Eryn Street is a teacher at Papakowhai School in Porirua, in her third year. She started as a New Entrants teacher but this year is teaching Year 7 and 8 students. She had barely visited the area before she got the job. “I’d been to the Aotea Lagoon down the road a couple of times as a uni student when I’d just got my Driver Licence, going on adventures, but I’d never come this far up into the hills,” says Street.
She says it is crucial new teachers get to know their community – but it’s not as daunting as it may first seem. “As a new teacher at this school, getting to know the families and the area has been a natural process. The longer I’ve been at the school – I’m into my third year here now – the more families I’ve got to know,” she says.
“It’s really nice – if I’m ever out and about in Porirua it’s neat to see my students. Even at the zoo in South Wellington, I’ve had students come up to me and go, ‘Oh, Ms Street!’ It’s really nice seeing the community link, which is always so much bigger than just that area.”
And her advice for someone teaching in a new place? “One of the key things is to engage with the parents and the families, get to know your kids, get to know what they do.”
Street has a great example: “I’ve been to a few of my students’ sports finals or arts things that they’re involved with – because then you’re out in the community and there’s that link, which I think is really important for the kids,” she says. “Being seen to be involved with the community is key, so the families of your students know that it is more than just a job – you really do care for these kids.”