Remote outback schools need competent, knowledgeable and experienced teachers. Often it is young, enthusiastic, unattached less experienced graduate or early career teachers who are able to make the big leap and commit to teaching in remote outback schools. And while these amazing educators can offer so much, there is also a need for older, more experienced teachers and leaders in remote schools as well. Remote teaching in outback First Nations communities can be rewarding, fulfilling and a great career move- and one that more established teachers and leaders should consider.
So what are the barriers?
- Young children
- Permanency or a commitment or comfort in current school and/or role
- Older parents or family members who need you
- Children in important years of schooling ie. kindy, Year 6, senior high school
- Worried children will miss their friends, miss important education, not fit in, be put at risk, not have access to sports or classes etc
- Having shared custody with an ex that may or may not make remote teaching easy or possible
- Feeling ‘too old’
- Housing- feeling like you have too much stuff to put in storage, or don’t want to rent your house out to strangers
- And more…
We hear you. We know that moving yourself (and maybe a family) to another part of the state/country is a huge ask. We know that as we get older- so to do our parents and family. We know with older age come new health concerns. We know with children come commitments. We understand.
And for many- teaching remote might just be too much, too hard.
But for some- the time might be right, or could soon be right, or will be right in the future. All your challenges could align… or maybe the benefits just might outweigh some of the barriers for you.
So… what are the benefits of remote outback teaching?
Opportunity to use your knowledge and skills with students who need your expertise
As an experienced teacher you have skills, knowledge and confidence that you didn’t as a graduate. You are settled into your career and understand the needs and expectations of mainstream students and curriculum. Remote schools often have high staff turnover and higher levels of graduate teachers (less family commitments, eager for adventure etc)- so your expertise will be welcomed with gratitude. Some First Nations students in some communities are highly vulnerable- they need the best, most competent teachers we have. And that is YOU. Use your knowledge of creating Individual Education Plans, differentiation, creating collaborative learning opportunities, creating engaging lessons, how to modify lessons on the go if things go wrong.
Opportunity to have a remote base for adventure and learning
Working in a remote community you have a set base to leave from to adventure around your remote region. Why wait until you are a grey nomad to explore? Make the most of NOW to explore. And do it while getting paid to be there, have a free or subsidised house, have new friends to go with, and new Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander friends to do it with too. Be able to see some places that many don’t even know about.
Opportunity to advance your career
Remote teaching can be a great way for you, an experienced teacher, to advance your career. Your skills and knowledge can be really useful in additional roles such as Head Teacher, Deputy Principal or Principal. The small school setting sets you up well to step into these positions- and often means great one-on-one mentoring or support as you step into new roles from those above you.
And sometimes the time will never be ‘right’- there will always be a pull to stay home or someone who needs you. Maybe, just maybe, you might put your own aspirations, urge for adventure before all that. Use this as a chance to cross things off your bucket list. Avoid regret- that you should have, could of, but never did. And you might be just what an outback school needs.
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