An experience of a lifetime: How an international professional experience prepares pre-service teachers to be a teacher with impact in a contemporary society

Year: 2017

Author: Ambrosetti, Angelina, Busch, Gillian

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The New Colombo Plan Mobility Program aims to provide Australian university students with authentic opportunities to work in global communities and build understandings of what it means to be work place ready. This presentation reports on the 'experience of a lifetime' offered to pre-service teachers enrolled in an undergraduate teaching program in a regional university. As part of a service learning unit, pre-service teachers applied for a placement in the student mobility program which enabled them to volunteer, as part of a university group, at a low socio-economic school in Cambodia. During their two weeks abroad, the pre-service teachers took on the role of teacher at the school thus planning for and teaching the assigned curriculum to their classroom learners.

The project provides empirical data about what the pre-service teachers understand as being workplace ready or in the context of pre-service teacher education, classroom ready, and how participating in a global teaching experience contributes to their developing teacher skill set. Pre-service teachers participated in pre and post surveys that allowed them to provide insight into their understandings and perceptions of workplace and classroom readiness, and the potential impact that the experience had on them as a developing teacher. During the international experience, data was collected through observations and video recordings of the pre-service teachers interacting with their assigned class. Data was also collected through the pre-service teacher's reflections submitted as part of their final service learning assessment task.

The findings from an analysis of the data indicated that each pre-service teacher had many opportunities to further develop their teaching skills through authentic practice. The pre-service teachers indicated that they grew both professionally and personally. The responses from the pre-service teachers suggested that professionally they were able to develop their communication and collaborative skills, build cultural understandings, foster a positive learning relationships and cater for diversity in both the design and implementation of teaching and learning activities. Personally, the pre-service teachers indicated that they further developed such traits as flexibility, patience, understanding, resilience, empathy and compassion. As such, the paper concludes with insights into how international experiences like the one presented in this paper can contribute towards a pre-service teacher's classroom readiness in a contemporary world.