Carl Roberts describes his first year as a Provisionally Certificated Teacher (PCT) as ‘a frenzy of adjustment’. But through the Teaching Council’s Tuakana Teina programme, and with the support of mentor Rita Palmer, Carl is embracing the challenges and his confidence is soaring.
Carl, a year 2-3 teacher at Roslyn School in Palmerston North, says, “I feel extremely lucky to be part of the programme and to have Rita as my mentor. She has such a vast range of experience, and her enthusiasm is infectious.”
Launched by the Teaching Council earlier this year, Tuakana Teina harnesses the skills and knowledge of experienced mentor teachers and matches them with PCTs who are looking for a mentor.
It is aimed at PCTs who are having difficulty accessing a mentor, or who are partially completed, with the aim of helping them to progress to Full Certification.
Provisionally Certificated Teacher Carl Roberts has been paired with mentor Rita Palmer through the Teaching Council's Tuakana Teina programme.
At the start of the year, Carl was paired with an experienced teacher from his school to be his mentor. As is often the case, these teachers wear many hats and have a lot of conflicting priorities.
Principal Joanne How explains, “Carl’s mentor was stretched to capacity, which meant she was under a great deal of pressure and Carl wasn’t getting the support he needed.”
Roslyn School had already engaged Rita, an education consultant, to work with them around Teaching as Inquiry. “When Rita offered to work with Carl on a formal mentoring programme it was a no-brainer. We jumped at the chance,” Joanne says.
Rita now visits Carl and Joanne at the school every week, and the three of them work together to set clear, specific goals for Carl to work towards.
“Although my goals are co-constructed, I ultimately set my own learning objectives and that’s very empowering.” Carl Roberts, Roslyn School
“We use a mixture of theory and practice – one to one meetings, targeted observations and reflections on practice. Sometimes Rita will join me in class and model teaching techniques, so I can watch and understand how learners react in different situations. We also talk on the phone and email between visits.”
Rita explains that the emphasis is on scaffolding Carl’s learning, rather than giving him the answers. “I ask him leading questions such as, ‘What do you think would happen if …?’ or ‘What did you notice when …?’ It’s about helping him to discover for himself, learning through self-reflection.”
All of Carl’s learning is done through a Code and Standards lens. Rita says, “The Code can be quite daunting for new teachers. Embedding it into everything we do helps to reinforce our commitment to the Code and is helping Carl to realise it’s nothing to be afraid of.”
Joanne has already noticed a big change in Carl. “He’s really got the bit between his teeth. Plus, Rita's support has taken a lot of pressure off Carl’s original mentor. It’s been a win-win situation for everyone.”
Carl adds, “Thanks to Rita and my school, I’ve gone from feeling overwhelmed to finding a renewed enthusiasm. Tuakana Teina is a fantastic opportunity for me to develop and grow as a teacher. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Rita Palmer is a New Zealand trained teacher and literacy specialist. Her work has taken her around New Zealand, as well as to New York where she spent seven years as a consultant troubleshooting in some of the city’s most impoverished schools.
Rita has worked as an independent consultant and learning coach since 2015 and is passionate about capacity-building for the profession. She says, “I got involved in the Tuakana Teina programme because I strongly believe in what it is trying to achieve.”
“There is a huge need for structured mentoring programmes and good mentors in schools. Having a good induction and mentoring programme can be make or break for beginning teachers. Teaching can be very isolating, so having a good support network is crucial.”