What is a Teaching and Leadership Adviser?
June 7, 2016 3:41 pm
Teach For Australia Associates have a huge support network, working every day to ensure that they can have the best possible impact in the classroom.
Teaching and Leadership Advisers (TLAs) are an integral part of this support network, so we sat down with Whitney Munroe, a TLA in Victoria, to find out more.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? How did your Teach For All journey begin?
I taught in Pheonix, Arizona as part of Teach For America’s 2009 Corps. Once I finished my two years in the classroom, I worked at Teach For America in a few different roles including operations and training and development.
After spending some time travelling around Europe, I realised that I wanted to learn more about other education systems around the world – so I applied to study a Master’s in Education Policy (International) at the University of Melbourne.
While I was planning to move from the US to Australia, I connected with staff at Teach For Australia and almost immediately jumped on board, right into Initial Intensive for Cohort 2014. The rest is history – I’m now in my third year as a Teaching and Leadership Adviser here at Teach For Australia.
A wall in Whitney’s classroom in Pheonix, Arizona
So, what is a Teaching and Leadership Adviser?
There are so many aspects of my job as a Teaching and Leadership Adviser!
We work mostly with an allotted group of Associates, visiting them in school every two to three weeks to observe them in the classroom and help them reflect in their teaching. We also discuss goals, their classroom vision and what they hope to achieve by the end of the year.
This aspect of the role is about developing Associates as great teachers in their classrooms and helping them to become leaders in their schools.
Another part of the role revolves around Associate wellbeing and personal support. As a TLA, I often go out for coffees with my Associates, or meet to catch-up over brekky. Sometimes I even go to events with them to support their outside interests.
In other words, TLAs really take the time to get to know Associates and form deep, long-lasting friendships. The work we do is so human-centered and personal: relationships are key to the success of our Associates and students!
As well as working with Associates, we’re also responsible for developing and facilitating professional development opportunities for Associates. These are events that happen throughout the year and provide opportunities for Associates to connect, learn and grow together.
We also develop relationships with principals and our Associates’ in-school mentors so that we have a good understanding of the school and community.
We also help with recruitment and selection, marketing and events – the role of the TLA is vast. We have our hands in every pie.
Whitney debriefs with an Associate and colleagues
What does an average work day look like for you?
There is no average work day for a TLA!
However, there are certain times of year that are focused largely on providing professional development for Associates (like Initial Intensive and Mid-Year Intensive), and there are other times of the year when we are focused on Associate support and classroom development (like when the school term is in full-swing).
I currently support seven different schools and 19 Associates, which means that I am typically at a different school each day. When I visit schools, I’ll observe the Associate teaching one or two lessons and then meet them afterwards to debrief. I also try to meet with their in-school mentor to catch up and see how the Associate is doing.
If there are multiple Associates in a school, I’ll try to do multiple observations and debriefs so that I can see each Associate.
At times, it is also beneficial for us to meet off-campus so that we can have a more open discussion away from the hustle and bustle of teaching! So, I will often meet Associates for coffee or brekky on their days off to have a chat.
Each day is different!
What advice do you have for people considering applying for Teach For Australia?
Get into a school, check it out, and see if teaching is right for you. The work we do is critical and life-changing – but it is also challenging and exhausting!
So, check out a school, particularly one that we place in, and see how it feels. Talk to the students, get to know them and their stories, hopes, and dreams. After all, the students are the best part of the job!