Mentors are crucial, give them the time to do their job

Angela McDonald
IEU ACT Vice President

I recently said farewell to my most recent student teacher on her final placement. Unfortunately, many student teachers or universities are struggling to find teachers willing to take student teachers on for a placement.

I understand why – teachers are working hard and often don’t have the additional time required to take on and mentor student teachers. However, these student teachers need to have practical opportunities to learn their craft. Schools need these student teachers to graduate and join the profession. We all see and feel the impact of the teacher shortage every day.

To manage their workloads many of these highly skilled mentor teachers are saying no to taking on these additional duties. I don’t blame them.

To my ACT colleagues, don’t forget that mentoring a preservice teacher attracts up to five hours of TQI teacher identified professional learning.

Whilst I commend the NSW, ACT and Federal Governments for their consultation with the sector around the teacher shortage and Initial Teacher Education, one aspect of these issues is somewhat glossed over – the mentors.

Without experienced, skilled staff, willing to mentor student teachers and new graduates, the system CANNOT work. These mentors are essential, and they need the time to effectively mentor. It cannot be another job added to the already never-ending list of things to do.