Leadership Development Program

Advice for our next Associates

Monday, February 5th, 2024

We asked three Teach For Australia team members who have completed our Leadership Development Program to share their experiences and advice for future candidates.

From juggling your study and teaching, to that first day stepping in front of a classroom of students – they’ve provided unique insights into the program.

To find out more, download our program handbook or register for one of our upcoming information sessions.



Our new Associates begin with the Summer Semester – an intense time of learning to provide foundational skills and knowledge before entering the classroom from Term 1 the following year.

This includes a six-week, full-time National Initial Intensive in November – which includes approximately 50-60 hours of learning per week made up of live sessions, readings, and assignments.


“It is called an intensive for a reason – expect to be working long days and exhausting your brain!

You will learn A LOT, but don’t worry if you feel like you are not taking it all in. Enough will stick. Work out a note-taking or organisational system that works best for you – and try not to compare yourself to other Associates.

Think about what fills your cup and what routines you can put in place to make sure you have some down time! Schedule some catch ups with your support networks and also some time just for you.”


Once TFA Associates begin teaching from Term 1, they gain first-hand teaching experience while receiving one-on-one coaching and mentoring to accelerate their development.


“Enjoy it! Do your best. Regardless of how your first lesson or first week is, you are making an impact and you will continue to grow and develop and get better with each day.

Every class is a unique experience. Focus on getting to know your students and allow them to get to know you and how you want your classroom to function.”


“Share your passions, your quirks and your skills. Try and have fun and find the joy in the chaos – students also say lots of hilarious things.

For your first week, try and plan or find lessons that allow you to develop relationships with students and get to know them (and allow them to get to know you) – don’t try anything too complex or stressful in this time!”


Our Associates teach at 0.8 full time equivalent, with 0.2 FTE study release.

While teaching, Associates complete a nationally accredited and internationally recognised Master of Teaching (Secondary) (Leading Learning), delivered in partnership with ACU.


“You may feel like a headless chook at times! But this is normal and fine. Do your best not to doubt yourself, by being in the classroom you are making an impact for those students.

I would say the first two terms are all about understanding all things schools. Timetables, bell times, printers, toilets, different classrooms and other staff. I would also say it is a time to really focus on building relationships in the classroom and with as many parents as possible. Behaviour management will be on your mind a lot and you will find a routine in these first two terms.”


“The first 3-6 months are the most full-on – this is when the most learning is happening!

Mentally prepare yourself for the load, and remind yourself that this is the hardest part of the LDP. You are learning how to teach, learning how to navigate a new workplace AND for lots of you, moving to a new place.

Be gentle with yourself and don’t expect to be perfect. Think of yourself as an apprentice.”


“Expect to feel a little overwhelmed – a bit like treading water fully clothed!

“I remember a wonderful colleague telling me that teaching can often feel like there is a lot to carry, but a trick is to become comfortable with what that feels like. Over time, this really rung true for me, and I started to feel more at ease with what the volume felt like so that I could focus on prioritising and triaging.”


We asked: is there anything you’d do differently in hindsight?


“I would have been in contact with parents of my students earlier. This is so important in the long run and in my experience when I did do this, it was more likely that I had my students on board with me as well.”


“I would try and learn more from my other colleagues – I think I came in thinking that I knew a lot (which I both did and didn’t). There will be other teachers at your school who have years and years of experience – get to know them.

I would try and observe more classes from other people – this is a key way to learn more and refine your own strategies.

If I could do my time again, I would work on my initial classroom routines and procedures – particularly, I would ensure that I followed up with students more consistently.”


“I wish that I had been able to let silly things go, the things that inevitably come up but don’t really matter in the long run.

I also wish that I had realised earlier on that sometimes it’s more important to be the teacher that my students needed as opposed to trying to be the ‘idea’ of a teacher that I wanted to be.”

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