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Teaching in Indigenous Communities

In the school

Teaching in an Indigenous Catholic Community School (ICCS) is a life changing experience. Everyday you will engage with students and families whose everyday life may differ greatly from your own. As a teacher, the need for flexibility and creativity is enhanced as you are challenged by students with different backgrounds and cultures. The way you interact with and talk to your students will demand more effective teaching tools and methods.

A typical remote school is smaller than an urban school, enabling you to develop deeper relationships with colleagues, students and families. This experience may also provide you with the opportunity to learn another language and gain further knowledge of the culture and customs of the community in which you live.

As a member of a smaller staff group so you may be involved in whole school planning and decision making, participate in school based leadership roles, share personal interests and talents in specialist programs as well as teach a variety of subject areas.

Experience is knowledge when working in a remote Indigenous community, so look to the local assistant teachers who are skilled and knowledgeable for help on ways to manage classrooms.

In the community

Living and working in a remote Indigenous community is all about relationships and communication. As a teacher in these communities you have the opportunity to impact on the lives of students in an obvious and long-lasting way. Your achievement can ultimately make a really positive contribution in the community.

It is important to keep in mind that in a remote Indigenous community there may be different meanings behind non-verbal communication. Body language can be quite different to what you may be accustomed and there may be some gestures that have a significantly different meaning from what you currently understand. As a teacher living in an Indigenous community, you may also have to adjust your own perceptions of the right behaviour in different situations.

Every community is different. It is important to find out some of the history of the community, its members, and information on the school. Word of mouth is a very powerful means of communication, so if you establish yourself as someone who is trustworthy, respectful and listens, the community will be open to working with you.

ICCS Handbook

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