Caleb was in his second year of primary teacher education program and undertook his first teaching practicum in Semester 1, 2013. Involved in the university elite athlete program, Caleb divided his time between training and university study; basically, the university degree was more of 'back filler' for the elite sport.
A shift in attitude towards the degree occurred after the first teaching practicum, when Caleb experienced respect and acknowledgement of his cultural identity, and his knowledge and ability, and he was respected and valued by the school community. The relationships that developed between his supervising teachers, children in his class, and the school administration impacted positively on his pedagogical approaches and classroom management style.
The professional respect he received from his supervising teachers triggered his confidence and preparedness to take on the full responsibilities of a classroom teacher from his very first practicum.
'He has had confidence from the moment he as walked into the room. He has never, not once, come across as nervous. After every session that he has taught, I give him a print out of everything that he did, the start, middle and the end, behaviour management and feedback and so we go through everything all the time and he will say oh I was really nervous at the start and I didn't see it! You don't see it at all because he is just in there and it is natural to him. It is really nice to see.' (Hannah, supervising teacher, 2013)
Caleb developed a unit of lessons and assessment on a Torres Strait Islands legend. It originated as an art lesson but also translated into a language unit. Children in the class were then asked to compose their own stories on survival on long journeys, from students' artefacts, the lesson was fun and a meaningful learning experience.
Caleb converted the storyline and moral of the story into a contemporary living experience, inviting children to situate themselves as the protagonist embarking on a journey and imagine strategies to ensure survival. The art lesson facilitated learning by engaging students on an emotional journey, yet assessed through creative art and language assessment criteria.
'He has done a good job, not just for the Indigenous kids, but for everyone in that class, he really has made it… It is nice that you come out and you two have that rapport because you know we have preservice students from other universities and no one comes out to visit them while they are here and it is really hard for them. (Deanne, site coordinator, 2013)
Caleb's successful practicum evolved from the respect and recognition by the supervising teacher, their negotiated pedagogical spaces and Caleb's agency to position himself as teacher with responsibility to children's learning in a culturally safe environment, a total transformation from a carefree university student. Caleb admitted in the focus group discussion: 'I was really happy - like growing up and all'. The site coordinator concluded:
'It would be great to have him and it would be a great asset for us. I've said that to him a couple of times, we need to get you when you are done. Hurry up! He does have a persona and he can enrich our kids. That is what it should be all about.' (Deanne, site coordinator, 2013)