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  5. Lessons learnt 2007 – 2008
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Lessons learnt 2007 – 2008

The three main topics are:

  • Support for the Aboriginal community languages teacher
  • Communicate your progress and program successes
  • Things change, people move on.

Support for the Aboriginal community languages teacher

In 2007 Julie Storrier, teacher of Indonesian, joined the Aboriginal languages program team at Hillston Central School. She has been a great asset and brought many good ideas for fun and interactive strategies for learning and teaching languages. These were adapted for and added to the units of work for the Wiradjuri-Ngiyampaa program.

In 2008 Jim Laurich, teacher of Drama and Aboriginal Studies joined the team. He has been supporting Aboriginal community languages teacher Natalie Parr in the classroom as she teaches each class. Support is a two-way experience – the teachers in the school have also felt that they received professional development through being involved in the program.

Through working with Natalie Parr and Lesley Woods, and participating in the Board of Studies workshops, I have learnt a lot about the Aboriginal languages of the place where I have lived for so long. I find the language revival aspect of the program fascinating. Julie Storrier, Teacher

Communicate your progress and program successes

A crucial part of a successful Aboriginal languages program is for the team to have a number of ways of communicating the positives of the program to the wider school community. Throughout 2007 and 2008 Julie Storrier contributed important ideas for promoting the learning of languages to students and their families. Also, the Aboriginal languages program team spoke at a number of staff meetings so that all of the members of the staff understood the aims, challenges and positives of the program. And, importantly, the principal also played a leading role in advocating the language program in the whole school and broader community.

I make a point of including regular updates in our school newsletter and include positive stories and interesting facts about our school’s Aboriginal languages program. Barbara Novelli, Principal

Things change, people move on

In 2007 Natalie Parr got a job as Aboriginal education officer at Hillston Central School. The principal’s support was crucial to the success of the Wiradjuri-Ngiyampaa program and Natalie’s employment was a great boost. It ensured that Natalie became an integral part of the school community, and that part of her time could be dedicated to preparing lessons and resources and teaching the program. In 2008, unfortunately the community linguist, Lesley Woods, had to leave Hillston. The team will miss Lesley’s expertise and commitment to the program, though at the same time everyone wished her well. If the program relied on just one person, it would have collapsed at this point. However, because a number of people had become involved and supportive, it will continue.

I’ll really miss Lesley, especially because she has been my key to learning vocabulary and grammar and about the close relationship between Wiradjuri and Ngiyampaa. We are still in touch and Lesley is supporting the program from a distance. The teachers in the school are still there for me, supporting from a teaching point of view. In terms of developing my language skills, I plan to take up community-based language learning opportunities. For example, Stan Grant runs informal language classes for people wanting to learn and improve their Wiradjuri language skills. I also want to stay in touch with other Aboriginal community language teachers in other schools who are teaching Wiradjuri or Ngiyampaa. Natalie Parr, Aboriginal Community Languages Teacher

Congratulations to the Hillston Central School Aboriginal Languages Program Team for their achievements 2007–2008. The highlight of the program for 2007 was that teaching began with each class in the school, from Stage 1 through to Stage 3, having a language lesson once a fortnight. A highlight of the program for 2008 was a class book of the story Waaway the River Maker. This was a collaborative effort by all students and incorporated a local traditional story into the program.

Teaching and Learning Samples

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