WIL Leadership Vignette 01:
What was learned from this:
Context of the event, experience or activity:
CQUniversity is a multi-campus university with several campuses located in regional Queensland. Mackay Campus delivers a number of programs, including teacher education.
Although education has a long, successful history of WIL, placing students in a regional centre means that we rely on the same schools every term, every year to take students on placement. If a supervising teacher or school has a bad experience with a student, it can harm the future prospects of him/her taking students. In addition, the wider context of national curriculum, testing and accountability together with the increased demands of teachers' work means we are faced with fewer teachers and schools being willing (or able) to take on teacher education students. This year we faced a unique situation of being unable to place all of our students on practicum.
Description of the event, experience or activity:
Rather than return to fostering individual relationships – and contacting individuals to this point had been done repeatedly - the decision was made to work with a regional director of the largest employer group of schools in the area – Education Queensland (EQ). Their interest in supporting the university related to their need for graduate teachers to work in EQ regional and remote schools. After meeting with him, a ‘Think Tank’ group was set up comprising university staff, HR officers from EQ and leaders and teachers from schools which reliably and consistently took students on placement. This ‘Think Tank’ identified the best practices from the strongest supporting schools and established the need for professional development for teachers agreeing to mentor students.
Professional development for mentor teachers was commissioned by EQ where input and feedback was sought from the university. The PD was trialled and reviewed very favourably and a decision was made to make it available to all mentor teachers in the region. A number of other strategies designed to give recognition to these teachers were also developed, amongst them an appreciation letter from the most senior director in EQ. The initiative has also led to the provision of fortnightly webinars for students in schools which takes some of the pressure off mentors to provide information about EQ processes and policies.
Justine Lawson has responsibilities as a Teaching School Coordinator at CQUniversity which means she liaises with a campus placement officer to arrange practicum for students in every year of their teacher education program. She also works with mentor (supervising) teachers and students whilst they are on placement.