Margery Evans, AITSL Chief Executive Officer. 28 January 2016.
I remember my first day as a teacher in a tiny school in the Western District of Victoria. The school has long since disappeared - students now catch the bus to larger town schools – but my recollections of the anticipation and excitement alongside the fear, stumbles and uncertainties of my first six months as a fledgling teacher remain clear and strong.
Like too many of our beginning teachers, I was largely left alone to work it out for myself. My head teacher was friendly and encouraging but I required more than that. I needed someone to challenge and critique my practice, I needed expert guidance to help me develop a richer, deeper understanding of teaching so that I could be confident what I taught was relevant and meaningful to my 17 multi-age students.
As we farewell the summer break and get our children ready for another school year - buy the shoes, name the text books and decide whether the uniforms will last another season - there’s a particular group of people who are also about to face their own new school year. I’m referring to the graduate teachers who will be making their appearance in staffrooms and classrooms across our country.
Over recent years, these young (and not so young) prospective teachers have been learning and practising their craft with the support of their professional experience schools, their peers and course leaders. Now they are about to find themselves ‘alone’ in the classroom in the company of twenty-something students in all their wondrous variety.
I know that many schools do have support structures in place, nevertheless I encourage experienced teachers to find a place in their own busy days not only to share a kind word and an empathetic moment with our new colleagues but to provide the deliberate, purposeful induction we know makes a difference to teacher and students.
The research offers two key conclusions about induction that makes a difference to beginning teachers and the learners for whom they are responsible:
- Induction is more effective as the range of supports and strategies provided expands – opportunities like regular interactions with school leaders, involvement in formal and informal teacher networks, targeted professional learning opportunities, working with other teachers in like content areas or year levels, access to practical information and time
- Practice-focused mentoring by one or more expert colleagues is an essential element of effective induction.
Further to these two conclusions, AITSL is about to release advice about teacher induction that shows the most effective support for beginning teachers is:
- extended (usually about two years)
- embedded in daily work
- emphasises skill development and inquiry into practice that is focused on maximising impact on students
- builds on what pre-service teachers have learnt in teacher education programs.
The advice also addresses both the personal and professional demands of the role (professional practice, professional identity, wellbeing and orientation) and involves a range of agencies and individuals.
To help all teachers, including beginning teachers, start 2016 armed with a bank of practical standards-referenced tools, tips and tricks that focus on helping them improve their teaching practice, we will be sharing ten of our most popular and practical resources over ten days from 2 February. Register today at www.aitsl.edu.au/1010 to receive the daily resources in your inbox, to help you teach like the best.
Finally, I also urge you to bring AITSL’s eNews to the attention of our newest educators. Since you are reading this, I guess that you are already one of our 100,000+ eNews subscribers across Australia. Honestly, I think one of the great favours you can do for our new colleagues is to help them keep up to date by encouraging them to sign up as eNews subscribers at www.aitsl.edu.au/media-newsroom/enews. I wish I’d had this resource available to me when I walked into my prep, 1, 2 class at Ellerslie Primary School.
My best wishes to all teachers (new and experienced) for a great 2016 of learning.