Macquarie University provides a coherent program of educational theory, curriculum studies and experience opportunities. To ensure integration of theory and practice, our Professional Experience is undertaken concurrently with our students' on-campus studies. This is the Macquarie difference. Practical experiences and curriculum sessions are not separate, but mutually supportive.
Professional Experience refers to the field or practical placements Teacher Education Students undertake as part of their university program. The phrase Professional Experience encompasses the significant role of the Supervising Teacher and the opportunity for experience for the Teacher Education Student; these elements build understanding of educational theory in practice.
Teacher Education Students are required to complete Professional Experience placements over the course of their study. They are supported and challenged to develop into professional, highly skilled and reflective practitioners. Professional Experience Program units are based on a spiral sequence as Teacher Education Students proceed to develop their skills and ability. As they progress, each placement adds new levels of complexity to the theory and practice of teaching presented and explored.
Our Initial Teacher Education Programs enable university Teacher Education Students to specialise as teachers of: children from birth to five years of age, children from birth to 12 years of age, children from Kindergarten to Year 6 (primary), and students in Years 7 to 12 (secondary). Foundational to the priorities of our programs is our intention to encourage a deep respect for children and students. The philosophy of our Professional Experience Program resonates with the image of the child embraced by both NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) and Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA), positioning children and students as active contributors and designers of learning.
Our Professional Experience Program is based on graduate teacher standards in the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers from the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership. Our program is viewed as a partnership between the University and our educational settings, and specifically the Teacher Education Students’ mentors, referred to as Supervising Teachers. This relationship is mutually beneficial. Importantly, the design of the Professional Experience Program and the processes which underpin it are closely aligned to the NESA Professional Experience Framework document, which was developed as part of the ‘Great Teaching, Inspired Learning’ government initiative.
Learning to teach is a complex and challenging process. As there are many ways to be an effective educator, Teacher Education Students are encouraged to explore a wide range of experiences on their journey towards teaching. By working alongside experienced teachers, Teacher Education Students are given the opportunity to develop as teachers in a safe and supportive environment. Supervising Teachers are guides for Teacher Education Students – creating space for Teacher Education Students to develop their own styles whilst simultaneously offering strategic advice and instruction to help shape Teacher Education Student growth along a professional and productive pathway. Professional Experience can be understood as a negotiated experience shaped by the Teacher Education Student, the Supervising Teacher and the Tertiary Supervisor.
Professional Experience Program beliefs and values:
In order to uphold a respectful and empowering image of the child/student, our Professional Experience Program is underpinned by the following beliefs and values.
- Children’s and students’ learning is enhanced when they are engaged and interested in what they are doing.
- Children and students construct and acquire knowledge through intentional interaction with the physical and social world.
- Children and students are individuals with rights and responsibilities, and they are continually in a process of making sense of the world.
- The role of the teacher is as a guide and facilitator of children’s and students’ learning, rather than as a director or controller of their experiences. In this way, we see teachers as co-constructors of knowledge positioned beside children/students.
- Programming and planning for children/students must prioritise the learning process. Learning experiences should be designed to build on children’s and students’ current knowledge and support them towards more complex understandings.
- Building meaningful, respectful and professional relationships with children and students, parents, colleagues and the community is of utmost importance. These relationships will recognise and respect multiple perspectives and embrace diversity.