Beginning teachers embrace the “Spirit of Learning”

Over the Labour Day long weekend, 250 beginning teachers gathered from across the state to attend the ‘Spirit of Learning Residential Conference’ for early career teachers.

The annual conference, at the Hilton Hotel in Brisbane, was organised by the Beginning and Establishing Teachers’ Association (BETA) and is one in a series of four professional development conferences held in Central Queensland, Gold Coast and Brisbane.

After just 12 weeks in the classroom, teachers gave their time over a long weekend to increase their toolkit by attending professional development providing practical strategies to improve learning experiences for their students. Conference keynote speakers focused on positive behaviour support strategies and teacher wellbeing, and this was complemented by an array of workshop options ranging from strategies to support students with autism to improving data literacy and better support differentiation in the classroom.

The conference provided a unique opportunity for teachers to network with each other and recognise the demands of their new profession, which are both rewarding and challenging, and quite often shared by other beginning teachers.

A key to the program’s success is the time provided for teachers to engage in professional conversation with their peers, facilitated by an experienced teacher. BETA President Michelle Cubis explained: “Our table hosts attend the conference breakfast on Sunday to help beginning teachers unpack their experiences. It’s fantastic to see experienced teachers facilitating discussions focused on sharing what works in the classroom.”

Although enthusiastic and positive, beginning teachers also highlighted areas where they feel they require additional support. These include: strategies for managing complex student behaviour, differentiation, assessment and reporting, supporting students with additional learning needs and maintaining work/life satisfaction.

The timing of the conference supported teachers in reflecting on their initial classroom experiences and setting personal goals to improve professional practice. Teachers were able to reach out to their peers and identify ways they could develop their own support networks within schools and the wider teaching community.

BETA’s next conference, “Thinking on your feet”, to be held at Stretton State College on Saturday 26 August, aims to support our supply and contract teachers. For more information, like BETA on Facebook or visit

BETA, a not-for-profit association proudly supported by QT Mutual Bank, TUH and the QTU, was first established in 2000 after it was recognised that there was a need for a practical approach to induction and mentoring of teachers entering the profession. It is staffed by a small group of volunteers, including principals, deputy principals, heads of department and beginning teachers, who are all currently working in schools and identify professional development as an essential part of school-based induction.

Amanda Wicks                                                                                                           Caboolture East SS principal and BETA Treasurer

Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 122 No 4, 2 June 2017, p24