What is PTAP about?

The Pasifika Teacher Aide professional development Programme was developed out of a Ministry of Education research and professional development pilot project: ‘Supporting Pasifika bilingual teacher aides in mainstream classrooms’ which took place from June 2005 until January 2006. The aims of the project were to examine the literacy teaching and support strategies adopted by Pasifika bilingual teacher aides working in mainstream classrooms with Pasifika learners.

It investigated teacher aide practices, focusing on the extent and capacity of Pasifika languages utilisation in the support of student learning. Its identification and development of characteristics of good practice has been incorporated in the professional development handbook and programme for teacher aides working with Pasifika students in mainstream classrooms. The programme is composed of a series of workshops designed to support teacher aides working with Pasifika students in English-Medium and bilingual Classrooms. The Ministry-contracted project is directed and facilitated by Rae Si’ilata of the University of Auckland, who also founded the initiative, and has reached more than 250 schools, 250 coordinating teachers, and 660 teacher aides. Rae works with regional facilitators in delivering the programme nationwide. The criteria for selection are wide-ranging and include the number of enrolled Pasifika students, the recommendation of ESOL verifiers, and particularly those needing support in meeting the needs of Pasifika students.

Schools register one coordinating teacher and at least two teacher aides in order to participate; around 10 schools and 40 participants then form regional cluster groups for the purpose of facilitating the programme.

The workshops

Rae’s team works within three delivery models that the Ministry applies to the PTAP. The first model comprises a series of four day-long workshops that take place over two terms. Rae co-facilitates these workshops with regional facilitators. These regional specialists conduct in-school visits, where they observe TA practice and provide feedback. Rae says that for many, this co-constructed conversation is the first time that a lot of them have been asked to talk about their use of language, and they respond well to the encouragement.

“That’s one of the really important factors, that the teacher aides get the opportunity for feedback. It really means a lot to them that someone values them enough to come in, observe their practice, and engage in a co-constructed learning conversation.”
The second delivery model is a follow-up workshop within the same cluster. This involves checking on the sustainability of new practices, and introducing new material for the schools to trial. The third piece of the puzzle is a more intensive approach, where the initial four workshops are condensed into a two-day programme. This option is used in areas outside the main centres which have growing Pasifika communities, e.g. Pukekohe, Gisborne, Blenheim and Oamaru.

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