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A different model of professional development for teachers of Indigenous students

Gary Partington and Members of the Research Project Team
Kurongkurl Katitjin: School of Indigenous Australian Studies, Edith Cowan University
Many teachers are inadequately prepared to teach Indigenous students, and consequently they bring to the task of working with Indigenous students the models they have employed or experienced in other educational contexts. These, unfortunately, are often inappropriate and ineffective, so change is needed. The process by which the acquisition of appropriate and effective teaching skills takes place makes problematic the development of effective teachers for Indigenous students. Further, such development often implicitly means that change in pedagogic practice needs to occur. However, this can be difficult to bring about for a variety of reasons, including alienation of teachers when change is imposed from above, and the way in which information about new teaching skills is delivered through 'one off' professional development sessions.

This presentation will outline the approach to professional development being adopted with teachers participating in a state-wide cross-sectoral research project that is investigating the implementation and efficacy of literacy teaching strategies being used with Indigenous students with conductive hearing loss. In the present case, an initial professional development session aims to develop the understanding of participating teachers about the nature of learning problems arising from conductive hearing loss, and about what can be done in the classroom, in terms of both classroom organisation and teaching activities, to overcome those problems. This session is followed up with regular visits to participating teachers, during which teachers and researchers discuss together the strategies and their effectiveness for individual students/classes. During visits, researchers also provide feedback and further suggestions to the teachers, by way of on-going professional development. The work to date has highlighted the value of this approach in terms of building relations of trust, and in bringing about change in pedagogic practice.

Please cite as: Partington, G. and Members of the Research Project Team (2003). A different model of professional development for teachers of Indigenous students. In Partners in Learning. Proceedings of the 12th Annual Teaching Learning Forum, 11-12 February 2003. Perth: Edith Cowan University. http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf2003/abstracts/partington-abs.html

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Last revision: 16 Jan 2003. This URL: http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf2003/abstracts/partington-abs.html