"We were the real teacher": Outcomes of an international practicum in the Solomon Islands for Australian preservice teachers.
Keywords:International practicum, International field experience, teacher education, Solomon Islands, small state, cross-cultural competency, global education
International teaching experiences are touted as an opportunity for preservice teachers (PSTs) to grow both personally and professionally, including increased cultural awareness, self-efficacy, independence, and enhanced key teaching attributes. The study reported in this paper explores the outcomes of a four-week international practicum in the Solomon Islands for Australian undergraduate primary PSTs. Survey responses of 27 PSTs who undertook placement in 2014, 2015 or 2016, in either an urban K-12 Catholic school or a rural K-6 primary school in the Solomon Islands are reported. Findings indicate that participants experienced substantial development in teacher identity, classroom confidence, cultural understanding, and in their strategies for supporting students who speak English as an additional language. PSTs also reported that their worldview was impacted as a result of their exposure to this Global South Country. The minimal resources, limited access to education, and general lack of privilege in the Solomon Islands contrasted to their Australian context. The implications of these findings, in regard to the responsiveness of teacher education in engaging PSTs in this more global-focused education, are also considered.
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