5 Questions for Steve Box

Steve Box is head of primary in a P-12 independent school. He’ll be bringing his insights to EduTweetOz this week and facilitating the conversation. Steve tweets from @wholeboxndice.

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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?

I have always wanted to be an educator. My mother was a teacher, a head of department and a deputy, so I saw first hand the ups and downs. Despite all of that, and encouraged by my love of coaching as a teenager (working with younger teams), I knew it was the right career. I wanted to build some life and professional skills to take into teaching with me, so I did a Public Relations and Media degree first and worked for 3 years in community sports and events. These skills have been invaluable both as a teacher and school leader.

Currently, I am Head of Primary (P-6), in a P-12 Independent School. I have the leadership and management of students, staff, and general administration of the Primary School in my job description, encapsulating oversight of pastoral care and curriculum.

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

I guess it is the little wins on a daily basis that help keep you working away at the big picture goals. I know that all it takes is a walk to visit our early years classrooms to remember why we do what we do.

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

We have a direct chance to influence the outcomes of young people. It is quite a responsibility, but seeing the ‘light bulb’ moments, seeing personal growth and development of the students is very rewarding. The profession is full of challenges, in terms of the economic/political sphere’s influence on education, the somewhat low value placed on the profession and the expectation for teacher to be the solution for all of the world’s issues.

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

I would do anything possible to depoliticise education. Put educational experts in the decision-making roles. I would look to shift emphasis away from the standardised testing regimes. I would look to re-brand the profession and ensure that teachers and educators were given the respect they deserve in the community as a whole.

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

EduTweetOz allows a voice for a united Australian education. Regardless of sector, primary or high school, gender or cultural background, it helps to reflect that we are all in it for the positive outcomes of our students. I hope to stimulate conversation, prompt reflection and share some perspectives.

More about this week’s host Sarah Langford (@skipdot)

Steiner teacher, Sarah Langford has been hosting the EduTweetOz account all week. Here is some more about her.

SarahLangford

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 have taught English and History (SOSE) for nine years. One year in a public school, seven in a Grammar school and this is my first year as a Steiner teacher. I’ve also worked as a casual parliamentary educator at Parliament House. My current role feels more about learning than about teaching. So much is new in terms of curriculum content, as well as organisation and philosophy.

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

It’s really the students who keep me motivated. Nothing is better than seeing a student have a lightbulb moment or hearing questions that show that they’re thinking on a deeper level.

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

The biggest challenge is time. There is so much to do and to get through and there never seems to be enough time. The reward is knowing that you’re doing something meaningful that is making a difference in students’ lives. We might not see it, it might only happen years later but I believe that it’s there.

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

I would limit standardised testing and try to give teachers more time and autonomy to do their jobs. I would encourage more authenticity in assessment (something that I try to challenge myself with) and more community engagement. I would also like to raise the profile of music and art as important parts of the curriculum.

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

EduTweetOz is a great source of information, resources, and encouragement for teachers. I am hoping to give some insight into Steiner education this week.

To connect with Sarah, follow her on Twitter where she tweets as @skipdot

Narelle Woodberry hosts @Edutweetoz for NAIDOC week

Narelle Woodberry, an early career secondary school teacher from NSW, will host the Edutweetoz account for NAIDOC week in 2014. Here are her answers to our five questions.

NarellePlease 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 am a first year Secondary teacher at an inner city school – stage 6 only. I am currently teaching English.

I am also currently the President of the Met East Region Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (AECG). This means I, alongside other AECG members, advise and consult with not only principals, but  directors around the Sydney Region- as far down south as Waterfall, North to the Bridge and before Canterbury.

This consultation and advocacy role is a volunteer role and is around all issues to do with Aboriginal Education – from advocating for Aboriginal students to assisting schools in incorporating Aboriginal content into the curriculum.

Prior to becoming  a teacher I was an Aboriginal Education Assistant at several schools in the Eastern Suburbs. I have also worked in other various roles in education and training. Essentially in the past 20 years or so I have in one form or another been an educator - now I have the formal Degrees – I have a Bachelor of Education (Secondary:Humanities)/Bachelor of Arts (English) from Sydney Uni.

I became involved in education simply because it is in my blood – my mother Joyce was one of the first AEO’s in Sydney metro in 1975. Mum was also one of the foundation members of the NSW AECG- so really I couldn’t avoid it.

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

For me it is about seeing a student who previously wasn’t getting it or doing any work just one day have that ‘ah ha’ moment & also about sharing my cultural knowledge with all students – but also motivating Aboriginal students to stay in school and to see that they do have the skills and knowledge to cope academically. Essentially, beating back the  stereotypes.

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

The rewards are the students successes I don’t just mean the standardised testing results but successfully making it to Year 12 in spite of all the challenges life has thrown at them. The challenges are essentially having a government who doesn’t understand what’s a teacher does - the mainstream media rubbish we put up with on a daily basis & the sheer amount of work involved in being a teacher.

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

Make it compulsory for ALL education staff go to through cultural awareness training – essentially an immersion into the local Aboriginal community - to understand what their students are going through but also so they have a better knowledge about Aboriginal people.

Basically show the rest of Australia that Aboriginal culture is a living breathing entity that’s not dot painting and Aboriginal culture and people don’t just live in Central Australia.

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

To share my ideas- get help as a mature age first year out teacher & to help spread the fun that is NAIDOC week.

Margo Edgar, assistant principal from Melbourne

Margo Edgar, an assistant principal living in Melbourne takes over the Edutweetoz account this year. She’s worked in a range of roles and a range of school types as you’ll see from the post below. We’re looking forward to the perspective she’ll bring to EduTweetOz this week. To connect with Margo, follow her on Twitter. She tweets as @medg56

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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?

Next year, will be 40 years since I entered Teacher’s College, a decision I have never regretted, in part influenced by a desire to emulate ‘Anne of Green Gables’. I have been a classroom teacher (and taught every grade except Prep) and a Library specialist. I have taught in small and large rural schools, a P-12 rural school and primary schools in the Western and Northern suburbs of Melbourne. Every school has been a unique experience and added to who I am and my beliefs as an educator. I continue to learn from the students, educators and parents I work with, every single day

My current role is Assistant Principal in a relatively large government primary school in Melbourne. I have many roles, however the ones I get the most satisfaction out of are;  Prep-2 student welfare responsibilities, the development of effective assessment and reporting strategies that meet the needs of education today and supporting our school through the candidacy phase to become an IB PYP school.

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

The people I learn with everyday, who continually challenge themselves to provide educational opportunities for our students, to exceed expectations. The connections and communities I am part of, outside the four walls of my school, who challenge me and my thinking every day. The opportunities I have to make a difference, both small and big, through education, in my school and in the wider community.

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

Our biggest rewards are often our biggest challenges. I think I spent my the early part of my teaching career waiting for Internet to arrive. I have used computers in schools since 1981, and over the last 30 odd years have continually pushed my own boundaries of technology use in the classroom. There have been many times when I have been guilty of ‘tools’ over ‘pedagogy’, and I see this as one of the greatest challenges. However when we get it right and pedagogy comes first, the access to knowledge, the depth of understanding, and the powerful thinking that ensues is one of my greatest rewards.

A challenge that I see at the moment is that the future of education is the great unknown. Now more than ever we cannot say with any great certainty what is going to be possible in five years time (ten years time may be almost unfathomable). In trying to do things differently and provide an education system that is fluid, adaptable and future focused, we are asking our parents to allow their children to be guinea pigs. Not something that many parents are comfortable doing, therefore holding on to the status quo, even though we know it may not be the best thing – is often viewed as the safest way forward, even though we know its not the best way.

The biggest reward (regardless of the school, the place, the time) for me, is always when we get it right! When the faces of our students (or our educators, or our parents) light up because they get it. Not because it is ‘just’ fun but because the fun has come from being challenged, being questioned and persisting to achieve greatness.

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

The ultimate would be …. to start from scratch and design the system from the ground up, for the current and future educational climate, rather than trying to adapt and change what we have.

In reality; change the public perception of teachers from within the system. We have to view ourselves as professionals before others view us that way. We have to stand up and be proud of who we are and what we do and we should never refer to ourselves as ‘just’ a teacher. Stop calling ourselves teachers and start referring to ourselves as educators.

I would provide more time for professional collaboration within schools and across schools and value the time educators spend learning from each other and their students. I would involve students in the ongoing process of planning and assessing their educational experiences rather than having education ‘done’ to them.

 

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

EduTweetOz provides a forum for educators from across Australia to connect and learn from each other. It opens us up to ideas and thinking outside our own system and beliefs. It values who we are and what we do. It builds the profession and us as professionals.

Being someone who took a long time to be more than a lurker on Twitter and someone who still thinks far too much before postin; through being EduTweetOz this week I hope to challenge my own level of connection, deepen my thinking, start some conversations, find out how others spend their holidays, celebrate successes and share challenges.

This week on @Edutweetoz: Kathryn Schravemade (@KatSchrav) tweeting from Queensland

This week, EduTweetOz moves to Queensland, with Teacher Librarian, Kathryn Schravemade taking over the account.  Kathryn tweets using the handle @KatSchrav

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Here are her answers to our five questions:

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

I come from a secondary English and Social Science background and now I dabble in the world of Teacher-Librarianship in the Mt Alvernia iCentre.  I always knew I wanted to be a teacher but never thought I’d want to be a Teacher-Librarian.  My love of reading always made me an avid library visitor and I was impassioned by the continuous evolution of libraries as they change to suit their communities and environments.  My decision to move into Teacher-Librarianship came from my desire to prepare students with the information, learning and literacy skills they need to be active citizens in the world beyond the classroom.

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

Learning. I am driving by my own learning, the learning of my colleagues and the learning of my students.  The day I stop learning will be the day I stop teaching.

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

The biggest reward in education is using your knowledge, skills and understanding to help others build theirs.

One of the greatest challenges for people working in education is coping with constant change/remaing relevant and the pressure and threat of burnout that comes with this.

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

Make learning about the students instead of about comparing/rating the students (i.e statewide testing).

Give every student a device and free wi-fi :-)

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

EdutweetOz is an amazing professional learning and networking resource for Australian educators (and those interested in education).  I’ll be tweeting about the pedagogy, tools and skills that make our job exciting.. with a touch of library related things on the side!

 

Aaron Charles Ellis (@bigibila) – Aboriginal Learning and Engagement Officer

This week we’re delighted to have Aaron Charles Ellis driving the @EdutweetOz Twitter Account. Aaron is currently an Aboriginal Learning and Engagement officer in Tamworth. In his answers to our five questions, he reveals how important his connection to culture and country is, and his passion for bringing Aboriginal languages into schools.

To connect with Aaron, follow him on Twitter at @bigibila

AaronCharlesEllis

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 was raised on the Central Coast, off country, with my Aboriginal mother and non-Aboriginal father. I didn’t have an understanding of being an Aboriginal person and I was disconnected from my culture. In 1999 I became the first member of my family to complete Year 12 and I decided to apply for university. After commencing Bachelor of Arts at University of New England in 2000, I transferred into Bachelor of Teaching / Bachelor of Fine Arts at University of Newcastle the following year.

After completing my teaching degree I was appointed to Griffith, in the NSW Riverina region. Within the first year of my teaching career I identified that I wanted to be working with Aboriginal students in a small schools context. In 2010 I was successful in obtaining the position of Head Teacher Welfare at Wee Waa in the NSW New England region. Being welcomed into the local Aboriginal community and having the opportunity to live and work near where my mother was raised became an immense period of personal growth and understanding.

As I’ve connected to my culture and the my country I’ve realised that my ancestors have guided me on my journey in education and everything that I “fell into” was part of this journey. The most revealing moment was in November 2011 when I Iost someone important in my life and as a result I no longer had the passion for teaching Visual Arts. In a moment of reflection, a dhirridhirri (willie wagtail) sat with me. In Aboriginal culture, willie wagtails are messenger birds and relatives come back in the form of willie wagtails. Within days I had a new direction, with the support of my Elders and my Principal I was enrolled in the Masters of Indigenous Language Education at the University of Sydney.

Since completing the Masters of Indigenous Language Education I’ve implemented a successful Gamilaraay language program at Wee Waa High School. I am regarded as a leader in language revitalisation and the implementation of Aboriginal Languages in schools. I was awarded the 2014 NSW Public Schools Nanga Mai Award for Outstanding Contribution to Educational Achievement by an Aboriginal Staff Member. I’m currently relieving in the role of Aboriginal Learning and Engagement Officer in Tamworth.

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

I share the following statement with people I teach about the Gamilaraay language; maran gawugga, dhiiyaan mubal, dhawun dhina. It’s a simplified version of “Our mind connects us to our ancestors, our stomach connects us to our family and our feet connect us to the earth”. I am motivated by my ancestors, my family and by my connection to the earth.

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

As Aboriginal Learning and Engagement Officer I’m engaging with school leaders across a range of different education contexts. Transitioning from the classroom and the context of my own school I see the biggest challenge for school leaders as the implementation of different education policies, such as Local School Local Decisions and Every Student Every School. The biggest reward is always the ability to make positive changes for our students.

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

Improve the capacity of schools to implement Aboriginal Languages programs. I believe this is possible by developing the skills and providing support for people from schools and communities. From my experience in welfare, I believe the role of school counsellors in undervalued in public education. I would also review the measures for retention and distribution of school counsellors.

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

EduTweetOz and twitter are great for connecting with like-minded individuals. I connected with people that I consider friends, despite being yet to meet them in person. EduTweetOz allows us the share our ideas and experiences and this week I’m looking forward to sharing my perspective and engaging in discussions with other educators.

Catherine Leahy, Prep/1 Teacher from Victoria

Catherine Leahy has taken over the EduTweetOz account this week. Here are her answers to our five questions.

Catherine

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 guess you can say I have education running through my veins. I come from a family of educators and I couldn’t ignore the ‘call’ to become an educator myself. The best decision I ever made in my life was the decision to get my Bachelor of Education.

My journey as an educator has taken me to many places. I lived and taught in London for the first five years of my career. I loved my time in London and my experiences there helped influence and shape me into becoming the teacher I am today. I have had experiences teaching in both private and public schools. My passion is working with children and families from disadvantaged backgrounds.

I currently work as a Prep/One class teacher at Dinjerra Primary School which is located in Braybrook, a culturally diverse neighbourhood. The school cohort has many different cultural backgrounds, low socio-economic families and high EAL. This year I have taken on a new role as the IT coach at our school. I’ve loved having the opportunity to work alongside the staff and students in bringing engaging and creative teaching and learning into the classrooms.

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

First of all the students.

Using Nelson Mandela’s quote ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world’ as my mantra, I’m constantly striving to provide a safe and engaging learning environment for my students. I’m forever hungry to learn and improve my practice so I can provide an education that helps my students change their lives and give them a world of choices.

The wealth of knowledge, expertise and support I get from my Twitter PLN is amazing and constantly inspires me to take on new challenges with my teaching.

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

There are lot of challenges facing education presently with funding cuts and proposed education changes announced in the latest budget. The impact these will have on our society is significant. But I also think that now is the most exciting time to be in education. I love how the changes and advancements with technology have smashed down the learning walls and opened up a whole new world of possibilities. I get so excited that if I can teach my students to be creative, critical thinkers and lifelong learners the world will provide a life of choices and options. Knowledge is available at our finger tips. Technology provides a level playing field for education no matter what your background is. Unfortunately, we need to have the right technology, infrastructure and support in place to support this and this is where the equity gap in funding affects the provision of this. I know that a lot of schools are heading to BYOD with their students but when you’re teaching in a school where families are struggling to clothe and feed their children, the thought of being BYOD is just not plausible.

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

Education is going through a revolution and as educators we need to change our approach to education and how we deliver it to students. To be able to do this we need a government that isn’t reliant on ideology with their policy making decisions. We need a government that will listen to our heroes Ken Robinson, Stephen Heppell and David Price (just to name a few) and embrace the revolution and support schools and educators and not restrict them to a crowded curriculum and NAPLAN.

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

Twitter is my biggest form of professional development. It’s just like one big staff room filled with so many wonderful educators who are willing to share and support teaching and learning no matter where you teach. I’ve enjoyed following EduTweetOz and the various discussions that have been brought up by past hosts. I’m looking forward to meeting other inspiring educators and hearing what incredible teaching and learning is happening in their classrooms. I’m also looking forward to sharing the wonderful teaching and learning happening in my little endearing school, Dinjerra.

Social Media and Leading Change -a little more about host Corinne Campbell

Normally we ask our Edutweetoz hosts 5 questions, but since this is my second time hosting, it seemed silly to repeat my answers. If you’re interested, you can check them out here.

Instead I thought I’d tell you a little about my role and how it relates to the projects I’m working on with social media.

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I’m an assistant principal at Castle Cove Public School in Sydney. It’s a dual role. I have a full teaching load, but I also contribute to many school management and educational leadership areas. This year, instead of taking a class, I’m doing a mix of learning support and enrichment programs, which is a wonderful role that allows me to work with students across the school.

The educational leadership side of my role has me focusing on the professional development of teachers and looking at whole school change.

Around the world, education is being revolutionised. The role of the teacher is being transformed as we realise that the traditional  model of schooling is no longer suited to the futures for which we are preparing our students. It challenges all of our thinking. It excites us, inspires us and also threatens us as we struggle to stay relevant for our students.

Leading a school through that change is an enormous privilege  and also an extraordinary challenge. It involves shifting the mindset of an entire community: teachers, parents, students as we rethink why, how and what we will learn. Some want to dive in to change head first, others are more cautious, easing themselves in gradually, and others resist, not wanting to move, seeing danger ahead.

It also involves listening. While I may have strong ideas about what changes we should make, what they would look like in practice, and how we should proceed, I am just one voice.

And so I’ve become more and more fascinated by how we change and transform education. It’s more than learning new skills and ways of doing things. I believe its about changing paradigms. But to change paradigms we need to start looking outside and engaging in thought and dialogue about education.

This is where two of my  projects come in.

The Teachers Education Review Podcast 

The Teachers Education Review is a fortnightly podcast that I host along with a NSW high school  English head teacher, Cameron Malcher. Each fortnight we put together a program where we  feature interviews with people who are doing interesting things in education. Sometimes we speak with academics about cutting edge research into education. Other times we speak with education leaders and innovators about projects they are running in their schools. At other times we examine education policies and their  impact on teaching learning.   During the Edutech Congress we were privileged to interview of the key notes, including Sugata Mitra, Conrad Wolfram, Joyce Valenza and  Jenny Luca, as well as record a number of the Teach Meets and break out sessions. Listening to thinkers and innovators like these helps change the way I think about education  and I bring this perspective back to my workplace. I can’t lead the change if I can’t see the change. Exposure to these new ideas helps form my vision.

EdutweetOz

If you’re reading this, you’ll know about my second project, EdutweetOz. Michelle Hostrup, Liz Sinnot, Donnelle Batty and I founded this rotation curation account just over a year ago. The point of Edutweetoz is community. Having a different teacher tweeting each week exposes me to such a range of views and contexts. I might not ever experience teaching in a remote, Northern Territory School, but Edutweetoz allows me to connect with teachers in that position. Through their tweets,  I start to understand some of the joys and challenges of working in that context. I love the diversity of voices, the new ideas and the connections that following and participating in the conversations allow. It helps me to continue looking outwards and I need to keep doing that if I am of any use as an education leader. It also helps me to find people who are working on similar projects to me, or have experience in an area I am looking at moving our school towards. These connections lead to collaboration which helps me become a better teacher and school leader.

So, thank you all for welcoming me to the account this week. It’s been an exhausting but inspiring week tweeting from the Edutech Congress. I hope some of it has inspired you as well. If you’d like to stay connected with me, I’m on Twitter @corisel. You can also visit my blog aboutteaching.net.  And, if you’re interested in following the podcast, check us out at TERpodcast.com or follow our twitter handle @terpodcast.

Reconciliation Week 2014

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This week we’re joined by Susanne Bowles and Alex Shain, who work at Reconciliation Australia in the ‘Reconciliation in Schools’ program. They’ve got an amazing week lined up for EduTweetOz, stay tuned! For now, here’s their answers to our 5 questions.

This week, Susanne (SB) and Alex (AS) are sharing the handle and won’t, at any time, be in the same geographical place at the same time! For the first few days, Susanne is in Hawaii, Alex in Perth, then Susanne will be in Fiji, Alex in Sydney, then Susanne in Melbourne and Alex in Canberra!
Wish us luck!

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?
Susanne
I always knew that I wanted to be a teacher.Growing up I loved learning and I enjoyed school. I was fortunate to have some really good teachers and I suppose watching them first-hand successfully engage their students and spark and nurture a love for learning must have given me the desire to aspire to be a teacher.
Over my 32 years in education I have held a number of roles including classroom teaching, specialist literacy support, Aboriginal consultancy and school leadership, project management of 0 – 4 school readiness programs, teacher/coordinator of primary extension and challenge programs for gifted and talented students…just to name a few.
My current role is working on Narragunnawali:Reconcilation in Schools at Reconciliation Australia. It’s an exciting program and plays an important role in assisting schools to promote respect and reconciliation. I am the National Senior Schools Officer. I moved from WA 3 months ago to take on this job.

Alex
As a 9 year old I can distinctly remember thinking I wanted to be a teacher ‘when I grew up’. I have had some great teachers, particularly at primary school and I’ve always tried to replicate the good things they did in the classroom but sometimes I worry that I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be a student in a classroom.
I’m a primary school teacher and spent a couple of years in Tibooburra (outback NSW) teaching all primary year levels before heading to Sydney where I taught a year 1/2 composite class. I did some casual teaching in Sydney for a couple of terms before being given the opportunity to work in the NSW Department of Education leading a professional learning program called Live Life Well @ School. I did this job for about 3 or 4 years before being invited to Canberra to design a school-specific program for Reconciliation Australia.
I’ve been working at Reconciliation Australia for the last 18 months and think I have one of the greatest teaching jobs in the country!

Who or what keeps you inspired and motivated in your work?
Susanne
I am self motivated to be the best teacher I can be for my students.Our Australian children deserve to have teachers who are committed, passionate and emotionally smart. When my students, especially the ones with many challenges, turn up for school with a positive attitude and a readiness for learning, and then at the end of the day when I hear them excitedly recounting their day at school to their parents, are constant reminders of what drive me to love my work.

Alex
I am inspired by my family, friends and the great people I have worked and currently work with. So many people tell me “I’m lucky to have a job that is so meaningful” and this in itself is inspirational. That said, I love telling people that they could give up their big salaries and work as a teacher but of course the reality isn’t that simple. Most people couldn’t cut it for a day in a classroom!
At the moment I am motivated by the idea that I can influence thousands of schools across the country to make positive changes to how the whole school understands and respects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, histories, cultures and contributions to our national identity.

What do you see as some of the biggest rewards and challenges for people working in education today?
Susanne
Good educators today find themselves being more than classroom teachers. They not only have face to face teaching, but they also engage families to take active roles in their children’s education, they spend time with children who need extra attention before and after school, they mentor children and support them to socialise and interact positively with others, they liaise and collaborate with other professionals to make a difference for each child and they work really hard on all levels. This investment in time and energy is a challenge for some teachers but is very rewarding not only at an individual level but at a school level and at a national level. The ripple effect greatly contributes to the overall improvement in Australian health, social and well-being outcomes, and each individual teacher plays an important part in that.

Alex
The biggest reward for teachers is watching students grow and change as a direct result of your teaching. The challenge is to keep finding ways to engage students and to instill a lifelong desire to learn.
At the moment, in Australia, I think we are facing a challenge of how to continue the great work that has been done to try and start treating early childhood, primary and secondary school education as a truly national responsibility. The division of Government, Catholic and Independent sectors across the States and Territories is very often unnecessary and overly bureaucratic. As teachers, we need our systems and structures to operate in the same big-picture way we teach in our classrooms every day!

If you had the ability to make changes to the education system in Australia, what would you do?
Susanne
I would remind systems to consider the child first …always! To find ways to engage each child to learn, to cater for each child’s differences and unique needs, to acknowledge and promote their cultural identity, to teach children to be smart in the mind and heart.
Alex
I am doing it! I think teachers who have an inkling of interest in systemic change should put their energy and enthusiasm into working on large scale school-based programs. Diversity is important in education but there are too many non-teachers making decisions that are directly affecting Australian classrooms.

What role do you see EduTweetOz playing on the education scene in Australia and what are your hopes for the account this week?
Susanne
I’m new to twitter and tweeting…but my participation this week is to open opportunities for discussion between Australian educators about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education. Having just attended the 10th WIPCE here in Hawaii I am more enriched as an educator and would love to share some of the topics and messages from various Indigenous educators from around the world.

Alex
I am hoping that at the end of this week all the followers of EduTweetOz will have contributed to some great, national discussions around reconciliation. In particular, I hope we can all help each other to understand and respect more the importance of increasing understanding and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, histories and cultures.

Katelyn Fraser and Owen Ikin on @EdutweetOz

This week I’m profiling two of our EdutweetOz hosts. Katelyn Fraser, our current host is an early career primary teacher from Victoria. Owen Ikin, also an early career primary teacher is from NSW. Owen hosted our account two weeks ago, but unfortunately life happened and his profile didn’t make it to the blog until now. (Apologies Owen)

Katelyn Fraser

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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?

I have always known that I was going to be a teacher. Since finishing Year 12 in 2006, I was accepted into Victoria University to complete my degree, Bachelor of Education P-12. When I completed my course, I was lucky enough to land a position at my current school before I headed off to England for almost the entire Summer break. People are always surprised when I tell them that I submitted 91 applications on Recruitment Online and only had 4 interviews at schools but actually securing a job is tough!
This is my fourth year teaching and I have been at the same school every year. I was lucky enough to receive on ongoing position after two years. I have taught Grade 5/6 for 3 years, 2 of which we ran a 1:1 netbook program. This is my first year teaching a different year level (Year 3/4) and I’m loving it!
I volunteer my time to mentor pre-service teachers. Our school has a partnership with Victoria University and for the past couple of years, our pre-service teachers have been completing a 1 year DipEd Primary course. The course will be terminated at the end of this year. I will definitely be discussing this course and my experiences with it throughout my week.
Being an early career teacher and working at a large school, my opportunities to take on whole school roles have been limited. That being said, I take on every opportunity presented to me both within my school and finding opportunities to develop my knowledge and skills myself. Sometimes I’m guilty of taking on more than I can handle and I know I’m not alone!

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

Every single day, my fabulous class keeps me inspired and motivated. Every day. And that sounds ridiculously cheesy but they are a wonderful group. Don’t get me wrong, there are the challenging students amongst them too but I love having the opportunity to work with each and every one of them. Although my school is quite large, with over 40 staff in total, I am truly blessed to work with such wonderful people.

My team are amazing – they are so open to new learning and teaching opportunities and willing to make changes and try new things for the benefit of the students. I work in the room next door to our team leader who has to listen to me rant and rave about new things that I find and try and I always have her full support. Funny story; we actually went to the same primary school (she was the year level above me!) so we have a bit of a shared vision for education. She is fantastic – I’ve even got her on the Twitter and attending TeachMeets with me!
Speaking of Twitter & TeachMeets, I cannot forget to mention my wonderful PLN who have made me more confident as an educator. I also attended the DEECD PD “Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century” (see more here) last year and I am still in regular contact with my wonderful, collaborative group. I’ve also found that mentoring pre-service teachers can be extremely motivating as it forces me to reflect on my own practice. Also, their optimistic passion for teaching children is very inspiring!

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

Being involved in education is one of the most rewarding careers. Interacting and getting to know students holistically is the best reward in itself. Educators come up against many different challenges and usually on a daily basis – It’s all about what you choose to pay attention to, to challenge and to fight for.

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

I won’t lie, I’m not very politically minded or informed. (I trust my PLN to give me the information I need!) If I made any changes to the education system, it would be the way that teachers are perceived and the attitude towards education in Australia. But how? That is the big question. I know Bianca Hewes and I were talking about making a documentary series about teachers and only half joking. I think if parents, politicians and all stakeholders had the chance to see things from an educator’s perspective, surely their perceptions would be changed?

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

I love the idea of a curation account for Australian educators! I have experienced the difference that Twitter makes to the life of an educator and I am thrilled that I decided (out of procrastination on school holidays… Shhh…) to join. I love the diversity of hosts on the EduTweetOz account and the different perspectives that they bring.
This week, I am hoping to discuss a number of things that affect me personally in the hope that other educators can relate! I am planning on running a small session at my school staff meeting on Tuesday afternoon about the “Power of a PLN” on Twitter and using the EduTweetOz account as an example. Look out for tweets on Tuesday – we will be using the hashtag #kpstweets I will also be joining and promoting the many other fantastic Twitter chats already occurring throughout the week, such as;
Sunday Night: #teacherwellbeingchat #aussieEd
Tuesday Night: #pstchat
Thursday Night: #ozprimschchat
Saturday Morning: #satchatoc

I am really looking forward to this week – Thank you for having me :)

Owen Ikin

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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?

In teaching years I’m an infant! After finishing high school I had this idea that university wasn’t for me. The same went for other students in my year as very few of us did anything else but enter the workforce straight out of Year 12 (most left by Year 10). There was a perception in the area that I grew up in that university was not attainable even though I had ideas of becoming a high school art teacher. For years after high school I worked in a warehouse driving a forklift and managing a cafe. It was during this time that I discovered I enjoyed teaching others and even became a trainer at the warehouse. I decided that I needed to take this further but couldn’t see myself working in these industries far into the future. I sent off an application for a primary teaching degree at the age of 24 expecting it to be rejected but ended up getting an early round offer. So I packed my bags to move to Sydney from Melbourne, began my degree and have never looked back.

Since graduating at the end of 2011 I have been casual teaching at a few schools and then became a Year 5 teacher at my current school since the start of 2013.

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

Seeing what students and other teachers do inspires me. Giving students the chance to drive their own learning and seeing what they come up with constantly amazes me. Just walking into another teacher’s classroom can also create ideas for my own teaching. Collaboration will long be a part of my teaching because of these experiences.
My students also keep me motivated. I believe the situation you grew up in should not determine where you end up and that education is the way have choices in life. This is why I want the best for them so that they don’t feel like their future is set and don’t have any other options.

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

The biggest rewards has to be seeing the changes in our students of course but also being apart of such a fantastic community of motivated and professional colleagues. I have never known a job like it and it is the people involved in education that make it such a wonderful place to be.
I think the biggest challenges are from the political influence on education. It seems to me that teachers voices are not heard enough and that education is used to win votes without a thought to how this affects students.
Another challenge is the wellbeing of our early career teachers. A lot leave within the first few years of teaching mainly due to the massive workload that teachers have. The challenge is making sure new teachers stay on past the first five years though productive mentoring programs and community support without burning out in the process.

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

I would fund all sectors to the needs of the students and have a serious look at how NAPLAN is run.

What role do you see EduTweetOz playing on the education scene in Australia and how did you find the experience of hosting the account for a week?

I always enjoy hearing about what other educators are doing and EduTweetOz is a great base for discovering other teachers and expanding my PLN. I see it as a voice for people involved in education so they can share what concerns them the most and as a vehicle for celebrating the profession. Something that doesn’t always happen in the mainstream media.

While hosting the account I found out what I already knew. That educators are always willing to share, laugh at and discuss the events of our profession. It’s been a great experience.