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!
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