A pioneering teaching academy in Melbourne’s north will boost student teachers’ practical skills by better harnessing the educational knowledge and classroom insights of experienced teachers.
Funded by the Department of Education and Training (DET), the North Melbourne Teaching Academy for Professional Practice is a partnership between RMIT University, industry leaders and 12 local primary schools.
The academy was officially launched recently at Moreland Primary School.
In a groundbreaking move, the initiative has brought together RMIT academics and experienced teachers to develop and teach a course that combines both theoretical knowledge (what to teach) and pedagogical knowledge (how to teach).
Professor Rob Strathdee, Head of RMIT’s School of Education, said it was rare for schools and teacher educators to work together on course content.
“We know that universities and schools need to work together to better prepare our teaching graduates for their work in the classroom,” he said.
“Experienced teachers have a wealth of wisdom and knowledge but little opportunity to share this through the usual approaches to teacher education.
“By building strong partnerships with local primary schools, the North Melbourne Teaching Academy will help our pre-service teachers better connect theory and practice and arm them with the practical skills they need to educate -– and inspire – the next generation.”
Minister for Education, James Merlino, welcomed the official launch of the North Melbourne Teaching Academy for Professional Practice – one of 12 Victorian Government-funded Teaching Academies across the state, each involving a different university and cluster of schools.
“Since the start of this year, the Teaching Academies have been helping teaching graduates prepare for the challenges of educating our children, and giving them the best possible start in life,” Merlino said.
“Our government’s recent Education State announcements are about giving our teachers and principals the support they need to help every single student learn and grow.”
The academy enables all second-year RMIT Bachelor of Education (Primary) students to undertake placements in groups of 12-16 in partner schools.
In the first half of the year, students take part in an immersion program to orientate them to the school’s curriculum priorities and ways of teaching and learning.
In term 3, students return to the partner school for 4 weeks to complete the Professional Experience: Connected Classrooms course co-developed by academics and school teachers.
The course is taught on-site in partner schools by School-Based Coaches who are practising teachers with the expert knowledge to localise and apply the content to each particular school context.
Within the course, students receive extensive experience designing effective lesson sequences to meet Australian Curriculum standards and in the best use of Information Communication Technologies.
Students then observe their mentors’ teaching and apply these strategies to their own practice, through small group teaching, as well as whole class teaching.
As well as providing effective practical experience to pre-service teachers, the academy will strengthen the mentoring skills of current teachers.
Professional Experience: Connected Classrooms has been designed as a Distributed Open Collaborative Course, a new approach to course design that emphasises collaboration, shared knowledge and community.
To develop the course, a Think Tank Day brought together practicing teachers from partner schools together with university staff to workshop the design and content.
The course content was then uploaded online so School-Based Coaches at each partner school could localise it to their particular context.
“Each school is very different – some are smaller with open classrooms, where multiple grades are team taught by several teachers, while others in growth suburbs are large and growing,” Strathdee said.
“These teachers know their schools and how they approach teaching, so we encourage them to use what is routine to that school.”
The 12 partner primary schools involved in the North Melbourne Teaching Academy for Professional Practice are: Apollo Parkways Primary School, Eltham North Primary School, Epping Views Primary School, Findon Primary School, Greenvale Primary School, Laurimar Primary School, Mernda Primary School, Mill Park Heights Primary School, Montmorency South Primary School, Moreland Primary School, Plenty Parklands Primary School and Viewbank Primary School.
Story: Gosia Kaszubska