Episode 207

How to Bring Indigenous Voices into Your Classroom

Recorded by | Run time: 24 min, 20 sec


Jordyn from Learning to Ngangaanha is back this week with her awesome tips on how to connect your students with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, perspectives and culture.

From reaching out to Indigenous knowledge holders in your community to Jordyn’s fantastic list of publications for kids by Indigenous authors and illustrators, this episode is packed with great ways to teach about our nations First Peoples.

Voices to Follow (Jordyn’s recs):

Wingaru Education

Rachael Sarra

Allira Potter

Blak Business

Heart 2 Heart

Coastal Carnivore

Blackfulla Book Club

Podcasts to Hear:

Tiddas 4 Tiddas

Always Our Stories

Jordyn Pol Aboriginal Teacher

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How to Bring Indigenous Voices into the Classroom – Full Episode Transcript

Jordyn: Before I begin, I’d just like to acknowledge Country. I’m coming to you from beautiful Yugimbir country today, and I’d like to pay my respects to elders past, present, and emerging, who have cared for Country for thousands of years and will continue spiritual and sacred relationships with the land, sky and waterways of this area.

Bron: Welcome back to For the Love of Teaching. I’m here again with Jordyn, who is an Aboriginal woman and teacher and Jordyn joined us recently to talk about how to integrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language learning into your classroom and the basics of how to even begin researching and starting to do that. And she’s back in today to talk to us a little bit about making connections with Aboriginal community members that are in your local community to introduce them to your students and to help inform your teaching (and maybe even just to have a chat with sometimes) and learn a little about local culture and history and perspectives.

So, hey Jordyn, how are you going today?

Jordyn: Hi. Good. Thank you for having me again.

Bron: Thanks for coming back. It was lovely to chat with you last time. Now you have some information on your Instagram page about the cross-curricular priorities.

There’s three of them, but one of them that’s really important is teaching about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, perspectives, and cultures. And we are here today to talk about ways that you might be able to connect with people in your community.

What are some of the benefits of making those connections and reaching out to the Indigenous people who are prepared to share knowledge with your class?

Jordyn: Connecting with Aboriginal people is so incredibly important for a number of reasons. Well firstly, we live on Aboriginal land. So when we are teaching anything about Australia or States, territories, small areas, specific town, Aboriginal people are the knowledge holders of that area and have such deep knowledge about the area. In fact, I will actually mention that when I’m talking to, when I say Aboriginal people are knowledge holders, I’m not, I’m not implying that every single Aboriginal people has an intact, very strong cultural connection.

I’m referring more to community leaders and elders because they have been, you know, earned that, that position in the community because of the connection and knowledge of the area. But unfortunately, since colonisation/invasion, whatever, whatever term you’d like to use, so many Aboriginal people have been forcibly removed, displaced, told that they weren’t Aboriginal, told not to claim that they’re Aboriginal and so on. And I just thought then it would be a good point to just bring that up straight from the beginning, from the get-go, is that when you are reaching out to make connections with Aboriginal people, it’s just really important to make sure you’re doing it with doing that with the right people.

So if you have a child and you know that their mother or father is Aboriginal, it’s not, I wouldn’t recommend just going and asking, “Oh, can you come in and do a blah, blah, blah, blah, blah?”

Because without that, without forming that relationship with them and learning a little bit about that themselves, them and how they’ve grown up you could be asking them for knowledge that they, for whatever reason (and there’s plenty) don’t know or don’t have. Yeah.

So what is the appropriate way to research or look up or find an elder or a senior community member to talk with you?

Jordyn: Yes. So again, conversations with parents and getting to know their situation over time can definitely lead you to other community members or perhaps they, the parents themselves would be happy to come in to yarn about whatever it is you, you have discussed, but that takes time, of course. And if you are wanting to form a relationship or if you are wanting, there are businesses/corporations out in the community that created to give advice to teachers in schools.

So it’s just about finding out who they are. So in New South Wales I think it’s great that we have an AECG, which is an Aboriginal Education Consultative Group, and they work with the Department of Education to provide advice and resources specifically about New South Wales, Aboriginal groups in cultures and peoples and languages. So if you’re in New South Wales, I would recommend reaching out to your local AECG. So there is smaller a AECGs that then get grouped into regional or regions. And then there is like a New South Wales, AECG that is at the top of all of that.

Bron: Yeah. Jordyn, I’m going to put a link in the show notes to the AECG main website, so people can, and do some further research just in my conversations with some teachers from Victoria, it sounds like Victorian teachers have something similar.

I’m not sure of the acronym or the name for that consultative body, but yeah, I’m sure it’s something that you can find online. Yeah. During my time in WA I worked closely with a local it was called an Aboriginal Association. So in the Perth area specifically, I’m talking about, you might be able to research using those words, like Aboriginal Association and just type in like the area that you’re working in to see if you can reach out to them because that’s, you know, they’ve been created for that reason, but again, it doesn’t hurt to call or to go in in person and, and, and form relationships still, rather than just sitting, you know, shooting off an email saying, hi, can I have this, this, this and this?

Bron: Yeah. You said something really interesting on your stories the other day about timeframes when, when you are emailing people and expectations.Can you just tell the listeners what you were saying about that? Because I found that really, really interesting.

Dos and Don’ts for Seeking Advice, Information or Permission from the local Aboriginal community.

Jordyn: Yeah. So I did a, like a do’s and don’ts of just simple things to think about or consider when you are seeking advice or permission for something from the local Aboriginal community. In one of the main things is to allow plenty of time for response. And I’ll just run off a couple of others. There was also allow even more time during busy periods like NAIDOC Week and National Reconciliation Week. When it’s around those times, teachers often have more questions, but you have to imagine that the, your Aboriginal community is really busy during those times organising events. They are possibly going into schools already that have, you know, booked them. And even within any businesses or corporations, they’re not going to have, you know, a hundred people or behind the scenes ready to answer emails.

It’s, they’re doing lots of different… they’re multitasking. So yeah, just having that in your head, like when you, when you’re planning a unit or when you’re planning a lesson to think about what sort of advice or resources or permissions you need from the local Aboriginal community and asking, creating forming a relationship, and asking for those willing to advance of the lesson that you’re going to need that for.

Bron: Absolutely. Yep. Love that. That’s really great. So what were some of the other things?

Jordyn: If you are aware that there’s some sorry business going on in the community, so there’s been a, a death and there’s a mourning happening in the community. I wouldn’t interrupt that with any questions. And how, how you go about asking for the advice or the permission or the, the content that you need is really important.

So introducing yourself first so hello, my name is blah blah, blah. I’m saying that you’re a teacher, I’m a teacher at this school on Yugambeh country or Bundjalung country, whatever the Aboriginal area that’s your own. And just being really clear with, you know, what it is that you are wanting to do respectfully. So I, in that same story that I posted on Instagram with Sarah, from Gifted and Talented Teacher I had a list of do’s and don’ts, but I also on the next story or a couple of stories after just quickly typed up an example of how I would start a conversation with an Aboriginal business or corporation, you know, in regards to asking for permission for something or advice for a future lesson well in advance. So that’s there to, if anyone wants to see my story highlights.

Bron: Yeah. Perfect.

Jordyn: See that example that I typed up. Yeah. Just being really clear, like I am I am planning for a unit of work on blah, blah, blah. And I am wanting to include Aboriginal local Aboriginal perspectives in my lesson. And I would love to do that following cultural protocols and do so respectfully. So I would like to know blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, and, and thanking when thanking them for their time in advance. But also when, you know, when you get a response to really thank them for sharing or using their time to, you know, give you that information, especially when they have so many other things to do, plus, you know, possibly carrying the young fellas at home and so on and so forth.

And then I brought up something to remember, is that not every Aboriginal person is going to be an expert on local Aboriginal culture. And also that you may have a student in your class and their parents are Aboriginal, but then actually not from the local area, they’ve moved there, like, I have moved around so much in Australia. So they, you know, they might be living on Bundjalung country now, but their mob is Warajuri like me. So just to keep that in mind as well, if you are going to work with parents, just, you know whenever we teach anything about Aboriginal cultures or histories or perspectives, it’s really important to use the map that we were talking about in the last podcast and use the Aboriginal nation map to show the students where that knowledge is coming from.

Bron: And it’s so informative in it. And I just, yeah, I’m just taking away from that. It’s, it’s mostly about respect listening more than you speak. You know, these are all things we teach  our students, all the time and not to make any assumptions.

So actually building a relationship is a two way street, but you’re trying to foster something for the future. So making sure that you’re, you know, you’re listening and hearing the, well, we have a person who’s actually saying so yeah, those are really practical, excellent tips and well.

Another way that you can have Indigenous voices present in your classroom is to use literature. So Aboriginal story books, picture books, things like that written by Aboriginal authors illustrated by Aboriginal artists. And you, you have so much other great stuff to say about artwork and teaching out in the classroom. And I want to talk to you about that and then that on a future episode as well, but you have a really great resource online, which is a free download and it’s 23 pages, so it’s quite extensive, but it’s kind of a table of all these different texts that teachers can bring into their classroom.

And we know that, especially in the early years, picture book has such great tools for teaching. I’ll pop a link to that as well in the show notes, but for anyone who wants to download it, because it’s amazing. I love it. Yeah.

Where did the idea come from?

Jordyn: So the idea came from well, first I made the resource for my school in Perth and it was at like a catalogue, I suppose, of the books that we had available in the school library, because I was going through like when the kids were doing their library borrowing and I would look through the shelves too and see all of these great books by Aboriginal authors and illustrators. And I was just, you know, thinking, I wonder how often these get borrowed or if people even know that they’re here?

So I started working with the librarian to pull out these books and put a picture of the front, cover the title, the author, the illustrator the blurb, and some teaching points that teachers can use this book for, into a table, just on a Word document. And I added to that slowly over time, probably over about two, two years or so. And as we got new books, the librarian would keep them aside for me and I’d add them to my little resource that was growing, actually to a big resource, and then she would put the books out. And then I would save that on our shared drive or email updates to staff about the books. And we found that these books were getting borrowed much more like when we, when we looked at the borrowing records than they were previously. So I thought, Oh, well, this is, this is working. People are using it. It’s helpful. So I’ll keep doing that.

And then of course I changed schools and started working over here on Bundjalung country. And one of the first things I did as the Aboriginal learning support teacher was again, start to find their texts and teacher resources this time and start creating a catalogue for this new school of what was specifically available in our school for teachers to borrow. And at the time a lot of the resources at this new school were in lots of different areas. So I added locations. So this book is located in this resource room. This one is over in the infants’ resource room and so on. And then after I completed that, I thought that it would be such a good resource for any teacher to have, even though it was technically the books that each school had in their own school libraries.

If I merged them together and then added some of the new books that I had purchased myself over recently that I could, you know, put that out for everyone to download and that’s sort of the history of, of the resource and now it’s 23 pages long or something. And I was, I’m constantly adding, adding books and fantastic.

Bron: Yeah, that’s so cool. Quality children’s literature is really, really important and it’s such a great way to yeah embed teaching about Aboriginal culture into your classroom. Kids love books. It just makes sense. So, yeah. Thank you so much for sharing and I love it.

And Jordyn, you have some great Instagram pages that you’re following, and you recommend them to other people who are looking to do, or other teachers who are looking to do some more learning themselves. Are you able to share some of those, and I’ll also link these in the show and all now on our website about your top Instagram pages for teachers to follow, to listen and learn from Indigenous voices.

Jordyn’s Tips for Indigenous Instagram Accounts to Follow:

Jordyn: Yes. I get a huge, a lot of my inspiration from other Instagram accounts. And so some of the accounts that I recommend would be, oh, okay, I’ll start with again, the, the pronunciation of this could be slightly off, but Wingaru Education is an Instagram account that shares again, sort of like what I do with the little Instagram pictures with some text. And I don’t know the name for that either. Is it a meme or like the other ones are meant to be funny, I think. Just a post, a post with specific information about upcoming significant events or reasons why it’s important to include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives. And they also have an amazing blog on their website. So I have signed up to receive notifications. So when they post a new blog and I just love when I get the, the notification that there’s a new blog up, I’ll go and read it straight away.

Bron: So I love that one as well. We’re big fans at Teach Starter as well. Like they make amazing things, so super cool. I’m so glad you mentioned them first up. Okay. Who’s next?

Yes. So I also have some accounts. They’re not necessarily, in fact, I’m looking at them now. They’re not teachers, so they are Aboriginal women that have an account and they have, you know, their own content that they focus on. But I learn so much from them that then of course, I think about all, how can I communicate that with my students or with other teachers? And I sort of go from there. So I have Rachel Sarra. She is a Queensland-based Aboriginal artist, but she also posts regularly with lots of information about her perspectives on current events and things like that as, as an Aboriginal activist, I suppose.

So her Instagram, I, I, I love I also follow a Allira Potter barely said, and she’s a Yorta Yorta Aboriginal woman, and she is an Indigenous healer. So she’s in the health space, but again, posts you know, lots of yarns of her talking about current events. She makes, again, there’s little posts on her Instagram grid with lots of information as well.

I love listening to Tiddas 4 Tiddas podcast. They also have an Instagram account, so that’s Marlee Silver and her sister. They started the Tiddas 4 Tiddas Instagram account and then created a podcast. Marlee has now created her own podcast, which is always our stories and the Instagram accounts. So there’s a couple of seasons of podcasts on the Tiddas 4 Tiddas channel podcast channel. But I’m pretty sure that’s going to, she’s going to stop posting onto this podcast is now and move over to always our stories. And I learned a lot from her.

Magabala Books and Culture Crate are really good Instagram accounts to learn about Aboriginal literature and the importance of including diversity in your books that you have in the classroom and the books that you’re using in your lessons. I also love Blak Business and Blackfulla Book Club, Hear 3 Heart Journey. And Coastal Carnivore is an account from over Nungaar country that posts lots of good information as well.

Bron: Oh, that’s nice. Do they post pictures? Does that make your home sick when you see the right eyes? Yes, I do. There hasn’t been a lot of movements this year because of COVID. So she, there hasn’t been a lot of posts about country, but when she does, I certainly reminisce all look very much for those recommendations. I’m going to do some following slash stalking, Instagramming, checking them all out.

Jordyn: Yeah. Set some, some time for that because you can go down a little rabbit hole of those as well and come across others. I would be a couple of hours. It’s my favourite is my friend. I shall say Friday night.

Thank you so much for joining us today to talk about everything from approaching Aboriginal community members in your community for permissions questions, and to make connections. And also thank you so much for your recommendations on books and amazing Instagram, that voices that you love to follow. So thank you so much, Jordyn. It’s been an absolute wonderful day to chat to you.

Jordyn: I thank you for giving me this platform to have a big old yarn about all of these things, and then yeah, excited for teachers to take anything I’ve said and put it into the classroom and, and share it with future generations.



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