3. Set high academic and personal standards (and model them yourself)

This is an area of some controversy, but the teachers interviewed were adamant that standards should not be lowered for any group of students - Indigenous or not. The need to set and insist on standards is accompanied, however, by the need to maintain trust (see 1.2).

Some (not all) of the Approaches described here relate to students in 'Block Mode' or other Indigenous-specific programs. Given the realities of academic under-preparedness for some students in those programs, teachers often need to develop a range of strategies for supporting students in meeting academic standards (see 4.).

3.1 'I think it's important that Indigenous students reach the same standards and therefore feel confident and can be proud of their achievements - knowing they are equal to other students… The challenge for teachers is to design strategies to enable Indigenous student learners to reach the standard, come up to the level - this is in the context of those students being adult, mature age, "second chance learners".' (Sydney)

3.2 'I have two golden rules: One, they have to be active once they're in; and two, if even one student is here, we run the program. That one student might end up getting one-to-one teaching, but we never don't run it.' (ASHE)

3.3 'Everyone has to do a presentation, and although [the Indigenous students] are sitting there scratching themselves with anxiety, I try to be "fair but firm"… and I model what I want them to do; be on time (I'm never late); be prepared - so they know not to let people down.' (Sydney)

3.4 'I know it's controversial, but we're in a university; there are processes of argumentation, of reasoning …I have faith that by correct argument, we will arrive at the answer. I don't want to use emotion to break down arguments. I'm reluctant to see these things defined by personal experience.' (Melbourne)

3.5 'About that hoary old subject of deadlines - I always accepted that students would find it hard to meet them. Students rarely met them - I gave them the time they needed to get the work done - without penalty. Students need detailed feedback - then if they haven't met the criteria they can resubmit.' (Sydney)

Back to list of Exemplars