Fellowship helps teachers rise to meet the challenges of today’s classroom

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

Catholic schools are currently engaging with a period of rapid social, technological and educational change. The expectations and demands of politicians and parents for schools and teachers are increasing. There is far more attention paid to what schools achieve and how they achieve it.

Catholic schools and teachers must also deal with the particular challenges of teaching more children with disabilities, more refugee children, more Aboriginal children and more children with a non-Catholic background than ever before.

The mission of educating these and other young people for a rapidly changing world has never been more demanding.

The quality of teachers and their potential to influence and develop young students has never been more important.

We need to recognise that those who have chosen to become teachers have taken on a significant responsibility in testing times, and it is incumbent on all of us involved in delivering Catholic education to provide them with the best support possible.

Several years ago, Catholic Education Commission NSW introduced the Br John Taylor Fellowship to promote excellence within the teaching profession.

The fellowship provides up to $25,000 in travel and accommodation to enable a Catholic educator to research a key priority or challenge facing our schools.

The aim is to encourage academic study of particular topics and passions by people dedicated to the principles of Catholic schooling, and to share that research with their fellow professionals.

Now in its third year, the fellowship is building a rich body of knowledge on important topics for Catholic teachers to mine for advice and inspiration.

The first Br John Taylor Fellow in 2015, Mark Gronow, delivered three papers on how teachers could engage students in mathematics more effectively. Those papers are available on CECNSW’s website.

They will soon be joined by the research of the 2016 Fellow, Zeina Chalich, who has examined how teachers can harness the power of technology to improve student learning, especially their creativity.

It’s important that we encourage experienced and insightful educators to take the opportunity to deepen their knowledge and expertise in their current area of special interest, then share their new knowledge with their fellow teachers.

In the spirit of Br John Taylor – a man who was respected for his high ideals, his personal dedication and commitment to Catholic education, as well as his powerful intellect – I encourage Catholic educators across NSW to go the CECNSW website, apply online and grab this opportunity to contribute to the betterment of yourself and your profession with both hands.