Home' Teacher : November 2009 Contents PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT 7
KEEPING GREAT TEACHERS IN THE CLASSROOM IS
ONE OF THE MAJOR HURDLES FACING EDUCATION TODAY,
WHICH IS WHY ONE MELBOURNE SCHOOL IS OFFERING AN
ALTERNATIVE CAREER PATHWAY, AS MELISSA CRANWELL EXPLAINS.
It's often the case that, as experienced and high-quality teachers reach the pinnacle
of the salary structure, their only pathway for further recognition and promotion
is to take on an administrative role, and that's a pathway that typically leads them
away from their passion teaching.
Recognising that problem, Toorak College in Mount Eliza on Melbourne's Morn-
ington Peninsula this year introduced what it calls a Master Teacher and Mentor
program to provide an alternative career pathway for those teachers who choose to
stay in front of the blackboard. The program benefits not only those experienced
master teachers who prefer class contact, but the students who gain knowledge and
continue to learn from them, according to Maude Ashton, who heads up the program.
The program, says Ashton, is one reason why classrooms are places of excitement
and engagement for students and teachers at the school, an independent day and
boarding school for girls that also offers a coeducational program to Year 6. A deal
of good learning is the result of inspired teachers who set us on a path of lifelong
learning, she observes. 'We all remember that one great teacher, who inspired us to
go beyond ou r imagined boundaries and achieve our goals,' she says.
The school's Master Teacher and Mentor program offers a financial incentive
to teachers who demonstrate exemplary abilities, as well as the chance for them to
continue to develop a culture of excellence that supports their students, their col-
leagues and the wider educational community.
As Ashton explains, exemplary master teachers in the program must have reached
the top of the pay scale as an experienced teacher and must have demonstrated sus-
tained excellence in teaching and learning. 'Master teachers are experts in their field
who make significant contributions to the life of the school and provide mentoring
to other teachers within the college,' she explains.
In 2007, the board and executive of Toorak College undertook a review of the
school's activities and set its strategic direction in terms of six clear objectives.
The first two objectives are: to encourage students to achieve their maximum
potential both academically and socially; and to employ the highest-quality teachers
and other members of staff.
Toorak College principal Noel Thomas notes that success in achieving the first
objective depends on success in achieving the second. 'Great teachers are the back-
bone of great schools,' he points out. 'From the outset, we've recognised that, of all
the variances that may make a difference to student achievement and school effec-
tiveness, the greatest source of variance is the quality of our staff and, in relation
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