Why were you interested in Teach For Australia?
Its mission aligned with my personal values and aspirations – to work with others to eliminate educational inequity in Australia based on socio-demographic, geography or race.
How did the program work?
Associates undergo a two-year intensive teacher training and leadership development program, which results in a master of teaching and qualification as a teacher. Once completed, they become a member of the Teach For Australia alumni network, which continues to support development as a teacher and leader in education.
While undertaking the program I taught (as a pre-accredited teacher) at Portland Secondary College in Victoria’s west. Since then, I have continued teaching while also taking on leadership roles and am now an assistant principal of the alternate programs in a regional Victorian school.
What have been the best aspects?
The intensive support provided to develop outstanding teaching practice including access to teacher coaches, an in-school mentor and a leadership coach in the second year of the program to assist in driving whole-school and system change.
I also enjoyed the four residential components, where I was able to share with and learn from some incredibly driven education-focused experts and peers.
Finally, I love teaching and providing opportunities to the next generation of Australia’s leaders and working with disengaged youth to reconnect them to learning and their community.
What has been most challenging?
The balance between university and the work is challenging. I have no doubt that being a great teacher is much more complex than being a lawyer – think about planning educational interventions (lessons) for 24 diverse students in your class and doing that six times a day, five days a week.
That and teaching 25 year 9 students Australian history on a Friday afternoon when it’s 35 degrees outside.
What was the most surprising?
The speed I was able to step up to leadership within schools, due to the skills and teaching expertise the Teach For Australia program helped me develop.
In my current job I never know what my day might hold as I am dealing with students who are both disengaged from school and often five to six years behind in terms of literacy and numeracy. My day can fluctuate from a great teaching moment to enforcing a lock down across the building for an aggressive student.
Any advice to current students?
Whatever job you choose to do, you will be building valuable and transferable skills, which cut across sectors and careers – such as from commercial law to teaching!
Do something that directly helps others. This creates for a much more sustained passion that will drive your career forward. Plus you’ll enjoy it.