FASTstream participants and mentors discuss how the program has developed their skills as teachers and leaders, and benefitted the students in their schools.
Rebecca, what made you apply for FASTstream?
Rebecca: Initially it was a conversation that I had with my principal at the time, and he encouraged me to apply for the FASTstream program. And after coming away from that conversation with him, I recognised that I was ready to make an impact beyond my classroom.
Why did your school apply to be involved?
Heather: We thought that we were well-placed to support a FASTstream participant. We’ve got really strong structure and procedures and processes in place to support the development of school leaders. And we were really looking forward to being part of a project that was aligned with the School Leadership Institute.
My role involves being both a classroom teacher and taking on new roles that build my leadership capacity. At my school, it is one of the biggest primary schools in NSW, with a large staff, and it also has a dynamic executive team that build the capacity of all their staff.
I’m most looking forward to the professional learning and of course being part of a shared community that has a like-minded vision and purpose.
So the benefits to Mt Terrey are that we’ve had an aspiring leader join our team. We’ve also been able to part of the professional learning that the School Leadership Institute has provided. And we’ve also been able to think about the things that we do as a school and revise them, to develop new leaders and develop leadership capacity.
This has helped develop my own leadership. I reflect on what I do, and how I can articulate the things that I do to help Rebecca to grow in her leadership capabilities and capacity.
Having Heather as my mentor has been invaluable. We have deliberate and deep conversations regularly, and her knowledge, her expertise and her guidance have given me the tools and the confidence to reach my potential. (07:10:04)
Mentoring with Rebecca is a very fluid process as well as a very structured process. We work together often, intentionally, on things that she would like to work on and have conversations about things that she would like to have conversations about. And also there’s a fluidity to it as well. So there’s a drop-in part of it, sometimes there’s mentoring, sometimes there’s coaching, sometimes it’s just catching up and having a really lovely, meaningful conversation.
It’s been a really lovely thing to work with Rebecca.
I applied for FASTstream because I was really excited to get experience at different schools, be mentored by a range of teachers and leaders, and the support available from the School Leadership Institute is world class, and I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
I’m most looking forward to being able to build relationships with other teachers and leaders and my mentors. Also getting to attend conferences like the ones that we’re at today, to meet other teachers and learn together is really valuable to me. And just the range of professional learning that I might not get to otherwise experience that is set up for me and really meets my needs, is really important.
Mentoring is helping me so far by being able to settle in to The Junction Public School really seamlessly. I got to spend a day there last year with Luke my mentor and a few of the other school leaders. And also it’s given me the opportunity to have weekly meetings with my mentor, reflect on my process, set goals, and really look at all the opportunities I have for development in the school.
Strategies I’ve used to adjust to being a beginning teacher in the FASTstream program are always asking the questions. I always lean on Luke and other experienced teachers around me to seek out feedback, ask any questions I have and use their knowledge to help me become a better teacher. Setting aside time every week with my mentor has been really helpful to ask questions, set goals and stay on top of everything school-related. And prioritising my to-do lists, always making sure I’m doing the most important things first, and controlling the things I can control to account for the things that I can’t.
I really encourage anybody who’s interested in school leadership to apply for the FASTstream program, open-minded and ready to learn, because it provides you with great opportunities and a wealth of experience.
I see the benefits of being a FASTstream participant as most importantly the networking opportunities it gives you. Additionally I’ve had the opportunities to move schools, and that has given me a whole different range of perspectives. So the opportunity to see different schools, different environments, different ways of doing things and to meet lots of different people is invaluable.
And you also have a team surrounding you who support you in your professional learning and provide opportunities for you that are best for your career moving forward.
I’m extremely lucky to have Michelle as my mentor. She is also an AP with me and we work together in a very collaborative fashion. She has created a relationship with me whereby we can have lots of laughs, and we can share the good times and the not-so-good times, and just reflect upon our practices together. And having that relationship means that we can have some tough conversations where we are working through difficult things, but we can also share our successes and be each other’s cheerleader through all those good times and sometimes the not so good times.
The building of trust has, I think, taken time. And we’re certainly along the journey of building trust with my colleagues. And just really be aware that it does take time and you need to be respectful of the fact that it can be so easily broken. So the strategies I’ve used is giving of my time, being available to have conversations with people, to listen, to listen to their needs, their wants, what they want from me.
I’ve taken the time to understand the ‘why’ of things in the school and respecting the culture of the school. And also seeing myself as a gift to that school. So I’m there to work with people as part of their team, and we’re all on a journey together to collaborate and do the very best for that shared purpose of student-centred results.
I applied for the FASTstream program because I have an unwavering belief in the power of education. If a child doesn’t know how to read that matters to me even if that child isn’t in my class. If a family can’t get their kids to school that matters to me, even if it’s not my family. FASTstream amplifies impact: impact on students, staff and communities. I believe the program and all the supports and all the benefits that it entails will allow me to learn, develop and become the teacher and leader that I aspire to be
The perspective and assistance from my mentor Kate has been essential since starting the program. My mentor has helped me settle in, connect with my community and develop my practice. I think we all have blind sports where we lack some self-awareness, and having access to a mentor has enabled me to gain that different perspective from an experienced teacher on teaching, learning, assessing and leading. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed mentorship so far. In just chatting with me mentor, whether it be a formal or informal discussion, you soon realise that there is always so much more to learn.
I think we all know that a teachers’ job is more than just teaching. I’m a member of our school’s Aboriginal education committee and currently working within a team to develop NAIDOC Week at our school. I’m also joint co-ordinating some of our PSSA sporting teams, and working as a Tens Friend supporting our school’s Tens representative to explore, prepare and program for the incoming new curriculum. That being said, I think the most important role for me and for any beginning teacher is just to be a sponge. The NSW public education system is so well represented by thousands and thousands of great teachers. Teachers with more experience, more knowledge and with better practice than what I have right now. It’s important to lean into that and learn as much as you can. Be curious, ask questions, display humility, build relationships.
I’m looking forward to 10 years of professional development, professional growth and the opportunity to build connections with colleagues and communities far and wide. I grew up in regional NSW and I’m looking forward to stepping back into those smaller communities and leading from the bottom up. I’m looking forward to those special moments that you have as a teacher and a leader, whether that be motivating a student to become a lifelong learner, or a family to read for an extra five minutes every night. Or perhaps inspiring a colleague or pre-service teacher to take that next step on their teaching and leadership journey. The program has so much to offer and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.
I applied because I thought it was a great opportunity for leadership and that lead learner in the middle leadership development. To involve Troy in the whole school community has been just a pleasure and I’ve learned as much from him as he’s learned from me, I hope, in this period of time to date.
The benefits to the school are through the professional learning of staff, Troy being able to integrate himself into the school. He’s been a great listener. He’s been able to take the staff with him and learn in that middle leadership role. And it’s been really impressive to see him operate in that space.
So ultimately my goal was to be a school leader but I wanted to be one that had evidence-informed practice. And I believe that the FASTstream program with the School Leadership Institute, mentors like Glen, and the opportunity to really sort of hone my leadership capabilities and behaviours would ensure that I have maximum impact when I’m in front of students, whether it be a classroom of 30 kids or a school like Gol Gol with 180 children. I wanted to ensure that every decision I made for the students was underpinned by current research. So yeah that’s ultimately why I applied.
And I thought when I put in for this program that through my experiences that I could offer something to Troy around putting an old head on young shoulders. But also being mindful that my own learning is important and that everyone needs to be, you know, when they’re in education, be a continuing lifelong learner.
I’m very fortunate to be mentored by Glen, I think a principal with over 30 years’ experience, you know that brings some learnings. Whether it’s one on one meetings that we share looking at, sort of you know, I’m having, or my leadership capabilities and behaviours, to myself shadowing him and sort of asking, why did you do that? Or you know, that was the decision behind that? It’s been really profound. But not only the sort of one on ones and the shadowing, there’ll be that feedback loop. Having a strong authentic feedback loop on my leadership development is what I believe is sort of the cornerstone of this mentorship program.
The professional learning around that so far has just been magnificent. It’s just been sort of mind-blowing to see that, and to see Troy leading the staff. He’s been able to step into an assistant principal role at my school, he’s been able to value-add to the community, and ultimately the students’ outcomes and the students are the beneficiaries of that.