About this week’s host: David Adams

Apologies readers, the blog is a little late this week…

David Adams has been hosting EduTweetOz since Sunday 26/10 and has started some very thoughtful conversations. Here is a little more about him.

To connect with David outside EduTweetOz, you can find him at @rebel_teacher and follow his blog, which is well worth reading.

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?

As I sat in my year 10 history class I found myself getting excited by what the teacher was showing us. I looked around the class at the other students and the various responses my teacher was receiving. I wondered if they were as interested in the lesson as I was. I chose to observe my teacher for a moment and watch what she did and how she worked. I decided in that class that teaching was something I could do. It just stuck with me since then.

While I was studying education I went on a youth camp where I met with a group of people from Darwin. I really enjoyed their company and felt something calling me to go check out that side of the world. In my final year of teaching I travelled to Darwin and went and volunteered in some of the schools. My friends introduced me to a missionary who had built a school a little further north for Indigenous children. He highly recommended taking a job in a remote school. He said that your first experience of teaching will colour the way you look at education for the rest of your life. He convinced me that there was a lot of value working remote.

I called up the Northern Territory staffing officer and asked if there were any jobs going. A week later I accepted a position in a remote town about 6 hours north west of Alice Springs. I loved it. I loved it immensely and was very saddened to hear that I would have to move on after just one term. I was offered a place that they had not been able to fulfil for some time. It was 8 hours remote along the same dirt road and the community had a number of challenges.

I took on the position and over the course of the year I had worked with several individuals to promote the right for students to learn in their native language, built a language program with community members, helped instigate a meal program, built relationships between the school and the community, acted as principal in my first term, organised and run an excursion into Alice Springs where some students received their first experience of town life, and successfully built up the attendance in my classroom from 1-3 students to a regular number of 20 or more.

Sadly, my Dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer and I returned that year to spend the remainder of his life with him. It was a hard decision, but the right one. That experience has coloured my view of teaching and I am glad for it.

After living off a  friend’s generosity I finally took up a position as Youth Worker and Teacher in Religious Education at St Paul’s School in Bald Hills, Brisbane. My role is primarily focussed on the Junior School, but has a lot of connections to Middle and Senior. I get to organise and run chapel services, I get to look after tutor group, run activities, help teachers deal with troubled kids, and generally be on call for a variety of needs. I am still strongly connected with my teaching. I work hard to make my classroom and place where students can bring their questions and ideas and share them openly and honestly.

In my role as teacher this year I have developed and run a leadership course with year 10 and 11 students to develop reflective practices and explore leadership models. I helped organise a book club with other staff where we read a book over the semester and have coffee to discuss its value within our learning environment. I have organised an informal “Teachmeet” for staff to discuss their learning at conferences and over the team. I visited a local school with another teacher to examine how their democratic practices impacts student engagement. And I have been learning and supporting PBL as a learning model within my school

 

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

I love working with the students. I love the challenge of dealing with student engagement, especially in a subject where many students treat the content with suspicion. I love acting as an educational facilitator in my class, trying to show students the path to deeper questioning and intrinsic motivation to learn. But most importantly I love to wrestle with the challenges of education with my friends. The colleagues I have at St Paul’s are real inspirations to me. Nicole Baker, Erin Casablanca, Alan Lihou, Charles Mackenzie-Smith, Bruce Robinson, Kev McVey, and Alana Reville are all expert teachers who I look up to as mentors. Conversing with them over education, getting ideas from them to nurture my classes, building on their wisdom, exploring the future of education keeps me motivated to go into my classroom and work harder and give more than I thought possible.

 

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

We all talk about the pace of life and the uncertainty of what the work place will look like in the future. Yet I am concerned about what community will look like in the future. With the online community broadening we are not yet fully aware of how this will impact our relationships and personal well being. The internet is a wealth of information and entertainment providing instant gratification with seemingly little consequence. This is both a reward and a challenge that interests me.

The reward is the open learning for students and their ability to act globally from their own home. This is incredibly rewarding and can break down barriers to learning, provide opportunity for innovation and creativity, embraces diversity, and can bridge the gap between rich and poor.

But it is this same connectivity that raises some challenges for us as people. We cannot yet conceive as to how our relationships will be affected. We do not yet know how this shift in connectivity will shape our identity as individuals and as community. What does it mean to be human when my life, work, friendships, and relationships are streamed online?

 

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

I would remove education from being a political agenda. Politicians are term limited, and survive on the basis of receiving votes. To do this they inevitably play to where they will get the most public support. This makes education a commodity exchanging rhetoric and polling based agenda for votes . Education is left captive to popular myths and a body of voters who think the best learning is replicating their own experiences from childhood. Education cannot prepare children for the future when used as a commodity for politicians.

 

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

Helping build rhetoric around the future of education. Bringing together the diversity of ideas and perspectives that can challenges us to reimagine education in our classrooms and beyond. I hope that this week I get to experience some of ethos conversations that explore our identity as learners and educators.

Troy Moncur: Leading Teacher

This week the EduTweetOz account heads back to Victoria, with Troy Moncur taking over as host. Here are his answers to our five questions:

Troy Moncur
Troy Moncur

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 graduated at the end of 2000 from QUT in Brisbane. We were told if we wanted a job we needed to tick the “Go anywhere in Qld” box. I was serious about my footy at the time and just selected the regions around Brisbane. I didn’t get a placement, so I decided to visit all of the 46 or so schools in the district I was living in, meet the principal and hand in my resume. After a few days I received a call and got a full time job (contract position) at Cannon Hill State School. I still recall the overwhelming feeling of responsibility (and a healthy dose of anxiety) as I stood up the front and spoke to my brand new Grade 5/6 class…Feels like yesterday…

I worked for the school year and then had to pick up work with my father over the Christmas holidays as back then the contract ended on the last day of the school year. I repeated this process for the next two years until on one fine sunny day I was given permanency! Which meant no more working for dad over the holidays!

In 2004 I came to Mildura, Victoria for football opportunities and I taught for a year in Mildura. I went back to Brisbane for a few more years continuing teaching and starting a family. The hustle and bustle of city life was becoming wearing so we made the move back to the country (Mildura) and have been here ever since (with an annual review of getting back closer to saltwater :) ).

Over the years I have taught all grades of primary school, along being a Phys ed and ICT specialist.

Currently I’m a leading teacher at Nichols Point Primary School. I am one of 4 on Leadership and along with day to day school operations, my main responsibilities are ICT Innovation, PD, Reporting and Culture.

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

I feel very fortunate to be at a school like I am now. My boss is very flexible, happy to give anything a go and welcomes mistakes. I enjoy both working on my own and in a team environment. I am passionate about creating and sustaining a strong, solid and people first culture. To have the flexibility to innovate is rewarding and it’s something that is always in the forefront of my mind. I’m always asking myself how we can do things better and I like to challenge the status quo.
I play and coach a local Footy team and find both coaching and teaching very similar, often sharing and trying ideas between the two domains.

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

Working with and managing people is always going to be filled with successes and learning opportunities. I enjoy seeing progress and success in others. It’s a great feeling to know that you have had a positive effect on another person, whether that is a colleague or student.  In the last few years I came across the saying of ‘fail fast’, it’s something that sits comfortably with me now and I try and see opportunity and optimism in everything.

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

More consistency with one organisation like AITSL running the show and less change and influence from those removed from the coal face. We have been working with AITSL for a few years now and have really enjoyed the focus on professional standards, professional learning and building of teacher capacity.

The other area I would focus on is reporting. I feel there is much more to gain by reporting in an ‘ongoing’ fashion as opposed to the traditional twice yearly report cards. My current school moved to providing feedback to parents and students fortnightly (sounds a lot more work for teachers but its actually less. Will look to explore this during the week) and the benefits for all parties are enormous.

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 it’s about connecting with others and finding like minded people who challenge each other’s views. I’m typically easy going and tend to make last minute decisions (which can be a good and bad thing..). I’m looking forward to hosting the account next week, making connections with others, discussing whatever comes up and maybe even finding a job somewhere in the near future (hopefully near saltwater!).  :)

 

 

Magdalene Mattson – This week’s EduTweetOz host

Sydney teacher, Magdalene Mattson is our host this week. Here are her answers to our five questions:

Magdalene

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?

Teaching found me, I was volunteering in schools and when I first saw a kid learn something from me, I thought that was really cool. I have taught a range of infants to primary age students, love integrating technology and showing kids what they are really capable as well as nurturing their creativity and realising what they can create.
Who or what keeps you inspired and motivated in your work?
Twitter – the fact that I have been able to learn from teachers all over the world and use that in my teaching is great.
What do you see as some of the biggest rewards and challenges for people working in education today?
The fact that learners/students have the world at their fingertips, simple answers can be easily found. There are a range of skills that teachers have and resources that they use to support a wide range of learners,
If you had the ability to make changes to the education system in Australia, what would you do?
The way students are assessed on a national scale – students are capable of so much more than what is shown on a standard test.
What role do you see EduTweetOz playing on the education scene in Australia and what are your hopes for the account this week?

I have been a huge fan of EduTweetOz and since I became a serious tweeter hosting has always been a hope.EduTweetOz already has a huge following and I can see it growing and getting more teachers on board – I love to see popular tweeters and chats connect. So I would love to see more of that.

This week I would like to connect with more educators, build my PLN, share what I am doing while promoting other chats, tweeters and helpful sites and resources.
I also just want to have some fun!


To connect with Magdalene, follow her on Twitter at @madgiemgEDU

Introducing Jen Moes

Jen Moes is a geography teacher working in a school in Central Coast, NSW.

Jen Moes
Jen Moes

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’ve wanted to be a teacher since my very first day at school. I have a poster from that day. It says “I am 5. I can walk on my knees. I like Koalas. I want a cat. I’m going to be a teacher.”

Throughout High School my natural ability and interest was in History and Social studies so it was no suprise to anyone when I studied to be a history teacher.

I have predominantly worked at two schools. I was appointed on graduation to Mosman High School on Sydney Harbour’s North Shore. I spent 10 amazing years there learning how to teach. MHS is a non-uniform School and has a uinque culture. It was an amazing team to be part of. There, I was very involved in welfare and student voice.

I commuted to MHS from the Central Coast. I was somewhat relieved when I recieved a transfer to a Central Coast School in 2011, Wadalba Community School. WCS is a large K-12 School with a very diverse socio-economic community and is only 14 yrs old. It is very different to MHS and I have reinvented myself from a welfare leader to a curriculum leader. I also moved from a History/English staff at MHS to a HSIE staff at WCS… I now teach Geography 😢

Throughout my career I have been involved in union activism and representation. I have held the position of Fed Rep at both schools and have been a TFed councillor and relief officer.

I have also been involved with the BOS HSC exam process. I have been part of exam committees, Senior Judge Marker and Senior Marker.

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

I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. It’s like I was born to teach. Small picture stuff like making a difference to my students lives, watching students engage in my passions (HSIE), helping my colleagues achieve their goals, making my school a fair and enjoyable place to work, is why I go day to day. It’s the big picture stuff like universal public education, community building, future Australia, future world that morivates me to keep fighting for what I believe is fair and appropriate through the powerful tool of education.

The few times I have been away from the classroom, I have missed it desperatly. The sound, the smell, the sights etc…. Yep, I was born to teach.

I have recently had a huge addition to my understanding of education as my kids are now at school (Kindy and Yr 2.) I have always been an ‘out’ teacher. My wife and I were married in my first year of teaching. She and now our kids have always been valued members of my school communities. My sexuality has played no significant part in my teaching. That is changing as I become more motivated for my kids to see their very ‘normal’ experience of family reflected in their classrooms. This has seen me focus on developing the celebration of universal diversity explicitly in classrooms.

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

The rewards will always be intrinsic. Knowing you made a difference and getting the chance to mould minds. As a sociologist, I’m very interested in our current historical position. Like all of the great human eras before now, we are at the very beginnings of major changes to how humans live and behave. The digital era is beggining to change the practices of the industrial era and we as teachers are at the forefront of developing a new tomorrow now.

I think the challenges will always be the same too. Trying to meet the ever changing demands of diverse communities while also doing what we know and feel is right as profesionals. There are the added challenges of being the bridging generations between the industrial and digital eras.

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

You know what? I wouldn’t change anything. I believe that utopian communities do not exist and it is foolish to try to produce one. Of course I would like somethings to be different: much greater funding of education, the end of public funding of private institutions, the equality of outcomes for all students despite race/ability/gender etc and a move away from standardised testing; however, I truly believe that what we do in Australia is unique, envied and wonderful and in the main part producing holistic, confident young adults and a future that they’ll be creating and I’ll be living in.

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 great way to assist teachers in the ‘getting connected’ process. It also gives individuals a platform to test ideas, strategies etc on a fairly safe and collaborative group who can give both the ‘gush’ and also the criticism needed before testing them out at our own schools etc. I think EduTweetOz is unique amongst Ed chats/accounts because it does not have a base interest or POV. Some weeks I’m interested and engaged, some weeks I’m not. A bit like choose your own adventure really.

Not sure where this week will take us. My major interest at the moment is the universal and meaningful celebration of diversity in the classroom. I’m particularly interested in the elements of the evolving LGBTI communities and also the changing perception towards the differently abled. I’m also interested in how we challenge our own ideas of diversity.

Look forward to chatting with you this week.


To connect with Jen, follow her on Twitter, @coastiemoes and checkout her blog, Rainbow Frontier

This week on @Edutweetoz we celebrate World Teachers’ Day 2014

This week the admin team (@corisel, @dbatty1 and @poppyshel) will be running the @Edutweetoz account. This is happening for a number of reasons; it’s hard to find people to host during the school holidays, it’s good for us to get a feel for what the account’s like these days (it’s a lot bigger than it was when we started) and because it’s the week leading up to World Teachers’ Day and we felt like this was a good opportunity to revisit the vision of @Edutweetoz and think about what it might become. To make sure you know who’s tweeting, we don’t want to be anonymous, we’ll sign off with our initials, @corisel=CC, @dbatty1=DB, @poppyshel=MH.

We love the theme of World Teachers’ Day ‘Invest in the future, invest in teachers’ as it resonates well with the reasons we had for starting @Edutweetoz in April 2013. Our vision for @EduTweetOz was to build a platform through which Australian educators could share what education meant for them, to share their practice, to build a sense of the variety of education practices around Australia and to provide a vehicle through which the broader Australian community might get a sense of what it means to be an educator in Australia today. We saw @Edutweetoz as a way of connecting the community to the reality of education, beyond the particular talking points selected by the media and politicians to support their agenda with regards to specific issues. You can find out more about the background of @Edutweetoz here.

It has been a wonderful journey so far, seeing how many people have engaged with the account, have volunteered to host, have shared honestly their experiences, successes and challenges and the positive and supportive community that has developed. Often teachers new to twitter are referred to @Edutweetoz as a way of building their PLN and making connections with other educators, because it’s not ‘owned’ by any one educator it can be a good jumping off point for starting conversations and joining in with discussions. The community continues to grow and continues to be a really positive space for Australian educators, a reflection of the supportive network of educators out there striving to do the best for both their students and for the system as a whole.

We are wondering if this account might provide a forum or resource for supporting educators in other ways and would love your feedback on what this might look like. Is there something we could do beyond the twitter handle? How else might we build community, learn from each other and extend these connections? To that end, we’ve developed a survey to get a sense of what you, the @Edutweetoz community, see as the purpose of this account. We don’t want to do anything that the community doesn’t see as being of value. You can access the survey here, it will be open for the next 2 weeks. We really appreciate you taking the time to complete it, it should take less than 5 minutes.

This week we’re hoping to explore a few of themes with everyone, linked to the World Teachers’ Day prompt. The hashtags we’ll be using will be #whyIteach, #whatteachersdo and #teacherwellbeing. We’d love to use the week to get a sense of what the reality is for teachers today, why do we do what we do, what does that look like and how do we take care of ourselves? It’s our belief that the community, and our politicians, may not have the most accurate sense of what it means to be a teacher in Australia at the moment and we want to share our passion and commitment to the profession with them.

We can’t wait to dive into the community discussions and are really looking forward to connecting with all the new followers (there’s about 3000 new followers since I last hosted the account, eek!). Thank you for all your support and pop by and say hi!

(As an aside, you can sign up here to host the account yourself – we want to hear from all of you!)

Michelle

Jacques Du Toit – QLD Educator on EduTweetOz

The EduTweetOz account is heading to Queensland this week, with Jacques du Toit taking over the reigns.

Jacques

Jacques is known on Twitter as @jdtriver and  blogs at http://mrdhistoryteacher.blogspot.com.au/ a

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 only been in education for about 4 years now. I originally studied Logistics in South Africa, and worked in that industry for a number of years before moving to Australia at the start of 2009 with my wife. Soon after arriving I started my Graduate Diploma while living in Brisbane and finished studies at the end of 2010. I managed to secure my 1st teaching job at Riverside Christian College in Maryborough, Queensland and we moved 3 hours north of Brisbane with a 2 week old little girl a few days before the start of the school year in 2011.

Since arriving at Riverside I have been allowed to grow exponentially in my teaching roles. I have taught Year 9/10 Business, Year 10 History, Year 11/12 Modern History, Ancient History and Business Management over the past 4 years. Since the end of 2012 I have been the Head of Humanities, overseeing the implementation of the ACARA History and Geography curriculum for Year 6-10, plus changes in the senior subjects under QCAA. I’m a Year 11 Form class teacher, part of the QCS teaching team for Year 12s and on the Wide Bay District review panel for Modern History. My passion is for my history subjects, especially senior Modern History

This year I have become involved with sharing my learning and teaching at conferences, and at my school. At EduTECH in June I presented during the TeachMeet sessions, and this inspired me to organise my first ever TeachMeet for the Fraser Coast region a few weeks back. I presented an hour long workshop on Evernote in Classrooms at the CSA Queensland Conference in July. Next up is the google Teachers Academy in Sydney at the end of September, where I hope to continue learning and developing.

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

My family, my students, some of my colleagues and my Twitter PLN all play a role in inspiring me. My wife is my biggest advocate and is always there to lend support, and push me. My daughter, because I want education to change and not be stuck in the 20th century for her. My students, their dedication, humour, stories, dreams and interactions. My colleagues that work so hard, trying to improve themselves, and creating opportunities for their students. My Twitter PLN, the ideas, sharing, collaborations, discussions, support and diverse opinions. They all inspire and motivate me to be a better teacher.

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

The biggest rewards is seeing how students develop over time, growing, maturity and independence in their learning. The results are a part of it in year 12, but what they do after school to realise their potential is of even greater reward.

The challenges are definitely linked to political/economical/social environment that teaching takes place in. Different governments, controlling bodies and people that have no clue about education making key decisions have a negative effect on education. Also Teachers that are not embracing 21st century teaching techniques and technology to support students is also a big challenge in certain schools.

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

Install key education experts in 21st century teaching practices in a role to oversee and implement changes to circumvent all the problems created by current bureaucracy, and to be able to strategically direct the system. All states should be able to be on the same field academically, but with freedom of subjects, assessments and how to demonstrate student learning. More recognition for the fantastic work teachers do in the lives of students and communities.

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 diverse group of teachers from all over to take the reigns of the Twitter Handle and share their individual style and insights. It is a unique way to learn from each other, and for that weeks’ host to learn from different teaching areas with the people the account interacts with. I hope I can offer my own insights, have some great discussions, learn from others and develop my own practice to benefit my students.

Eleni Kyritsis: Primary School Teacher and Host of Teach Tech Play

 

This week we move to Melbourne, with primary school teacher, Eleni Kyritsis taking over the account.

EleniKyritsisPlease 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 began my teaching career in 2012 at a Catholic Primary School in Melbourne. I taught Year 4 for two years and am currently teaching Year 6 and Level Leader. I am the co-host of Teach Tech Play, a monthly web-show showcasing the tools and strategies educators from around the world are using in their classrooms. I have been selected to attend the Google Teacher Academy in 2 weeks time which I am really looking forward to.

I have assisted with the implementation of my school’s Google Apps For Education and Year 5 & 6 1:1 Chromebook program. I find the integration of new and emerging technologies in my classes greatly assists my students to achieve their learning intentions. I love using a class blog and Twitter to showcase and share students learning to the wider community. This enables students to communicate with other students from around the world to develop authentic meaning to their learning. I am always looking for new and exciting ways to integrate technology into the classroom to help foster and support students as lifelong learners.

This year I have begun to share my learning at conferences. I have presented at Digital Learning and Teaching Victoria (DLTV) and have sessions at the upcoming Melbourne GAFE Summit. I am involved in the Melbourne Google Educator Group (GEG) having hosted and ran sessions for this amazing group of passionate educators.

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

The biggest inspiration for me are the students. I want to encourage, challenge and have a positive influence on each and every student I teach. Seeing my students achieve and be successful, learn and grow motivates me every single day.

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

The biggest reward is seeing my students enthusiastic and enjoying their learning. As educators we are always trying to teach the perfect lesson, but is there such a thing? We could always have done something differently and can always improve. Reflection on our own practice is crucial to our own continuous improvement resulting in students wanting to learn.

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

I would embrace student voice. I believe that the students themselves provide the most valuable feedback to a teacher. They are honest, real, and their perspective needs to be listened too.

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 educators from around Australia the opportunity learn from others. I believe that as educators today we should not limit ourselves to only extending our learning through school lead Professional Development but exploring what else is out there, such as social media. This week I hope to continue to share and learn from others about best practice and finding new and innovative ways to engage, support and challenge my students learning.

www.elenikyritsis.com

@misskyritsis

+elenikyritsis

lenikyritsis@gmail.com

Tareena Eastwood – Primary Teacher in South West Sydney

This week EduTweetOz moves from a high school in country Western Australia to a primary school in South Western Sydney.

Tareena Eastwood
Tareena Eastwood

Our host, Tareena Eastwood, provided these 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 current role involve?

I have been teaching since 1999. I worked as a casual teacher in one school for 1 year and 3 terms and in October 2000 I was appointed to Mount Pritchard East Public School (MPE) in South Western Sydney. I have been teaching there for the past 14 years. I entered uni straight after high school to pursue a career that I have wanted since I was in primary school myself. I have taught grades 1 – 6 and am currently one of the two Stage Three teachers at my small school.

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

I work with a really inspiring group of teachers and leaders at my school. The whole executive team are passionate about student learning and the introduction of 21st century skills. I am comfortably able to try new things, all grounded in research, and I am supported in this, even if something ‘fails’. I also have a stage partner who I work extremely well with and we have gone towards cross stage learning for many things. My students are enthusiastic and engaged in their learning and I love that feeling you get when one of them has a lightbulb moment.

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

The biggest reward is seeing students achieve. When a student has a lightbulb moment, whether they are a lower ability student or higher ability, seeing them achieve is what makes working in education great. Being able to engage students in what they are learning, and them wanting to stay in at lunch to finish something they are interested in or having a previously disengaged student write ‘this is the best year ever’ on the class blog are small but powerful rewards. Working with innovative people and being at the forefront of 21st century learning is fantastic.

Some of the challenges I see in working in education is the crowded curriculum. In a primary classroom, there is so much to teach, with more being added all the time. The extra curricular demands on teachers makes it difficult to find that work/life/family.

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

The biggest change I would make is equity – not making all things equal by providing the exact same things to all schools, but providing the best resources, teachers, learning environments as needed to give all students an equal chance to succeed.

I would like to revamp the reporting system so that it is more beneficial to parents and less time consuming for teachers and schools. Perhaps more conference (with parents / teachers and/or students) style reporting or portfolio (hard copy or digital).

Homework! As a teacher and a parent this is not something that I see many benefits in. Keep reading practice but allow parents to interact with their children without the stress of homework or provide grid style choice homework or personal challenges such as to help a family member every day.

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 how EduTweetOz reaches educators all over the country. It gives great insight into the challenges and rewards of working in education in all different types of settings. The generation of ideas, conversations and knowledge is amazing and there is no other Professional Learning quite like this.

I hope to generate discussions around student engagement, 21st Century Learning, learning spaces, innovation, work/family balance, formative assessment and building leadership capacity. These are all things that I am focusing on in my work and life at the moment and I would like to give insights into what I do and facilitate the opinions and ideas of others. I hope expand my personal learning network in order to continue learning after this week.

I am very excited to be hosting EduTweetOz.

 

 

Alycia Bermingham – This Week’s Host on @EduTweetOz

Alycia

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?

This year is my fifth year teaching. I knew I wanted to teach after I first experienced an amazing teacher in year 4. I was advised in high school to follow my passion and everything would be ok, so I enrolled in a history degree with the plan to follow it through to a teaching degree. I then “lost my way” at uni and decided to add on a law degree. After completing both, and doing some work in finance management, I returned to uni and completed my education degree. I am a humanities major, obviously, but I also trained to teach home economics. Having taught in a practical subject complements my teaching in a core subject, but certainly does give me appreciation for the peace and quiet I can more easily garner!!

I worked for three years in two district high schools – both coastal, but one EXTREMELY remote. They were vastly different contexts, but at both I had amazing opportunities to really discover how to teach, how to manage a classroom, and how to form great relationships with students. I have taught both primary and secondary classes, in Society and Environment, Home Economics, ICT and Business, including a range of VET qualifications. I have also been ICT Coordinator. I moved back to the city to work at a school in its foundation year, which was a unique opportunity that challenged my beliefs and values about education and my role within the system. During this time I applied for my first formal leadership position, and was selected to a Head of Learning Area role at a neighbouring school. The call of the country remained though, so I decided at the end of the year to seek a country post again. I now work at a reasonably sized, senior high school in a large country town in WA’s south west. I teach Year 12 and 11 Modern History, Year 10 and Year 8. I have also taken on the Year 7 Coordinator role for 2015, which I’ve started in already, as we prepare for Year 7s to arrive in high school for the first time very soon. I have taken on a diverse range of extra curricular roles at all schools, serving students, colleagues and the wider school community.

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

First and foremost, my students. The day I can’t reach them, can’t engage them, can’t motivate and move them forward, from wherever their start point is, will be a sad day. I am constantly overawed by the ability we have as teachers to take a student from one point to another, and to realise that it’s our decisions, actions and how we supported them that is responsible for their growth.

I’m also highly motivated by the many wonderful educators I have worked and/or engaged with. We are all so different as teachers, and I love how willing most are to share and learn from each other.

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

Expectations are my biggest challenge, and I think it’s the same for all of us. Meeting those of ourselves, students, parents, middle and senior management, department, new research and understandings – it’s a complex world we work in! No wonder work/life balance is such a challenge as well!

The rewards though are simple. We make a difference. We are so lucky – even if that difference isn’t as obvious or in the way we’d like to see it

 

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

Assessment practice would undergo massive transformation. I’d also like to see changes to the distribution of leadership responsibility – specifically within high schools. I’d like more people to have more responsibility, to enhance their accountability, and limit the idea of “new management = great change” because we all would have more ownership of processes and goals.

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

It’s so important for engagement, connections and reflection. I’ve become so much more innovative in recent times because of the inspiration that flows from the people I’ve been interacting with and how it encourages me to think about topics I wouldn’t necessarily do so on my own.

I hope that we will have a vibrant and engaging week, with lots of sharing about the basic structure of what we do – TEACH.

Leading us into Science Week we have @mrascience hosting @EduTweetOz this week!

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 the kind of kid that quickly became obsessed with something – I loved dinosaurs so much that I forced my mum to get me a subscription to a dinosaur magazine when I was 7; I learnt all the bones in the human hands and feet, including tongue-twistable names of the bones of the hip and spine by the age of 9; I learnt the word ophthalmologist (and subsequently also learnt to spell it) and became obsessed with how the eye worked when I was 10. In essence, all my obsessions were grounded in science – I loved every aspect. It only made sense that I continue studying it when I chose to go to university.

Teaching was always what I really wanted to do, so when I could, I dove straight into it, going on to complete my Masters in Teaching (Secondary). My main decision to get into teaching was two-fold: firstly, to actually set out and do what I had always really wanted; and secondly, to bring in something different and new to teaching. As a candidate in the teachNSW graduate scholarship program, I was given a position at Belmore Boys High School (literally the best school in the world!) in 2011 and have been a teacher there since.

I assumed the role of Debating Coordinator at my school in 2012 (and made regional finals in 2013 and 2014!), as well as being an integral part of the ICT committee. Since 2013, I have been the Prefect and SRC Coordinator – a role which I’ve loved. In 2014, I was fortunate to become the Relieving Head Teacher Science at my school, an exciting, albeit challenging role. In comparison to my role as a classroom teacher the previous year, this role has given me insight into the management and coordination of a faculty, as well as bringing me to the wonderful world of paperwork and administration.

With the National Curriculum for Year 7 and 9 already having made its way through the front door, and its close cousin Year 8 and 10 waiting impatiently at the doorstep, my role also involves leading my staff to create new and engaging programs which incorporate the values of 21st Century learning in Science – creativity, inquiry, literacy, ICT and of course, experiments!

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

It is a cliche. But I’m going to say it. It’s all about the students. My students are my biggest motivation. It’s never the same every day and they definitely keep me on my toes. I’m motivated because they keep me motivated.

My school executive have been an amazing force propelling change in my school. They inspire me to continue what I’m doing and give me the permission to experiment in class and be the best teacher I can be. A strong school needs a strong executive and I’m privileged to be led by them at my school.

Oh. And chocolate. Lots of chocolate.

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

You know that warm fuzzy feeling you get in your abdomen? Yeah. That. That’s my reward.
In my first practicum, a teacher told me that teachers are simply drug addicts. When you teach and you get that reward – a student engaging, students sharing work, when you know you’ve done something – that’s your first hit. And you simply go back for more, you have to get it again. Teaching becomes doing everything you can to continue to feel that good. My lessons, the way I teach, is an outcome of the rewards that I get everyday.

Public Education faces huge challenges – as the largest employer in the southern hemisphere and open to students of all backgrounds, cultures and faiths, it is imperative that it is well funded, populated with teachers who are great operators and valued by teachers, students and parents.

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

I’m a fan of Dr Ken Robinson’s values of education – freedom to learn, learning without boundaries, and instigating creativity in students. Creativity is important, and is something students should be allowed to use everyday, and as teachers we should be fuelling this in students.

Literacy. Oh my God. Literacy. Three years ago, my school established a literacy program with academics at the Australian Catholic University called ELK (Embedding Literacy in KLAs) and it has triggered amazing change within the school. ELK embeds the metalanguage of literacy in subjects so that there is a common language used across KLAs. There is a focus on texts, coupled with a school developed reading pedagogy that has resulted in increases in value-added NAPLAN scores. I’ve been a part of this literacy program which has instilled in me the importance of literacy and the value it has for unpacking student’s content area understanding and writing. Literacy is an integral part of our curriculum, which I would love to see embedded clearly in all KLAs across Australia.

As a high school teacher, I’d love for closer connections between primary schools and high schools to really tie in that learning between the stages. Having a close working relationship and collaboration with universities is important and value adds to the learning which is done in school. My school has partnerships with 3 universities, each with amazing programs that our students have enjoyed.

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

As a Science teacher, I love science, so I’d love to talk about what primary and high school teachers are doing in their classes to get students experimenting and inquiring. With the build up to National Science Week, I want to engage schools in starting Science activities and talking about what some schools have organised. So lots of Science chat!

I’m interested in student voice, feedback and literacy, and would love to spark discussions.

Oh, and photos. There will be photos. Get those filters on hand, those shots focused and those selfies ready.