Retreat prepares pre-service teachers for vocation of teaching

Document Type

Media Release

Publication Date

Winter 8-8-2011

Publisher Name

The University of Notre Dame, Fremantle Campus

Publication Place



As teacher attrition rates nudge 40 per cent within the first five years after graduating, a training program offered at The University of Notre Dame Australia aims to ensure final-year education students understand the value their vocation has to the community.

The Retreat Leaders Training Program (RLTP) conducted at the Fremantle Campus encourages pre-service teachers to explore core areas of faith, leadership, service and community within the retreat environment.

The RLTP is a branch of the School of Education’s ASPIRE Program which has been running for four years at the Fremantle Campus. The ASPIRE Program assists pre-service teachers in recognising and enhancing care, leadership, service and reflective qualities in their vocation.

The ASPIRE Program is overseen by Associate Professor Chris Hackett, and Postgraduate Education Coordinator, Associate Professor Shane Lavery, with assistance from Notre Dame Alumni and Campus Minister, Tom Gannon.

Thirty pre-service teachers spent two days at the Serpentine Retreat Centre recently to learn about the importance of leadership. The retreat environment was used as an opportunity for reflecting on teaching as a vocation.

The program is designed to help students further develop skills and techniques to manage retreats and other activities conducted outside the classroom environment.

Notre Dame Alumni also supported the retreat in a variety of ways. Master of Education (Leadership and Management) graduate and current Vice Principal at Infant Jesus Primary School, Frank Colangelo, was one Alumni who shared with students his experience of the teaching vocation and the benefits he reaped from studying Education at Notre Dame.

Associate Professor Hackett says the RLTP calls on final-year students to reflect on their own lives and leadership qualities so they can incorporate those aspects into their teaching behaviour.

“Because of the challenges of teaching today, students entering into the teaching profession can sometimes question the purpose of what they are doing,” Associate Professor Hackett said.

“Research says that people who have a good reason for why they are in the profession and how they can meet those challenges, tend to commit themselves to teaching for a longer period.

“The Retreat Leaders Training Program gives students an opportunity to consider those questions before they finish their degree and promotes a sense of integrity about the profession.”

Mr Gannon says the knowledge pre-service teachers receive as a result of the RLTP has the potential to improve the way retreat programs are organised and conducted in Australian schools.

“The real gem with this program is that it also involves Notre Dame Alumni who are already teaching in schools,” Mr Gannon said.

“Not only does it provide an opportunity for Alumni to share their experiences at Notre Dame, it also allows them to give our future teaching graduates some helpful advice in conducting successful outdoor activities for their students.”

Media Contact: Leigh Dawson (+61) 8 9433 0569, Mob (+61) 0405 441 093