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Building STE(Mathematics) through overseas exchange with Australian Initial Teacher education students May 2, 2017

Posted by Editor21C in Community Engagement, Directions in Education, Primary Education, Secondary Education, Teacher, Adult and Higher Education.
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Shirley Pic
by Shirley Gilbert

More and more cross-cultural understanding is just one of the many standards that initial teacher education providers are required to demonstrate as part of their preparation of Initial Teacher Education (ITE) programs. The professional demands placed on ITE programs suggest that in building their accreditation requirements, different approaches should be made available to their ITE preservice teachers to meets this particular requirement, and each university differs in the way it prepares its Graduate students for this career stage of the National Professional Standards for Teachers (AITSL 2011 a, b, c; 2014; 2016).

The School of Education at Western Sydney University has been providing beginning teachers with the experience to develop lessons which address the Australian curriculum’s Cross Curriculum priority area – Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA)) since 2001.

Many ITE providers (universities and others) use overseas experiences as opportunities to explore the culture and traditions of a different country (AITSL; 2104). At Western Sydney University, the School of Education’s programs offer, in addition to the cultural aspect of an in country experience, the opportunity to its preservice teachers to teach in their chosen destination country. Providing an overseas opportunity not only builds teacher capacity and intercultural connections, but allows for ITE providers to be flexible and innovative (AITSL 2014) in the ways they prepare their graduate teachers. Our School of Education Overseas Professional Experience Programs (OPEP) has been running for many years, and develops our graduates in unique ways in countries such as Thailand, China, Taiwan, Malaysia. It is also hoping to develop a specialisation with Indonesia, with mathematics teaching being the primary focus.

In Western Sydney schools, pre-service teachers benefit from achieving a greater understanding of diversity: that diversity is required not only to engage learners, but to build upon the funds of knowledge they already bring to classrooms so that learning can be meaningful. These opportunities allow our preservice teachers to reflect on their own cultural assumptions, in their own teaching, in an applied way.

It is important to recognise that countries who are signatories to Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) are part of a regional intergovernmental organisation established in 1965 among governments of Southeast Asian countries who promote regional cooperation in education, science and culture in the region. The organisation was established on the 30th November 1965 and has 11 Member Countries; 7 Associate Members; and 3 Affiliate Members countries. Over the past fifty two years, SEAMEO has developed 21 centres throughout Southeast Asia, one of them is SEAMEO Regional Centre for Quality Improvement of Teachers and Education Personnel in Mathematics (SEAQiM), which is located in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

I am working with the Director, Dr Wayhudi and his partner schools to scope out the possibilities for short term placements- specifically with a mathematics focus. Links are also being pursued in cooperation with SEAQiM with Western Sydney University  OPEP staff to secure grants to assist our students to participate in these overseas STEM experiences. Specialised teaching and professional development intensives in both science and mathematics have long been a focus in south east Asia.

This future cooperation with SEAQiM has possibilities for improving both primary and secondary teachers in our schools where teachers entering the profession in Western Sydney classrooms often have limited opportunities to develop themselves on a larger scale with mathematics throughout their regular practicums.

I am one of the two Overseas Professional Experience Coordinator’s in the School of Education along with Dr Son Truong, and am currently in Yogyakarta visiting the SEAMEO Regional Centre for Quality Improvement of Teachers and Education personnel in Mathematics (SEAQiM), and am using funds from my the Vice Chancellors Award 2016 to explore and develop additional opportunities in Asia for preservice teachers to undertake additional teaching opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). As part of my role with the School of Education working with the SEAMEO Regional Centre for Quality Improvement of Teachers and Education Personnel in Mathematics, I am striving to develop specific opportunities for our preservice teachers who wish to explore and improve their teaching in Mathematics, Science and English.

The School of Education has a long history of successful Overseas Professional Development in south-east Asia through both the New Colombo Plan Scholarship Program and the Endeavour grants scheme – however this current opportunity hopes to secure funding specifically for preservice teachers wishing to expand their portfolios in maths education. Australian preservice teachers enrolled (or intending to enrol next semester) in units 102075 Professional Practice 3 (PP3) (Secondary) or 101577 Classrooms Without Borders (CWB)(Primary/Early Childhood) will be eligible to participate in this STEM opportunity.

From this relationship it is expected that Western Sydney University students will form relationships with SEAQiM staff, partner school administrators, partner teachers and students, and with officers of the Yogyakarta State Educational Department. The accompanying Western Sydney University staff members will also form professional relationships with these groups as is evident in past joint publications and scholarly activities, and they will also form relationships with visiting academics from other SEAMEO countries (White; 2012).

Community service learning provides opportunities for preservice teachers to work in culturally and linguistically diverse sites and challenge themselves for the variety of sites they may enter into post their professional studies. The units PP3 and CWB are service learning units enabling Western Sydney University students to work in flexible and purposeful contexts that meet the needs of wider educational communities. These opportunities expand preservice teacher’s knowledge and understanding for Australian contexts when teaching their Cross Curricular Priority Area ‘Asia and Australia’ (ACARA, 2012).

The site at Yogyakarta provides a full range of teaching opportunities as well as ample opportunities to collect resources for the preservice teachers to build their own teaching toolkits back in Australia. The cultural sites include but are not limited to: Museum Negri Sonobudoyo, Pagelaran Karaton (Sultan’s Palace), Merapi Volcano Museum, Barabudur Mahayana Buddhist temple, Beringharjo Markets and Malioboro Road and surrounds.

Western Sydney University pathways to teaching and master’s program students are encouraged to visit the School of Education vUWS site for any additional information about tours on offer currently.

 

References

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) (2012). Cross-curriculum priorities. Retrieved Monday, 10 April 2017 from http://www.acara.edu.au/curriculum/cross-curriculum-priorities

Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership. (2011a). Accreditation of initial teacher education programs in Australia: Standards and procedures. Carlton South: Education Services Australia.

Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (2011b). National professional standards for teachers. Retrieved Monday, 10 April 2017 from http://www.aitsl.edu.au/docs/default-source/default-document-library/aitsl_national_professional_standards_for_teachers.

Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership. (2011c)Accreditation of initial teacher education programs in Australia: Frequently Asked Questions, Standards and Procedures. Retrieved Monday, 10 April 2017 http://www.aitsl.edu.au/docs/default-source/default-document-library/accreditation_of_initial_teacher_education_faq

Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (2014). Early teacher development: Trends and reform directions. Report prepared for the Asia Society’s Global Cities Education Network. Retrieved Monday, 10 April 2017 from http://asiasociety.org/files/gcen-earlyteacherdevelopment.pdf

Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (2016). Initial teacher education: Data report. Retrieved Monday, 10 April 2017 from http://www.aitsl.edu.au/initial-teacher-education/data-report-2016

White, A. L. (2012). Australian pre-service teachers overseas tour : implications for mathematics teaching and learning. (J. Dindyal, L. P. Cheng, & S. F. Ng, Eds.) Mathematics Education: Expanding Horizons : Proceedings of the 35th Annual Conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia, 2-6 July 2012, Singapore , 769-776. Retrieved from http://math.nie.edu.sg/merga2012/index.aspx

 

Shirley Gilbert is a lecturer in the School of Education at Western Sydney University, Australia, and is one of the School’s coordinators of overseas professional experiences for the university’s pre-service teachers.

UWS congratulates Dorothy Hoddinott, the winner of the 2014 Australian Human Rights Medal December 11, 2014

Posted by Editor21C in Community Engagement, Secondary Education, Social Justice and Equity through Education.
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from Margaret Vickers

On December 10, Dr Dorothy Hoddinott received the 2014 Australian Human Rights Medal in recognition of her extraordinary support for refugee and immigrant communities over many years.

She is the principal of Holroyd High School, a school where almost 60% of the students are of refugee-background. She describes the young people enrolled in her school as children who have suffered unimaginable traumas, who have fled for their lives, often coming to Australia by boat. Almost all have had no schooling or interrupted schooling. Defying the odds, the majority of them complete an HSC at Holroyd. Approximately 40% enter a university, with a substantial proportion being admitted to the University of Western Sydney (UWS). The UWS School of Education (SoE) proudly offers a number of programs to support the educational success of refugee-background students. Dr Hoddinott has been a consistent mentor and supporter of all our efforts in this direction.

In 2006, the UWS Vice Chancellor asked the SoE to explore problems that were arising as more children from conflict-affected countries such as Sudan, Sierra Leone, Iraq and Sri Lanka arrived in Australia. These children had mostly never attended school, never sat in a desk, and were completely unaware of the established cultural norms and practices of Australian schools. Teachers at the front line – especially those in the Intensive English Centres (IEC) – were alarmed by what they were confronting. Our first project involved asking IEC teachers to participate in study circles where they shared their experiences over several weeks. Prominent among our first participants were IEC teachers from Holroyd high school. In conversation with Dorothy and these teachers, we gained fundamental insights into the challenges involved for schools. This work gave us the inspiration to promote new projects, supporting refugee-background students in local schools and at UWS (see Ferfolja, Vickers, McCarthy, Naidoo & Brace, 2011).

From these early beginnings two substantial programs have emerged. The first is the Refugee Action Support (RAS) program, a joint initiative of the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation and the NSW DEC. Through RAS, refugee-background students in secondary schools receive in-school assistance and after-school tutoring aimed at developing their literacy skills and improving their engagement in schooling. RAS was pilot-tested by the SoE in four Western Sydney high schools in 2007. It is now supported by four Universities and operates in Western Sydney, the Riverina and the ACT, involving over 20 secondary schools.

The second program is Equity Buddies (EB) – a for-credit cross-level student mentoring program supported by an Office of Learning and Teaching grant. EB provides support for refugee-background students, helping them to form social networks and to understand the unwritten rules that underlie University success. It has now been recognised as a program that delivers more broadly defined benefits for first-year students and their mentors, including a stronger sense of ‘community’ on campus, improved writing and referencing skills, better time management, and greater cross-cultural understanding (McCarthy, Vickers & Zammit, 2014). EB is now a continuing part of the UWS curriculum that will soon be extended to other schools and campuses across UWS.

In April 2014, UWS awarded Dorothy Hoddinott the degree of Doctor of Letters in recognition of her support for social justice and her work with refugee-background students. The School of Education would like to thank Dorothy for her inexhaustible inspiration. We extend our warm congratulations to her as she now receives the 2014 Human Rights Medal.

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Ferfolja, T. Vickers, M. H., McCarthy, F. E., Naidoo, L. & Brace, E. (2011). Crossing Borders: African refugees, teachers and schools. Canberra, ACT: Australian Curriculum Studies Association.

McCarthy, F. E., Vickers, M. H., & Zammit, K. (2014). Facilitators as pedagogical leaders: the acquisition of requisite forms of capital in University settings. In S. Gannon & W. Sawyer, Contemporary Issues of Equity in Education. Newcastle, UK: Cambridge Scholars Press.

 

Professor Margaret Vickers has a distinguished career in education in international policy development, and as a senior academic leader and researcher. She currently holds the position of Adjunct Professor in the School of Education and the Centre for Educational Research at the University of Western Sydney.

UWS: A success story in teacher education and educational research November 18, 2014

Posted by Editor21C in Community Engagement, Teacher, Adult and Higher Education.
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from Steve Wilson

It has been a good year for the University of Western Sydney (UWS). Recognition of the university’s reputation as a quality institution has recently been captured by the recent publication of the Times 2014 World Higher Education Rankings. Here, UWS is noted as being amongst the top 100 of the world’s ‘young’ universities (under 50 years of age). It has also been included for the first time in the rankings of the top 400 universities in the world, marking it in the top 2% of all universities around the globe. These are great achievements for a university marking just its 25th anniversary in 2014.

There is also reason for the academics and professional staff in the School of Education at UWS to be justly proud of their own achievements in teacher education, research, and their engagement and leadership in the community. This is because a 2013 Report resulting from a high level external cyclical review of the UWS School of Education (2012), has concluded that:

The School of Education at the University of Western Sydney (UWS) has evolved into what can be considered a success story in terms of education faculties in Australia (Report, p.i).

In their report the review panel, comprising highly placed Education senior managers from other Australian universities and education systems, provides advice to the School on ways it can improve: this is, after all, a fundamental purpose of such reviews. Significantly, having consulted with UWS university students and graduates, school principals, teachers and community members during the review process, it congratulates and validates the School for the quality it is achieving, and points to a number of features of the School’s degree and research programs which have led to highly successful outcomes in teacher education and educational research being achieved by the School.

It is this success I wish to focus on here, particularly as teacher education programs across many universities often receive bad press from detractors (particularly some politicians and people in the media) who seem to often lament the quality of graduates of university teacher education, but who do not usually take the opportunity to investigate and understand what really happens in university teacher education. This is an alternative, and evidence-based good news story, from UWS.

The features of the UWS School of Education programs which are evaluated and praised by the review panel in its report include the following.

UWS’s ‘clever’ and effective course design
UWS has a postgraduate model of teacher education, meaning that students enter teacher education having completed a Bachelors degree. Through this pathway they bring an experience and maturity into their teacher education which assists them in becoming critical and classroom ready teachers. At UWS, facilitated pathways through Bachelors programs leading into the Master of Teaching degrees provide students with certainty in accessing postgraduate teacher education. According to the Review panel,

Introduction of the Bachelor of Arts pathway into the Master of Teaching was an especially smart move as this helps to prevent large numbers of students completing four years of study in education only to realise that they do not want to become teachers. This is a powerful model for linking undergraduate to postgraduate courses (p.22).

Course content and teaching approaches are also recognised by the panel as high quality features, and are addressed below.

Engaged learning and teaching
The panel’s Report commends the School on the experiences it provides to its student teachers through its program of service learning. Describing service learning as “one of (the School’s) great strengths” (p.7), and quite distinctive to what is offered in other universities, it praises the School for the range of community service projects in which student teachers can participate, and for the vast numbers of student teachers engaged in these programs (who each gain course credits for undertaking voluntary work). Commenting on the value of student teachers having the opportunity for deep engagement with people in the community, it notes that:

The Panel heard that the process of ‘getting to know people one-on-one’ through programs can be transformational – both for the UWS students and for the members of the community participating in the program (p.7).

The panel also notes the very positive responses to these programs from both student teachers, and community agencies and their clients. It notes the positive outcomes these programs achieve, including, as just two examples of many, preventing high school students from dropping out, and helping refugees improve their learning success through tutoring programs. The panel notes that feedback from external agencies and individuals involved in the service learning programs is extremely positive:

Feedback from this group was overwhelmingly positive, with many expressing gratitude and thanks to the School (including its students). One external partner that has received over six hundred student volunteers from the School spoke of the “clear commitment of UWS to build capacity in the region” … It became clear to the Panel that exemplary results are being achieved through community and regional engagement and the Panel wishes to congratulate the School on its outstanding engagement performance (p.i).

High graduate satisfaction
A clear outcome of the review is recognition that the School of Education is marked by outstanding teaching, indicated by high levels of student satisfaction with the programs and teaching. In expressing this, the panel notes that:

The Panel received many reports of the School’s outstanding learning and teaching performance, including the programs, focus, quality of teaching, and content of curriculum. The School has strong results in the Course Experience Questionnaire (CEQ) [an Australia-wide instrument for measuring graduate satisfaction with university teaching] and Student Feedback on Units (SFU) surveys, as well as excellent scores on the My University Website (p.21).

A notable element of this feedback from the panel is that it took the opportunity to meet with many present students and former graduates before making this assessment of the quality of UWS courses and teaching. Some of the comments from present and former students relayed in the report include: ‘the course was wonderful’; ‘our tutors are excellent and provide the most unbelievable amount of resources’; ‘lecturers go out of their way’; ‘teaching is excellent at this university’; ‘some subjects are cutting edge’; ‘academics try so hard’, and that the School is ‘such a better atmosphere than my first (other) university’ (p.24).

More generally, the panel reports that student comments noted

The outstanding support provided by academics within the School, including the levels of empathy and understanding shown to students experiencing stress and/or personal difficulties (p.24).

In a summative comment, the panel notes that the “overall quality of the School’s teaching and learning is excellent” (p.21). This is something about which the School’s staff should be very proud. The overwhelmingly positive feedback from the Review indicates that while some politicians and others may choose to criticise and even disparage university teacher education programs, the quality of their graduates, and point to low levels of student satisfaction with their teacher education programs, this is certainly not the case with UWS, as just one example in the university sector.

High employer and community satisfaction
While staff in the School of Education have always felt that the quality of their graduates was high, the review and report confirms this. Noting that many UWS graduates find employment in highly culturally diverse areas of Sydney, the Panel notes that:

feedback from external partners also testified to the quality of the School’s graduates and their work-readiness for highly diverse settings … (and) it was impressed that students were confident of their preparation for the diversity of the region” (p.21).

The general capacity of UWS graduates, as identified in both classroom practicum and service learning settings, is praised by external stakeholders. Some of their comments tendered to the review, as mentioned in the report, include:

The Panel also heard that that the School’s students and graduates are viewed as being enthusiastic, caring and “very knowledgeable about the needs of children”. Others commented that “UWS students are of a very high standard”; “students are fantastic”; “I am amazed at the quality and enthusiasm of the students”; and that students on practicum “know what they are doing” (p.3).

Quality and engaged research
The UWS School of Education has built up a strong research program which is both theoretically sound and of high relevance and impact (particularly, though by no means exclusively, through its engagement through research with social and educational issues in the greater western Sydney region). In reviewing the scope of educational research conducted within the School and research centre, the panel’s report

notes that the School’s research concentrations focus on: educational psychology; global children, families and communities and education; transnational knowledge exchange; equity of educational outcomes; youth transitions and high school completion; and, social ecology (p.13).

More recently, the Centre for Educational Research in the School has strengthened its research program by adding in the theme of sustainability through education.

Endorsing the quality of educational research at UWS, the panel comments that “the School has on its team a number of the best educational researchers in Australia (and in one or two cases with global reputations)” (p.13). It also notes that, relating to results in the national Excellence of Research in Australia (ERA) 2012 research evaluation process:

It is the Panel’s view that research in the School is being done well … and the Panel congratulates the School on achieving an improved overall ranking of ‘3’ … which is classified as average performance at world standard, and … now clearly above the sector average of 2.4 (p.15-16).

The panel also comments on the School’s “good reputation for graduating” students undertaking research higher degrees such as doctorates, and on the “high degree of support provided to them”, including “regular meetings with mentors who were clearly busy; opportunities to attend conferences and workshops; and, opportunities to take part in project planning of programs” (p.17). The panel concludes that “overall, the message from research students was that the School has a strong focus on the future and is “a fantastic place to be a researcher” (p.17).

The motivation for reporting these achievements at UWS is that teacher education within universities is sometimes subject to uninformed, and often quite negative, criticism. This is a good news story out of UWS which is worth reporting because, as just one example in the higher education sector, it shows a different and successful narrative for university-based teacher education. Such stories enable those who work within universities to be proud of what they do, and those outside of them to have confidence in what universities are achieving.

The message from this review of the School of Education at UWS and its recent report is that academics and professional staff in the School of Education at UWS are achieving quality outcomes. They should feel justly proud that they have a good, successful model of teacher education, supported by outstanding university teaching, and a world class program of educational research. They are achieving high quality outcomes in each of these areas.

This review indicates that current UWS students, former graduates, schools and learning institutions who employ these graduates, teachers who work with them, and the community at large, have every reason to be confident in the education that graduate teachers and researchers who have attended UWS have received. They should be equally as confident in the capacity of these graduates to make lasting, positive impacts on their professions, on the lives of children and the general population, and on the world, during their professional lives.

 

Steve Wilson is Emeritus Professor at the University of Western Sydney and Adjunct Professor in the School of Education at UWS.

Equity Buddies: A student social network supporting retention and achievement at UWS August 26, 2012

Posted by Editor21C in Social Justice and Equity through Education, Teacher, Adult and Higher Education.
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from Professor Margaret Vickers

When we ask how the University of Western Sydney can contribute to the Western Sydney community, we need to recognise that UWS itself needs to function as a community, creating new social connections and supporting all the students who come to us.

Equity Buddies (EB) is a for-credit cross-level student mentoring program developed with support from an Office of Learning and Teaching grant. Initially designed to provide support for UWS students with refugee backgrounds, it delivers clear benefits for the mentors as well as the mentees who participate in EB. These benefits include a stronger sense of ‘community’ on campus, improved writing and referencing skills, better time management, and (importantly) greater cross-cultural understanding. An alarming finding from our review of student reflections was that many students seemed, through Equity Buddies, to ‘discover’ for the first time that if you use relationships as a resource you can solve problems, do better work, and feel more confident. One student said,

This gave me a completely different idea about what the University experience can be. It’s not just about results.

This was not an isolated comment. Many students were surprised that ‘community building’ and ‘networking’ could be so powerful.

In the first iteration of EB, 50 second and third year students committed to one-to-one mentoring of 1st year students who met with them each week, engaging in mutually-negotiated activities that were sometimes social and sometimes academic. The broader significance of this project is that it demonstrates that students, many of whom are new arrivals or even students from refugee backgrounds, can provide very effective supports for first year students. Mentors found that in the process of doing this work their own academic skills improve. All students who participated in EB interacted with and learned from people whose cultural backgrounds were different to their own.

This was not merely a process that broadened the perspectives of Anglo-Australians; students from immigrant families reported similar learning, and a growth in respect for others. For example, a Christian Iraqi decided – after making friends with a Lebanese Muslim – that Islam was not always a ‘punitive and narrow’ religion. A Somali immigrant sympathised with and supported a newly arrived Vietnamese international student who is still struggling with English. Numerous examples could be cited.

Students come to UWS from very diverse ethnic backgrounds and often they remain sequestered within these ethnic groups after enrolling. By structuring opportunities for our students to know and support each other academically and socially across these divides, we could well make significant contributions to improved cross-cultural understanding in the Greater Western Sydney region.  

Margaret Vickers is a Professor in the Centre for Educational Research in the School of Education at the University of Western Sydney, Australia. Equity Buddies was established in 2012 through a grant awarded to Margaret Vickers and Dr Katina Zammit. The project manager is Jan Morrison.

Serve to learn, learn to serve May 6, 2012

Posted by Editor21C in Community Engagement, Social Justice and Equity through Education, Teacher, Adult and Higher Education.
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from Dr Loshini Naidoo

By experiencing service learning, pre-service teachers develop pedagogical and professional skills as they teach, and learn from, transnational and Aboriginal high school students. This strengthens their insight and appreciation for their own lives, and the diversity of of the lives of others, and gives them a desire to continue serving and making a difference.

Many definitions have been offered for service learning but the most fitting definition is provided by Bringle and Hatcher (1995, p.112), who state that service learning is “a credit-bearing educational experience in which students participate in an organised service activity that meets identified community needs”. The value of service learning is aptly described by Eyler and Giles (1999, p. 8), who point out that

experience enhances understanding; understanding leads to more effective action. Both learning and service gain value and are transformed when combined in the specific types of activities we call service-learning”.

The ability to fully promote civic responsibility and build on the academic course content is integral to service learning activities ( for example, through the Crossing Borders, Refugee Action Support (RAS) and Community Action Support (CAS) programs offered in the School of Education at the University of Western Sydney). Service learning is also embedded in the formal teaching unit (subject) “Diversity, Social Justice and Equity” in the Secondary program, where pre-service teachers are given an opportunity to develop the inter-relationship between theory and praxis (click here to access an overview of these programs).

As a result of globalization, an increasing number of transnational students in Australia face the challenge of learning English as well as acquiring an understanding of how Australian institutions work socially and academically: i.e. how to behave in formal and informal settings, what the rules are, and how to relate to peers and lecturers. Therefore increased acculturation to the university as a social setting is essential for students who are attempting to understand how to negotiate their transitions from university to work, especially for those who are seeking to explore the options available in terms of teaching in Australia.

The Crossing Borders peer mentoring strand is offered to any Master of Teaching student who was trained overseas, whose previous degrees were obtained overseas and who is expecting to work in education in NSW. The program is intended to support the development of critical thinking skills; raise self awareness and understanding of others; provide opportunities for refining a wide range of interpersonal skills; help define the elements of effective group interactions and encourage transnational students to reflect on aspects of their own culture and those of others.

In the Refugee Action Support (RAS) program, which involves tutoring newly-arrived high school refugee students, pre-service teachers learn about the individual histories and backgrounds of their students, about cultural differences, and about gaps between what students know and what schools expect of them. This type of interaction leads to a personalisation of the refugee students by the tutors, imparting a lesson of needing to know your students in order to teach them. For pre-service teachers, diverse service learning experiences like tutoring refugee students and mentoring transnational pre-service teachers can be useful in moving prospective teachers toward greater cultural sensitivity.

Finally, the Community Action Support (CAS) service learning program involves mentoring high school Aboriginal youth in a variety of literacy and communication areas. This service learning program occurs in a remote area of the Northern Territory, Australia, and allows pre-service teachers to experience life in an Aboriginal community from an Aboriginal perspective. Pre-service teachers see the experience as an opportunity to adapt their knowledge and skills to this unique context and challenge pre-conceived notions around Aboriginal education.

It is evident that pre-service teachers who have engaged in these service learning activities learn how to connect educational values with community action in a relationship that benefits everyone involved. In so doing, they have learned to serve in ways that bridge the gap between service learning experiences and classroom processes. Through the lens of reflection, those involved in these service learning experiences discover its very essence. As a pre-service teacher stated on completion of their service learning activity, “I am now ready to teach”.

References:  Bringle, R.G., & Hatcher, J.A. (1995). A service-learning curriculum for faculty.  Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 2, 112-122.   Eyler, J., & Giles, D. E. (1999). Where’s the learning in service-learning? San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publications.

Loshini Naidoo is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Education at the University of Western Sydney, Australia. She is highly experienced in the design and delivery of, and research and scholarship around, academic service learning for teacher education students. Loshini was recently announced as a recipient of the International Centre for Service-Learning in Teacher Education’s Outstanding Individual Educator Award for Outstanding Contributions to Service-Learning in Teacher Education for an educator outside of the United States, and receives this award at Duke University in North Carolina in June, 2012. The School of Education at UWS is fortunate to have a group of highly accomplished academics in the area of service learning, and together they have gained national and international recognition for the quality of the programs they offer and the positive impact they have on outcomes for school and teacher education students, and on community agencies and their clients.

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