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Introduction

In this Professional Development Plan (PDP) I will reflect on my past Supervised


Professional Experience (SPE) activities in primary school settings in relation to how
I responded to a variety of diversities within the classroom. These diversities will
include religious, cultural, linguistic and socioeconomic differences. I will explain and
justify a variety of differences that I responded to, linking this justification with
educational theory and providing supporting evidence of my response such as
student work exemplars, reflection snapshots and quotes from the practicum reports
completed by my mentor teachers. I will then assess the experience I have had in
each category and create a PDP that identifies areas for improvement and outlines
SMART goals that are aligned with the Australian Professional Standards for
Teachers (APST). I will outline several professional development opportunities and
sources that are explicitly related to the goals I set for myself in the areas of
religious, linguistic, socioeconomic and cultural diversity.

Reflecting on Supervised Professional Experience

Cultural Diversity

In the SPE that I have had, Ive come across a lot of cultural diversity. This has come
in the form of cultural diversity that stemmed from having students from different
countries in the classroom, but also from the different cultures present within a
culture. I did my first two practicums at the Noosa Pengari Steiner School, which is
an alternative school. Many of the students that came to this school were from
families who were a part of the naturalist culture. Because of this, I had to
incorporate a lot of outdoor play and experiential learning into my teaching
strategies. The way I responded to this culture was to conduct many of my lessons
outside, either on the oval or in their play bush, and to incorporate nature into as
many activities as I could. One activity that I did was an alphabet scavenger hunt,
however rather than scatter things around the school, the students had to find
something in nature that started with the letter of the alphabet. By doing this, I made

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the activities student centred, engaging them by using topics and environments that
were relevant to their interests (Hyde, Carpenter, & Conway, 2016).

(Evidence - Excerpt from my SPE reflections 24th October, 2014)

The Noosa Pengari Steiner School have a different curriculum to state schools, and
my mentor asked me to do a Geography lesson that included an Indigenous
perspective. I chose to talk about the Glasshouse Mountains and to share the
Dreaming story about them. There was an Indigenous Student in the class and so I
had her read the story for the class. I wanted the students to understand the
importance of Indigenous culture and the importance of respecting this culture, and I
believe part of that is acknowledging how sacred it is. By having the Indigenous
student read out the story, I was acknowledging this sacredness. As a by-product,
the student who read the story was very happy, and said that she was proud to have
been able to read it to the class. According to Hyde (2016), classroom practices can
be improved through encouraging high levels of involvement by Indigenous people in
the management and delivery of content.

(Evidence - I used this image


in the lesson by drawing it
on the chalkboard)

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(Evidence - The resources I laminated for the student to read from)

In my third practicum, I attended North Arm State School. I was doing a Geography
lesson on special and sacred places, and realised that there were students from
other countries and cultures who would view this topic very differently. I decided that
to start the lessons activities, I would start a class discussion on special places and
ask the students to share with the class their own special places. I am glad I started
this way as there was a lot of difference in the answers that were given from
students that had different cultural backgrounds. When I continued the lesson, I
made sure to include special and significant places from many different cultures,
such as the Glasshouse Mountains, the Sydney Opera House, The Great Wall of
Chine, The Giza Pyramids etc.

Linguistic Diversity

Linguistic diversity can come in the form of speaking different languages, but also
grammar and vocabulary. There is a lot of linguistic diversity that I have come across

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in the SPE that I have attended. At Eumundi State School, there was a girl in the
Prep class I was teaching who moved to Australia from France half way through my
practicum. I had to suddenly change my lessons to ensure that this student would be
able to not only be engaged, but take some meaning from what I teaching. In
response to this, I ended up using a lot of visual aids, such as pictures, objects and
cartoon videos. One of the lessons I was teaching was a math lesson on movement.
I had initially prepared a simple worksheet (albeit a fun worksheet), however I ended
up doing a simple dance routine with the students that encompassed everything I
initially had on the sheet. Using visual cues and aids in learning is an effective
strategy in teaching English as a Second Language students (Hyde, Carpenter, &
Conway, 2016).

At this same practicum, the students had pen pals, and so when the French student
came to the class, as she was unable to write in English, I paired her up with another
student to write a letter together. The French student wrote a letter in French, and
they joined them together and sent both. This strategy is supported by Vygotskys
Zone of Proximal Development Theory (Duchesne, McMaugh, Bochner, & Krause,
2013).

(Evidence - The Pen Pal letters)

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Another response I had to this diversity was to try and include French language into
my teaching. I cannot speak French, so I would get the French student to give me
the French word for key words we were using that day. For example, during the
movement class, we used the French word for up, down and roll. I also
incorporated the language into our greeting every morning. During this time, we
already sang the Hello World song which incorporates a lot of different languages,
but I would also say good morning in English, and then in French. The whole class
loved this and the French student seemed to come out of her shell the more we
spoke in French.

(The Hello Song we would sing every morning as part of our greeting)

My mentor teacher at North Arm primary was very good at giving me constructive
feedback, and I took this on whole heartedly. In my final report, she stated in her

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comments that due to this, I have the ability to support all of the students in my
classroom.

(Evidence - Excerpt from Final Report)

Religious Diversity

In the SPE that I have had so far, I have not had to cater for religious diversity all that
much. I have not attended any religious schools for practicums or had any students
in my class that identified with any religious denomination. In other jobs that I have
had where I was working with students (as a teacher aide and in outside school
hours care) there have been incidences where I have had to cater for religious
diversity. These were usually special occasions and events, such as Christmas and
Birthdays, or Hanukah, Ramadan and Dussera. To do this, I have made a point to
celebrate all religious holidays across every religion that was represented. When it
was respectful to do so, I would try to include all students in every celebration and
activity and give some information and history about the respective holiday and
religion.

It is also important to be aware of religious restrictions and preferences of food


consumption. If giving away food treats or cooking as a class, it would be important
to know if any students in your class could not eat pork, beef, shellfish or needed to
have Halal foods.

In my future career as a teacher, if I was to have students from religious


backgrounds in my class, I would endeavour to be aware of what their religion was
and to educate myself on it, understanding the values, traditions and rules that came
along with it. I would also try to build a relationship with the parents to further my
understanding, to cater for the religious diversity as respectfully as I can.

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Socio-economic

In my SPE, there have been numerous instances where I have had to cater for
socio-economic diversity. In my second year, I did a practicum at a North Arm State
School where their homework was to complete Mathletics levels each week. A
number of students did not have computers or access to the internet at home, which
presented issues for them completing their work. Rather than have them miss out on
a lunch time to complete their homework at school, I accessed the Mathletes pages
and created worksheets from the questions that I could send home with the students.

(Evidence - Worksheet I created for homework in lieu of Mathletics)

The students could take these sheets home and complete them as homework like all
of the other students. They did not miss out on their lunch time and were not singled
out or treated differently because they were of a lower socio-economic class. The

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Melbourne Declaration of Educational Goals for Young People states that teachers
must ensure that socioeconomic disadvantage ceases to be a significant
determinant of educational outcomes (Ministerial Council on Education,
Employment, Training and Youth Affairs, 2008).

According to Duchesne (2013), play and play-based interventions are believed to be


critical for healthy brain development. Making these students miss out on their lunch
time and play time could be detrimental to the brain development and health, and it
is important to ensure that low socio-economic students are getting everything they
need to successfully develop into socially capable people.

Professional Development Plan

This professional development plan will identify what professional development is


and why we as teachers need to engage in it. It will outline the area/s I have chosen
where I think I needs to improve in relation to catering for diversity. In this plan, I will
identify specifically what I want to achieve, and outline SMART goals I have devised
in order to ensure improvement in these areas.

Professional development is a term used to reference specialised training, formal


education or advanced professional learning used to help teachers improve their
professional knowledge, allowing for a continuous cycle of learning and
improvement. As teachers, we believe that learning is a lifelong process, and rather
than learning things, it is more important to learn how to learn. In teaching our
students this, it is important to employ this for our own lives, and to be continuously
improving our own knowledge and practice through engaging with professional
development. The Australian Professional Standards for Teachers states that
teachers need to engage in professional learning and development, and more
specifically that they need to be able to participate in learning to update knowledge
and practice, targeted to professional needs and school and/or system priorities
(Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, 2017).

In my career, I would really like to focus on special needs, in particular hard of


hearing students, with an inclination towards working with ESL students who are
deaf or hard of hearing. In order to do this, I need to expand on my knowledge of

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skills and strategies that are effective in the teaching and learning of these students.
In the past, I have worked with students who are deaf and hard of hearing, and to be
more effective in my position, I undertook professional development that included
AUSLAN learning. I completed the first six levels of AUSLAN training with Deaf
Australia, and would like to expand on this knowledge. I would also like to learn basic
sign language of other countries, and learn more about the cultural issues
surrounding deaf and hard of hearing people and students from other countries. The
Australian Professional Standards for Teachers states that teachers need to know
their students and how they learn, and need to be able to cater for the learning of all
students in their class, whilst the Melbourne Declaration for Education Goals for all
Young Australians states that all students should have equitable access to education
(Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, 2017) (Ministerial Council
on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs, 2008). I believe that by
improving on my knowledge and skills in this area, I will be working towards being
able to achieve these standards more effectively, and be giving all students in my
class more equitable access to teaching and learning.

To do this, I have created several SMART goals. SMART goals consist of five
guidelines, they must be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-based.
My SMART goals are as follows:

Goal/s Objectives/Purpose Measurability Strategies to achieve Timeframe


goal
To attend a level 7 The purpose of this Completion of I will research course Courses go
course with Deaf goal is to extend on course/Attaining times and dates and for 1 month.
Australia my prior knowledge certificate from enrol in a course that I will enrol
of AUSLAN, and to Deaf Australia is close to me to within the
gain more skills for completion ensure I am able to next month.
that I can use to of level 7 attend every session.
further the Goal
education of deaf completion:
or hard of hearing 2 months
students in my
class

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To attend one The purpose of this This goal will be To achieve this goal, I I will attend
voice-off event goal is to practice measured by will join the Deaf the first
each month my AUSLAN skills, the attendance Australia Facebook event within
to interact with deaf to one event page to find out when the next
and hard of hearing per month voice-off events are month, and
people, and to happening. I will also continue to
become a part of contact my old do some
the deaf AUSLAN teacher who indefinitely
community. runs many voice off
events.
To practice The purpose of this This goal will be Meet up with a I will find
AUSLAN with goal is make sure I measured student who lives another
another student am practicing through the near me and has student to
twice a week AUSLAN so that meetings I have similar interests so practice
the learning I am with the other that we can easily with when I
doing becomes students, as meet up and practice enrol in the
concrete. well as my AUSLAN whilst doing level 7
retention of the other things for course
AUSLAN I example bush within 1
already know walking, climbing etc month
and the new
knowledge I am
gaining through
the level 7
course
Attend a sign The purpose of this Completion of I will research Six months
language course goal is so that I can course/Attaining educational bodies on
that teaches sign learn to speak in certificate from the Sunshine Coast
language from sign language from an education that teach
different countries other countries, as body for International Sign
AUSLAN is not completion of Languages and enrol
internationally either in a course. If I cannot
spoken. This will International find one, I will reach

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aide me in my Sign Language out to community
future work with intro course or members who may
deaf or hard of similar know an individual
hearing ESL who can teach me.
students.
Research cultural The purpose of this Through my There are numerous I will start
differences and goal is to understanding documentaries that doing this
issues that understand where of the cultural focus on deaf and straight
surround deaf and the deaf and hard differences and hard of hearing away, and it
hard of hearing of hearing ESL issues that people in other will be
people from students come surround deaf countries. These indefinite.
different cultures from, physically and hard of include Patrick
and countries (the country) but hearing ESL Speaks, and
also socially, students. research articles such
mentally and as Education for Deaf
emotionally. in Africa that outlines
the culture that
surrounds deaf and
hard of hearing
people in other non-
English speaking
countries.

Professional development plans help teachers to clearly identify their goals and the
actions they need to take to achieve them. My own professional development plan
has identified an area I would like to improve in, and outlined five SMART goals I
need to achieve to make this happen.

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References
Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership. (2017, May 4). Australian Professional
Standard for Teachers. Retrieved from University of the Sunshine Coast Blackboard:
https://online.usc.edu.au/bbcswebdav/pid-1213487-dt-content-rid-
6196585_2/courses/EDU413_2017_Semester_1/AITSL%20STANDARDS.pdf

Duchesne, S., McMaugh, A., Bochner, S., & Krause, K. (2013). Educational Psychology For Learning
and Teaching. Cengage Learning: Melbourne.

Hyde, M., Carpenter, L., & Conway, R. (2016). Diversity, Inclusion & Engagement. Melbourne: Oxford
University Press.

Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs. (2008). Melbourne
Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians. Melbourne: Ministerial Council on
Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs.

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