New Monash program offers work-while-you learn opportunity for aspiring teachers

Aspiring teachers will be paid to learn under a new program designed to fast-track quality candidates to teach priority subject areas in regional, rural and hard-to-staff metropolitan secondary schools.

Under the Monash Teacher Residency program – a partnership between Monash University’s Faculty of Education and the Victorian Department of Education – an accelerated 18-month Master of Teaching course will be offered in conjunction with paid work in secondary schools.

Faculty of Education Dean Professor Viv Ellis said the program aims to attract people with a background in mathematics, science, or languages who want to make a difference to society, one classroom at a time.

“The Monash Teacher Residency program is a great opportunity for people looking to change career or recent undergraduates who are keen to create positive change in school communities from a social justice and equity perspective, combining intensive work-based learning in a school with rigorous academic preparation,” Professor Ellis said.

The program is set to start in January 2022 with 30 students who will be based in priority schools across Victoria and work as paraprofessionals while completing Monash’s Master of Teaching in Secondary Education.

According to Professor Ellis, it’s a model that has proven successful in the United States in the recruitment and retention of teachers in hard-to-staff schools and districts.

“Teaching is a complex, challenging and rewarding profession and our residents will be fully supported along the way to learn and navigate their new career by Monash academics, mentor teachers and other staff. As a residency program, their curriculum will integrate school, individual and general professional learning needs,” Professor Ellis said.

Coursework will be offered through a combination of online and onsite learning, with academic units, study and assessments integrated into the practical co-teaching work of the residents.

Residents will be supported to use evidence-based practice and strategies to assess student learning, design teaching sequences and provide conceptually challenging learning tasks for their students. Their work in schools will align with the schools’ own development plans and the residents will benefit from mindfulness training and training in positive behaviour management for classrooms.

“By encouraging active, work-based learning, residents will have day-to-day contact with students, and watch them learn, monitor performance, as well as contribute to ongoing development programs of benefit to both schools and their communities,” Professor Ellis said.

Monash Teacher Residency participants will work as Education Support Officers, drawing on a Professional Certificate of Education support embedded into the early stages of the program. Residents will be able to access Commonwealth Supported Funding to complete the course. In addition, eligible participants will be paid as part-time paraprofessionals by the host school.

“Monash’s Faculty of Education is proud to partner with the Department of Education to deliver this innovative program,” Professor Ellis said.

“Not only will it foster new connections in rural and regional schools, it will support and accelerate the development of excellent teachers in the schools that need it most.”

Victorian Minister for Education, The Hon James Merlino, said in an official government statement: “We all know the difference a great teacher can make, which is why we’re fast-tracking graduates into classrooms where they are needed most. This initiative will give aspiring teachers the opportunity to be paid while they train for local jobs, as well as delivering a pipeline of teachers for schools in outer-metropolitan, rural and regional areas.”

The Monash Teacher Residency will be closely monitored and evaluated by Monash researchers, Victorian Department of Education and partner school educators to assess the effectiveness and impact of the program, particularly in terms of teacher preparedness, teaching quality, school improvement and teacher retention.

During 2021, as an interim measure while the Residency program is being developed, Monash will be allocating 25 additional commonwealth supported places in the existing Master of Teaching in Secondary Education accelerated program, specifically for mathematics, science and language graduates to meet workplace shortages in these areas. Students will complete teaching placements in priority schools or regions. Eligible students will also be provided with a stipend of $22,000 over the 18-month program, funded by the State Government.

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