Joh Rafferty is the Head of English at Kiara College in Western Australia. With almost 30 years of experience in the classroom, Joh now finds herself in the role of School Mentor as part of Teach For Australia’s Leadership Development Program.
“Originally, I wasn’t a fan of Teach for Australia. It was thrown at me as a lay down misère and I didn’t quite know who and what to expect. I was in for a range of surprises and every one thus far has been a win,” Joh said when asked about the mentoring program.
“Both Jarred and Denis, to my great delight, have joined the profession for what I deem to be all the ‘right reasons’. They are passionate, committed and realistic.”
Joh was interested about the mentoring process right from the very outset after it was announced that the college would be partnering with Teach For Australia.
“I feel that mentoring Associates is a perfect opportunity to give back to my profession and not only share what I’ve discovered, but reflect on my own practice and how to best improve it,” Joh explained.
“I get a real buzz watching Jarred and Denis discover their take on what being a great teacher is and assisting them achieve that goal. Seeing their faces when a lesson goes to plan or a reluctant student puts pen to paper has made me happier than a Lotto win.”
While each Associate has a School Mentor, the mentoring process can vary between schools.
“Ours is a small department and we have an open door policy. This means I am in and out of everyone’s room – listening, assisting and observing,” Joh explained.
“The three of us touch base in the morning, during the day and usually again after school to debrief. I feel the end of the day is when the most powerful connections take place.”
As well as checking in with her Associates on a daily basis, Joh also tries to observe at least two full lessons per week and provides detailed notes, particularly in regards to behaviour management which Joh believes can be the trickiest and often most frustrating part of being a teacher.
Although admitting that she was skeptical at the start, Joh now believes that having Teach For Australia in the college has been a major win.
“I believe having Teach for Australia and its Associates in the school has been a win for Kiara College and after such a gratifying and positive start, I’d encourage all schools to get involved,” Joh said.
“I’m thrilled to be part of their journey and enjoying the ride!”