Virtual programs offer an exciting perspective for new teachers

Mid-Western Region teachers have received two of only four 2012-13 Leadership Fellowships awarded in NSW.

Mudgee High School principal and Kandos Public School principal Alan Kerr will use the fellowships to research educational programs in Australia and overseas.

As a recipient of a 2012-2013 Leadership Fellowship Mudgee High School principal Louise Manwaring will research virtual faculties as a leadership model in Western NSW.270812/spLeadership/0F

Mrs Manwaring will research virtual faculty programs, which help teachers in remote schools and lends a hand to inexperienced teachers by giving them a mentor in their specific subject.

“Here in Mudgee we have a head teacher and half a dozen or more teachers in the one faculty, so if you’re a beginner teacher there’s a head teacher and three or four that have been teaching for a while,” she said.

“But if you’re at Mendooran Central School you’re it: You’re the only English teacher, the only science teacher, and quite often you’re lucky if you have a science teacher AND an arts teacher – you usually don’t.

“So some of the teachers will arrive, straight out of university, and be everything and they have to do all the programs, all of the resources, they’ve got to work out what’s got to taught and how.

“The virtual faculties such as the Centre For Excellence are like having a mentor in their subject.

“If you’re a maths teacher and you’ve got a group of kids that are turned off and you need a technique for getting them interested, other maths teachers know a game or a real life situation can get them engaged.

“It would be good if you could say that there’ll never be a beginning teacher come out and feel like they’re terrified, they can’t survive and they’ve got no one to turn to.”

Mrs Manwaring said the research will give her a chance to see what techniques are being used by remote schools in other countries.

“I’ll be able to look at what the international answer to isolation and remoteness has been,” she said.

“And how you help kids not be disadvantaged by going to a school where you’ve got inexperienced teachers or high teacher turn-over or just so far away that teachers aren’t getting that professional learning all the time.”

Mrs Manwaring said she will also look into funding for virtual faculty programs.

The Western NSW program is funded by a Federal Government grant that finishes at the end of 2013.

About the Leadership Fellowships

Run by the Department of Education and Communities, the fellowships provide an opportunity for principals to undertake research in key areas of leadership in Australia or overseas.

They aim to enhance the knowledge of best practice in professional learning for schools and teachers.

Findings from the fellowships will be published on the Department’s website.

The research fellowships include a $10,000 grant to fund the research and time to travel within Australia and overseas to conduct the research.

Only four State Fellowships are granted each year and Mrs Manwaring’s and Mr Kerr’s successful applications mean two of those have been granted to the Mid-Western Region.

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