Although Carine SHS has a very low number of students with an Indigenous background, we are lucky that we do have some incredible students for whom this is part of their heritage. I have had the opportunity to teach 4 or 5 indigenous students in my 3 years of teaching. I am aware that there are several unique circumstances that need to be considered when working with our indigenous students but given the small representation in our school and also in the schools I undertook practicum placement at, I did not have a lot of understanding of what those were.
In 2020, our school made the implementation of the Aboriginal Cultural Framework a priority. The actions our school took are outlined in the attached document.
Aboriginal Cultural Standards Framework May 2019 (003)
One of the most significant actions for me was when Kevin O’Keefe, the Principal Advisor, Aboriginal Education Teaching and Learning with the Department of Education came to our school and spoke about his experiences as a Noongar person in education and also as a leader in assisting schools to implement the Aboriginal Cultural Standards Framework. Kevin informed us about many of the challenges that our indigenous students face in the education system such as the impacts of differences in cultural understanding and the effects of certain health conditions such as Otitis Media on their learning.
I furthered my understanding by undertaking the Aboriginal Cultural Appreciation training provided by the Department of Education online. I also consulted with many of my colleagues who had more experience of working with Indigenous students on how best to handle certain situations that arose. We are lucky to have a fantastic teacher at our school who is an indigenous woman who was able to provide some excellent perspective as well as many who have worked in regional and remote communities with high numbers of indigenous students.
As a result, I have made changes to the way I deal with the few Aboriginal students that I have. For instance, I requested that one of our indigenous students be moved into my class instead of a colleague’s because of an understanding that she would be better suited to working with a female teacher. I also made sure to deal with any of her challenging behaviour in a culturally appropriate way.
I have also endeavoured to include Aboriginal cultural perspectives in my teaching for the benefit of all of my students. For example, my Data Science activity required students to reflect on the needs of the local Aboriginal population in their responses. With my Year 7 choir, our virtual music night coincided with NAIDOC week celebrations so I taught them an indigenous lullaby for our virtual music night which was sung in both English and in language.