Orienting non-Indigenous pre-service teachers to working with Indigenous students and communities

Year: 2013

Author: Underwood, Bruce, Carter, Briony

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Teacher Education in Australia has largely focussed in recent years on Indigenous Education through providing a subject in their degree on social contexts and diversity.  The Australian Curriculum and changes to the AITSL teaching standards 1.2 and 1.4, emphasising teacher responsibility to learn Indigenous content and how to work with Indigenous students in their classes pose important challenges to teacher educators, requiring attention to Indigenous education in different ways. The purpose of this paper is to report one aspect of a five-year teacher education initiative to support the renewal of regional teaching through a first placement in rural and remote schools; here we focus on our strategies in a metropolitan university to build resources and capacities for all graduate entry teacher education students to work with Indigenous students - who will be in all their schools.  In particular, we analyse student orientation and debriefing for those pre-service teachers who undertake this placement on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands, an area administered by local Indigenous people who hold the title to the land. 
The concept of socially situated teacher education, proposed by Green and Reid, will be both used and extended by the Indigenous perspectives taken up in this aspect of the initiative.  Using place-based pedagogies, and an orientation to the specificity of cultural, geographic, historical and economic circumstances of place and community, the paper analyses the issues addressed on campus, in community and in schools for pre-service teachers to be oriented to Indigenous students, communities and knowledge in order to build respectful and challenging curriculum for their students.  As two teacher educators actively involved in the teaching and supervision of the students, we consider the range of strategies undertaken in the teacher education program and the resources developed to support students.  Data from student journals, applications to undertake placement on the Lands, support materials developed including video, historical and community background data, curriculum materials generated by pre service teachers, and briefing and de-briefing sessions will be analysed. This analysis will help us to explore the adequacy of teacher education's key social justice commitment to building knowledge and competency to work with Indigenous students, their communities, colleagues and knowledges as developed and embodied in our initiative.