TEACHER TRAINING SHOULD CALL UP THE PAST

This article was published in the ‘NT Suns’ on November 7 2017

 

TEACHER TRAINING SHOULD CALL UP THE PAST

Always uppermost in the planning minds of universities and education departments, is training our future teachers. It is well known and understood that good teachers make a difference. Teachers who build student confidence and a commitment towards learning are always well remembered .

Those selected to train as teachers need to have done well in their own secondary years of education. Once relatively low tertiary entrance scores were sufficient to allow students into teacher training programs. This is no longer the case. The Federal Government wants those considering teaching to have finished in the top 20% of Year 12 students. A quality academic background is deemed essential for those contemplating entry into the teaching profession.

More recently, it has been determined that preservice teachers should pass literacy and mathematics competency tests that have been developed by the Australian Council of Educational Research. These tests became mandatory for students who commenced training from the beginning of 2017. Maths, spelling, English literacy including listening, speaking and reading tests were part of training programs in the 1960’s and early 1970’s. They should not need reinstating because they should never have been dropped.

 

Teaching Schools

Teacher training has changed over time. Until 2000, the focus for teachers on practice in schools was to be visited and advised on teaching methodology by university or training college lecturers. While lecturers still visit, the emphasis is now about partnerships between ‘Teaching Schools’ and universities. Trainee teachers are evaluated by classroom teachers who are their advisers and mentors. In each teaching school, a member of staff is appointed as Professional Learning Leader (PLL). The PLL supports both mentors and students. During practice, pre-service teachers are introduced to programming, planning and classroom teaching. A tutorial program to share ideas about teaching strategies is organised in each teaching school. Assisting student teachers to understand testing and assessment requirements is included in this focus.

The teaching schools approach is directed toward helping those in training to understand and meet graduate standards set by the Australian Institute of Teachers and the NT Teachers Registration Board. Results of literacy and maths competence are now included in registration requirements.

Could universities through their teacher training courses do more? Past university training included learning about teaching methods and the ways in which key subjects could be presented and taught. There was less onus on earning a degree and far more on teaching and classroom practices. That focus needs to be reinstated.

 

SHOWS GIVE CHILDREN A CHANCE TO SHINE

Unedited text of column published in ‘NT Suns’ on. July 25 2017.

 

SHOWS GIVE STUDENTS CHANCE TO SHINE

When people talk about the NT’s show cycle, thoughts turn to sideshow alley, pluto pups, show bags and lighter wallets. However, there is another side to shows which take place at Fred’s Pass then in Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, Katherine and Darwin. It is the chance for Territorians to display handiwork and share creative prowess.

Children and students from many schools share in this celebration. Classes enter art/craft competitions and are other categories. Individual students representing their schools or entering privately, go for art, craft, construction, cooking, and for some the making of clothes. They are justifiably proud of their prize and participation certificates. Many take these awards to school to share with classmates.

Some aspects of shows extend the work of particular educational institutions. The Katherine Show provides an excellent opportunity for students from the Katherine Rural College (an arm of the Charles Darwin University) to demonstrate agricultural, animal husbandry, and equestrian competence. The same opportunities are offered to students of Taminmin High School at the Royal Darwin Show. A visit through Exhibition Hall during the Royal Darwin Show confirms that many students and schools use this as an opportunity to display their artistic, cooking and creative talents.

Shows are an educational extension. They provide urban and town based students a chance to learn about animals and plants. Animal husbandry and horticultural awareness for many students is an experience only available during show times. Shows provide a chance for other young people to demonstrate their competence in these fields.

The show circuit also offers our Education Department and various schools the chance to let the public know about educational trends, directions and developments. Displays are often interactive and many queries for later follow up are raised by members of the public to educational personnel operating the display. Maybe more schools could consider having promotional stalls at the show when it comes to their city or town.

Sideshow alley and the various rides are of course a part of every show. However, there is much more to the show than amusement. Exhibiting and learning opportunities are very much a part of these annual events. Without doubt shows support both student learning and their sharing of skills with the NT public.