Classroom readiness: The role of wellbeing education in initial teacher education

Year: 2015

Author: Price, Deborah, McCallum, Faye

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Dr Deborah Price, University of South Australia and Professor Faye McCallum, Southern Cross University
Pressure on graduates to be classroom ready as they transition to the workforce from initial teacher education (ITE) is growing. Teachers are often mooted as being the single most important factor on student achievement but in Australia and elsewhere, graduates are scrutinized for their assumed poor levels of literacy and numeracy attainment which adversely affects student rankings. Some Australian jurisdictions claim that insufficient professional experiences contribute to this debate and are advocating for strengthened capstone experiences and internships. Higher Education Institutions that provide initial teacher education are being held responsible and blamed for the perceived poor quality of our graduates. Recent reviews into ITE like the Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group (TEMAG) report emphasise the importance of classroom ready teachers but we argue that the missing factor in ITE is an emphasis on wellbeing education, in particular, teacher wellbeing. If teachers are ‘well’, their students will also be ‘well’ and better able to improve achievement scores and support learners throughput their schooling. In this paper, Australian ITE at the University of South Australia is compared with an international partner, St Mary’s University (United Kingdom), where wellbeing education has been integral in ITE. Applying a mixed-method iterative design, the influences of wellbeing education to teacher transition, quality and classroom readiness will be presented. Purposeful sampling of participants include ITE graduates (one to five years) across both contexts and their responses to an anonymous online survey that integrates quantitative measures of Resilience and Youth Development Module (WestEd, 2003) and qualitative open ended questions. Implications regarding wellbeing education in ITE will be discussed to advance teacher wellbeing and classroom readiness, globally, both within ITE and the workplace.

This paper reports on findings of the University of South Australia, Divisional Research Performance Fund Project (2015), titled ‘Analysis of how pre-service teacher wellbeing initiatives influence teacher quality, transition, retention and student achievement.’ This is a joint project between University of South Australia (Dr Deborah Price), Southern Cross University (Prof Faye McCallum), St Mary’s University, Twickenham, London (Dr Jane Renowden, Dr Maureen Glackin, Ms Jane Chambers and Ms Anna Lise Gordon).