As a roomful of primary school children sat in their classroom engaged in a STEM activity, there wasn’t anything unusual about the scene – apart from the age of their ‘teachers’. On this day, a group of Corpus Christi Catholic High School, Oak Flats students took part in a role swap and became educators for the day in a unique immersion.
A group of students from Years 9 to 12 were tasked with teaching younger students from Nazareth Catholic Primary School in Shellharbour City to give them a glimpse of what it takes to be a teacher and whether it could be their future vocation.
During the immersion, the secondary students participated in teaching experiences including reading and writing, engaging in a STEM lesson, and observing experienced teachers in action.
“This opportunity allowed our students to contextualise a day in the life of a primary teacher,” said Corpus Christi Careers Advisor, Robert Lavulo. “Our students were very grateful for the opportunity to attend and I would highly recommend this partnership again.”
Many of the participating students said they loved the experience. “I’ve always had an interest in teaching, particularly high school teaching, however I realised you need to be really good at one specific subject,” said student, Flynn. “I’m more of an all-rounder so I then considered primary teaching. I thought this immersion would provide a good opportunity to gain an insight into primary teaching."
The group of students included young people with natural nurturing skills. "Teaching has interested me since I was younger," said student, Tia. "I’m often the ‘mother hen’, looking after cousins and receiving feedback that I should be a teacher. I’d love to work directly with kids as part of my future career."
A fellow student, Ellie shared, "I’ve grown up with younger cousins and was often able to form good relationships with them, so I kind of liked the idea of teaching. I’d like to further explore this and work with kids as a future job."
CEDoW Education Officer for Early Career Teacher Support, Sherryn Moore said, “This real life experience helped each student to see if this career path would be something they would like to do in the future. By the end of the immersion, each student said that they were now certain they wanted to be teachers. It was a brilliant day.”
This initiative has been strategised across service area teams within Catholic Education Diocese of Wollongong to address teacher retention. “As a medium but growing system of schools, this area has been something the diocese has been turning our minds to over the last two years,” said Head of Human Resource Services, Carolyn Hadley.
“Our recently developed ‘Grow Our Own’ project involves a partnership with Notre Dame University to offer scholarships and indenture our secondary students to enter teaching in Diocese of Wollongong schools, with a guarantee of employment,” Ms Hadley said.
“The project aims to foster a high quality, strong and future-ready school staffing pipeline from our existing students and staff. Starting this workshop engagement with Years 9, 10, 11 and 12 students in some of our secondary schools has proven really successful.”
Since the initial immersion, secondary students from St John the Evangelist Catholic High School, Nowra have shared in a similar experience, spending a whole day in a Year 5 classroom at St Michael’s Catholic Parish Primary School, Nowra.
“Teachers in our schools may not always realise it, but they are the role models for our next generation of teachers," said Ms Hadley. "Identifying and encouraging our senior secondary students to consider teaching as a career is almost obligatory for our current teachers if we are to create a strong and sustainable Catholic education system into the future.”
If any teachers would like to contribute suggestions or assist with the ‘Grow Our Own’ project, please contact Sherryn Moore or Gayle McMahon through CEO Reception on 42530 800.