In the ED4306 subject, Kate and Kerrie say they prepare teachers with a whole toolkit of methods to identify and support students’ literacy needs.
Kerrie, who has spent several years teaching and researching literacy development in remote communities, has seen some of the difficulties that students can face first-hand. “We encourage pre-service teachers to account for the barriers and disadvantages that students may experience when it comes to reading and literacy. We know what a difference this literate capacity can make in the students’ lives,” she says.
Kate, who also comes to the subject with many years of experience as a classroom teacher, principal and literacy support expert, says the subject prepares pre-service teachers to support students of all ages. “It can be a challenge to navigate the complexities of learning for Dyslexic students but one that is very important. Early intervention for students means less intervention overall,” Kate says.
Key to this early intervention is phonological awareness and, while there are some debates about the best method to support students — dubbed the ‘reading wars’ — Kerrie and Kate enable JCU pre-service teachers to understand the theory underpinning a variety of practices. In this way, the pre-service teachers are prepared for different contexts and student needs.
“Although it might be a time of change and uncertainty in education — with the impacts of the pandemic — we prepare pre-service teachers in line with the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority’s (ACARA) recommendations and provide them with research-supported and intentional approaches to reading,” Kate says.
“It’s a matter of teachers employing a range of strategies of support,” Kate says. “This includes incorporating diagnostic assessment as part of their teaching practice and, where there are secondary students who may be diagnosed with Dyslexia or other learning disabilities, teachers can support students with texts that meet their personal interests. This is in addition to homing in on skill deficits that exist. It’s important to maintain a learner’s positive experiences and a positive identity around learning."
“Pre-service teacher education at JCU is a place where our teachers can develop their teaching practices. As lecturers, we encourage teaching practices that support all students in their literacy development. Some students may not have a diagnosed condition but will benefit from guided, individualised and intentional literacy support.”
ED4306 lecturer, Dr Kerrie Mackey-Smith