100% Locally Owned, Independent and Free

100% Locally Owned, Independent and Free

Review has ideas to encourage mid-career professionals to join and stay in teaching

Do you have a news tip? Click here to send to our news team.

Buyers’ interest ‘flooding in’ for $30m development

Property buyers are homing in on a 'premium' residential development, amid a shortage of listings on the Sunshine Coast. There have been waves of interest More

Photo of the day: sunrise surfers

Lesley Evans captured this scene at Kings Beach. If you have a photo of the day offering, email photo@sunshinecoastnews.com.au. Photos must be horizontal/landscape and may More

Jane Stephens: why professionals need to ban booze

Ban the booze for our decision makers, those who the public depends on and the ones who are paid to be physically excellent for More

Largest land holding in beachside suburb on market

A unique opportunity has arisen in Moffat Beach’s industrial precinct, offering a strategic investment for those with foresight. Known as The Entrance, the expansive property More

New dental vans add splash of colour to fleet

Two new school dental vans covered in colour are being rolled out on the Sunshine Coast, and it's hoped their bright appearance will provide More

Why Coast MP is backing nuclear energy

A Sunshine Coast politician’s push for nuclear energy has been rebuked by a local leading academic and the federal government. While Federal MP for Fairfax More

With many teachers leaving the profession, what drives someone like Ashwita Venkatesh to give up her career as a medical doctor to teach senior psychology and mathematics to high school students?

“I think the main inspiration was being able to be a part of the formative years of a young adult’s education,” she said.Enticing experienced professionals to become teachers is one of the solutions proposed to help solve Australia’s worsening teaching shortage.“Education to me is extremely valuable, not only for building knowledge but also to help students develop essential life skills,” said Ms Venkatesh, who has completed the University of the Sunshine Coast’s Master of Teaching for her new calling.

“Overall, teaching is a bit of a roller-coaster ride. There are highs and lows but at the end there is contentment and satisfaction.”In a recent article in The Conversation, lead author Erin Siostrom, a UniSC associate lecturer in science education, outlined findings from an international review of 29 studies from the past two decades that examined the experiences of career-change teachers.The review comes ahead of the release this month by an expert panel set up by the Federal Government into the next National School Reform Agreement, in part due to concerns about teacher shortages.“With one of the key items looking at how to ‘improve’ teaching degrees to attract mid-career entrants, this research can tell us much about the people who go into teaching mid-career and holds lessons for policymakers who want them to stay in their new job,” Ms Siostrom said.“Career-change students are increasingly common in teacher education programs. We know that many are interested in making the switch, with a national 2022 survey finding one in three mid-career individuals was open to the idea of teaching.”The review of teachers worldwide – including Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and United States – found mid-career professionals had switched to teaching from a range of diverse backgrounds. More than 140 prior careers were identified.Like Ms Venkatesh, many were motivated to choose teaching after experiencing teacher-like roles, or because they wanted to work with children, help make a difference or share expertise in a field they were passionate about, such as science.

Ashwita Venkatesh was motivated to work with children.

After completing a degree in medicine in 2010 in India, Ms Venkatesh’s medical career involved being a part of an outreach medical camp in Nigeria and providing clinical care to children afflicted by polio at medical camps across rural India.Moving to Australia in 2014, she facilitated problem-based learning sessions for first- and second-year students in Griffith University’s Doctor of Medicine program at the Sunshine Coast University Hospital.It was here she realised she wanted to make teaching her career – bringing with her real-life knowledge, insights and medical anecdotes to share with students.“When I applied to the Master of Teaching program at UniSC, my initial motivation was to continue teaching into the medical program, however I was then presented with an opportunity to introduce senior psychology subjects at St Andrew’s Anglican College at Peregian Springs,” she said.Drawing on her expertise and experience as a doctor, she’s introduced an innovative approach to learning that incorporates engaging case studies that directly link with the syllabus objectives in the senior psychology curriculum. “Students tend to value having a realistic perspective to their content. When they are presented with real-world examples of clinical practice, this enhances their engagement,” she said.“Setting up this learning involves a lot of background research, time and effort, but the feedback from students makes it worth it. They say the case studies have also helped them recall content.”The approach has been described as “cutting-edge” by UniSC senior education lecturer Dr Alison Willis, who is leading an action-based research project with Ms Venkatesh to measure its impact on student engagement and learning outcomes.“We know through this initiative, students gain insight into the real-world application of their learning and develop skills of critical thinking, collaboration and teamwork, and effective communication through classroom discussions of the cases,” Dr Willis said.Ms Venkatesh sums up her experience as a teacher in one word: “hectic”.“I think there are times when you feel completely under the pump but then there are also those moments where you know you have made a difference to that one child and that makes it all worth it. I think for me receiving a simple thank you note from my students keeps me going,” she said.

Erin Siostrom said professionals had plenty of knowledge to bring to the education sector.

In their review, Ms Siostrom and her co-authors suggested that to encourage more mid-career entrants to join and stay in the teaching profession, there needed to be greater appreciation of the unique strengths and experiences that they brought from their previous lives.“Mid-career entrants come to schools with new ideas and enthusiasm to make a difference and share their real-world and industry experiences,” she said.“One option is to formally recognise extensive industry experiences or advanced subject area qualifications, such as a PhD in chemistry, that these career-changers bring to schools. This could be done with expedited career progression or specialist roles within schools.”She said schools could also offer increasingly flexible employment pathways, such as job-share arrangements or innovative timetabling, for career-changers who wanted to maintain industry connections.“This could allow for school-industry partnerships that benefit students, and let these teachers use their professional experiences to make a difference,” she said.“In doing so, this crucial teaching workforce may feel they are making a positive contribution to their students and be more likely to stay.”Applications are open to start studying at UniSC in Semester 2. For details go to University of the Sunshine Coast.

Help us deliver more news by registering for our FREE daily news feed. All it requires is your name and email at the bottom of this article.

[scn_go_back_button] Return Home

Subscribe to SCN’s daily news email

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.