Boost for teacher training
A new program to encourage outstanding university graduates to teach in Australia's most disadvantaged schools will be launched in 2010.
Teach For Australia is an innovative, non-profit organisation that combines the expertise of corporate and public sectors and the backing of Federal Education Minister Julia Gillard to recruit graduates to work in the most challenging school environments.
Among those at the helm of the new teacher education course is University of Adelaide alumnus Dr Mathew White, who completed all his postgraduate studies within the School of Education.
Dr White has been headhunted from the prestigious Geelong Grammar School to take up his new appointment as Director of Teaching and Leadership at Teach For Australia. He is also a Fellow in the Melbourne Graduate School of Education.
Teach For Australia's mission is to find university graduates who have the qualities, skills and motivation to help children from low socio-economic backgrounds to reach their potential.
Dr White said he would bring a lot of his knowledge and experiences from the University of Adelaide to his new role.
"Some key people within the School of Education at Adelaide helped mould significant parts of my educational thinking," Dr White said.
While completing a Graduate Diploma of Education (1995), a Master of Educational Studies (1998) and his PhD (2004) at the University of Adelaide, Dr White was heavily influenced by three academics.
"The late Professor George Smolicz AM, Professor Kevin Marjoribanks and Dr Margaret Secombe inspired me, guided me and opened my eyes to the possibilities that empirical research can play in bringing about change in our schools," he said.
"Their intellectual leadership, insight and vision were awe-inspiring and I hope to pass on some of the love of learning they shared with me."
Teach For Australia is a partner in the global education network Teach For All, which offers pathway programs for the world's top graduates in all disciplines. Its programs in the United States (Teach for America) and the United Kingdom (Teach First) have delivered some outstanding student results and helped raise the status of teaching as a profession.
The Australian arm was founded in January 2009 and will place its first cohort of graduates in a two-year leadership and teaching course starting in January 2010.
"These teachers will need to adjust to different cultural environments, understand the particular demands and strengths of individual communities and develop the expertise and empathy required to instigate change."
Dr White said the program would employ many of the concepts of 'positive psychology' in the training of a new generation of hand-picked graduates.
"This classroom approach helps students from disadvantaged backgrounds become more efficient and resilient, improving their grades and reaching their potential."
Outstanding university graduates who are accepted into the two-year leadership program will qualify with a Postgraduate Diploma in Teaching.
"While academic ability is important, candidates also need to have some unique qualities, such as the ability to persevere in the face of obstacles, and demonstrated leadership skills. These are all crucial when developing outstanding teachers," Dr White said.
For more information about the program, go to www.teachforaustralia.org