The Faculty of Education and Arts Team has received a Vice-Chancellor’s Staff Excellence Award for Service Excellence, in recognition of the service innovations they have made in initial teacher education in New South Wales.
The award for service excellence celebrates the diverse service contributions that individuals and teams make to the ACU community and encourages and recognises outstanding service by staff.
The NSW Professional Experience (PEX) hubs leadership team, consisting of Professor Lauren Stephenson, Ms Chrissy Monteleone and Dr Monica Wong, have led learning and teaching changes in initial teacher education through the development of close partnerships with over 30 schools.
In response to the Teacher Education Advisory Group’s (TEMAG) Action Now Classroom Ready Teachers Report, which charted a major reform agenda for initial teacher education (ITE), the NSW Department of Education established links between University’s and schools to support the reform. As a result of this NSWDE and university initiative, the NSW team began co-constructing, with partner schools, changes to initial teacher education in 2015.
Through the NSW Professional Experience (PEX) hubs, the Faculty of Education and Arts Team implemented an innovative school-university partnership model of work integrated learning that places professional experience squarely at the centre of the initial teacher education program. The model contains many of the elements now seen as critical in preparing ‘classroom ready’ teachers with a focus on professional learning of all partners within and across universities, education sectors and schools as they share responsibility and ownership together. More than 160 teacher mentors have participated in contextualized, needs based professional learning provided by ACU. More than 178 teacher education students have also taken part in work integrated learning by forming communities of practice within and across schools systems and ACU.
Ms Chrissy Monteleone, Dr Monica Wong and Professor Lauren Stephenson
The project has allowed ACU to integrate with schools and systems to ensure sufficient support for beginning teachers, their mentors and tertiary supervisors.
Chrissy said the group was thrilled about the recognition the team has received for the work they had done building partnerships and collaborating with schools.
"What’s happened as a result of this partnership and approach is that we’re now building towards a nexus between theory and practice,” she said.
"This award recognizes that we’re all working together for the same purpose of ensuring teacher education students are classroom ready.”
While the Faculty of Education and Arts Team has led the initial teacher education in the PEX Hub context, they recognise many other people have also been integral in the implementation of these reforms. The collaborative processes included key leaders in NSW Department of Education communities of schools and allowed the ACU team to build a program that met the school and University’s requirements.
"There have been a huge number of passionate and committed people people involved in this project for it to grow in the way it has, including people within our own faculty, schools, the communities and the Department of Education NSW,” Lauren said.
The group says the recognition received through the Vice-Chancellor’s Staff Excellence Awards provides an opportunity to showcase the collaborative process used in NSW to make changes to initial teacher education. These changes benefit ACU students, the school, as teachers move towards Highly Accomplished, and the University, as we have guaranteed placements.
"It really opens up the channels of communication with other areas of the University who may be interested in learning about or adapting this model,” Monica said.