Empowering pre-service teachers to embrace diversity
Early Childhood Association
Faculty of Education and Arts
School of Education / Fogarty Learning Centre
This paper describes a Community Links Program (CLP) which preservice teachers completed as part of their third year early childhood Bachelor of Education course. The study examined preservice teachers' perceptions of the effectiveness of the CLP in challenging them to reflect on their values and beliefs and in preparing them for teaching. It required preservice teachers to undertake 25 hours of community service in order to engage in authentic recreational experiences with individuals with diverse abilities. It challenged them to critically reflect upon their own values and beliefs and embrace diversity through first-hand experience, interaction, reflection and discursive interpretation.Preservice teachers were surveyed on the outcomes of their CLP and wrote reflective summaries on their experiences. The most notable outcomes noted by the preservice teachers were the building of positive attitudes towards people with disabilities, deeper knowledge and understandings of diversity, stronger partnerships with agencies and their clients, and greater confidence to develop more inclusive classrooms.