By Dr Nina Hood
Teens across New Zealand are navigating the evolving business world with the help of resources and programmes created by The Young Enterprise Trust (YET), but what about the hundreds of business studies teachers leading the charge? Who’s supporting their learning and ongoing training?
Roaming Teachers is a groundbreaking YET initiative that coaches business studies teachers who help thousands of year 12 and 13 students become confident, problem solving entrepreneurs.
Why launch Roaming Teachers?
About five years ago, NCEA business studies was a brand new subject and many teachers were struggling to get their heads around it. So, YET came up with the idea of Roaming Teachers as a way to pair expert business studies educators with teachers new to the course.
Experienced teacher, Lucy Wymer was the first roamer. She took her expertise initially into an Auckland school with a high Pasifika population to develop their business studies offering.
“It was such a necessary role, helping teachers that had spent their whole life teaching economics or maths find their feet and learn the new business studies programme,” says Lucy. “I was lucky, I’d been trained to teach the subject in the UK, so I wanted to help.’
Star teachers ask for more help
Terry Shubkin, YET’s self-titled Chief Excitement Officer, agrees. She describes Lucy as a ‘star teacher’ but says she never suspected just how beneficial and far-reaching Roaming Teachers would become.
“We thought Lucy would be helping the new, nervous or inexperienced teachers but then really experienced teachers asked for support too,” says Terry. “That was an ‘a-ha’ moment for us. Teachers told us they rarely got the opportunity to collaborate with other business studies educators and Lucy was the support and sounding board they needed to bounce ideas off of.”
We coach, mentor and connect
There are now six roaming teachers working in over 120 schools in Auckland, Wellington, South Island, Northland and Hawkes Bay.
Lucy says the role is to mentor and give advice to teachers and as they become more confident, also spend time working with learners.
“I continue to provide support to teachers who are new to business studies, helping develop course outlines for the year, sharing teacher resources, role modeling how to work a classroom and providing assessment resources,” she says. “But the teachers also really value you working with learners, advising them how to move forward with the businesses they’ve created.”
Lucy says she draws on her own business connections if students need guidance from a company about a food product, or an app.
“I take from my experiences in other schools and help teachers and students source mentors for the businesses they’ve created, which makes a huge difference to their achievement during the year. The roaming teachers pull that kind of eco-system together, so the classroom teacher doesn’t feel like they’re on their own.”
Lucy says they’ve had some powerful feedback from teachers.
“They’ve told us that without the support of the Roaming Teachers, they wouldn’t have survived their first year,,” she says. “The retention rate for business studies teachers is very high in schools with Roaming Teacher support. They have everything they need to give it a go and keep going.”
Students inspired by success
Students have gone on to set up their own successful companies as a result of their YET experience. One example is young entrepreneur, Jake Millar, who created motivational website Oompher as a teen and is currently co-founder of business education platform Unfiltered.
“Jake turned down a $40,000 law scholarship at the University of Otago in favour of becoming an entrepreneur,” says Lucy. “He was one of the students in the programme at Christchurch Boys’ High School. Some students realise they can push it forward and be an entrepreneur younger, with not much starter capital and using technology, rather than waiting until they are 20, which might have been the attitude in the past. We use examples like this to inspire the students we’re teaching now.”
Helping teens and teachers thrive
Lucy says there are huge benefits to being a Roaming Teacher.
“I learn from the teachers as much as they learn from me. Being in the classroom so frequently keeps me up to date, especially with increasing digital learning,” she says. “I see Roaming Teachers as a brilliant opportunity to keep good teachers in education, for them to spread their knowledge and skills, help the students succeed and coach current educators to be even better.”
If you’d like more information about Roaming Teachers or Young Enterprise Trust, email Terry Shubkin: Terry.Shubkin@youngenterprise.org.nz. To learn more about Lucy’s experience as the first Roaming Teacher, email: Lucy.Wymer@youngenterprise.org.nz
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