Summer school helps bring out the best

A back-to-school initiative is helping new teachers launch their careers with confidence.

22 January 2020
Nethanel Graham and Angela Moore
Image: The next wave - Nethanel Graham and Angela Moore are among the almost 850 new teachers who will start their careers with the NSW Department of Education next week.

The school year has yet to start, but some of the state's newest teachers are already heading back to the classroom.

Around 72 new and early career teachers travelled to Cronulla yesterday for the 2020 Summer School; an initiative that links teachers in their first two years of work with experienced teacher mentors.

Summer School conference organiser Janene Cook said the Summer School was about ensuring new teachers could begin their career in the classroom with confidence.

Mrs Cook said a key element of the Summer School program was the creation of learning communities based around a mentor.

"Like any job, there are some skills that teachers can only learn with experience and it's vital that our early career teachers feel supported - particularly as they start out in their careers," Mrs Cook said.

"Teachers are not just educators, but often have to wear the hat of a counsellor, a manager, a negotiator - all skills that can't necessarily be learnt in a textbook."

Course participant Nethanel Graham will start his career next week teaching Year 1 at Rosemeadow Public School.

"I'm so excited as it's something I've been working towards for the past five and half years," he said.

Mr Graham said he had been working as a casual teacher at Rosemeadow in Term 4 2019 after completing his studies in Term 3.

With the offer of a full-time position, he wanted to ensure he was ready for the challenge of the classroom.

"I learned a lot at university about becoming a teacher, but I knew there would be gaps in my knowledge and when I talked to other teachers they said this program helped fill those gaps," he said.

"I want to be as successful as I can possibly be and this course is helping me achieve that goal."

Angela Moore, who secured a six-month contract at Jindabyne Central School, said she was motivated by the determination to be as classroom-ready as possible.

Ms Moore said she would be teaching high school English across all stages and was very aware of the expectations for students in their HSC years.

"Teaching Stage 6 English the students are in the penultimate years of education - I feel nervous around that but also feel very excited," she said.

"I do feel a lot of pressure because I want to do a good job."

Like Mr Graham, Ms Moore, who is a career-changer, said she thought the Summer School would help fill the gaps in knowledge from her Masters of Education.

"I felt [the conference] would be a great way to get an insiders" perspective and might serve to ease some of the concerns I have," she said.

Ms Moore said she had learned a lot from the workshops around issues such as wellbeing tips and how to communicate with parents.

"While you do learn about dealing with parents at university you don't really get to do it in a practical way so it is good to hear from those who have the experience," she said.

Under the Summer School initiative, each mentor will work with a group of nine new teachers and maintain a relationship with their group across the year.

The Summer School program is in its second year and supports early career teachers by strengthening their educational practice while building positive professional relationships and networks of support.

The conference is supported by the Early Career Teacher Mentor Program - a network of experienced teacher mentors who provide high-quality professional advice, guidance and wellbeing support, along with a commitment to ongoing tailored mentor support for the first five weeks of term, following the conference.

Further early career teaching conferences will be held throughout the state later in the year.

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