Finally – Universities and Government see need for internships

The Big Picture approach we use for our PreCAL class is centred on the real world learning of internships. Students who start with shadow days and progress to an LTI (Learning through Internship) begin to see the relevance of their learning and it fosters student engagement.

Now Universities Australia and the federal government are in talks about an introduction of more internships.

See The Age – Desperately seeking a new set of skills.

In speaking about internships…“Universities consistently reported that they improved student learning, engagement and retention.”

I have been saying to many people I meet about the value of internships and how little I gained at Uni with regard to learning how to teach. I think 60-75% of the time at university should be internships in schools and working alongside teachers.

Internships give students work readiness skills.

Only 10 per cent of employers are highly satisfied with the work-readiness skills of graduates — problem-solving, self-management, teamwork — according to a recent survey of 500 chief executives by the Australian Industry Group and Deloitte. More than half were dissatisfied with the relevant work experience of graduates.

Students are also unhappy about the paucity of internships. The difficulty of getting work experience in areas linked to their studies is their biggest gripe about university life, according to federal government research.

In the article above though there seems to be a sticking point and that is of funding and organisation. Apparently it is a costly exercise and to roll out such a program for all students is fraught with problems. Why not down-size universities and make the departments more personalised rather than the factory approach where each student is just a commodity.

This reinforces that we are on the right track.

Small and personalised with each internship matched to the interest of the student.

So it will be more of the same – going outside the classroom to experience firsthand the relevance of their learning.


Big Picture Education films students

Recognition of the PreCAL internship process begins.

The Big Picture film crew was in Shepparton this week to film students with a story to tell. SJ and Miss BC both made themselves available.

SJ was filmed and interviewed in the graphic design lab (where he is doing his course this year) and at the mural he designed last year at Gowrie St Primary School.

Miss BC went to an Auto Body Works where she did her Shadow Day and was filmed sanding down an auto panel and gave an interview as well. Her possible mentor and the boss of the business were interviewed as well.

Both of them commented on how impressed they were with her work ethic.

The footage of the students will be put together on a DVD with other Big Picture Australian stories. We are now finally able to collect these stories as we have a number of schools in the country doing this exciting work.

Shadow Days arrive

Two of my students completed their Shadow Days this week. Madison went to a Travel Agency…and loved it. Brittany finally found a panel beating business that would give a girl a chance in a male dominated industry. She was rapt as well. They were so impressed they asked her to come back and want to talk to her about an internship!! Wow.

Congratulations to both girls.

Hopefully now the rest of the class will catch on that this is what learning is all about. Going outside the classroom to do and coming back to class to do real learning.

Big Picture PreCAL connects what you do outside the school and connects it with what you learn inside the classroom.

Teaching is not for the light-hearted

Having a tough time of things at the moment.

The realisation just hit that me working with a group of 16 teenagers on my own, with little support makes for a tough job.

I have had 2 weeks away from class over Easter, but we as teachers still think and plan when away from the class. I spent a great deal of time thinking how to do things better. Trying to find what will work with each student. How to make the program more personalised.

The job is too much for one person. I need student support staff as each of my students has personal and anti-learning baggage that resists my efforts. They need help from another to help them unpack their problems. And all this needs to work alongside them trying to work in a class of other students with all their problems.

I am still reminded that this journey is One Student at a Time and it is a marathon. I love the TV Show Survivor…will I survive?

When I think about it it is a bit of Outwit, Outplay and Outlast…

Hey guys. This is NOT school!

All of my students have either dropped out of school or have been asked to leave. Most of them did not like school because it was boring or was holding them back from what they really wanted to do. They had a passion and wanted to follow it.

So I realised the other day that I had to make my classroom not seem like school. The more it was like school the more it encouraged “school-like” behaviours or indifference, mucking up and waiting for the teacher to tell us what to do.

I started the year with the room set up in a way I thought would encourage and facilitate learning. Students didn’t seem to mind it and it was working quite well but we had to keep shifting chairs.

Then one day a couple of the students commented on the horseshoe shape of tables in the room next door and how good it would be to have ours placed the same way. I appreciated their initiative and agreed to give it a try.

This was to prove a bad move. With the furniture now representing “school” the attitude to learning and student behaviour changed for the worse. The class as a whole settled into school mode and I soon realised I had to take charge to build a new culture or learning. The room design was a key to bring about this change.

I had a meeting with a couple of GOTAFE teachers to talk about what I was learning and they suggested to get the students to remove all the furniture out of the room and get them to design a new classroom from scratch. So we did this.

So this is where things stand and when the next term resumes we will have a new classroom design that the students have had some say: Features will include: 4 couches, some bean bags and coffee tables, a group of tables to sit around for advisory (like sitting around the dinner table), some fish bowls, maybe a class pet and satellite tables around the room for individual and small group work.

Should make for an interesting and exciting start of the school term.

Internships and mentors here we come..

A number of students in my class are well on their way to finding an internship and working with a mentor. The first step has been to work through an Informational Interview activity Sheet.

This has been the process:

  • Research businesses that line up with student interest/passion
  • Write down local business details they would like to contact
  • Make a list of questions to find out information about the business that will help you to decide whether to go back for a Shadow Day
  • Phone or visit business and ask whether they have work experience students
  • If they do make a time for an interview to ask your questions
  • Write a report on your visit
  • Keep visiting businesses until you find one to have a Shadow Day
  • If you have a great Shadow Day consider making it an internship (LTI – Learning Through Internship)

So far Miss MW has nearly achieved an interview with a travel agency and Miss BC has had an interview with a panel beating business and keen to make it a Shadow Day.