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Mentors

The Mathematics in Indigenous Contexts Years 6–8 project in 2003 used experienced classroom teachers as mentors. The role of each mentor was to provide advice and support to each team. The mentor brought expertise in curriculum development and implementation, and encouraged team members to explore new ideas, change teaching practices and have higher expectations. Mentors were able to actively listen and empathise with colleagues and provide feedback and guidance to those involved.

As the project schools were located in the Western Region of NSW, teacher mentors from the local district were chosen to work with school learning teams. The initial project also had the support of three university mentors who provided support to the teacher mentors as well as to the school team members. These mentors brought a deeper knowledge of Mathematics education and successful strategies for schools to implement in respect to community participation. They encouraged participants to examine their beliefs and attitudes towards Aboriginal students as learners and highlighted the contribution that engagement with community members could bring to student learning.

The teacher-mentors and university mentors proved critical in lifting school expectations of both themselves and the students, and in facilitating fruitful engagement between teachers and Aboriginal parents and community members.

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