Professional Learning in Challenging Work Environments: Developing Teachers Across Great Distances

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Teaching teams in remote and regional environments face many challenges; they are working in culturally diverse and resource poor environments while also facing professional and physical isolation. In implementing new programmes in remote areas of the Northern Territory, learning leaders at Charles Darwin University have developed innovative approaches to developing and retaining strong and effective teaching teams. These teams need to be flexible and approachable in their dealings with broad student groups, while maintaining currency and relevance in their own content area and the continuous improvement cycles required by training and assessment qualifications frameworks. This paper will outline the issues faced by groups of teachers and the approaches used to build strong professional learning communities across the divides of location, personality, discipline area and approaches to learning. There is a particular focus on the lessons being learnt now and towards meeting the changing needs in the regions.

Keywords: Professional Learning Communities, Developing Strong and Effective Teaching Teams, Teaching in Remote Environments
Stream: Adult, Vocational, Tertiary and Professional Learning
Presentation Type: Workshop Presentation in English
Paper: Professional Learning in Challenging Work Environments

Lorraine Sushames

Manager, Language Literacy and Numeracy Programme (LLNP), LearnLink, Charles Darwin University
Darwin, NT, Australia

Lorraine Sushames has for the last ten years managed programmes designed to build capacity in urban and regional areas throughout the Northern Territory of Australia. Her expertise is in the provision of adult literacy and numeracy programmes, projects, related products and associated research. Recent policy initiatives have expanded her work role to implement new programmes in remote regions of the NT. Delivery is conducted with a teaching team scattered across vast distances who are working in very challenging and often isolated environments. This requires creative approaches in developing, retaining, supporting and rewarding lecturing staff; a challenge which has become an immediate focus for new research on ways of building strong and effective teaching teams.

Assoc. Prof. Ruth Wallace

Educational researcher, Learning Research Group
School of Education, Charles Darwin University

Darwin, NT, Australia

Ruth Wallace has extensive experience in innovative delivery of vocational education and training (VET) programs in regional and remote areas across Northern Australia. She’s a Senior VET Lecturer and researcher, with particular expertise in VET practice development, learning communities, literacies and flexible learning. She an educational researcher with the Social Parternships in Learning Research Group, Charles Darwin University, and has undertaken research into the links between identity and involvement in post-compulsory schooling. Ruth has also undertaken research into flexible learning, action learning and developing effective materials and assessment for marginalized students. She is currently undertaking her PhD and establishing a VET practice development learning community.

Ref: L08P0153