A look into the ASG NEiTA & Monash University student mentoring program

by Nicole Gundi | Aug 31, 2017

Last week, a handful of the finest teachers in Australia stepped out of the classroom to mentor 700 education students at Monash University. The teacher mentors— selected by their communities for being outstanding and inspirational educators in the annual ASG National Excellence in Teaching Awards (ASG NEiTA)—shared their real classroom experiences. They were hands-on with the students, participating in workshops and interactive lectures, to help support the development of these young aspiring educators. 

ASG NEiTA Administrator, Bronwyn Sugden went along and learnt a thing or two herself. She reflects on some of the ASG NEiTA teachers and their workshops. 

Keith Fennell, a former SAS soldier, has a certain presence. A particular way of taking command and control of a classroom while providing a sense of safety for students to be brave, take risks and put their opinions forward without fear. Keith_2

Keith, an ASG NEiTA 2016 recipient, demonstrated the power of identifying different learning types and how to use Socratic Sessions. In sharing his experience, Keith showed undergraduate teachers that any student—regardless of their circumstances—can develop a passion to learn and the ability to drive their own education.

By identifying the preferred learning types of his students Keith is able to use a mix of visual, auditory, reading or kinaesthetic questions. He challenges his students to increase absorption and make learning more accessible. 

In a practical example of how Socratic sessions can be used with great success, Keith invited students to form a circle and nominate a topic that they wished to discuss and then stepped back as an observer. In doing so, students learnt how to express their opinions without putting their hands up, being aggressive or rude. Feeling safe within this space students are encouraged to take risks and be passionate. At the end of the discussion, their peers—acting as performance mentors—are asked for their critique. It is often at this point, Keith said that ideas and opinions can be challenged and be backed up with evidence. 

Keith Fennell currently teaches at Airds High School, NSW and is a published author and poet. 

Upon entering Guy Stapleton’s mentoring session, all the participants had one arm raised in the air and one out to the side. This was to help explain difficult STEM concepts to students. Guy said by incorporating physical movement students could improve retention and understanding.

In this instance the hand in the air was the dependent axis on a line graph, the one to the side, an independent axis. Different sizes of paper were then used to measure how quickly they fell to the ground. The measurements did not only provide data, paper was also used as an acronym to help teachers plot out a mind map to assist with lesson plans. While the concept of PAPER was used in a STEM setting much of it was equally applicable to other areas of learning.

P Planning
A Action
P Process data/information
E Evaluate
R Repeat (changing variables, processes etc)

Guy Stapleton currently teaches STEM at Melville High School, WA.  

Robotics is not usually on most people’s mind but for student teachers attending Drew Roberts’ workshop, their focus was solely on a Micro:bit.  Drew_Roberts_Teaching

Invented by BBC for use in expanding computer education in the UK, the Micro:bit is half the size of a credit card with a display panel of 25 LEDs (lights). What makes the Micro:bit so special is that is can be programmed using four different coding languages, JavaScript, Microsoft Block Editor, Microsoft TouchDevelop and MicroPython. 

To encourage familiarity with the platform and how easy it is to code, Drew had the students link a Micro:bit through a USB to their laptop. The 


screen interface is accessible with a simulator on the left hand side, and the coding drop and drag screen on the right. In the first instance Drew demonstrated how to make a smiley face followed by a frowning face. These were then saved with a .hex extension and moved to their computer hard drives. 

By demonstrating and have students follow along, Drew was able to ascertain how easily the concepts and processes were being adopted and understood. The students were then challenged to code a blinking heart. The student teachers were delighted when a small red heart comprising 25 small LED cells lit up as a result of code they had written.  



Drew Roberts is a NEiTA recipient and currently teaches at Emmanuel Christian College in Tasmania

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