The Celebrating Cultural Diversity (CCD) Program is part of the inclusive commitment to all students studying in the School of Education at the University of South Australia. In Australia, professional experience placements form a significant component of a pre-service teacher’s (PST) study programme. In principle, it is the professional experience that enables PSTs to apply and test concepts they have learnt in the university in a real life educational context.
However, for many students, both domestic and international, the assessed professional experience practicum can be rewarding, as well as stressful and challenging. There are challenges that PSTs have to learn from their individual experiences (such as behaviour management issues of students, the lack of respect for PSTs, and problems with communicating their mentor teachers etc). These challenges are further intensified for international PSTs because of their cultural and language differences, previous education experiences, limited understanding of Australian teaching and learning styles and the various curricula used in early years, primary and secondary settings.
As a pioneering program in the School of Education, the CCD program aims to provide international PSTs:
- a safe space and time for the international PSTS in their first years to be exposed to the unique culture in Australian schools and education sites;
- some initial mentoring guidance from field-based experience by the educators in the sites;
- experience in intercultural communication and various cultural complexities at the education sites.
These aims will continue to be achieved through a series of on-campus workshops and non-assessed experiences in sites, supported by teaching and academic staff.