Another important aspect of the work led by Yalu’ included Yolŋu Assistant Teacher workforce development. This involved weekly meetings with the Yolŋu teachers every Friday from July to November 2016. As a result of these meetings, the Yolŋu teachers have written a collective statement containing
elements of what they would like to see happening in the school (related to their work as Assistant Teachers). The document was produced in Yolŋu Matha. It identified important areas such as work with Balanda (non-Indigenous) teachers and parents regarding discipline of students; the dynamics of their team work with Balanda teachers (and how to create balance and harmony), how they (Assistant Teachers) can be more productive as well as assertive in the classroom, and other matters related to their own professional development. These are now a focus of discussions between Yalu (representing the Yolngu teachers) and school management. An experienced retired teacher, Ms Noela Hall, who taught at Galiwin’ku for 30 years, provided eight weeks of professional development and mentoring support to Yolngu teachers. These sessions were called Learning Together as Balanda teachers were also invited and encouraged to attend. The sessions were designed as a biliteracy program with the following aims: valuing, retaining and developing staff.
The Learning Together sessions were considered professional development for teachers and it proved to be an engaging way for Balanda and Yolngu teachers to strengthen their language skills. Total sessions and attendance are listed below:
• Session 1: 30 (17 Yolŋu teachers)
• Session 2: 34 (13 Yolŋu teachers)
• Session 3: 30 (4 Yolŋu teachers*)
• Session 4: 26 (14 Yolŋu teachers)
• Session 5: 25 (9 Yolŋu teachers) – some Yolŋu teachers were away attending training in Darwin
*funeral and ceremonies
Note: Two cultural advisers (Elders) participated in all sessions - Dorothy Gapany and Daisy Gondarra.
As a result of Yalu’s work during mentoring, cultural awareness and Learning Together sessions, the following outcomes have been achieved:
- better engagement for team teachers (Balanda and Yolŋu);
- higher student engagement (for the ones participating in mentoring);
- more support to Yolŋu teachers who started to demonstrate more confidence and willingness to complete their studies as assistant teachers (Diploma and Bachelor Degree).