4. Provide scaffolding and support when needed

Due to the non-traditional academic pathways some Indigenous students take in order to reach university, support and scaffolding are often central to the teaching. As with all students, support and flexibility may be needed outside as well as inside formal classes, but issues such as chronic ill-health, and community obligations, are known to affect Indigenous students more than most.

Indigenous centres and Indigenous colleagues will provide helpful advice when they can. However, developing one's own understanding of Indigenous histories and contemporary social realities will be needed if Indigenous teaching (and support) is to be both effective and appropriate.

4.1 'I try to be encouraging, I listen respectfully to students' questions… With a subject like anatomy, I'm careful to decode the language - to teach them about the terminology. I make sure I orientate the diagrams - "This is a diagram of … It's from this angle…" What seems easy to me is not, for new students. I've developed some Plain English notes - it's scaffolding.' (Sydney)

4.2 'Scaffolding is a big thing for me. With the Block, they are only here 4 times a year - and I only have them for 4 days for each subject. But I have them for 26 hours face to face. Then they have tasks that they take back. The problems occur when they go back - so I scaffold everything for them, at every level… But the interesting thing is that some of them still miss the mark. I remind them that they can ring me any time, and talk toll-free…' (Macquarie)

4.3 'The students are very clear about my expectations of them. I have structured the learning and assessments in a workbook - it's all in there. I observed that students can't do what we take for granted, for example, managing pieces of paper - so I put it all in there for them.' (Sydney)

4.4 'Criticism is a big thing. We call it "feedback" but it all needs to be softened. Sometimes they take it particularly hard - like with the plagiarism stuff, they've had lecturers before who haven't picked it up - and suddenly there's this person criticising them.' (Macquarie)

4.5 'Students sometimes come in seeming very low, flat, apathetic, depressed… The very first thing is to work out their mood. I use the warm-up activities to get them into the mood, sometimes, but I don't waste their time if they don't need it, if they are ready to go.' (ASHE)

4.6 'Note-taking - it's a challenge for people new to learning, especially in my area where there's a lot of terminology. I spend time on process skills, for example on looking up glossaries - and I give formal feedback on those things - so some of the teaching is on formal academic skills.' (Sydney)

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