Introducing this Week’s @EduTweetOz Host, Chantelle Morrison

Please tell us a little about your background in education. Why did you decide to become involved in education? What are some of the roles you’ve had and what does your current role involve?

I wanted to be a teacher since I had an inspirational teacher in Year 4 – Miss Dewing. She taught me how to love learning which is what I hope to instil in others. I had all of my initial teaching years in the Public ACT system which was amazing and forms the basis of my collaborative teaching and inquiry methods. After this, I worked at Northern Beaches Christian School finishing up my time there earlier this year as Community Leader for Stage 3. I currently work as a classroom teacher at Immanuel Primary School in Adelaide.

Who or what keeps you inspired and motivated in your work?
Twitter has completely invigorated my career. The networking and ideas and research that I gather through Twitter makes me so excited about the changing face of education.
I love watching kids learn and I love watching others teach – I think the process of education is so exciting.

What do you see as some of the biggest rewards and challenges for people working in education today?
The opportunities for modern teaching and learning are so rewarding. Seeing an entire community grow in their understanding of what this looks like is so exciting. But the process of helping the community to understand the importance of modern teaching and learning is challenging.

If you had the ability to make changes to the education system in Australia, what would you do?
I’d help us all to be risk-takers – just try stuff! When teachers are risk-takers; kids will be to – this will create a culture of innovation.

What role do you see EduTweetOz playing on the education scene in Australia and what are your hopes for the account this week?
I’m excited about the collaboration and networking – we’re all in this together!

Is there anything else you would like to add?
Join in – let’s have fun!

Introducing this Week’s @EduTweetOz Host Paul Browning

My background in education
I trained as a Primary Teacher at Wollongong University back in the 80s. I was one of seven males in a course of 100! Teaching was my first choice.

Before I finished my DipTeach I was offered a full-time job at Gib Gate, a small independent school in Mittagong, part of Winifred West Schools. I took the role and finished my degree externally. My first class was 28 excitable Transition students (Kindergarten). My claim to fame was teaching (not very well mind you), the children of Jimmy Barnes, Billy Birmingham, and INXS Manager Mark Opitz.

During my time at Gib Gate I was appointed to the position of Early Childhood Coordinator, overseeing Preschool, Transition, and years 1 and 2.

In April 1998 I was appointed founding Head of a new school in the ACT, Burgmann Anglican School. After my interview I was taken to see where the new school would be built. All I saw was a handful of sheep in an otherwise barren paddock. For the remainder of the year I worked full-time at Gib Gate while writing the curriculum, registering the new school, attracting enrolments and appointing the first staff members for Burgmann, as well as building a new house for my young family to move into. It was an extraordinary busy time!

Burgmann opened in 1999 with 24 students from Kindergarten to Year 3. We had a fulltime Kindergarten teacher, a part time specialist to teach Indonesian, and I taught a multi-age 1, 2, 3 class. The one building in the paddock was affectionately known as “the little house on the prairie”. The school expanded rapidly and when I left in 2008 there were almost 1000 students from Preschool to Year 12, a waiting list of 2000 and a second campus about to open. Today the school has over 1500 students.

In 2008 I was appointed Headmaster of St Paul’s School in north Brisbane. The school is a Preschool to Year 12 School with an International School and just over 1400 students.

I finished my degree in Primary Education, and have a Masters in Educational Administration with Hons and a PhD. My PhD focused on leadership, particularly the development of trust in leadership. For those interested you can visit my site at http://compellingleadership.com.au . You can also follow me on Twitter @PaulDBrowning

Why did you decide to become involved in education?
At school I was very good at Engineering Science, Tech Drawing and mathematics. The typical career path for a boy good at those subjects was engineering but it really didn’t interest me.

I was teaching Sunday School at the time and was pretty bad at it, but really enjoyed working with young children (they laughed at my jokes). I wanted to learn how to be better at it: here I am today, still passionate about shaping young people’s lives.

What are some of the roles you have had and what is your role now?
I have been an Early Childhood teacher, primary teacher, and have taught secondary school (Design Technology and Christian Education). I was the Early Childhood Coordinator at Gib Gate, the Foundation Head of a School in Canberra and now am the Headmaster at St Paul’s School.

I have served on various Boards, both in the capacity of a member, as well as Chairman.

Who or what keeps you motivated in your work?
Whenever I get bogged down with administrivia, or with a challenging issue that makes me wonder why I am doing the work I am, I take a walk around the school, or drop into a few classrooms and talk to the students. They quickly ground me and remind me why I do the work I do.

What do you see as some of the biggest rewards and challenges for people working in education today?
The greatest reward, which is both humbling and an incredible privilege, is the opportunity to play a part in shaping a person’s life. If I have had some small positive impact on a life each week then that is what it is all about. However, we need to remember that we may never see the fruit of our work or truly appreciate what that impact was.

The biggest challenge is the pastoral care and wellbeing of young people. The challenges they face are immense. All the rhetoric tells us that education is about literacy and numeracy and academic performance, but is it much more than that—it is about having a lasting impact on the future of humanity. The future is literally in a teacher’s hands.

If you had the ability to make changes to the education system in Australia, what would you do?
I would reshape what it means to be a teacher, both in teacher training programs and in the eyes of the politicians and the public. As teachers we know what it means to be a great teacher, but much of this work is not recognised or valued. Politicians, in the name of economic growth, have commodified education and in doing so, undermined trust and done damage to the real heart of schools—the relationships that exist between teachers and students.

To begin this work I would do away with the MySchool website.

What role do you see EduTweetOz playing on the education scene in Australia and what are your hopes for this account?
Teachers need to believe in their profession. To be a teacher you have to have a hugely diverse set of skills and attributes, more so than most other professions. We also work harder than most other professions. If we want to be respected as professionals we need to respect ourselves and believe in what we do.

Collectively we can influence the public debate on education. Twitter is a great platform for sharing ideas, professional learning, networking and collectively supporting what we believe is the essence and heart of education and where it should go. I would love to see more educators join the EduTweetOz conversations, sharing their ideas, help each other grow practice and further the profession.

Meet This Week’s EduTweetOz Host, Rebecca Hepworth

Please tell us a little about your background in education.
I completed a degree in Education and History in the UK before coming back to Australia and accepted a year’s contract position teaching Year 7 on the Eyre Peninsula. I then returned to Adelaide and won my current position at Hackham East Primary School where I have taught from Reception to Year 5.

Why did you decide to become involved in education?
I have always wanted to be a teacher (does that sound too cliché?) and began at 5 years old by lining up my teddy bears and younger twin brothers and demanding they learn the alphabet! After travelling abroad and gaining some valuable life experience I felt I had the skills and passion to help, even if only in a small way, to nurture and support young people in their social, emotional and academic development.

What are some of the roles you’ve had and what is your current role?
I have always been a classroom teacher first and foremost. Additional side roles I currently have include the team leader of our year 3/4/5 Professional Planning team, Grievance Officer and a member of the PAC committee. I currently teach a year 4/5 class.

Who or what keeps you motivated in your work?
The thought that I might help make a difference in a young person’s life. I still remember several great teachers I had and the impact they have had on me. I try to have the same impact on my students. I work in a low socio-economic community so providing a safe and positive environment for some of my students also keeps me motivated every day.

What do you see as some of the biggest rewards and challenges for people working in education today?
I think the rewards are plain to see when you have happy, motivated and challenged students in your class. The challenges are getting through never ending policy and demands on our time in order to do this successfully. Also dealing with some of the home situations and influences on our students can be emotionally exhausting.

If you had the ability to make changes to the education system in Australia, what would you do?
I would give more power to schools and Principals. Particularly here in South Australia many of the decisions come from a departmental level and it limits successful staffing and running of schools. I would also stop politicians that have no experience in the classroom making decisions on our behalf.

What role do you see EduTweetOz playing on the education scene in Australia and what are your hopes for the account this week?
I think that sites, pages, groups and accounts like EdutweetOz on social media has allowed many educators to come together and form PLN’s much larger than would otherwise be available. I hope this week to get people thinking, give them a laugh and gain some insight and new understandings in educational issues as well as connect with more educators.

Welcome this Week’s @EduTweetOz Host, Melissa Andrews.

Please tell us a little about your background in education. Why did you decide to become involved in education? What are some of the roles you’ve had and what is your current role?
Some of the most influential people in my life were a few of my high school teachers. They provided me with guidance and support with both my academic and personal development and they encouraged me to believe in myself. I became involved in education as I wanted to be able to give back and provide this same support for the next generation.
Since graduating in 2012, I have worked in both government and independent schools in Primary and Early Childhood settings. I am currently in my second year as a Year 6/7 teacher and I’m loving it!

Who or what keeps you motivated in your work?
Cliché, but my students keep me motivated. I want to be able to continue to provide them with opportunities that challenge them and get them excited about learning.

Twitter and Teach Meets also keep me motivated. Seeing educators who are passionate about what they do is inspiring and make me want to continue to grow as an educator.

What do you see as some of the biggest rewards and challenges for people working in education today?
Seeing students have those ‘aha’ moments is the biggest reward. The highlights of my days are watching students teach one another how to do something new, listening to them solve problems together and seeing them become more and more curious about global issues.

For me, improving students’ literacy outcomes is one of the biggest challenges. It is heartbreaking to see Year 6/7 students who have significant difficulties in reading and writing. This causes low self-esteem and disengagement from learning, which in turn, makes them less likely to accept additional support. We need to find a way of ensuring that no one slips through the cracks.

If you had the ability to make changes to the education system in Australia, what would you do?
I would remove politicians’ roles in making decisions about educational policy. Too often, education is a political football and changes are made based on parties’ ideological views rather than what is in the best interests of children. At the very least, there would be more consultation with in-service educators.

What role do you see EduTweetOz playing on the education scene in Australia and what are your hopes for the account this week?
I see EduTweetOz as a way to connect and share ideas with educators anywhere and anytime. This week, I’m looking forward to making new connections and gaining insights into how others are implementing change.

Getting to know this week’s @EduTweetOz host Meridith Ebbs

Please tell us a little about your background in education.
I began teaching in South Western Sydney in the mid 90’ as Primary teacher. I then moved into corporate education as a computer trainer and instructional designer, this was when I obtained my Masters in adult education. The highlight of my corporate career was documenting the computer systems for Sydney 2000 Olympic games and developing the training materials for the volunteers. After the Olympics I moved north and returned to teaching. I was a foundation teacher at my current school which has been an amazing opportunity and a great learning experience.

When I had children I left the classroom and became a technology specialist in a release from face to face role. For the past 5 years I have been the schools eLearning integrator. In this role I offered professional support to teachers with the integration new pedagogies and technology in the classroom. This support was as required by the teacher, ideas, resources, skills support or team teaching.

This year I have returned to having a teaching load in combination with my eLearning role. I have been given the opportunity to develop a Year 2 program in computational thinking, a Stage 2 unit in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) and a year 8 elective in computational thinking. These units have been a fantastic learning experience for the students and myself. The most interesting result has been watching below average students produce above average projects.

Why did you decide to become involved in education?
I never planned on being a teacher. I actually did a science degree with majors in ecology and land management. The plan was to work in the environmental field. Job opportunities led me into primary and corporate education. When moving away from Sydney it was the lack of job opportunities in technology that led me back to teaching. This career path was not planned but I have no regrets either.

What are some of the roles you’ve had and what is your current role?
As a foundation member of a school you have many opportunities that are not available in an established school. Over the 13 years I have taught a range of subjects and school years.

As a classroom teacher Stage 2 was my main classroom teaching speciality although since then I have covered every year group from K-10. For the past 10 years I have had a release role in my school. In this time I have taught every KLA as a specialist including Kindi French, K-6 Music, K-7 Technology and more recently year 8 Computational Thinking, 9 and 10 IST. In my role as eLearning I have developed a K-12 digital citizenship program that was launched in 2012. I wrote the application for BOSTES internal accreditation. As a result we are now offering internally accredited training for our staff. I have also been integral member of the team to establish the Professional Excellence and Innovation Centre (PEIC). In June 2015, we ran a conference on Computational Thinking with 84 delegates from 4 states, 2 keynotes and 11 workshops all on integrating computational thinking in the K-10 classroom. I will be also running a workshop on digital citizenship this term through PEIC.

Who or what keeps you motivated in your work?
The students and Learning!
Without the enthusiasm of the students teaching would not be very exciting for me. I love seeing the excitement and that light bulb moment.

On a personal level I love trying new ideas and implementing new methods. I like to continually raise the bar for engagement, student learning and my teaching.

What do you see as some of the biggest rewards and challenges for people working in education today?
The biggest reward for me in education is the students. I love engaging students in learning especially those who are not usually engaged. I see them as a challenge. I love seeing past students and hearing stories of their achievements since leaving school. I often see past parents around town and love getting updates.

I think education is moving through an era of disruption. Many teachers, parents and students are not satisfied with the traditional chalk, talk and textbooks. Technology and pedagogy are being disrupted. Teachers are expected to differentiate and cater for a classroom that sometimes has a range of years in developmental levels. This is our biggest challenge. We need to rethink our approaches to education and the pedagogies used. I think we should embrace the disruption and work through what is beneficial for learning. We also have many teachers who are still very traditional teachers and are not embracing the disruption.

Therefore I thinking the biggest challenge for education is TTWWADI (That’s the way we’ve always done it). This includes classrooms, professional development and attitude. The TTWWADI culture consumes education with a focus on standardised testing and teaching to the HSC at the expense of engagement and applied learning. Administrators need to enable their innovative teachers to explore new methods of teaching and learning that still focus on learning outcomes. The maker movement and computational thinking are two massive international movements that have the potential to revolutionise applied learning. Providing professional development for staff to enable these movements in schools is a challenge.

Another challenge is to empower students (and teachers) to take responsibility for their own learning. While linked to maturity I also believe this is linked to the culture of our schools and the attitude of society toward learning.

If you had the ability to make changes to the education system in Australia, what would you do?
If I had the ability to change the education system I would like to see thematic teaching units in primary and secondary. I would also like to see movement away from chronological aged group towards groupings on ability levels with various forms of delivery. Online delivery via videos and podcasts would enable students to work at their own pace. This model would sit alongside face to face teaching and mentoring. I would like to see a focus on digital literacy. There needs to be a larger emphasis on early intervention in reading so all students can read at grade level before year 3. This will help ensure success in later years at school.

What role do you see EduTweetOz playing on the education scene in Australia and what are your hopes for the account this week?
EduTweetOz enables teachers to connect and engage with an online audience. I love the discussion and varied ideas that emerge from EduTweetOz on a weekly basis. This week I am looking forward to engaging with teachers outside my usual professional learning network (PLN) to hear different ideas and points of view.

Get to know this week’s @EduTweetOz host Geraldine McNulty

  

 Please tell us a little about your background in education. Why did you decide to become involved in education? What are some of the roles you’ve had and what does your current role involve?
I started my teaching career in western Sydney. In those days, it was “here is your class, get on with it”. There was no mentoring program, no induction process and it was a sink or swim situation. The challenges were immense and the school had few resources, however we had a committed teacher librarian who was extremely dedicated to the profession.

I worked part-time when my two boys were little and this resulted in working in a school library. I then completed my Masters of Teacher Librarianship and enjoyed the beginning of a new career.  

Not long after I graduated we moved to Canberra. Another son was born and I went to work full time as a teacher librarian in a Catholic Girls College. The principal was an empowering leader who fully supported me. Finally my teaching career was wonderful and I achieved and learnt so much. I taught English and Religion and became Head of Department. The teachers loved working at the school and were wonderful. I was also involved in the laptop program of the school – one of the only such one-to-one laptop programs in Australia at the time.

I was involved in consulting with schools about innovation, change and the learning design of libraries. I was also Vice President of the Australian Schools Library Association during this time and was heavily involved in conferring with educators about the profession. I took up a position with the Australian College of Educators as a program manager and this was a great opportunity to work strategically with the states and territories about national issues affecting the profession. It was also the time of discussion about professional standards for teachers with Teaching Australia. This work has had a major impact on the profession and is shaping a new generation of teachers in a positive way.

Since that time, I have worked for the last six years in two colleges, most recently in Sydney. While both have similarities, they are vastly different, but at both I have had amazing opportunities to really discover how to change the culture and role of the library within a school and how to form great relationships with students. I have developed professional ICT learning programs for staff, obtained VET qualifications, lead a team of ICT integrators and have had many unique opportunities that challenged my beliefs and values about education and my role within the system. I have taken on a diverse range of extra-curricular roles at all schools, including most recently developing a Makerspace for students in the library, which is evolving STEM subjects and hopefully funding for future development.

Who or what keeps you inspired and motivated in your work?

I have always loved my job, and in particular, the challenge to implement change and be innovative. However, this challenge often requires a degree of resilience, and a long-term strategic view when simple things don’t happen in the way you planned. In my experience, it is important to have internal and/or external mentors, work as a team, and you will go far.

What do you see as some of the biggest rewards and challenges for people working in education today?

The biggest challenge is that change, and in particular, cultural change, takes time. Wanting to implement change is about taking small steps with a larger goal in mind. Implementing successful change requires a deep understanding of the inter-related components of what makes a school work. The challenges are different from school to school.

The rewards are always in improved learning outcomes for students and creating professionally enriched staff. Both require building trust. Developing an empowering culture for staff to feel safe to take risks is important. The development of mentoring programs to ensure staff are supported is critical.

If you had the ability to make changes to the education system in Australia, what would you do?

I think we are struggling with improving literacy outcomes for our students and preparing them for 21st century learning skills. We need a curriculum that supports digital literacy skills including research and information skills. We need to do less and yet do more.

I also see that our students need to develop a strong resilience and we need to improve transitioning students from school to university and work. 

We need educators to advocate for the profession and to have a stronger voice. We have a great profession but it is segmented in sectors and often this distracts from addressing the real issues that impact the whole sector.

What role do you see EduTweetOz playing on the education scene in Australia and what are your hopes for the account this week?

It is so important to feel connected with the profession and this is a great way to build a new type of community. It allows for professional dialogue anywhere, anyplace and at anytime. I am sure we will have an interesting week as educators as we discuss topical issues that affect our day-to-day work in education. The benefit of sharing ideas and thoughts about the week is incredibly valuable and helps us support and learn from each other. 

You can follow Geraldine’s personal Twitter account @mc_geraldine to stay in touch after her stint on @Edutweetoz 

Get to know this week’s host Naomi Barnes

 Please tell us a little about your background in education. Why did you decide to become involved in education? What are some of the roles you’ve had and what does your current role involve?

I initially decided to become involved in education because at High School. I loved the Humanities and wanted to have a job where I could earn money for studying them. After a few rough years teaching compulsory History, Geography and Citizen’s Education to junior high schoolers, I realised that my love for the discipline would not sustain my career. I realised that the students had to be the main motivation for being involved in education. The immensity of the responsibility of education hit me very hard and I switched my point of view. Teaching became inspiring from that point. 

I have worked as a curriculum leader in government, Catholic and the independent systems. I enjoy problem solving the curriculum and the timetable. I get satisfaction out of designing learning experiences which take into account the diverse needs of my students but also adhere to the external pressures.

When I was on maternity leave with my first child I worked on my PhD and for Education Queensland developing resources for the Australian Curriculum. I have recently had my doctorate awarded and I am now an initial teacher educator. I currently teach in Primary Humanities Curriculum and Inclusive and Diverse Education for Primary and Secondary beginning teachers. I also work on projects for a tertiary curriculum committee and a sociology of education special interest group.

Who or what keeps you inspired and motivated in your work?
I believe that education is in a dark place at the moment. I believe that the wrong questions are being asked and I believe that many educators feel powerless. I want to make a difference. I want work towards changing the public rhetoric to empower all educators to stand against the mediated political onslaught we experience as a profession.

What do you see as some of the biggest rewards and challenges for people working in education today?

I know it’s a cliche but the “lightbulb moment” is a definite reward. That moment is not just about working with students but also about working with each other. It is difficult to have a collaborative frame of mind in a profession where performance is often away from the eyes of peers and managers. But one of the greatest rewards can be satisfying collaboration. 

Collaboration comes with a community and a lack of community, I think, is education’s biggest challenge.

I think educators can be their own worst enemy. Many educators become caught up in a “us Vs them” conversation about other education systems. High school teachers often blame primary school teachers for low low literacy skills in their classes. Tertiary institutions often blame high schools for not adequately preparing students for university. Teacher education programs are often criticised by mentor teachers for being too theoretical and not practical enough outside prac. What we don’t realise is that this rhetoric doesn’t do us any favours in the public conversation about education. 

If you had the ability to make changes to the education system in Australia, what would you do?

I would get rid of the disciplines as subject areas and have all educators and students collaborate in a learning community to solve real problems. Utopian, I know, but one step at a time.

What role do you see EduTweetOz playing on the education scene in Australia and what are your hopes for the account this week?

I see EduTweetOz as one of the few Twitter accounts that transcends the constructed boundaries of education. Early years educators are engaging in conversations with professors, principals are engaging with adult educators, History teachers are talking to Maths teachers. The account is building an education community that has no boundaries.

While hosting EduTweetOz, I would like to foreground these conversations. I want to ask educators what can be done to improve how we talk to and about each other. We cannot change how the media and politicians talk about us until we are united. Without a united front, we will fall one by one into the the “data, education only for training” quicksand and no one will be standing handy with a branch to rescue us.

Get to know NAIDOC week 2015 host Brady Cooper

 Please tell us a little about your background in education. Why did you decide to become involved in education? What are some of the roles you’ve had and what does your current role involve?

I became involved in Education because I wanted to work with young Indigenous kids and help them gain the best education they could. I’ve been a mentor/welfare worker in an Alternative Education School setting working with students who were involved with DHS and did not quite fit in with Mainstream schooling. Other roles that I have worked is working in mainstream school as a Koorie Education Worker, working alongside teachers helping with curriculum and celebrating Indigenous events throughout the year. This role also provides assistance to Koorie students in the school by mentoring and helping families with funding opportunities and finding pathways for the students for life after school. My current role is being a teacher aide in a little multicultural Primary school in Melbourne, also doing a CRT day when needed. 

Who or what keeps you inspired and motivated in your work?

My motivation and inspiration comes from the students I work with day in and day out seeing them achieve and excel in their schooling. Sharing stories of my schooling and hearing theirs provides the motivation I need to keep being a good role model for all students in the schools I’ve worked. 

What do you see as some of the biggest rewards and challenges for people working in education today?

The biggest rewards I see working in the Education system is that you come across so many different young people who you can watch grow into great young leaders amongst their peers and you know that you have played a little part in their life. The challenges I see as Educators is keeping up with the ever changing technology and preparing students for life after school making sure that they will be job ready as the possible jobs the students of today will be employed in may not even exist yet. 

If you had the ability to make changes to the education system in Australia, what would you do?

I would make sure that every student had the same opportunity no matter of their race, socioeconomic status or location so I guess equality is what I’m talking about.

What role do you see EduTweetOz playing on the education scene in Australia and what are your hopes for the account this week?

The Twitter handle EduTweetOz is an amazing opportunity for educators to network and share ideas from all across and abroad. My hopes for the week hosting is to get more awareness of the incredible events and opportunities for people, especially educators, to get involved in not only through NAIDOC Week but throughout the school year. 

This week we welcome @DenyseWhelan1 

  

Please tell us a little about your background in education. Why did you decide to become involved in education? What are some of the roles you’ve had and what does your current role involve?

I became a K-6 teacher in NSW public schools in 1970. I knew I wanted to be a teacher from the time I was in Year 5 and was fortunate to have teachers in both primary and high school who encouraged this. In ‘those days’ you got a teaching scholarship, a permanent appointment to any school (you could nominate areas) and signed an agreement to teach anywhere in NSW for 3 years. 

My first appointment was as a K/1 teacher in a Central School (K-12) in northwest NSW. I was 20. By year end I’d met my future husband (a one-teacher ‘schoolie’) and eventually ended up in a two-teacher school for the next 2 years, then we got a move to his new school in the Riverina and I became a K-2 teacher in a Central School around 40 minutes away. In 1976 my husband and I were appointed as Acting Principal (him!) and Teacher (me!) at Weilmoringle. Our daughter started school there with us as her teachers. We lived in a school residence and were 12 hours drive from Sydney, where my family lived.

My husband’s promotion there earned us a move to the city, where we could buy our first house. He went to a large K-6 school and I went to the Hills area for the next 5 years. My husband’s health deteriorated in 1978-79 and in 1980 the Dept of Education medically retired him at age 30. This changed my life and career. From 1983 the schools where I worked were in the socio-economically disadvantaged areas of western Sydney.

I got promotions (lists they were called) was raising a family (son came along in 1979) and began a degree via part-time, distance education then a masters, supported by the Department over the next 7 years. I was invited to be a relieving Assistant Principal, then substantive roles in both Assistant Principal and Deputy Principal by merit selection. Over the next 8-10 years I was often a relieving Principal in the school and the asked to be relieving principal at a local school, eventually becoming appointed as a K-6 Principal in a school with 2 autistic satellite classes, 2 OC classes, a 3 class Special education unit and 10 mainstream classes. I was the only non-teaching member of the executive.

I retired early from that principal’s role as my health suffered. It was deemed that I had experienced a ‘burn-out’ and ‘work overload’ and it has not been until recent years that I’ve been prepared to share that.

After a year or so though I missed schools! I didn’t miss being a boss though! A kind friend and colleague gave me part-time temporary work in her school and from 2004-2010 I was an RFF teacher then ESL. I started the ESL program at the school and went to Uni (again!) to get TESOL qualifications. By the time I was 60 (late 2009) I decided to stop. 

In 2013-14 I was a University Practicum Advisor and Tutor in Masters Level subject at UWS. From 2012 I have been an External Observer with BOSTES. In 2011 I began a small education consultancy for pre-schools and families assisting them with how to best prepare children from the transition from home to school

Who or what keeps you inspired and motivated in your work?

The people training to be teachers, are teachers now, and back when I was in schools inspire me. I am so pleased to see teachers coming into teaching and sharing their passion. The kids benefit from this enthusiasm and passion. I get quite disappointed whenever I read of anyone saying ‘don’t go into teaching’ because no-one has a right to discourage anyone thinking of teaching. Teaching is a calling. Yes, it is a career too but much happens in teaching where we can get very dispirited and down yet no day is ever the same and some small reward can make all the difference! The child who couldn’t speak English coming up and asking a question …the children who may not be top academically but put their efforts and interests into non-academic subject. These kids all need to be recognised as well as the ‘stars’.

What do you see as some of the biggest rewards and challenges for people working in education today?

The rewards have not changed much because as I said I believe teaching is ‘within you’ and is a calling and each teacher can name those small rewards which keep you going. What I have always seen as challenges are in fact one I ignored myself until it was too late for my welfare and that is ‘over doing it’. To be honest, I am not sure how this can be avoided or minimised because when I stopped work in 2003 the email systems had only been around for a year. The challenge will be/is self-management despite everyone trying to have a ‘piece’ of you. I hope to have some discussions in my week here about ‘self-care’ and noticing how we might help each other more. Twitter chats are one great way for educators to engage on-line no matter where they are and its been through Twitter that I reconnected professionally following my ‘second last’ retirement in 2010. My final retirement was late 2014 when I stopped my Uni teaching.

If you had the ability to make changes to the education system in Australia, what would you do?

How long have we got…oh, could we please de-politicise education? That is my suggestion. I have been through all of the changes from where schools were administered by educators not bureaucrats and then acts of parliament which saw the separation of education curricula to boards and then the move towards the national curriculum and so on. There needs to be stable education policies that are not driven by the whims and wishes of the government of the day and their agenda. The system in Australia remains fragmented in some really important ways including starting ages for school, names of classes, handwriting styles, curriculum priorities. For such a small country (population wise) we are a very messy and non-united country for the delivery of consistent high quality education to the students K-12. I have no answers specifically and it has always been a groan from me each time a new government is formed – state or federal

What role do you see EduTweetOz playing on the education scene in Australia and what are your hopes for the account this week?

I hope to have some discussions in my week here about ‘self-care’ and noticing how we might help each other more. It’s also school holidays in most of Australia so I hope to ask about what everyone’s up to and did everyone ‘survive’ reporting to parents!!

I see EduTweetOz being a place that I wish had been around when I was looking for connect with educators after I left schools and did not know how! As a blogger I knew about twitter back in 2010 when I found twitter and then found my first education-based tweep (I won’t name her but she is still around very much and is a director of schools (or whatever this year’s name is) and through her I ‘met’ so many now friends who are teachers in both K-6 and 7-12 schools. So, twitter convos are ways in which teachers can both engage or just observe. I love how people help each other out and this account is unique and one where others get to share the views and news. Thanks for having me here!

Introducing Leigh Murphy from Education Services Australia

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Please tell us a little about your background in education. Why did you decide to become involved in education? What are some of the roles you’ve had and what does your current role involve?

My name is Leigh Murphy and my current role is is Manager for User Engagement at Education Services Australia. ESA is a not for profit ministerial company owned by all Australian Education ministers which has built and implemented a number of National Online projects and services such as Scootle, Scootle Community, Improve, the Language Learning Space, EdFest, ABC Splash, the Safe Schools Hub, Global Ed, myfuture and more.

I’ve been lucky enough to present at and run online and F2F professional learning conferences and in which I speak to educators around the country about the importance of tools and strategies which support teachers and learners connect and share their ideas, questions and practices with their colleagues nationally.

Prior to working at ESA I was the Professional Learning Manager at ICT in Education Victoria which became Digital Learning and Teaching Victoria during my tenure. I also taught and had a leading roles at Orchard Grove Primary School in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs for 6 years.

I think I became a teacher because I loved and wanted to keep learning. That said, I also entered the profession with a strong desire to teach differently to the ways I was taught and campaign for changes to our education system.

Who or what keeps you inspired and motivated in your work?

I hope its students which will continue to motivate me to to be in education and advocate for educators to keep improving the ways we teach and learn. I am regularly inspired witnessing the level of effort and understanding demonstrated by students who are engaged and empowered in meaningful learning and driven by their passions and their learning’s impact on others.

What do you see as some of the biggest rewards and challenges for people working in education today?

Short term rewards are the meaningful conversations with wide eyed kids who have just been given the keys to the kingdom, long term is the impact had on both individuals and society.

Unfortunately the challenges are varied and many and I empathise with the many teachers who have just put in countless hours of unpaid overtime to produce a report that may or may not significantly impact their students ability to or desire to learn. I see that many teachers are pushed and time committed to a point where there’s very limited time left for joy and creativity in their lessons and classrooms.

However there also great opportunities arising and new tools and practices that can assist educators to be the architect of a thoughtful question and learning opportunity rather than just the source of answers and the keepers of knowledge. There are many beacons out there who are out there continuing to try something new and share it with their colleagues and we are greatly benefited by the tools to connect us and the people who share our passion for learning and education across the country and across the globe.

If you had the ability to make changes to the education system in Australia, what would you do?

I’d change the goal posts. I’d reorganise the year 11 and 12 structure and the ATAR. I’d provide students a day a week to engage in a project which embeds them in and contributes to society. The project would be supported but independent and lead by students passions and would culminate in a presentation through a mode of their choosing. The documentation/presentation of their two year project would represent a significant part in their university or employment applications proceeding.

I’d love people’s thoughts on this…

What role do you see EduTweetOz playing on the education scene in Australia and what are your hopes for the account this week?

Learning networks such as EduTweetOz and social learning tools such as twitter and Scootle Community can play a bit part in advocating and supporting teachers, schools and the education sector to start making effective changes to bring life into learning. There are so many wonderful educators across our country doing extraordinary things and via communication tools and national and global audiences are able to share their ideas, successes and failures which those tuned into are much better for.

I hope to provide a range of interesting questions, resources, articles and opinions during my week at the helm of EduTweetOz, if we don’t cross paths this week please feel free to contact me via another channel down the track.

Leigh Murphy

T +61 3 8330 9452 | F +61 3 9910 9800 | M +61 403748959 | E leigh.murphy@esa.edu.au