Partner teacher program takes off

Jo Mckeown and Courtney Fraser. Photo by Kitty Beale

Teachers and mentors: Jo Mckeown and Courtney Fraser. Photo: Kitty Beale

Teachers at three Shire schools have taken an element of the student curriculum for themselves and become collaborators on a peer mentoring program. The Partner Teacher Program pairs teachers from De La Salle Catholic College Caringbah and Our Lady of Mercy Catholic College (OLMC) Burraneer, both Years 7 to 10 schools, with a teacher from De La Salle Catholic College Cronulla, which teaches Years 11 and 12, for professional development. The teachers involved are from disciplines including Science, English, Religion, Personal Development, Health and Physical Education (PDHPE), Design and Technology, Mathematics, and Visual Arts.

Leader of Pedagogy at OLMC Jo McKeown said the program gave teachers the opportunity experience teaching in a Years 7 to 12 environment without having to leave their current post.

“We’ve allowed the partners to tailor their own program, so it’s up to each of the teachers to work out how best to meet the aims they’ve set for themselves,” she said.
“There are all sorts of possibilities being generated by the teachers involved. It’s now blossoming into some interesting philosophies, and it’s opened up ideas around having
professional development together.”

This has included a workshop for teachers from all three schools with ‘flipped classroom’ guru Jon Bergmann. The technique sees students digest content at home through video lessons and
complete homework-like tasks at school for deeper learning. Other opportunities include team teaching classes at the different grade levels, marking assessments for younger or older grades than the teacher’s own, and generating parallel assessment tasks for the Years 7 to 10 boys and girls schools so that they come to the college with the same prior knowledge.

Leader of Learning and Teacher Accreditation at De La Salle Cronulla Courtney Fraser said the program now allowed an OLMC science teacher to teach chemistry classes at her school.
“I think it’s really exciting,” she said.
“Each partnership is so unique. We’ve got a lot of people connecting between the three schools and all of their ideas are different and dynamic. I’m a history teacher and being able to go look at the Australian Curriculum and pilot mark a Year 10 assessment task is only going to inform and improve how I teach when I get the students in years 11 and 12.”

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