Engaging and partnering with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents and community to improve student outcomes.
Improving teacher education for the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students is a major Australian higher education and schooling priority area, with teachers and school leaders needing to ‘engage professionally with colleagues, parents/carers and the community’ (Standard 7, Australian Professional Standards for Teachers, AITSL) and to work inclusively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and their families. This has been identified as the area in which beginning teachers feel the most underprepared. The resources developed by this project empower schools and teachers to build effective partnerships with First Nations peoples and communities, contributing to improvements in outcomes for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
In practice, this means all teaching graduates, experienced teachers, school leaders and initial teacher education providers need to know about the protocols of partnering with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Officers, Elders, families and community leaders to develop more inclusive, culturally appropriate and responsive teaching and learning approaches and strategies that enable student success. This project addresses the ‘how to’ of establishing, building and sustaining partnership work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents and communities through an inquiry approach and provides resources and pathways for educators to increase not only their knowledge, skills and capabilities but most importantly their ability to develop their own professional learning journey through a self-reflexivity approach.
An expert national team of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous researchers and scholars has networked across Australia to achieve this goal. The project deliberately builds on the momentum for change and improvement in higher education and teacher education occurring at all education sector levels.
This project was tasked with delivering several resources. More information can be found about these in the following sections:
You can also read the final project report.
My education career started when I became a teacher in a small rural community with a high Indigenous population. Although I loved my first year of teaching I struggled with many challenges. One of them was how to best communicate and engage with Aboriginal students, families and community. As a non-Indigenous person, I felt extremely uncomfortable about racist comments that I heard in the staffroom and community and poorly equipped to know what I could do about it. This issue set me on my own learning journey and I began to ask questions about the best ways to prepare teachers and leaders. Along the way I have asked many questions of myself. These questions have now led to my current work in teacher education and this project. So far, I have had a variety of opportunities to learn and work alongside many other colleagues also focused on improving teacher education. It is a great privilege to work with this particular team of colleagues and I hope that others will build from this work in the schools and communities across Australia and internationally.
Peter Anderson is from the Walpiri and Murinpatha First Nations from the Northern Territory. His research theorizes the understandings of the organisational value of academic freedom in Australian universities and also more broadly in the polar south. He is passionate about improving initial teacher education in order to prepare pre-service teachers to be confident and competent in all aspects of First Nations education.
My story started as a graduate primary teacher in a remote community school in the Pilbara of Western Australia where I spent the first four years of my career. Having just left home, I turned 20 when I arrived, and I learnt a lot about myself, my profession and First Nations people in the Pilbara. This was a real privilege. It was here I started to learn about Country, to listen, to realise that I don’t know it all and to understand the real power of life-long learning. I have always been one to ask ‘why’ and strive to ensure that all children have the opportunity to learn on their terms. This journey has taken me from the classroom to being a teacher educator and researcher, and to working with others to help shape and lead Initial Teacher Education into the future. It has been an honour to work with this team of colleagues and I hope your journey can be enriched as we work together to build deeper and more meaningful learning for our children and communities across Australia and the world.
I am of Yawuru descent and come from Broome, Western Australia. I have been involved in education for 38 years, eight years as a primary school teacher and the last 30 years in higher education. As an educator, I have enjoyed and appreciated meeting other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander academics, people and students throughout Western Australia and nationally. In doing so, my journey has increased my knowledge, skills and experiences in working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people beyond Broome. I am still learning and now invite you to begin your journey with us.
My journey in education began with my first appointment to a large regional school with a small community of Aboriginal students and families. It was through engaging with these families and the Elders that I began to understand from their perspective, aspects that were affecting the Aboriginal students in my classroom and the practices that would best support their learning. Over time, as I connected with different communities, I learned first-hand the importance of respect and relationships to the learning environment. These early experiences were a pivotal turning point in my career. During the last 15 years in the tertiary sector, the importance of connection to the community and relationship building has continued to be the primary focus of my work with undergraduate teacher educators. I have been privileged to have had the opportunity to learn not only from the Aboriginal students, their families and communities but also this project team. I invite you to take up the opportunity to be part of this national collective community journey.
Support for this project has been provided by the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching. The views in this project do not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching.