Benefits of year long placements of high school teachers at universities
Keywords:high school teachers, secondment, placement, collaboration
In 2017, a Visiting Teaching Fellow Program was introduced in the School of Physics, University of New South Wales (UNSW). As part of this program, each year, a high school teacher is seconded to the university to teach first year classes and develop outreach materials and programs. This has led to a very rewarding and productive partnership between teachers and academics. The teaching fellows have worked on numerous projects, including the introduction of online depth study resources to support the introduction of new Higher School Certificate (HSC, final two years of high school) syllabi; the opening of the first-year physics laboratory outside UNSW teaching periods for school excursions; and the introduction of a summer school program, SciX, to support the extension science syllabus. Many of these projects expanded from physics to encompass the entire Science Faculty. The teachers have found the experience rewarding and refreshing, while academics have benefitted from having a high school teacher’s insight into the background of our incoming students.
These partnerships have continued once the teachers return to their schools. Past teaching fellows often deliver the bridging course and utilise their knowledge of what students have learnt in high school; serve on the School Advisory Board and inform us about what is important for school students; and help with making outreach events at conferences relevant to high school students. The links forged between the school systems and the former teaching fellows also allow knowledge of opportunities for their current students on return to their respective schools. This program was briefly suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns but is returning in 2023.
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