Our News
11 August 2017

Reflections on Mid-Year Intensive

by Curriculum Design & Delivery Senior Officer Kim Louwrens

During the month of July, Teach For Australia’s first and second year Associates took part in regional Mid-Year Intensives. This year, the inter-cohort Mid-Year Intensives were run in the capital city of each jurisdiction we place in – Canberra, Melbourne, Perth, Hobart and Darwin.

Mid-Year Intensive is a chance for Associates to reconnect and reflect with each other and the national Teach For Australia network, as well as to participate in high-level professional learning and development from Teach For Australia and Deakin University.

“I really enjoyed this Intensive. I thought that TFA took heaps of our suggestions on board, and overall it was really good! Thanks!” – Rose Nuttall, Cohort 2016 (Ararat, Victoria)

External panellists, guest speakers and education experts were invited to participate and present. Associates from all jurisdictions expressed an appreciation for the opportunity to engage with their peers and experts in various fields of education.

SPOTLIGHT: NORTHERN TERRITORY

The TFA Northern Territory team introduced the theme ‘Tempered Radicals’, with a focus on what drives leadership in low SES communities. Guest speaker Dr. Simon Quilty addressed the issue of health in the NT, particularly in the township of Katherine, where he leads drastic change in policies and practices at Katherine Hospital. Dr. Quilty linked Indigenous health to education – specifically, he discussed the importance of early education in health and nutrition.

“I have so much respect for what you’re doing here. Education in our communities is so important – I wish when I was a new doctor that I had been part of a group of doctors as passionate about equitable health care as you all are about equitable education.” – Simon Quilty (Leading Doctor, Katherine, Northern Territory)

Second year Associates in the NT engaged in a peer coaching session, aimed at giving them the skills to collaboratively reflect and improve their practice beyond the two-year Leadership Development Program. This was complemented by a highly practical session by Teach To Lead Director Kalpana Rao on Driving Change That Sticks, which a number of Associates claimed was “the most useful session of any Intensive”.

“It was a chance to consider how far I’ve come – I’m excited about being able to make choices about what my impact will look like and how I will get there, beyond this year.” – Zaiga Thomann, Cohort 2016 (Katherine, Nothern Territory)

First year Associates focused on reflecting on their first six months as teachers, and on the importance of looking after themselves. Self-care is something that we at Teach For Australia believe is essential to effective and sustainable teaching, as explained in this article by Alumna Pip McIlroy.

“MYI was like a charging station – it’s been six months, and I was a bit depleted. This was a point to top up our knowledge, learn new things for the classroom, and to reconnect and focus for the rest of the year.” – Gia-Yen Luong, Cohort 2017 (Darwin, Northern Territory)

Additionally, all Associates engaged in sessions centred around building classroom culture – including curriculum development, differentiation (a universal design for learning), behaviour management, lesson planning, group-work, and so on. Importantly, they were able to reconnect with their peers from across the Territory – Associates are placed in Alice Springs, Darwin, Katherine and Tennant Creek, so catching up regularly is no easy feat!

“At the end of MYI, I’m feeling like part of a team again. I was really scared to relocate up here, but when I met these guys at Initial Intensive, I felt part of a safe and secure network – it’s awesome to be back amongst them all.” – Gia-Yen Luong, Cohort 2017 (Darwin, Northern Territory)

The Tempered Radicals theme culminated in an all-female Leadership Panel on the final day, consisting of changemakers and leaders:

  • Olga Havnen (CEO of Indigenous Health Service Danila Dilba)
  • Liz Veel (Principal of Sanderson Middle School, and NT Project Manager for educating children living in detainment)
  • Kalpana Rao (Director of Teach To Lead)
  • Melodie Potts-Rosevear (Founder and CEO of Teach For Australia)

The rigour of discussion around the state of education in the NT was the highlight of MYI for many Associates!

SPOTLIGHT: WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Almost 60 Western Australian Associates gathered in Perth for their Mid-Year Intensive, where the theme was ‘Reconnect, Reflect, Grow’. Associates had the opportunity to reconnect with each other via dinners and activities like an ‘Amazing Teacher Race’, run by the regional Kalgoorlie Associates!
WA also saw a host of external presenters bringing their expertise to the program, including:

  • The Fogarty Foundation (Using NAPLAN data effectively)
  • Dr. Lorraine Hammond (Explicit Direct Instruction)
  • Madeleine Morrison (CMS Behaviour Management)
  • Simon Forrest (WA Indigenous Culture)
  • Pam Sherrard (Differentiated Math Instruction)
  • Natalie Diggins (‘You’re the Voice’ workshop)

“I really enjoyed spending time with the other associates during MYI. This semester I’m looking forward to starting fresh with my students and being more confident in my teaching ability than I was at the start of last semester.” – Laura Searle, Cohort 2017 (Perth, WA)

They had a focus on practical teaching strategies and on leadership for the second years, with sessions such as Leading Change that Sticks, Developing Your Vision for Change, and Becoming Empowered Alumni. Leadership examples hailed from a range of sources, including prominent sportsmen Justin Langer and Ric Charlesworth.

“It was inspiring to hear from Sasha about her motivations and her experiences in the documentary Testing Teachers, and was great for everyone to refocus on why we do the work we do and its importance in the lives of the students we work with.” – Jun Zhang, Alumni Manager, Teach For Australia

We’d like to give a massive thank you and congratulations to our outstanding Associates for making MYI such a great event – we can’t wait to catch up with them all again soon!