Bridges to Higher Education Bridges to Higher Education

Michelle Tregoning

Teaching and Learning Mentor at Fairfield Public School 

Fair Go is about the idea that if you get the teaching and the classroom environment right it sends really powerful implicit messages to the students about their own capabilities and their own skills. It helps communicate that they are valued, that they matter and belong here at the school. This in turn actually helps to change how children think about education in general.

Teachers who participate in the program receive support from a mentor and the university; they learn about these ideas, complete research based on their own needs and interests within the Fair Go teaching framework and at the end of the year reflect on their learning and growth. These teachers then become mentors to other teachers.

It bothered me to think that perhaps only twenty three kids would walk away at the end of the year having experienced the benefits of the program. My dream was to embed this framework into every teaching space within the school and the only way to start that was to start doing it myself. That was two years ago and the really exciting thing is that there are now elements of the Fair Go approach in every classroom across the school and the Fair Go approach has become part of the school community.

Our students now talk about school being about learning, which has been a huge shift in thinking. Our students are more cognitively challenged; they work harder; there are higher expectations of what they can do. The students are involved in learning what they care about and there is also this sense of perseverance. Students and teachers know that learning is actually difficult, so when you're challenged or making mistakes, that's awesome, that means learning is happening! We have had conversations with other schools who have been part of this program and there was resounding agreement that we want to continue it even though the funding is running out. And it will happen, we will continue, because so many people have seen the power and the benefit of this Program.

David Smith - Principal at Fairfield Public School

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There used to be the belief that if you teach in a disadvantaged school, you have to dumb down the curriculum. Fair Go has disproven that, demonstrating that our students are capable and can be engaged on a very high level, if the environment is right.

We have been very fortunate to have Michelle. She is a very passionate educator. Her ability to think deeply and critically is what has driven this program in our school. Using the language of Fair Go, Michelle has built relations within our school. We have a common language about quality education now that we all believe in. I couldn't be prouder of her work.

We are also hoping to showcase our achievements across our community of schools and to recommend and pass on the strategies of Fair Go which have worked so well for us.

Vicki Miedler - Assistant Principal at Fairfield Public School

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The key message of Fair Go, which I really like, is that school is a place for everybody, and that learning should never stop. As teachers we now send messages to the children that they are valued and that there are lots of opportunities out there for them and we give them choices about their learning.

The impact across the school has been enormous. I love that fact that we have children aspiring to learning beyond high school, whether that be at university or at TAFE.

Before participating in Fair Go I was seen as an exemplary teacher because I had control in my classroom, but for me that is not what an exemplary teacher is anymore. When I go into my classroom next year it will be different - children will have more of a voice. I now know how to make that happen.

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