Partnering with Flinders University, the school is currently playing host to 25 pre-service teachers as it forges ahead with a thriving Professional Experience Program.
Designed to provide ‘a mentor for the mentors’, the initiative sees eager university students paired up with a teacher to pool resources and knowledge, generate constructive feedback and share best practice.
“I think there are certainly benefits both ways. As much as they learn from us, we also learn from them, because as the students come through university they are learning new techniques...,” assistant principal Sue Blight says.
As coordinator of the large-scale mentorship scheme, Blight is the first to attest to the mutually beneficial arrangement between mentor and mentee.
“We think it’s a great opportunity for our teachers, because when … you [mentor] a pre-service teacher it really makes you think about what you do and why you do it.
“Teachers take that opportunity to reflect on their practices and be very specific about what skills they are helping the pre-service teachers to develop, so it’s a great opportunity for them to model quality programs and it’s a leadership opportunity for them as well.”
Stepping up to the leadership plate is a move that all Mitcham staff are urged to make, and Blight reports that the program has certainly gone a long way towards cultivating a culture of high expectations.
Delivering useful, to-the-point feedback is something of an art in itself, so Blight makes sure her staff are well-equipped to handle this crucial requirement with resource packs and targeted PD sessions.
“I can help them out in giving feedback on observations as well, and I’ll go into classes and just make sure I’m available as a support for them...,” Blight notes.
For the school’s youngest learners, there is also much to be gained from the fresh faces on campus.
“It’s another person they can seek help from, I think it’s always great for students to experience different (teaching) styles and to experience teachers’ working together; that’s also great modelling for them as well,” Blight says.