Project lead: University of the Sunshine Coast
Project funding: $45,347 Round 3 2014
This project has established sustainable partnerships between the University of the Sunshine Coast, schools and early learning centres to facilitate student professional experience placements. The partnerships support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander initial teacher educations students and their Indigenous and non-Indigenous mentors and supervisors to explore: identity, the role of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teachers and support staff in schools and the community and ways to support initial teacher educations students on placement.
The professional development program for semester 2 2014 focussed on working with the Indigenous teacher education students. In weekly meetings at the Buranga Centre, students sought assistance with a range of issues. Elders, education staff and students presented a conference paper at the World Indigenous Education Conference in Hawaii on work placements and partnerships and presented at a roundtable discussion at the Engagement Australia Conference.
The program has supported approximately 165 teachers or pre-service teachers. There is a register of 25 teachers who are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander or non-Indigenous teachers who have undertaken the ‘Developing a culture of learning through Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledges’ professional development program and plans are to grow this number. These teachers can be matched to student teachers. The professional development program for teacher mentors was delivered twice during 2015, with 24 participants.
Outcomes of this project have been shared internally within the University of the Sunshine Coast in School of Education staff meetings and Education Academic Advisory Committee meetings. Indigenous and non-Indigenous members of the team have been invited to participate in the reference group and the working party at the University level on “Embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Knowledges and Perspectives in Curriculum.” A range of presentations has also been made in external forums.
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Subcommittee was established as an outcome of the University’s first action plan developed in conjunction with the Australian Council of Deans of Education project.
The project includes a recommendation to allocate the ongoing management of the program to a member of the education academic staff who will:
- regularly communicate with program coordinators and professional learning course coordinators about the program so that they can promote it to students
- regularly communicate and engage with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Subcommittee
- maintain the online site to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student communication with each other, Elders and education academic staff
- regularly communicate with teachers on the register to maintain their engagement with the university and the development of their professional knowledge about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledges and culture.
MATSITI evaluation conclusions
The success of this program is a testament to careful planning, consultation and commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teacher education students’ successful completion of their qualifications and their empowerment as teachers. The project has a high level of involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders, staff and the students themselves. Substantial effort has been made to share the project’s findings in a range of forums and its sustainability has been carefully planned within a robust support structure.
This project demonstrates the importance of people working together and communicating effectively to achieve meaningful development of mentors and teacher education students through authentic experiences which enhance the teaching profession and outcomes for students.
Project contact: Associate Professor Karen Trimmer, Post Graduate Program Coordinator – Education, University of the Sunshine Coast