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International teaching practicum experiences : the role of supervising teachers

Major, Jae and Santoro, Ninetta (2013) International teaching practicum experiences : the role of supervising teachers. In: European Conference on Educational Research 2013, 2013-09-10 - 2013-09-13. (Unpublished)

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The preparation of teachers for the culturally and linguistically diverse classrooms of the twenty-first century has become a major focus for teacher educators internationally (Dantas, 2007; Ochoa, 2010; Olmedo & Harbon, 2010). International teaching practice opportunities are one way in which the goal of building intercultural competence can be met and such opportunities are increasingly being made available to preservice teachers. Studies suggest that international teaching experiences can develop in participants, deeper understandings of other cultures and cultural practices and instructional practices and challenge deficit notions of difference in order to promote the use of culturally responsive pedagogies in the classroom (Brown, 2009; Dantas, 2007; Olmedo & Harbon, 2010). With the focus of research on the benefits to the participants, there has been little or no attention to the role of host teachers in the international practicum experience. When preservice teachers undertake a practicum in their home country context, it is usual for host teachers to play a supervisory role, and to be viewed as partners with university staff in teacher education. However, when preservice teachers undertake teaching placements in developing countries, the partnership between the preservice teacher, their associate teacher, and the university supervisor takes on different qualities in an unfamiliar context. This paper draws from a larger study which was contextualised in a four week teaching practicum in the Solomon Islands by 12 female preservice teachers from an Australian university. The study had two key aims: To investigate how an international teaching practicum shapes pre-service teachers’ attitudes towards difference and diversity. To identify elements of effective international practicum experiences that contribute to the development of intercultural competence and culturally responsive practices amongst participants.