The education sector is ever-changing, so it can be confusing for the more experienced teacher such as Pageau, let alone for beginner teachers fresh from tertiary institutions.
On April 8 - 10, the inaugural Post Primary Teachers’ Association Network of Establishing Teachers’ (NETs) Conference was staged at Auckland’s Long Bay, targeting teachers who had up to 10 years’ experience.
The Establishing Teachers’ Committee’s main role is to ensure every secondary school in New Zealand has a representative in their first 10 years of teaching who acts as a point of contact for new teachers, as well as to organise networking and professional development events, like the NETs conference.
Another role of the ETC is to advocate to the PPTA executive on issues that may affect beginner teachers.
The ETC developed the programme for the three-day conference, staged at Vaughan Centre on the North Shore, in the hope it would be useful for teachers in the early stages of their career.
Pageau, who teaches Year 9 to 13 history and social studies and attended the conference to gather useful ideas and concepts for his lessons, said the conference achieved its aims.
“Although I have been teaching a few years I found the conference very useful as did the many first, second and third year teachers who were there,” Pageau said.
Guest speakers included renowned classroom management guru Margaret Ross, who focussed on practical management inside and outside the classroom.
“The Margaret Ross section was especially good – she looked at the creation of groups in classrooms, and how teachers should be careful not to create an ‘outside’ group as this is when you start getting trouble; and how not to alienate kids who might not know the unspoken rules of a classroom … she emphasised inclusivity and treating all students equally,” Pageau explained.
Another section of the conference focussed on the use of technology in the classroom, which was a must for all attendees, he added.
“I will definitely use a lot of the classroom management information at school and also some of the technology tips - I will use more when BYOD (Bring Your Own Devices) become mandatory at our school.”
Pageau is also the PPTA executive member for the North Shore area and he used the conference to speak to the 60 attendees about the role of unions, and the importance of being active in the union.
“I spoke about unionism and what the union does … For teachers, the PPTA has helped win contracts and bring in things such as maternity leave provisions and extra-time for new teachers to get training.”
The PPTA are a democratic organisation, and if people are not happy with the way it is functioning, they should get more active, he said.
Pageau has received positive feedback and a lot of interest from the conference attendees considering taking up positions in the union, he added.
The conference also featured key speakers such as Ian Vickers, who focused on teacher wellbeing; NZ’s chief censor Dr Andrew Jack; and Claire Amos, an expert in e-learning, as well as providing opportunities for networking, sharing curriculum ideas and learning plans.
After a successful inaugural NETs Conference, it is likely the next one will be staged in two years.
Chief Censor Dr Andrew Jack speaks to the attendees at the NETs conference. CREDIT Michael Stevenson.
Austen Pageau. CREDIT Tom Haig.