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Professional Practice Community Engagement: Reflection With the experience of the Refugee Action Support program, I believe that I have greatly developed my teaching skills in order to meet the strengths and needs of refugee students. Prior to this opportunity, it was my goal to be able to demonstrate the knowledge of teaching strategies appropriate to the needs of students from diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and/or socio-economic backgrounds. Furthermore, I aimed to achie
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  Professional Practice Community Engagement: Reflection With the experience of the Refugee Action Support program, I believe that I have greatly developed my teaching skills in order to meet the strengths and needs of refugee students. Prior to this opportunity, it was my goal to be able to demonstrate the knowledge of teaching strategies appropriate to the needs of students from diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and/or socio-economic backgrounds. Furthermore, I aimed to achieve setting challenging (but achievable) goals for students to further develop their confidence. Importantly, for refugee students, entering a new culture and school can be a daunting experience. In my tutoring sessions, trying to support, encourage and reassure students through this educational experience was the foundation of my philosophy. Firstly, it was important that prior to this opportunity I undertook research on refugee students, particularly relating to their strengths and needs. The Department of Education website,  Roads to Refuge , was particularly helpful in providing a number of personal stories of refugee students and their families. With this, I began to understand the  paramount importance of programs (such as this one) that support refugee students. The disruption of education by language barriers and years of trauma can mean refugee students are disillusioned and/or disengaged. Hence, the right support system is fundamental. This research inspired me to volunteer my time to the Refugee Action Support program and help these students. It became fundamental to me to be a part of this. In this setting, I have effectively engaged in one-on-one differentiated support with students. I have learnt the importance of treating each student as a separate, individual entity, with their own strengths and learning needs. I believe in this way, I was able to engage with the Australian Professional Standards of Teaching  –   particularly Standard 1 “know students and how they learn”. Each week of tutoring students from different year levels, different linguistic abilities and cultural backgrounds, meant that it was important to know how each student could access information and to tailor support accordingly. For example, for students with low literacy ability levels, saying assessment questions out-loud and talking through the activities was important. Furthermore, defining each of the task terms was also fundamental  –   for example, letting students know that “outline” mean t  that they had to describe something, whereas “evaluate” mean t that they needed to make a judgement. Moreover, the level of support for writing also depended on individual student ability, with some students able to construct a coherent paragraph, while others needed more explicit guidance. In the case of the latter, breaking paragraph sequencing to the level of TEEL (topic sentence, example, explanation, and link) became fundamental for student success. This ties in with Standard 2.2.1 “ organise content into an effective learning and teaching sequence ”. That is, breaking down tasks carefully for students allowed for the content to be sequenced and pitched more appropriately. Stude nts’ responses improved when scaffolded to meet individual student’s  strengths and needs. Furthermore, seeking feedback from supervisors was also fundamental to the development of my teaching skill for refugee students. That is, particularly at the  beginning of this opportunity, tutoring subjects outside of my Key Learning Areas seemed absolutely daunting. Yet, the supervisors encouraged me to give it a try, and assured me that often students just need to be able to understand the question. Hence, throughout this experience, relying on the support of supervisors was important to my confidence and teaching de velopment. I believe this allowed me to achieve Standard 6.3.1, “seek and apply constructive feedback from supervisors to improve learning practices”.  In this way, I believe the students I have tutored have gained more confidence and motivation in their learning. I believe they have learnt the importance of seeking out support, slowly breaking down tasks, and having a real go at what is presented to them. In retrospect, this has absolutely shaped me as a teacher. The importance of tailoring learning, meeting individual student strengths and needs, as well as seeking constructive feedback are completely embedded in my pedagogy. Hence, with the experience of the Refugee Action Support program, I believe that I have greatly developed my teaching skills to meet the strengths and needs of refugee students. Prior to this opportunity, it was my goal to be able to demonstrate the knowledge of teaching strategies appropriate to the needs of students from diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and/or socio-economic backgrounds. Furthermore, I aimed to achieve setting challenging (but achievable) goals for students to further develop their confidence. I   believe I have achieved these goals, and the memories of supporting, encouraging, and reassuring students throughout the tutoring sessions will be fundamental to my role as an educator. I am more than grateful for this experience.
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