Last week I sat down for a yarn with the host of WinewithTeacher podcast, Ceri. It was a follow-up to the article about Wingaru and our philosophy that was included in issue 10 of Wine with Teacher magazine which focuses on elevating Aboriginal voices in the education space.
Ceri is one of those people that is always so amazing to have a yarn with. She is so enthusiastic, knowledgeable and open to hearing what other people have to say that you instantly feel at ease and the conversation just flows. It was such a great experience and as I reflect on the being part of the Wine with Teacher community, I realise that the experience wasn’t great just because I think Ceri is deadly. It was great because Ceri is an amazing ally and advocate for Aboriginal education. She has worked with mob to create genuine space for Aboriginal voices in the education space and openly given her platforms to amplify our voices and support us in our work to advocate for strong Aboriginal education approaches that are First-Nations led. The Wine with Teacher community is full of amazing teachers who are actively supporting other teachers, sharing knowledge and open to learning.
Great allies, like Ceri and so many of the amazing teachers I get to work with each day, are so important as we embrace initiatives that strengthen Aboriginal education in this country. Often when I speak with teachers, they are unsure of where they fit in Aboriginal education. They ask about the role they should take and how they can be an ally and make an impact in an authentic and culturally appropriate way. The fact they ask the question is in itself a strong start – genuine listening and consultation with First Nations communities is an important part of being a strong ally.
I have thought a lot about the strong allies that I have been getting to know in the teaching world and they all have a few things in common.
Being an advocate and ally looks different for everyone but embracing these 3 attributes or behaviours will ensure you are supporting change and having positive impact.
I can’t believe we’re in Week 10 of Term 3 already and at the end of our Heal Country Challenge. I’ll be honest in saying that this term certainly didn’t pan out the way I had planned it when I put my Challenge Planner together over the holiday break back in July.
I was so excited to get back into the classroom with my students and create the learning experiences I had planned for my students each week with so many of my favourite resources, but COVID had other plans and we were thrust into remote learning. The Challenge Planner was out the window and it was back to square one of planning and organising how the Challenge would look. At the start it would have been easy to just press the pause button on the Challenge and do it later in the year, but one thing I have learnt over my many years in the classroom is that teaching is all about being flexible and adaptable. Honestly, some of the best learning has come out of those ‘unplanned’ and ‘unscripted’ moments where I deviated from the original plan I had in place.
Taking part in the Heal Country Challenge remotely has been made so much easier thanks to our Wingaru Kids subscription. It has allowed us to continue to set learning tasks and activities aligned to our weekly themes as we had originally planned and for those students without digital access, we have been able to provide them with the printed resources from Wingaru so they can take part in their paper booklet. I have been able to follow these up with my class through our weekly zoom sessions. Our zoom sessions have involved discussion about some of the lessons, and providing students with some of the original learning experiences we had planned like shared reading sessions with quality texts from First Nations authors.
One thing that has come out of this remote learning experience has been the opportunity to broaden my bank of digital resources for embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in the classroom. I’ve come across so many new links and digital learning tools thanks to the generous community we have in our Challenge Team and other First Nations educators online who have been sharing their favourite resources with us. For me, this has been another valuable learning experience again. It has provided me with the opportunity to grow in my knowledge, skills and understanding when it comes to embedding First Nations content, culture and perspectives into the classroom learning environment because regardless of our learning context Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives should always be a priority for us as educators.
I hope that this Heal Country Challenge has been a positive experience for you also. Thank you for taking part in the Challenge with us and for continuing on this journey to authentically engage all our students in learning about how we can all be part of the movement to Heal Country together.
Stay safe and keep embedding
I am sure I am not the only parent to mutter obscenities about remote learning this week. It is life and we need to get on with it, but there is no point in mincing words. IT SUCKS!!!!
It sucks for everyone – parents, teachers and most importantly kids. My jarjums are doing so well adjusting to this temporary style of learning but I can tell they miss their friends and the social aspects of school. I am just not as cool as their friends! We are trying to focus on the positives – like how Mr 6 has been able to focus on improving his handwriting and Mr 9 is increasing his ICT skills.
For me one of the positives has been the number of parents who have contacted to share how much both them and their child are enjoying using Wingaru Kids. Parents who are enjoying learning with their children because they have not had access to Aboriginal education before; parents who appreciate the change of pace that Wingaru Kids brings to home learning; parents who are happy that their child is able to access meaningful learning experiences in this trying time; and parents who love that their learner is so engaged.
For many, this is the first time they have seen Wingaru Kids in action and I love that people are reaching out. I don’t often get to hear what parents of school kids think about our resources so it has been lovely to receive the positive feedback about the hard work our team has put in to create the platform.
We don’t know how long remote learning will go for but I hope it is quick. Not only because my family are keen to get back to school but because often remote learning means that learning focuses on a narrow part of education and kids miss out on some of the meaningful experiences that are offered in a classroom. Aboriginal education is one of the areas that becomes less of a priority and while I understand why, it doesn’t have to be this way.
Wingaru Kids provides lessons that meet curriculum outcomes from all key learning areas and supports remote learning in a number of ways:
Individual accounts for every student that can be logged in from any device with a browser.
Complete lessons that simplify assigning work for teachers as well as making navigating work for students and parents.
Engaging lessons that provide a welcome change of pace for learners and parents
Real time mark-book means teachers can see student progress quickly and easily.
Activities to support literacy skills
A range of worksheets and resources that can be printed and included in resource packs being sent home or emailed to students
Self-guided - Informative videos contain all the information kids need to complete the activities.
If you are participating in the Heal Country Challenge, check out our sample plans to guide you on the lessons that will support you to complete the Challenge despite the disruption of remote learning.
Get in contact if we can help your school include Aboriginal education in your home learning plan. Our team can get you set up in just a few hours so that you are ready for your students to explore.
Happy NAIDOC week!
Lockdown in Sydney is certainly not the NAIDOC week I had planned but I am loving the celebrations of community and culture that I am seeing online and in the media. I hope you are getting to participate in some great events!
Speaking of great events have you seen our “Heal Country” Challenge yet? If not, you can read more about it here. The Challenge has gotten off to an amazing start and I am really excited about not only the number of teachers who have signed up for the Challenge but also the genuine commitment to learn and get comfortable with Aboriginal perspectives as an everyday part of education.
Our Challenge Team, and the amazing community of teachers who have signed, up are sharing some great ideas and approaches so make sure you are following along to get some great ideas for your planner. As promised, we have some sample planners that I have shared below. Our planners show how easy Aboriginal perspectives is using Wingaru Kids – we have so many options that support you with Aboriginal perspectives all year round.
The Challenge Team will be sharing their planners soon so keep an eye out for them.
If you are worried about stepping outside your comfort zone for the Challenge, don’t be! The Challenge team are here to support you. I have received lots of emails from teachers who are keen to participate but not sure where to start or if the Challenge is suitable for them.
The Challenge is suitable for every teacher – it is so flexible that you can participate if you have a fulltime class, are a casual teacher or if you are a specialist teacher. The idea is that you consider the focus areas and how you can incorporate them into your lessons. There is lots of room for creativity and thinking outside the box. If you are unsure, reach out – we really are very happy to help.
I have received lots of questions about resources – you can use any resources you like for the Challenge. There are lots of Aboriginal-led resources out there and many will be shared over the coming weeks. I encourage you to only use Aboriginal-led resources and here is why:
I would love to hear your plans for term 3, so share your planner, follow along with the Challenge and together we can make a shift towards a shared understanding of Aboriginal people, our communities and our culture.
ES1 Sample Planner - Download from link below
Stage 1 Sample Planner - Download from link below
Stage 2 Sample Planner - Download from link below
Stage 3 Sample Planner - Download from link below
NAIDOC is just around the corner and for many Aboriginal people, myself included, it’s a favourite time of year. It’s a time when Aboriginal culture takes a front seat, when we get to see our culture and our people front and centre. Australia gets to see us shine as we come together to celebrate our rich culture and communities. The coming together is the best part for me – I get to see mob and connect in a way which seems more and more challenging in the busy world we live in. Many NAIDOC events are community events where everyone is invited and I really encourage you to check out these events – go along, meet members of your local Aboriginal community and learn about the initiatives that are happening in your local area.
NAIDOC is also a time of year that sees many schools embrace Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander content. They celebrate our communities and get the whole school engaged in Aboriginal education. For many schools, NAIDOC Week is just one of numerous times Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander content is included throughout the year but for others, this is the only time they include First Nations content. There are many reasons why a school may only include this content during NAIDOC Week, and I understand the challenges teachers face with an already overcrowded curriculum, but the reality is that Aboriginal education is something that should be included all year round and schools need to be working towards this.
This year’s NAIDOC theme, “Heal Country!”, provides the perfect opportunity to explore ways to include more Aboriginal perspectives and ways you can embed this vital content throughout your program.
Wingaru Kids includes over 43 lessons that align with this year’s theme. Our approach encourages teachers to firstly explore the concept of Country from an Aboriginal perspective and then use this understanding to consider ways that we can all contribute to healing Country. We have created a new lesson that shares an Aboriginal understanding of Country and explains why Country needs healing before considering 6 broad focuses from which healing could be approached. These focuses are:
Check out the NAIDOC category on the Wingaru Kids Platform for the lessons we have collected that explore healing Country.
Last year we teamed up with the amazing Mr J for a Challenge that highlighted how accessible Aboriginal content can be. Mr J shared his journey over the term as he explored ways to appropriately bring First Nations content into his classroom each week. If you aren't already, I suggest you follow Mr J's work on Insta and Facebook.
This NAIDOC we have another Challenge for you – the Heal Country Challenge.
For the Heal Country Challenge we are encouraging you to include one activity from each of the six healing focuses (mentioned above) in your classroom during term 3 and we have some spectacular support to help you.
Each week an amazing group of Aboriginal educators and allies will share their classroom activities, ideas and approaches to support teachers to identify and implement Aboriginal perspectives which support healing Country. They are each so generous with their knowledge and stories that I am busting with excitement to see what they share throughout the Challenge. Make sure you follow each of these amazing educators so you don’t miss any of the amazing knowledge they will be sharing.
@teachingwithtanna - Tanna is a passionate Byellee & Kanaka (South Sea Islander) woman, and graduate secondary teacher who teaches at a small government school on Wurundjeri Country in Naarm. Her passion for Aboriginal education is infectious and I am thrilled that she is going to be sharing her approaches for the secondary space. I walk away from every conversation with Tanna feeling so positive and inspired and I am so pleased she chose to bring her strength, energy and commitment to teaching.
@learning_to_ngangaanha – Jordyn is a Wiradjuri, Ngemba and Paakantji woman and primary teacher. She has over 6 years of teaching experience in both the New South Wales and Western Australian public education systems, and currently works as a classroom teacher on Bundjalung Country with the additional role of being the Aboriginal Education Coordinator for her school. Jordyn shares her passion for Aboriginal Education on her amazing Instagram account where she shares resources and advice to support teachers in genuinely embedding First Nations cultures, histories and perspectives in all learning areas of the curriculum.
@missgibbsau – Miss Gibbs describes herself as a Koorie Mum, teacher and blogger. You have probably seen her amazing blog where she shares her love of Aboriginal education including resources, thought leadership pieces and ideas to support teachers deliver Aboriginal perspectives. Like all of the educators sharing approaches in the Challenge, Miss Gibbs is super generous with her knowledge and her grounded approach really resonates. Her blog really is a must read so if you haven’t visited it yet I encourage you to head over and make sure you are following her throughout the Challenge because she has lots of ideas, resource recommendations and inspiration to share.
@mr.j.learning.space – if you have been following Wingaru for a while you probably know what an amazing ally Mr J is and how much I love working with him. Mr J is super inclusive with both his classroom content and his approach to school leadership and generously shares so much via his insta and facebook accounts. During last year’s Challenge so many teachers shared how helpful they found Mr J sharing his learnings so make sure you are following him to see his ideas for this Challenge.
@rainbowskycreations – The other allies joining us for the Challenge are Alisha and Ashleigh, or as you probably know them, Rainbow Sky Creations. Ash and Alisha are passionate about education and I love the support they offer to teachers as well as their openness in sharing their own learning journeys. I can’t do a better job at introducing them than they themselves can: ‘Together we love creating engaging, curriculum-aligned resources to inspire your primary classroom. Our aim is to help Aussie teachers save time while delivering lessons that make learning magic for their students! We believe in high-quality teaching and learning (for teachers and students) that is sometimes out of the box, we embrace creative solutions, we care for teachers and their wellbeing and are advocates for inclusivity in the classroom and beyond.’ You can check out their work at their insta and on their website.
We have some new planners to help you develop a term plan and some free posters and worksheets to use with your class to identify ways they can contribute to Healing. Download them below. We would love to see your planners and your class commitments to healing, so don’t be shy - share them with the #HealCountryChallenge.
Sign up to the Challenge here to receive hints, tips and information direct to your inbox to support you through the Challenge.
Literally translated as ‘land belonging to no-one’, Australia was a rich gem quickly appropriated by European explorers, the Great Southern Land in the pocket of the empire at last.
Cook’s declaration of ‘terra nullius’, as he stepped ashore on to Gadigal land in 1770, was a lie so steeped in injustice and corruption that it still weeps like a festering sore today. A bastardised catch-all employed with the pomp and vitriol of colonial endeavour, his words were a convenience, removing questions of authority, of ownership, of power.
The explorer’s own diaries – rich in cursive and undeniable evidence of the Indigenous communities to whom this land has always been home – disprove his assertion yet Cook strolled confidently into a future in the knowledge that the cloak of colonisation would hang stanch from this Latin declaration.
These archaic words deftly removed questions of authority, of ownership, of power. Terra nullius removed black Australia at a stroke… replacing it with emptiness.
‘Emptiness’ became the dark interior, untamed land so barren it spawned its own movement – the Australian Gothic. Emptiness represented the void beyond the black stump – the never never – a wild land to be feared. So removed from England’s green and pleasant lands and bucolic inertia, ‘out back’ was stigmatised, tens of thousands of years of culture, civilisation, stories, politics and lore denied, rights extinguished. Emptiness became erasure.
Terra nullius was an excuse to exert European ‘white’ control and unfurl a poisoned blanket of systemic racial dispossession, injustice and enduring prejudice. It described an ‘empty’ space, in which nothing exists; in which Aboriginal Australia was not recognised.
This doctrine has existed in the law of nations throughout the development of Western democracy and is derived from Roman law. It spruiks the concept that ownership by seizure of a thing no one owns is legitimate if the use of the land is not consistent with European ideals. The language here is telling: ‘seizure’ is described as ‘the action of capturing someone or something using force’; ‘legitimate’, too, suggests an illegitimacy inherent in the concept.
Stan Grant writes that terra nullius is “about the denial of humanity, the brutality of that, and the unceasing, unending, irrepressible demand to be heard. [It is] what stops white Australia seeing – truly seeing – black Australia… [We are a nation] founded on an idea that the First Peoples of this continent were invisible”.
He talks, too, of terra nullius memories:
“I have terra nullius memories: poverty and restlessness; being taunted as a black c…t at football training; trying to scrub the colour off my skin; reciting the names of white explorers in class; shrinking at the mention of the poor Aborigines; the schoolyard pledge of allegiance to Queen, God and flag… segregated missions; half-a-day's pay for a full-day's work; turned away from swimming pools and pubs; ‘honorary white’ exemption certificates; welfare homes and signs that read ‘think white, act white, be white’.”
Yet the most powerful argument against the fiction of terra nullius is black Australia. It lives, breathes and replicates its truth in the enduring strength and resilience of Australia’s First People – because we are still here despite countless attempts to erase us. We are the oldest continuous culture on earth, and our connection to Country – this great Southern Land – is a truth that cannot be denied.
Today, on the 75th anniversary of the momentous Mabo case which altered the foundation of Australian land law, native title exists as recognition of First Nations’ enduring connection to this land.
Led by Eddie Kioiki Mabo, the case fought the legal concept that Australia and the Torres Strait Islands were not owned by Indigenous peoples because they did not ‘use’ the land in ways Europeans believed constituted legal possession.
The High Court decided "that the common law of this country recognises a form of native title which, in the cases where it has not been extinguished, reflects the entitlement of the indigenous inhabitants". The court rejected the notion that such a finding undermined the foundations of sovereignty, since, as Justice Brennan put it, the "Crown's acquisition of sovereignty… cannot be challenged in an Australian municipal court". And further, on acquisition of that sovereignty, "the Crown acquired a radical title to the land".
Still, First Nations People are still trapped in the “throes of contestation and opposition” , the need to always defend their histories and identities. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People have to prove themselves and show that their rights have not been “washed away on the tides of history”.
The terra nullius lie is pervasive. It will only be truly denounced by recognition of and reconciliation with this country’s First People and moving beyond the empty words of a broken colonial history. 
Always was, always will be.
 Anthropologist Elizabeth Povinelli, as above.
 Stan Grant, 'Terra nullius is a lie': the brutal denial of First Peoples' humanity, Sydney Morning Herald, 2019
With Sorry Day coming up, this time of year is a time when we see people starting to reflect on the past treatment of Aboriginal people and the impact of removal policies that created the Stolen Generations. People come together to offer acknowledgement and support to Aboriginal communities who live with the ongoing trauma of the past.
With it comes a barrage of ignorant opinions about how we just need to get over it. The failure to recognise why we say sorry is not a new thing. Nor is it novel that people fail to see the healing that comes with acknowledgement and fail to look beyond the mainstream narrative about Aboriginal people to see the intergenerational trauma we are dealing with. Each year this becomes more frustrating.
There is an increasing number of Aboriginal people sharing their stories, shining a light on truth and working to close the knowledge gap so that people can start to understand why sorry is so important.
I have shared before about my Aunt who suffered dementia and relived the removal of her children over and over and over again. I will never forget the first time I watched her go through that experience. I felt nausea and a knot in my stomach at the realisation of what was happening and that she could not escape it. Not that day, not ever.
As she made me hide in the cupboard to protect me from being taken, I knew that I was safe, that there was no risk to me.
As she told me to hide under the bed, I was focussed on soothing her, not worried about what might happen to me next.
As she told me she loved me like she would never get to tell me again, I knew that it would not be the last time.
But for her, in those moments, there was not that relief. Her fears were real. She was reliving the worst days of her life, the trauma fresh and never ending.
For her children, watching her relive this experience was undoubtedly painful as they not only felt their mother’s trauma but also their own. There was no reassurance for them when they were taken. They did not know what would happen to them. They did not know when, or if, they would see their mother again. They could not still their fears with the knowledge that it would be ok because they didn’t know that it would be. None of the stolen generations could. And it wasn’t ok.
As we are left with the job of healing, trying to connect all that was lost, we aren’t asking you to take personal responsibility for the past, we are asking you to show empathy and understanding as you acknowledge our story and the journey we are forced to travel.
Survivors of the Stolen Generations and their families navigate the impact of those past policies daily. It may not be reliving the day as my aunt was forced to do but the trauma is evident and the healing far from done. As people struggle with the loss of connection, loss of culture and loss of identity that occurred because they or someone in their family was stolen, we need Australia to see that the acknowledgement of the trauma, suffering and loss that comes with Sorry is an important part of that healing.
This year as you reflect on Sorry Day and you see the inevitable increase in racism, encourage people to get educated, raise awareness about the true history of Australia and the work Aboriginal people are doing to heal.
We believe that there is still so much more room for improvement for the technology sector to enhance its understanding and engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, as consumers, influencers and allies of their respective products and services.
Interestingly, many people may read the opening point above who are critical or “sitting on the fence” in this space will say “Why do I need to enhance my understanding of Indigenous people?” The answer is actually quite simple: because most of you work in organisations and entities that have a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) and/or are influenced by the Indigenous Procurement Policy (IPP). And the result is that this benefits your business and all of the people within it, whether it is through revenue and profits or impact marketing. The history of the original people of this country is actually 60,000+ years old, so while we think it is important to teach ourselves and our kids the history of this country, it needs to be done properly. This means the actual history and not selective pieces of it.
With the ever-growing emergence of various types of technology that are increasingly impacting our lives, we are seeing a shift in the jobs of the future to be more centred around growing and servicing the evolution of technology. Combine this with:
There is a perception that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have little experience in the tech space and subsequently this is translated into the way that people are employed in this space. A perfect example is of a story of a young Sydney-based Aboriginal man. This young man is a software developer and has experience working on the tools for several years, as well as being a leader in his team at the large company that he works for. Another global tech company (a household name) approached this young Aboriginal man a few years ago to see if he might be interested in a career opportunity. This young man was elated and jumped at the opportunity. As the conversations between the man and the company proceeded it very quickly became evident that they were wanting to engage him in a sales-based role and not in a more technical capacity. Growing his career in the technical side of things is where he wanted to go. As you can predict, this opportunity did not come to fruition as it was more of an opportunity for the tech corporate giant, than for the young Aboriginal man. This is just one of many stories which exemplifies what is taking place in the tech industry (among other industries) and their engagement with Indigenous people and the Indigenous business sector.
Now, to be clear, there are individuals/champions across the tech sector and working within large corporations and the government that do care about making an impact in the Indigenous space, however, they are repeatedly brought back into the corporate machine that governs their systems, processes and presence in the market. I absolutely get it, I am the cofounder of Ngakkan Nyaagu (NGNY), a tech business, and I am driven by improving the systems and processes that my team uses in order to make their lives easier so that they don’t have to carry as much “weight”. These tools and ways of working make their working days easier and more efficient. But more needs to be done to support these individuals in exploring, experimenting and nurturing opportunities to engage, work with and hire Indigenous people.
Another example is the engagement of my business (NGNY) to bid for tech software and web development project opportunities. We always welcome these opportunities and certainly are not pushing these away. However, we will be invited to bid for a project, then spend time responding to the bid and answering the requirements and then be told that we don’t have enough experience. So, why were we invited to bid in the first place? Oh, that’s right. A lot of the organisations that approach us are in some way governed and influenced by the IPP and are rewarded for demonstrating that they have engaged an Indigenous business in their tender or project response process. To then “rub salt into the wound”, we often see the outputs and results of these projects at their conclusion and are able to define that what was delivered is exactly within our capabilities. Let me be clear here, 99% of the time we lose projects to non-Indigenous entities with the same or similar capabilities and often they are incumbent partners. Again, I get it, there is security and efficiency in going with an organisation that you are already comfortable with, but this is a complete waste of our time and also counterproductive to the existence of the IPP and RAPs.
To further extend on this, we employ a set of processes and systems in NGNY which receive comments from organisations (big and small) engaged with us along the lines of how “amazing” and “easy” our processes and systems are to work with, and that they have “never worked with an organisation like ours that is as organised and transparent in the way we get work done”. My point is that, once given the opportunity, that we have been able to deliver in line and above the expectations of most of our clients and most other Indigenous organisations are the same.
Ultimately, there is a reservation and a deficit mindset when it comes to engaging Indigenous people and businesses for new opportunities and this perception of deficit needs addressing. These are a few ways to address the deficit mindset:
Making a shift in deficit thinking when it comes to Indigenous people in the tech sector is improving, as is evidenced by the growing number of Indigenous people in the sector. However, obvious deficit thinking and related behaviours still exist across the tech sector in Australia and these are still inhibiting the growth of Indigenous people in this space and the first way that we will start to overcome this is by calling it out and taking the appropriate action (yes, “action”, not just words), to reduce deficit thinking and deficit ways of doing.
I know I say this every year – but I love this year’s NAIDOC theme!
This year’s theme – Heal Country! – provides an opportunity for all of us to seek a greater understanding of Country and how we can all better embrace and recognise First Nations’ cultural knowledge and understanding of Country and how we can better contribute to the healing that is so very much needed.
For many, this year’s theme will be the first time they consider Country as more than a place and begin to understand that it is inherent to our identity. Country sustains our lives in every aspect - spiritually, physically, emotionally, socially and culturally. We are elements of Country – part of a larger system that is built on interconnected relationships that promote sustainability for all of its elements.
Aboriginal people have for generations been calling for stronger measures to recognise, protect, and maintain all aspects of our culture and heritage. There are many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are working tirelessly to contribute the knowledge that is crucial to drive education about why this is so important and how we might go about it and I think the reason I am so excited about this year’s theme is because it provides a focus on that important role and the potential that education has when it comes to healing.
I very strongly believe that education is key to the healing that needs to happen and the sooner this education journey starts for all Australians the better. Sharing knowledge and information that develops the wider understanding of our communities and cultures is, in my opinion, the only way we can really start the type of healing our mobs need. That Australia needs. That Country needs.
Reading about the theme on the NAIDOC website, it really resonated with me and the reasons why I started Wingaru. I can see the impact that education has in the schools we work with - the confidence of teachers as they gain understanding of their role in healing and develop confidence in better ways of working; the confidence of kids as they thrive in culturally competent environments as schools tweak approaches that make the environment so much more accessible for Aboriginal kids; the understanding that is creeping, ever so slowly into mainstream Australia as people ask questions and take the time to become informed.
One thought particularly stuck with me:
‘We cannot afford to let pass the very real opportunity that now presents itself for reform based on a fundamental change in the relationship Australia has with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.’
Education is such an important part of this reform and without it change is difficult. But we need to make sure that education is strong and this means considering education at all stages of life from early childhood through to adulthood. We need education to be Aboriginal led, culturally safe and accessible for all.
I have been thinking a lot about healing Country and how Wingaru can contribute. It’s a big task but if we all do our bit, it does get easier. The daily frustration of teachers who are looking for support with Aboriginal education but are impeded by barriers around resourcing is something that I can help address. NAIDOC is something that many schools observe and this year more than ever, NAIDOC should be the start of continued action and continued learning to support healing.
To support this Wingaru is offering our Wingaru Kids package at considerably reduced prices. Wingaru Kids bundles professional development and classroom resources to support teachers to bring Aboriginal voices into the classroom as students learn information and skills that promote an understanding and life-long appreciation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.
We have also teamed up with the amazing Mr J for another challenge to support you to play a role in healing Country by bringing more Aboriginal content into your classroom. The Challenge details will be announced on social media in coming weeks so make sure you are following Wingaru Education (Facebook, Instagram) and Mr J’s Learning Space (Facebook, Instagram) for all the details.
Request a trial now to access this special pricing for individual teachers or whole school subscriptions.
When I was in my first year of Uni I found myself in a conversation about Aboriginal people and all the things wrong with them. It was a conversation fuelled by misconceptions and stereotypes perpetuated by mainstream media. I wondered if anyone present had actually ever met an Aboriginal person. It was awkward. When should I speak up and tell them that the people they were talking about were my people? That I was one of these Aboriginal people they spoke so negatively about. My opportunity came when one of the group stated that he had never met “a good one”.
‘What about me?’ I said.
The group stared back at me, unsure what to say. They were quiet for a minute, clearly confused and not really sure what to think. My awkwardness became theirs as they realised that they had been caught in their racism, not that they would identify it as that. Finally, one of them spoke “Are you really Aboriginal? You don’t look it”.
Now this is a conversation I had had a thousand times, and have had a million more times since. I explained that Aboriginal people are diverse, not cookie cut outs of the stereotypical black person that mainstream media would have the world believe and it inevitably leads to the person declaring that I am somehow different, because I don’t meet their stereotype of an Aboriginal person – that somehow by doing well I have overcome the deficit that is associated with being Aboriginal. It is a conversation that most Aboriginal people are well versed in.
The deficit perception, the view that Aboriginal people are not capable, is something that still persists and Aboriginal people are still forced to prove themselves when other people don’t have to. Even when we have done something that shows we are capable, a question lingers about how we manage to achieve it. The fact that we achieved something overshadows what we have actually done and many people think we were only able to achieve because of a loop hole or handout.
As children, people often don’t expect us to achieve much. Our kids are often not pushed to their full potential because it is assumed that we are excelling just by scraping by. We go to Uni and people assume we got there on a hand-out, a mystical free pass. As adults many of us find ourselves in jobs where we are not utilised to our full potential.
I believe that the deficit perception is left over from the years when Government policy portrayed us as inferior in order to justify the way it treated us. They under-estimated our abilities and worth then and that has unfortunately continued and become part of the unconscious bias against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that permeates today’s world.
This year I would like to actively and directly start to change the deficit perception. If you are a teacher, I encourage you to get to know your Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, see their strengths and let them know you see their potential and expect them to achieve it. Encourage and support them to do this – work with them and their community to make sure they don’t get lost in the assumption that good enough is all they can achieve. Opportunity rather than ability is the barrier we face.
If you are an employer, talk to your Aboriginal staff – do they feel you are utilising their skills as well as you can be? Are there growth opportunities they would like to undertake?
This year, Wingaru will be sharing the stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who counter the deficit perception. Whose everyday life shows that our First Nations people are strong, determined and capable. That the deficit perception is the biggest myth of all.
Where did term 1 go? I feel like the end of term arrived in the blink of an eye. I hope you have had a great term and have found a classroom rhythm of lots of new discoveries that includes Aboriginal perspectives.
The end of term 1 of course means Easter and the chocolate eggs and craft that come with it! While Easter is not an Aboriginal celebration, eggs were a big part of customary life and looking at how Aboriginal people used eggs is a great perspective for all age groups. I love that over the last couple of years we have been able to support many classrooms increase inclusions of Aboriginal perspectives by considering eggs in this way.
The protocols around egg gathering took into consideration the sustainability of the species producing them. Eggs were respected as a source of life as well as nourishment for mob. Eggs would be collected in vessels weaved by Aboriginal women from the naturally available reeds and materials of the local area.
This year our Easter printable features the artwork of Darug Artist, Chloe Webb. I hope your students enjoy colouring Chloe’s work and constructing their own basket to be filled with whatever goodies they choose.
We would love to see your completed baskets so please share them with us Facebook @wingaru and Instagram @wingaru_education.
I wish you a relaxing and safe break and look forward to sharing some more First Nations knowledge with you in term 2.
Check out our Aboriginal-themed Easter activities from previous years by clicking the "Free Resources" filter at the top of our main blog page.
Aboriginal education is an area of teaching that can have an incredible impact on the world we live in. I was thrilled when I saw that the NSW Government had introduced priority areas of teacher PD that included Aboriginal education. So many teachers reach out for support in this area. I know that this new focus will help to drive real support for educators who are striving to refine their practice and I think over the next year or two we will see so many teachers gain greater confidence.
It is an opportunity to rethink how we approach Aboriginal education and I hope that school leadership teams embrace the opportunity and work with their teachers and other stakeholders to make changes that focus on teacher capacity to drive better Aboriginal education outcomes for their entire school communities. Teachers are definitely willing to embrace the change but they need the support to do so. The time has come for decision makers to consider real change and move away from doing what they have always done in this area of education because frankly, it is not working. In NSW the introduction of priority areas for PD means that teachers will now have more opportunities to consider these much- needed new approaches.
Since we introduced PD last year, a common question I am getting is “what kind of PD should I be looking for?”. The answer will depend on individual circumstances but I think we need to focus on Aboriginal education as having two distinct but often lumped together focuses.
In an ideal world, teachers would have the opportunity to complete PD in both these areas and consider these two focuses separately and give the needed attention to both aspects. Choose PD that gives you this opportunity and the space to consider the space at your own pace.
I also suggest seeking out PD that is led by Aboriginal voices – it will give you an insight that material created by non-Aboriginal people, no matter how experienced, cannot give you.
We currently have 4 PD courses available, each delivered by two experienced Aboriginal educators and aligned with the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers.
I am overwhelmed by the positive feedback we have gotten. Our format - with the Aunties having a yarn - shares knowledge in a natural way. It is how Aboriginal people have been learning for thousands of years. I love that teachers are finding the content thought provoking and the activities are helping to identify resources and ideas that can be used in the classroom.
Each course can be enrolled in separately and we offer group pricing so if you are looking for PD to roll out across your school get in touch for tailored pricing. You can choose one of our courses as part of your Wingaru Kids subscription.
By bundling PD and resources, Wingaru kids is delivering a system of support that provides resources that teachers can use in the classroom and the background knowledge of how and why to use them.
The importance of local perspectives is one of the key messages associated with Aboriginal education. Every teacher is familiar with the call for local perspectives and ultimately the challenges associated with finding appropriate content.
There is no single Aboriginal culture. There were upward of 250 language groups in Australia at the time of colonisation and each group has its own culture and lore. The information that we learn about one, may not apply to another. In an ideal world we want people to be acknowledging and observing local practices, beliefs and protocols. This is where local perspectives in schools help – it is an opportunity for kids to understand that each mob is different and to understand the approach of their local community. It builds cultural competence by supporting kids to go into the world knowing that they will encounter Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures that are different to the one that they have learned about and it arms them with enough awareness to support a respectful navigation of these differences.
But have local perspectives become a barrier to better Aboriginal education? More precisely, is the interpretation of local perspectives becoming a barrier? So many teachers I have spoken with are stuck because they fear that including anything that is not directly related to their local area will be seen as wrong or worse, offensive. Schools are opting to limit the inclusion of Aboriginal content and I don’t believe this was ever the intent of the call for local perspectives.
I can hear the frustration in teachers’ voices as they try to meet a goal that seems impossible because there are no resources and the school doesn’t yet have the connections it needs in the local community or the local community doesn’t currently have the capacity to provide the support the school needs. I understand how Aboriginal education ends up in the too hard basket, I really do. But that doesn’t make it ok. By reframing what we are trying to achieve with local perspectives we can eliminate the barrier, reduce your frustration and deliver better Aboriginal education outcomes.
Let’s look at the bigger picture. What are we trying to achieve? For me a focus on local perspectives does three things:
We can achieve these goals more easily without taking a “local perspectives or nothing” approach. By looking more broadly at how you can include Aboriginal content into your program you will find the task of including regular inclusions less daunting and open up opportunities for students to investigate the local approach.
Let’s use bush tucker as an example. You don’t need a resource that tells you exactly the food sources eaten by your local community pre-invasion. You can look at broader resources (like the ones we have on Wingaru Kids) to consider what factors influence food availability, what techniques were often used to obtain and prepare food and introduce the types of food sources that were available Australia wide. This gives kids the knowledge they need to start investigating what food sources may have been available in the local area, what food sources are still widely available in the area and how the availability has changed.
This approach also supports Aboriginal kids who are living off Country to apply concepts to their own mob as well as the local community they currently live in. Looking at an additional mob can lead to great discussions giving students the opportunity to compare and contrast between the local community and another mob.
It’s a simple change in approach that can make all the difference to how you are able to bring Aboriginal content into your classroom. If you are a Wingaru Kids user, you will find local perspectives worksheets in each of our lessons to support kids to apply their new knowledge to their local area.
I would love to hear about your approaches to local perspectives and the things that you are doing in your classroom.
I often get questions from parents who are keen for their kids to learn more about Aboriginal people, history and culture. Many are concerned about the lack of First Nations content in their child’s education or the quality of Aboriginal education that is taught without true inclusion of an Aboriginal perspective.
I understand these concerns. I have spoken to many schools who dismiss Aboriginal perspectives as “not a priority”, usually because they don’t have many Aboriginal students. This approach is concerning given the inclusion of Aboriginal content in the curriculum for all students. But I believe it is important for parents not to assume this is the attitude of your school until you have had a conversation with them. Many schools are quite open about wanting to improve their approach to Aboriginal perspectives. There are often lots of factors at play and approaching your school with openness can help reach the outcome you are hoping for.
I like to remind people that Aboriginal perspectives hasn’t always enjoyed the priority is has now. For many teachers, we are asking them to teach something that they themselves did not learn about so they may be finding their feet. We want to support them as they do this, help them to find an approach they are comfortable with while ensuring high quality Aboriginal education for our kids.
Here are some suggestions I have about how you could support Aboriginal education at your school.
I would love to hear about how your school approaches Aboriginal education. Are you happy with the approach? What do you love? What do you think they could do better? What are the changes you would like to see?
This year I chose not to engage in the Change the Date debate. It is too exhausting. I cannot face the racism that floods media and social media on this day. It is too ignorant and too frustrating, too much. How in this day and age are there so many people who cannot see that 26 January is not the date to celebrate and that it is time to move the celebration to another, more inclusive date?
Instead I am focusing on the increasing number of Australians who are working to support our First Nations communities – the allies who are taking the time and making the effort to get educated and support our communities by acknowledging our trauma, embracing truth about our history and fostering understanding by sharing this truth. Because this is how we move forward together.
Teachers, who are one of our greatest influencer groups and play a significant role in leading change, often ask me how they can support First Nations communities and be a strong ally for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. There are lots of things educators can do to support our communities and I love that so many are seeking advice on how they can provide support in a culturally appropriate way. Small things, like some of the ideas below, may make an Aboriginal child feel supported and start to open up or support a non-Aboriginal child to start on their own journey of being a strong ally.
I have talked before about ways to be a good ally and taking an anti-racism approach so I won’t go into those again – we all know how important standing up and speaking up is. Here are some other ways teachers can support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
As always, pick actions that feel comfortable for you, don’t feel you have to do it all. Any support is appreciated! I woulod love to hear about the things you do to support our communities.
How is it half-way through January already? Time seems to pass faster and faster. My boys are growing too fast and I wish there was a way to slow down time, just a little. These last few weeks have been such a needed break from routine. We have loved the slower pace, the not needing to be anywhere, the extra time to read, swim, and play Nintendo – all three favourite pastimes here. School is approaching faster than most of us would like. The exception being Mr 5 who is very excited about heading off to big school this year so the start of school can’t come fast enough!
This time of year, for me, like all educators, isn’t just about the fun, it is also about getting ready for the year ahead. For us at Wingaru it means finalising our new lessons – “Seasons” will be available soon so keep an eye out for it – and getting ready to enrol our 2021 class groups. We are welcoming 35 new schools at the start of Term 1 which I am really excited about. Our set up team will certainly be busy! We can set up your 2021 classes as soon as you are ready. We will be in contact with your school’s primary contact shortly but you can send your class lists through anytime and we can get everything sorted so your accounts are ready to go.
Most teachers are in full swing already – setting up classrooms and planning lessons for the year. The love that goes into setting up classrooms is amazing. If you are a parent, I hope you get the chance to take a minute to look around your child’s classroom and appreciate the time, effort and thought that has gone into the set up. Your teacher likely did that during their vacation time.
If you are one of these teachers, we have some resources that you may find helpful. If you are setting up your classroom consider including some Aboriginal artwork. I have our 2021 Wingaru Calendar and Acknowledgement of Country poster for you here. If you are a subscriber you might like to check out our name labels and birthday calendar in the teacher resources section of the platform. I am a huge fan of Chloe Webb, a young Darug artist who has done this year’s artwork.
Don’t forget to check out our planning templates https://www.wingaru.com.au/blog/planner-challenge to help you identify and plan where you can include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander content in your program this year.
As always, sing out if I can help!
2021 Wingaru Calendar and Acknowledgement of Country Poster - Download from the links below
Are you a Wingaru Kids subscriber? Check out our birthday calendar and name labels in the teacher resources section of the platform.
2020. What a year! I for one am so glad that it is coming to an end! I am counting down the days until the holidays begin and we can slow down and sink into holiday mode and enjoy some salt-water healing on our usual trip north to gorgeous Gumbaynggirr Country.
It has been a big year for Wingaru and I am really proud of what we have achieved and the support we have been able to provide during this unusual year. Some of the wins for Wingaru in 2020 have been:
Supporting Schooling From Home
With many students schooling from home, we saw record numbers of students logging in to use our resources, completing activities that explored First Nations culture while strengthening their comprehension, problem solving and ICT skills.
All Together Now
Our educators worked with Reconciliation NSW to deliver another year of All Together Now, an initiative to support teachers to celebrate Reconciliation Week and we are very pleased to be welcoming another round of finalists from the NSW Schools Reconciliation Challenge to the Wingaru Kids platform.
Our Butabuta team continued to support organisations, adapting quickly from face to face sessions to online training that saw the Aunties become zoom wizzes – well almost ;). This year we supported a number of amazing organisations with cultural awareness training as well as help to develop culturally safe work environments that support both staff and Aboriginal clients. We worked with Home Teacher to support their partnership with the Smith family to deliver home tutoring scholarships to 100 students. Many of these students identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and we love being able to support this amazing group of teachers providing tutoring to do this in a culturally appropriate way.
We also launched digital Professional Development for teachers which is available individually or as part of the Wingaru Kids subscription. The feedback has been really positive with many teachers telling us they now feel more confident including Aboriginal perspectives in their teaching and with working with Aboriginal students and their families. We also provided PD for the Relief Teacher Association and I delivered a session at their annual conference – stepping out of my own comfort zone, as I support teachers to step out of their own. You can check out our courses here.
Supporting Healthy Communities
Our IT team delivered a bespoke platform for the NSW Ministry of Health’s Aboriginal Health Knockout Challenge, supporting the amazing team running the program to expand the reach of this fantastic initiative that delivers life-changing health benefits to communities across NSW. I am in awe of the mobs who took part this year for all their hard work and the amazing results.
Planning with Wingaru and Mr J Challenge
The “Planning with Wingaru and Mr J Challenge” was a big focus for the Wingaru team in term 4 and I could not be happier with how it went. We saw so many deadly teachers sharing how they were including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in their classrooms and supporting each other as they took on the challenge of increasing the amount of First Nations content that they included. I got to know the amazing Mr J who was so generous with his time and self in sharing his journey to refine his personal approaches to Aboriginal education. For so many teachers, getting Aboriginal education right means stepping out of their comfort zone completely which can be overwhelming and I know there are so many teachers who benefited from Mr J’s regular updates, tips and learnings as a non-Aboriginal teacher taking on this important area of education. I want to thank every teacher who has taken part in the Challenge. I’d love to hear how you went and how taking part changed your classroom. While the Challenge is over, the planners are still available to download here if you would like to plan your First Nation inclusions for next year.
2020 has been a crazy year and I cannot wrap up without acknowledging the hard work of teachers who have showed amazing resilience and flexibility in supporting kids in this year of uncertainty. If you are a parent, please take the time to thank your teacher – they earn that thanks every year but this year more than ever that work needs to be acknowledged.
If you are a teacher, I hope that during this busy time you have the opportunity to take a breath and look around at the world before you. As a teacher you have changed lives this year. You have given the gift of knowledge, helped build self-esteem and shape opinions. You have supported children and families to survive schooling from home and shown a flexibility that many didn’t know possible. You have undoubtedly worked into the night and woken worried about a student who struggles with change and needed extra support to cope with the chaos that has been 2020. Your dedication and hard work have not gone unnoticed.
While I am keen for this year to be done, I look forward to next year and all that lies ahead. We have some great things planned and I can’t wait to share them with you. We have new lessons coming about seasons, plant use and my personal favourite, a lesson about the Aboriginal history of Coffs Harbour featuring the stories of Gumbaynggirr Elder, Aunty Sue Hoskins, who generously spent time with us this year sharing her stories. We also have more PD coming and our cultural awareness calendar is filling up.
Stay safe, keep healthy and enjoy the festive season!
Well, here we are at the last full week of school here in NSW and the final challenge chatter email. I hope you’ve had a great week and an even better term despite the craziness that always is Term 4.
It’s hard to believe that we’ve come to the end of our #PlanningWithWingaruAndMrJChallenge already, it feels like just yesterday I sat down with my Wingaru Planner and looked at how I was going to embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives each week.
Despite, the name I’ve actually found this journey to be anything but a challenge. For me personally, it’s hasn’t been hard to find ways to embed this important cross curriculum priority, it’s been more about changing the way I think, being more mindful and forming new habits when it comes to planning my lessons and units of work.
Thanks to the amazing resources from Wingaru and this incredible online community I’ve never been short of great lesson ideas, activities and resources that I can use throughout my week across a range of KLAs. My eyes have been opened to new perspectives, ideas and insights that I wasn’t aware of before and I’m so excited to take all of this with me into a new year.
For me, this was never about doing a “one off” thing for a term, but it was about changing the way I’ve done things for the last 12 and a half years as an educator and leader in schools. The way I look at it, this isn’t the end of our challenge but simply the start of a new journey and I’m really looking forward to taking this Challenge further and sharing many of the insights, resources and approaches that I’ve seen from others over the past 10 weeks with my colleagues and students.
I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for being a part of our Challenge this term. I hope it’s been a positive experience for you as an educator and you’ve come away with something new that you can continue to use beyond this Challenge.
As a non-Aboriginal educator, 2020 has been a wake up call both personally and professionally and I’ve continually challenged myself to do better when it comes to embedding First Nations perspectives and content into my classroom because I had been ignorant up until now. For that I am deeply sorry and I am committed to doing better moving forward.
Thank you again for those who followed along on this journey, for those who gave it a go and for those who shared their weekly intentions with us along with a snapshot into their classrooms. You’ve continued to inspire me and so many others.
Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year season friends!
The “Planning with Wingaru and Mr J Challenge” was a big focus for the Wingaru team in term 4 and I could not be happier with how it went.
The Challenge encouraged teachers to include an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander perspective each week for term 4. That meant 10 opportunities for students to explore the fascinating cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and to embed that knowledge within their understanding of Australian history.
We wanted to show how accessible Aboriginal perspectives can be and support teachers to refine their approach and take away some of the hesitation that many teachers feel when it comes to including First Nations content in the classroom.
We teamed up with the brilliant Mr J from Mr J’s Classroom (check his work out here). He agreed to share his journey as a non-Aboriginal teacher tackling the Challenge to increase Aboriginal content in his classroom. Mr J was so generous with his time and self in sharing his journey to refine his personal approaches to Aboriginal education and I know there are so many teachers who benefited from Mr J’s regular updates, tips and learnings.
The Challenge is something I have been thinking about for a while now. I talk to so many teachers who feel that Aboriginal perspectives are out of reach and I want to change that perception. By encouraging teachers to include content more often by aligning it with units of work they are already delivering, I believe we can have a huge impact on the collective knowledge Australians have about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and our cultures.
We saw so many deadly teachers sharing how they were including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in their classrooms and supporting each other as they took on the challenge of increasing the amount of First Nations content that they included.
So many ideas were shared about ways to include perspectives in busy classrooms and I loved how many teachers I spoke to that said the Challenge had made them rethink how they do Aboriginal content and how they will continue to focus on including more. That’s what it was all about.
I also spoke to a number of teachers who said the Challenge gave them confidence in the approaches they were already taking. Sometimes we just need that little bit of reassurance to give us confidence in our actions.
I want to take this opportunity to thank every teacher who participated. I know stepping out of your comfort zone is not easy and changing the way you work can be hard, particularly when you are in charge of a busy classroom.
We offered three chances to win a 12-month Wingaru Kids subscription for schools participating in the Challenge. The winners of these subscriptions are:
For signing up to the Challenge:
Congratulations Jessica Malu!
For sharing their planner on social media:
For sharing their weekly intention on social media:
We look forward to welcoming your schools to the Wingaru Kids mob.
While the Challenge is over, the planners are still available to download HERE if you would like to plan your First Nation inclusions for next year.
2020. What a year! I for one am so glad that it is coming to an end! I am counting down the days until the holidays begin and we can slow down and sink into holiday mode and enjoy some salt-water healing on our usual trip north to gorgeous Gumbaynggirr Country.
The tree is up, the elf has arrived and Christmas craft has started coming home from school – Christmas has arrived! While Christmas was not a traditional Aboriginal celebration, many of our mob embrace the holiday today and we celebrate it with great enthusiasm. Our mob gathers, we have a big feed and there is no shortage of laughter. Community Christmas events bring us together, providing opportunity for connection with people and culture. Blak Santas hand out gifts to our jarjums and the Aunties and Uncles gather, sharing stories that we have heard over and over but at the same time can never hear enough.
But before we can get to that we have to make it through the final weeks of term. The energy of kids this time of year seems to be ebbing on exploding with cards and candy canes starting to be exchanged. Teachers are frantic, writing reports and finishing work units as well as planning for next year, all while managing the day-to-day of classrooms full of tired children who are ready for their summer break.
Christmas craft is the perfect inclusion this time of year and this year we have some new handouts that bring an Aboriginal perspective into the busy classroom. Including simple activities like these helps keep Aboriginal content a regular inclusion in your classroom, even at this busy time.
Have fun exploring bush flavours or creating some Aboriginal inspired gift-cards or tree decorations with your students – I would love to see what you do!
Anyone who knows me, knows that I love a yarn and this week I have had so many interesting yarns with teachers about how they are approaching the Challenge. I love the diversity of approaches and the thought that has gone into the plans that are being rolled out across the country.
For some teachers this is the end of week 2 – can you believe how fast it is going? Astronomy was popular this week – lots of kids getting to learn about the amazing skies above us! We have two different astronomy lessons complete with video and other resources to support you on the Wingaru Kids platform. If you haven’t already come check them out!
NAIDOC is coming up and this year’s theme ‘Always was, always will be’ is a great theme to build your planner around. There are so many ways you can explore the theme. You might like to:
I have spoken to a few teachers who are using NAIDOC as inspiration for the Challenge so make sure you are sharing and following so you can see all the great ideas that are being shared! To give you some ideas on what you might do for a NAIDOC approach I have attached a sample planner below.
No matter how far in you are I would encourage you to check out some of the inspiration being shared under #PlanningWithWingaruAndMrJChallenge.
Stage 2 NAIDOC Sample Planner - Download from link below
This week we announced the #PlanningWithWingaruandMrJ Challenge – an initiative to get teachers thinking and talking about including more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander content in their classrooms. The response has been amazing! I am so excited at the number of teachers who have said they are going to take part! I can’t wait to see what everyone does.
If you missed the initial posts about the Challenge, check out the previous blog, which has more information and the planner template: www.wingaru.com.au/blog/planner-challenge. You should also head on over to Mr J’s Learning Space to follow his journey.
In the words of Mr J “the #planningwithwingaruandmrj challenge is all about taking that first step and deciding to think more intentionally about what we do and how we can naturally incorporate First Nations content into our teaching and share the journey together to inspire and support other educators as they try to do the same”.
To give you some ideas on what you might do to bring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander content in each week for term 4, we have created 3 sample planners that I have attached here. These planners, one for each stage, illustrate just some of the different approaches you could take in including a weekly First Nations perspective.
Local Focus - Use term 4 to explore your local community. You could explore:
Country – how did the local mob use a river? or get to know the clans of the language group;
Language – what is the local language? Can you find examples of it? Is there a local speaker you could invite in?
Land management - what bush tucker grows in the area? What tools would likely have been made given the material available in the local environment? What sustainability practices were likely practised?
Perhaps you could look at how the local people are represented today. The possibilities are endless.
Build lessons around a single resource – this example shows how you can build experiences around one topic or resource. Consider the elements of your focus topic and build additional experiences to explore the elements. In our example we look at turtles but the same approach could be taken with many other subjects. Think about the key learning areas and how they may be present in your chosen resource.
Focus on a single topic/unit – this example shows the possibilities of choosing a topic you are learning about in your class and exploring it from many angles which supports students to develop a strong understanding of the related issues. This works well for topics where students should consider different opinions and perspectives on an issue as they develop their own thoughts on it.
You could apply any of these approaches to any stage with some tweaking or apply the approach to any topic that suits what is in your plan for term 4. Don’t be afraid to mix it up! The possibilities are endless – don’t forget to share your ideas by tagging @wingaru_education and @mr.j.learning.space
Stage 1 Sample Planner - Download from link below
Stage 2 Sample Planner - Download from link below
Stage 3 Sample Planner - Download from link below
One question that teachers regularly ask me is how often they should include Aboriginal content or perspectives in their classrooms. There is no one answer that is going to work for every classroom and I always suggest that teachers start with what they are comfortable with. The most important thing is that you give it a go and build from there.
That said, I would love to see teachers including Aboriginal and Torres Strait content once a week. I think this is attainable and planning can support you to reach this target. One teacher who has taken up this challenge is Mr J of Mr J’s Learning Space who you can follow on insta here www.instagram.com/mr.j.learning.space/.
Mr J is one of those teachers we all want our kids to have. His energy is amazing and I love that he is so inclusive with both his classroom content and his approach to school leadership. So, when he responded to a post about including perspectives weekly (saying that he was aiming to do just that) I reached out to offer him a planner that would support him to include content each week for a term.
The planner is designed to help identify and organise the inclusion of First Nations content in all key learning areas for a term. I have included the planner below and I encourage you to take up the challenge of including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander content each week of term 4, 2020.
Mr J will be including Aboriginal content in his classroom each week of term 4 and sharing it with you on his insta so make sure you follow along for inspiration and follow his tips to make this challenge achievable. Follow him here www.instagram.com/mr.j.learning.space/.
If you are reading this and thinking that I have lost touch with reality and there is no way you can include more in your already busy program, bear with me. I know including Aboriginal content or perspectives is daunting for many teachers. We will be sharing ideas and tips over the term to support you in the challenge, including examples of different approaches using the planner. Make sure you are following us on social media so you don’t miss these.
There are so many ways you can bring Aboriginal content or perspectives into your classroom. At Wingaru, we aim to support teachers by providing complete lessons that align with curriculum so that teachers can, if they choose, add an Aboriginal perspective to the content they are already teaching in the classroom. This approach means that even just 30 to 60 minutes can bring a new layer to student learning and increase the amount of Aboriginal content they are exposed to over the year. But if this approach isn’t for you that is ok. There are so many other ways you can approach bringing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander content in. You could:
Share your ideas with us online and borrow from other teachers’ ideas.
If one inclusion a week feels out of reach, don’t worry. Start where you are comfortable and increase at a pace that works for you. The Wingaru Planner is flexible and will work for you no matter how you approach the challenge or how many weeks you plan to include Aboriginal content. Just give it a go!
Finally, share your experiences with us. We want to see how you are including Aboriginal perspectives and would love to hear your ideas for meeting the challenge. Use the hashtag #PlanningWithWingaruAndMrJ.
Download the planner and social media templates and join us in term 4 for the #PlanningWithWingaruAndMrJ Challenge.
A4 Aboriginal Perspectives Teacher Planner - Download from link below
Challenge Social Media Templates - Download from links below
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.