You have decided to take the leap and apply for a position as a remote teacher in an Australian outback school. We are so excited for you. This experience will be life changing.
But you might feel a little overwhelmed and stuck with writing a job winning application. Don’t worry- we can help.
Address the application criteria or AITSL domains
Depending on the state/territory you may be given specific criteria, general criteria or the direction to apply against AITSL domains.
The challenge will be to weave your university knowledge, practicum experience and other relevant experiences into cohesive, strong paragraphs that address the criteria.
To do this you will likely use: SAO (Situation, Action, Outcome), CAR (Context, Action, Result) or STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result).
When choosing what to write about you need to select the strongest workplace or teaching practicum examples that can be aligned to the criteria and demonstrate how these relate to remote teaching context. They should show the complexity and quality of your teaching experience, demonstrate these your pedagogy in action, link your action to impact on students, describe results and explain how these will be transferable to the remote teaching context.
If you find yourself lacking experience to discuss it might be worth seeking professional development, volunteer work and employment opportunities to improve your application:
- Volunteer with local charities that support First Nations peoples in your home community- especially youth
- Consider tutoring with Need A Tutor and requesting to work with remote First Nations students
- Look at joining a program like SWIRL, Department of Education WA Remote Connections Program or Queensland’s Beyond the Range Program
- The Remote Teacher courses and memberships
- We Al-Li Cultural Awareness and Trauma Informed Practice Programs
- Stronger Smarter Philosophy
- And other training from our directory list here and our reading list is available here.
To help you address the criteria you might want to incorporate some of the following information:
First Nations education within the Australian Curriculum and outside of it
Not only will having a strong understanding of the Australian Curriculum allow you to be able to differentiate for the diverse levels of your First Nations students when you are appointed your position- therefore making you a more standout applicant- but it is an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of how First Nations education is represented and prioritised. Read: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures Cross-Curriculum Priority, Framework for Aboriginal Languages and Torres Strait Islander Languages.
Your primary role as a remote teacher is to be a culturally responsive educator. Check out this reading list to improve your understanding of Aboriginal culture and education.
English as a Second Language and Dialect
Lots of your students in remote community schools will be ESLD- often speaking traditional language, Kriole or Aboriginal English without every needing Standard Australian English until school (and only during school times!).
Having an understanding of how to cater for your students- and then including this information in your application will make you stand out. Read: Meeting the needs of students for whom English is an additional language or dialect, Support for Teachers: English as a second language
Challenges that remote First Nations students may face
First Nations people in remote communities have many unique strengths and vulnerabilities. A history of invasion, colonisation, frontier fighting, Stolen Generations, interventions, laws and control have left some communities with intergenerational trauma. An awareness of our First Nations history, and of the ongoing issues that may* face students in your future remote community will enhance your teaching application.
Some remote communities have strong Elders and community advocates creating change, some have strong sense of identity and connection to land, language and culture. Some communities have Native Title determined and self govern. Some communities have grog bans and restricted access. Some have powerful ranger programs, First Nations owned businesses and training programs. Some creative industries are thriving in community.
Some First Nations people, families or communities are deeply impacted by alcohol and drug problems, youth crime, violence, sexual abuse, domestic violence, high welfare dependence, low student attendance and other societal issues. Some. Every person, family and community are different. Just as we would face these issues in mainstream, rural and city societies we see them here.
Some statistics are clear and confronting- and an understanding of the issues raised by them will enhance your application and interview.
The Closing The Gap Report 2020 states that “from the first year of schooling there is a gap in attendance for Indigenous children” with “86.4 per cent of Indigenous children were enrolled in early childhood education compared with 91.3 per cent of non-Indigenous children”- but “Indigenous early childhood education attendance rates tended to decrease with increasing remoteness”. The Report also explains that this gap in attendance may be influenced by things prior to the child even entering the school gates- “including caregiver expectations towards education, family functioning and the health of family members (Keating and Hertzman 1999; Gray and Beresford 2002; Dalziel and Henthorne 2005; Zubrick et al. 2006; Hancock et al. 2013)”. Remote communities are significantly affected by attendance issues according to the report with ‘very remote areas having attendance rates of just 61 per cent in 2019’. The figures are even more stark when looking at the secondary school data “average attendance rates of 2 to 3 days per week extended to Indigenous secondary students living in Remote and Very Remote areas of the Northern Territory, as well as Indigenous students in Very Remote areas of Western Australia and South Australia”. The Report also shows that the proportion of Indigenous Australians aged 20–24 years attaining Year 12 or equivalent
level of education decreases with remoteness- 85 per cent attainment in major cities compared with 38 per cent in very remote areas.
Your future students in remote community classrooms may* have a higher incidence of some health issues including: Otitis Media, FASD, trauma as well as things like scabies from overcrowded housing etc.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is an acquired brain injury due to prenatal alcohol consumption. The Marulu Strategy- Lililwan Study found that children studied in the Kimberley had a rate of around “1 in 5 children have FASD, some of the highest known rates in the World”. An understanding of FASD and how to cater for students with disability in your classrooms will enhance your remote teaching application.
The Closing the Gap Report states “incidence of hearing impairments, for example, is higher for Indigenous children living in remote Australia relative to Indigenous children living in non-remote areas (AHMAC 2017).
Studies have linked health issues, such as hearing loss, with lower school attendance (Su et al.
2019) and lower educational attainment (Conti et al. 2010)”.
The Report also highlights the gap in life expectancy males 65.9 years and females just 69.6 years. This also has a huge impact on your future students- not just for their personal life expectancy but for the way they live. Your students may be required to experience grief and loss regularly, attend many funerals across large geographical distances, participate in cultural grieving processes that impact education and more.
According to Creative Spirits ‘95% of Aboriginal people in Australia have been impacted by a suicide’. Suicide is the fifth leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and for Aboriginal children aged 14 years and less, suicide is the second leading cause of death – and they are up to 8 times more likely to die by suicide than their non-Aboriginal peers. These sobering statistics may very likely impact the lives of your students. An understanding of student wellbeing, mental health, grief and loss, trauma and suicide prevention will help to improve your application.
The Closing the Gap Report has First Nations employment at “35 per cent in very remote areas”. The impact of this statistic can be felt throughout whole communities- self-worth, self-determination, poverty, housing, diet, role models and more. You might discuss how you empower and work with your local Aboriginal Education Officer in your application to teach remote. You may also like to discuss how you link learning to real life- and to potential job pathways in the future.
According to AIHW “young Indigenous Australians aged 10–17 were 21 times as likely as young non-Indigenous Australians to be in detention on an average night”. This has a huge impact on their education- arriving tired, distressed or with high levels of adrenaline from events outside of school. A discussion of how you will engage disengaged young people or youth in juvenile justice systems may set your application apart.
How you have overcome challenges in your teaching placements/career
The Department of Education in the Western Australia directly ask how you will deal with ‘the challenges, personally and professionally, you think you would face living and working in a remote community’. Showing that you have considered the isolation, lack of access to services, distance between major centers, small school community and challenging student behaviour or learning needs- will set your application apart from others.
Challenges you should consider:
- Isolation- connection with your supports (friends, family, medical) via Facetime, phone and mail
- Lack of services
- Small school community- ability to work collaboratively, conflict resolution strategies
- Culture shock- your wellbeing and mental health strategies and supports, preparation and learning prior to moving remote, participation in cultural awareness
- Overwhelm- wellbeing and mental health routines, work life balance, access to support services
- Vicarious trauma- understanding of vicarious trauma, knowledge of services, wellbeing and mental health routines
Need to improve your remote education knowledge before applying? Check out our range of courses here. Want more support once you have landed the job- maybe our Survive and Thrive Membership is for you.
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