Expanding transcultural boundaries: The UniSA regional placement experience

Dr Martyn Mills-bayne1

1University Of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia

The University of South Australia’s Education Futures Unit enriches international students’ study experience with a suite of support initiatives within the Celebrating Cultural Diversity (CCD) Program that aim to create a ‘praxis of culture’ (Banks, 2004) and help International Pre-Service Teachers (IPSTs) to transition into Australian educational settings as part of their Work Integrated Learning (WIL) professional experience placements. In 2020 this extended to a Bridging Program that provided an internship model connecting two WIL placements at one school site, and the pilot Regional Placement Experience in Whyalla that will be the focus of this presentation.
For IPSTs studying abroad in Initial Teacher Education (ITE) programs, difficulties in successfully completing WIL professional experience placements in Australian educational environments are heightened due to COVID-19 restrictions in those school placement sites, and innovative practices were required.
This presentation describes the experiences of a group of IPSTs who successfully completed two WIL professional experience placements in regional primary schools in Whyalla, South Australia during the height of the COVID-19 restrictions. The student perspective will be shared, as well as the organisational challenges facing the academic and professional team as this innovative pilot program was implemented to provide IPSTs with the unique opportunity to experience regional placements that could lead to increased employability in the teaching field.
The increasing challenges related to the junior primary school context add to the already known ‘challenges triggered by cultural distance from their home cultures and foreign educational settings’ (Soong, Kerkham, Reid-Nguyen, Lucas & Mills-Bayne, 2020). Yet, such challenges have in turn created new transcultural ways of knowing about becoming teachers in the host society. The regional field experience central to the UniSA Regional Placement Experience brings ‘transcultural’ learning to the centre of professional experience focused pedagogy and demonstrates IPST resilience and the opportunities for expanding transcultural boundaries.

Dr Martyn Mills-Bayne is a senior lecturer in Early Childhood Education at the University of South Australia. His doctoral research explored the use of the Community of Inquiry pedagogical approach to foster young children’s empathic reasoning in junior primary schools. http://www.unisanet.unisa.edu.au/staff/homepage.asp?name=martyn.mills-bayne
Dr Mills-Bayne is the coordinator of the MENtor Program for Males in Early Childhood and a coordinator of the Celebrating Cultural Diversity (CCD) Program. Through these initiatives’ Dr Mills-Bayne helps support a more gender diverse Early Childhood workforce, as well as supporting international pre-service teachers’ understanding of Australian educational contexts and settings through experiential learning on campus and beyond.

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