Staff spotlight: Teaching excellence

Published: Monday 31st August 2015

Joanna Barbousas 

Dr Joanna Barbousas’ expertise in effective teaching practices has led to her involvement in two exciting ACU initiatives, which are designed to provide better workplace preparation for young teachers.  

The ACU National Mentoring in Education Hub (ACUMentoring) and the North West Teaching Academy in Victoria are examples of how ACU is making a difference in teacher education. 

“ACU equips education students with the skills, knowledge and experience needed to become world-class teachers,” Dr Joanna Barbousas said.

“Both the ACU Mentoring Hub and the ACU Teaching Academy build on new directions in teacher education to make more significant links with school-based teacher education initiatives. The focus on quality mentoring is key to any significant changes to teacher practices.” 

Dr Barbousas said her passion for teacher education is framed around a commitment to adult learning. 

“Through quality teacher education programs, practices and partnerships, education as a field is able to address student learning needs in early learning centres and schools in significant ways,” Dr Babousas said. 

“I am passionate about the development of high quality teacher education curriculum at a time when student learning is of high priority.”

Dr Barbousas is director of the ACU National Mentoring in Education Hub (ACUMentoring), which enhances the mentoring practices and understandings for teachers and education leaders through a range of professional learning through face-to-face workshops and online modes.

“The ACUMentoring Hub is essentially about developing a community of practice within academic staff and in turn bringing together external stakeholders,” Dr Barbousas said.

“When working with pre-service teachers or with peers, teachers need a framework for the mentoring relationship that provides structure and purpose.

“The framework we have developed is where the innovation sits. We have included Catholic Identity and Mission that frames the professional developments around Catholic social teaching and is fundamental to the important aspects of relationship building in the mentoring process.” 

ACU has also established the North West Teaching Academy, one of 12 Teaching Academies of Professional Practice working with schools in the north-west region of Melbourne and Victoria to provide rigorous, high-quality preparation for the workplace.

This initiative provides a coordinated approach involving principals, trained mentor teachers and pre-service teachers who can analyse teaching practice for learning effectiveness.

The academy will increase the capability of schools to provide effective workplace experience to pre-service teachers and lead teacher development through quality mentoring.

It will also influence university course design and delivery of pre-service education, and provide vital research evidence on strategies to improve learning outcomes. 

The project is a university/school/systems partnership that offers high performers from the Master of Teaching Primary and Master of Teaching Secondary the opportunity to work collaboratively with ACU and partner schools immersed in the school environment. 

“The focus of this project is to relocate pre-service teacher development from the university classroom into an educational learning community in the interests of high quality workplace learning led by experienced teacher mentors in collaboration with university academics and employers,” Dr Barbousas said. 

“Aimed at students who aspire to a teacher leadership role, this teaching academy provides the opportunity for graduates to develop capacities in aligning, assessment, curriculum, and teaching, as well as explicitly connecting literacy and numeracy with curriculum.”