Mentoring the next generation
GOING from university into the role of a teacher can be a daunting experience, and a strategic conference held in Ipswich over the weekend aims to encourage those new to the education sector.
Emerging Innovators is a two-day mentoring conference for early career teachers across the region and is the brainchild of a teacher at West Moreton Anglican College (WestMAC).
Teachers from all-over south-east Queensland descended to the Karrabin campus to learn about the benefits of having a mentor, and forging that relationship in a way to encourage and bring through the next generation. It was all the brainchild of WestMAC Head of Middle School John O'Sullivan Williams.
Three prominent principals took a day away from their schools to present at the college, which hopes that this is something that could be a regular event.
St. Margaret's Anglican teacher Briar Bracey has only been teaching for four years, and relished the chance to attend the conference.
"I get a lot out of things like this, because universities try their best, but can't equip everyone for the reality of teaching," Ms Bracey said. "Principals say to 'throw yourself in' and learn from experience, so I'm really looking forward to be a more experienced educator. I've been fortunate that I'm learning so much from caring and professional teachers."
The conference was designed to bridge the gap between new teachers, and those with experience so that with a mentor on board, those new to the profession will become more engaged in their workplace, with a network of support to deal with the pressures of a demanding role.
WestMAC Principal Geoff McLay believes that he and other principals have a responsibility to help the next generation.
"The research around the number of teachers leaving the profession is rather alarming, and John's idea was to promote an environment for early career teachers to give them skills and connections, so they feel supported, not only at their schools, but at other schools across the region," Mr McLay said.
It's our responsibility to help grow the next generation of leaders in the profession, that's what motivates me.
"It's the second most important profession after parenting."
Head of Middle School and the creator and facilitator of the conference John O'Sullivan Williams said that teaching is a rewarding profession, yet at times we all need support.
"We focus on providing quality learning opportunities for our students, however at times its overwhelming on the teachers balancing life and work."
The conference aims to provide early career teachers with connections to their colleagues, experienced mentors and developing leadership practices that will help engage them in long term careers in education. Following the first day of the conference, teachers will return to their schools and with support from their newly acquired mentors, begin engaging in leadership projects. The second day of the conference in October will see both the mentor and mentee returning to WestMAC and presenting their reflections from this experience.