Lisa Hayman, Director of Professional Learning at Asia Education Foundation

This week’s host is Lisa Hayman, Director of Professional Learning at the Asia Education Foundation in Melbourne.

Lisa Hayman

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?

Over the years I have held a number of roles within education. As a 21 year old I commenced teaching at a year 7 – 10 College in Bendigo where I taught a range of humanities subjects as well as being involved in the myriad of activities that a teacher does from participating on school camps, leading the SRC to positions of responsibility such as Curriculum and Professional Learning Co-ordinator. In reflection those first ten years were incredibly formative for everything else I have since done in education.

In 1998 I had the opportunity to participate in a course at the University of Hawaii. This was a two week program led by the Consortium of Teaching Asia Pacific Studies (CTAPS) and was attended by teachers across the USA and the Asia – Pacific Region. With a strong focus on why it was important to teach students about Asia and how to lead professional learning this program resulted in me deciding to become a curriculum consultant and to become more actively involved in teacher professional learning. As a consequence I led professional learning across the Loddon Campaspe Mallee Region for five years before I decided to accept the position as Professional learning coordinator in a senior secondary school.

I have also held positions in the Department of Education (Victoria) until I joined the team at Asia Education Foundation (AEF) http://www.asiaeducation.edu.au. Established in 1992 by the Federal Government, AEF is a joint activity of Asialink at The University of Melbourne and Education Services Australia (ESA). It receives core funding from the Federal Department of Education.

As Director of Professional learning I lead the development and delivery of a range of online and face-to-face professional learning programs and manage the development of curriculum resources that support teachers to implement the Australian Curriculum.

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

Any role I have held has always had a strong focus on ensuring that students receive the education they need to equip them with the changing world. I can recall in my early years of teaching people saying that our students will have jobs that are not yet created. This is still the case and I think that now more than ever with increased global mobility and access to technology that we need to provide students with learning experiences that are different to what we may have had through our own school education.

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

There is enormous satisfaction in supporting students on part of their life journey. To provide them with opportunities that they may never otherwise experienced. When we walk down the street and run into a student that we may have taught five, ten or 20 years ago and to learn what they have done and achieved. The same is true when facilitating professional learning programs for teachers. Providing opportunities that they may not otherwise have and how their experiences then impact on their students.

 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 unique opportunity to bring educators together. To share, discuss, reflect and learn from each other. So it does not matter if you are teaching in a large city school or a one teacher school in rural Australia you can all be part of the EduTweeteOz staffroom!

This week I hope that we can engage in conversation around the changing world and how as educators we can best lead change to make a difference for our students.

Susan Caldis: Head Teacher HSIE at Castle Hill High School

We’re back in Sydney for the last week of February, with geography teacher, Susan Caldis taking up the hosting duties. Susan has taken many roles in education over her career, which give her a unique insight into Australian education.

You can connect with Susan by following her on Twitter: @SusanCaldis

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 1996. Geography is my thing! Currently I am HT HSIE at Castle Hill High School (north-west Sydney) and I have been there for 18 months. I also teach Geography Methodology (the ‘how’ of teaching Geography) to final year pre-service teachers at Macquarie University. At the moment I am also engaged in postgraduate study – an MEd Res with a PhD pathway. My research project was published in December 2014. Prior to joining at Castle Hill HS I was at ACARA for 3 years leading the development of the Australian Curriculum: Geography. Before ACARA I was at NBSC Balgowlah Boys Campus for 9 years where I gained a promotion to HT Social Sciences. I started my career in the inner west at a school on the then Disadvantaged Schools Program. I was there for 5 years. I then ‘switched codes’ and had a year teaching in the Independent sector but realised that philosophically, public education was where I belonged – although I don’t engage in public vs private education debates – both have their merits and it is up to the individual to make that decision. Along the way I have also held year advisor, peer support coordinator, teaching and learning coordinator and teacher mentor positions. I have also been very privileged to be elected as President of the Geography Teacher’s Association of NSW for 2 years in a row. I am now in my 2nd year leading the association.

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

The opportunity to teach a subject I love every day, and to develop a love of Geography in a new generation of teachers as well as amongst my students at school. I am also very motivated by the variety of opportunities to develop new networks and connect meaningfully with people I admire and who inspire me, as well as now being in the fortunate position of being able to inspire others. In short, I suppose I am inspired and motivated by knowing that teachers can and do make a difference in a variety of ways, knowingly and unknowingly.

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

In my opinion one of the biggest rewards in education today will also be viewed as a challenge by some. For me this is the development of the national standards and the achievement of them via the accreditation process. It is a lengthy, rigorous and time consuming process but I think it is about time our profession was taken seriously, has a national approach towards understanding what a quality teacher is, and provides a situation whereby under-performing teachers will either have to adopt a new mind-set and strategy, or find an alternative employment, rather than just fly under the radar. Personally, I am not upset to be an experienced teacher who will now need to work through the accreditation process. Another reward I see in education today (compared to when I started teaching in the mid 90’s) is the availability of professional learning in both an informal, free-low cost format such as TeachMeets, twitter chats etc, and also in the more traditional formal and paid context. I think the emphasis on reflection and self improvement is a really positive thing for teachers. One of the main challenges will always be time and prioritising.

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

I would like to see an opportunity in the education system for teachers in schools (lets say any time after 7 years) to be ‘seconded’ to work in the other side of teaching for a year e.g. curriculum development, assessment development, policy development etc at a curriculum authority or education sector office or similar. From my experience, I believe an opportunity like this enables teachers to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation about why ‘things’ are the way they are, how ‘things’ get developed and then implemented, and provides the chance to expand networks, ideas and dialogue. An experience such as this also enables you to understand the work of schools and teachers from a different perspective.

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 EduTweetOz has a distinct role in introducing educators who may otherwise not have met – and from there the connections can continue more directly or not (technology based or face to face or both). I think this collaborative and diverse dialogue, initiated by EduTweetOz  is important for teachers to reflect on and seriously consider the realities of different situations (challenges and opportunities) and therefore different perspectives. My hopes for the account is to be able to promote thought and conversation about what we do in the classroom, why we do it and our risk taking aptitude i.e. how willing are we to try new things and when do we try new things – is it the first thing we do or a last resort?

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to host EduTweetOz and I really appreciate having been asked. Thank you xo

Melissa Daniels: Special Education Head

We are moving back to Queensland this week, with Melissa Daniels, Head of Special Education for a cluster of primary schools taking over as host of EduTweetOz. Melissa is an advocate for inclusive education, and we’re really looking forward to her perspective this week.

To connect with Melissa, please follow her at @PensiveM

MelissaDaniels

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 am what is referred to as a special education teacher, with my current substantive role being the Head of Special Education for a cluster of primary schools. At times, I struggle with the title of ‘special education’ because it can raise connotations of working externally to mainstream classrooms with only a select group of students. I prefer to see my role focused on working with students, teachers, support staff, parents, school leaders…the whole school community! – to increase students’ access to education, whether through adjustments to the physical environment, social constructs or the curriculum. I believe that our schools are our first window into what the future will look like. What and how students learn will impact on the way they make decisions as adults in the years to come and I see this said ‘how and what’ extending beyond the set curriculum. Consequently, I believe prioritising the cultivation of inclusive school cultures is necessary for the development of a society that better sees each individual as a worthy, contributing member of the community; this is the reason I am involved in education and the type of work that I do.

I have been working to positively enact on that vision for almost a decade now. In my education life, in addition to my current role, I have been a high school Special Education teacher, the Head of Special Education in a secondary setting and the principal of a Special School (that proudly refused to have the word ‘special’ in its name). I have also been an Acting Deputy Principal in both primary and secondary schools on several occasions. I will add that my current ‘role’ is primarily ‘parent’ as I am presently enjoying maternity-slash-study leave this year.

 

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

When I was working in secondary schools, the success stories of the students I had worked with were considerable buzz creators. To hear they had successfully transitioned to independent (or as independent as possible) post-school life, with meaningful employment or volunteering opportunities and a full social life, highlighting the culmination of our years of support and involvement, was incredibly motivating – still is! These stories also exist for those working in the primary sector, but I personally am yet to work there long enough to hear reports of students who have now finished school. Nevertheless, the same ‘buzz’ is created when you know your efforts have contributed to a student reaching a new milestone, whether it be a student whom previously displayed frequent volatile outbursts successfully learning in a mainstream classroom or another with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder and moderate anxiety fully participating in the school swimming carnival. Seeing students grow and develop is a reward in itself. I would be surprised to hear a teacher answer this question without a mention of students in some shape or form: if what we do isn’t for the students, what exactly are we doing?

I will add, though, that since I have become a parent, my motivation and inspiration has an additional layer. When I look at my sons, I am filled with a want to give them the best start in life and I know that an engaging, challenging education is one of the ways to create that foundation. So now, when I look at the students I work with, I am full of a better appreciation that they are someone’s child and their parents, too, want their children to have the best start in life AND that I am entrusted with a meaningful role in shaping that education. I find that realisation particularly motivating.

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

In addition to the success stories I mentioned in my previous answer, I would add that one of the biggest rewards for people working in education is the diversity of opportunities and pathways for educators. I feel our industry is one that values and needs people with a wide-range of skills and interests to be the vibrant, dynamic system that it is. While there will always be certain standards we need to meet, being a teacher – or working in education – means having permission to share your interests and talents with others. We cannot all be ‘experts’ in the same areas, so we should celebrate the different abilities we bring to the learning scene – build on the strengths of those around us.

In terms of challenges….well, I could draw attention to the challenges we know we face on a regular basis such as overloaded curriculum, distribution of resources, teacher burn-out…however, what I will say in this space is that I feel the biggest challenge for people working in education right now is the evolution of an early 21st century model of education. We know that much of our current system generates from an Industrial Revolution model for learning, but we are living in the time of the Technology Revolution (particularly Information Technology) and so the model needs to evolve with the times. What this model looks likes, the learning that is to be prioritised and the means through which learning should predominantly occur is all up for debate – and is currently being debated – at present, and so I see this transition will continue to be our biggest opportunity, as well as challenge, in the near foreseeable future.

 

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

Two things I would like to see change are (1) the profile of teachers and respect for the teaching profession – perhaps more externally to our system, but there are internal issues as well; and (2) the definition of what is ‘quality education’ and ‘high performing’. I am an advocate for inclusive education practices and I feel if our chief indicator for a quality school is a set score on a standardized test, the definition may be too narrow. Whenever the topic of ‘performance-based pay’ for teachers is raised, I wonder how it would be determined if I or someone else in a special education role may be worthy of this incentive…

 

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

I am relatively new to edu-tweeting. I have had a Twitter account for some years, but until six months ago was unaware that you could use it for much, much more than following famous people and ‘to-the-second’ news feeds. Since November last year I have discovered the impact of Twitter chats, learned of some inspiring education-related podcasts and connected with a range of inspirational, enthusiastic educators around the world. I also discovered EduTweetOz and love the premise of an ongoing education-related discussion that travels down many diverse and divergent paths due to a rotating roster of real people working in the Education field, right here in Australia, from all sectors and states and territories. I will be honest and say that my feelings going into this experience is a mixture of nervousness and excited anticipation, as I am not confident as to what I have to add, but that is even more reason to put up my hand and have a go…

My hopes for this week are to generate two-way conversation. I want to learn from you as much as you learn from or with me. I hope to extend my Professional Learning Network through this experience, but the fact I am pushing myself out of my comfort zone to even do this means it will be valuable no matter the outcome.

 

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I will add that the views and opinions I share are my own and that they are not necessarily shared or endorsed by my employer. I know you know that, but just so there can be no confusion or misunderstanding.

Dean Kuran: PYP Educator from Melbourne

This week we’ll be moving  from Western Australia all the way to Melbourne as Dean Kuran takes over the hosting duties for @EduTweetOz. A huge thank you to Mags Lum who shared so much of herself last week.

Dean is a Year 3 teacher at a school in Melbourne, working with the Primary Years Program of the International Baccalaureate. You can follow him on Twitter at @Mr_Kuran

DeanKuran

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 am a Year 3 teacher at an IB-PYP school in Melbourne, Australia. It also happens to be the same school that I attended as a child.

I was lucky to have the opportunity when I finished high school to coach a group of Under 10 basketballers at the club I played at as a junior. From there, I developed a passion for developing the skills of young children. I received a position as an after-school program sports coach and knew that I wanted to become a teacher because I got a thrill out of seeing children solve problems, acquire new knowledge and understandings, learn both independently and as a group, and develop themselves as human beings.

I spent one year as an integration aide before completing my Graduate Diploma of Teaching (Primary) at Deakin, and am now in my third year of teaching.

I am passionate about ICT integration to enhance teaching and learning. In my first year of teaching, I was my school’s ICT Passion Team leader and collaborated other teaching staff to strengthen appropriate ICT usage and develop our students’ skills in independent and collaborative inquiry, research, editing and publishing, networking, and communicating.

I am intrigued by inquiry-based and concept-based learning, collaborative planning processes and am inspired by The School In The Cloud project by Sugata Mitra.

I am blessed to be surrounded by a staffroom full of unique personalities with a wealth of experience and a willingness to succeed.

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

I truly appreciate that every day is a new day in our learning space, and an opportunity to really make a difference in a child’s life.

The late Rita Pierson, in her well-known TED Talk, said, ‘Every child deserves a champion: an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists they become the best they can possibly be.’

I’m inspired by the creativity, responsibility and tolerance of other educators and am grateful for the way they share their ideas.

I will never, ever be the best classroom teacher in the world, but I will always endeavour to make my students better academically, emotionally and socially.

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

I believe the biggest reward is inspiring students to become life-long learners. As educators we are literally shaping the next generation and the future of our world. Knowing that we as teachers are in a position to inspire, provoke, challenge and bring the best out of children is the biggest reward.

The challenge? Making every minute, every lesson and every day count. The next ‘Aha!’ moment is around the corner.

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

More funding for students with special needs, and giving students more opportunities to be involved in community service.

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 fantastic way to celebrate the diversity of educators around the country. It allows everyday people in the education system to share, connect and challenge the thoughts of others.

I hope the be able to share some of my positive, negative and mind-changing experiences from my time as an educator, and hopefully spark some critical discussion!

Is there anything else you would like to add?

A big thank you to the EduTweetOz moderators for having me on!

MagsLum

Our next host: Mags Lum – Teacher, Chemist, Metallurgist and Writer

We’re delighted to welcome Western Australian STEM teacher, Mags Lum to the EduTweetOz chair this week. With a background in chemistry and metallurgy she brings a unique perspective to education.

MagsLum

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’m a Graduate Teacher in Western Australia. I teach Science and Mathematics at a secondary level. I volunteered as a Peer Tutor in classrooms for just over a decade while I was working as a chemist and metallurgist on various FIFO rosters. I was also involved in many science outreach activities in the community through National Science Week and the WA Museum.

A couple of years ago I decided to formalise my interest with working with people outside of the scientific community and enrolled in a Master of Science Communication and Education. It is through this that I gained a teaching qualification.

Last year was my first year of teaching and that was at Karratha SHS in the Pilbara. I taught a combination of Science and Mathematics. I was also allocated a Year 11 Physics class to teach. It was daunting at first but both of my HOLAs/HODs were incredibly supportive and provided valuable advice when I asked.

This year I will be teaching a combination of Science and Mathematics at Esperance SHS. I am not sure what my load is yet or my timetable. I am looking forward to my time in Esperance.

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

This is going to sound corny and scripted. What keeps me motivated and inspired is good teaching. I’m very much addicted to TED Talks especially the education related ones. I’ve learned so much from them and at the end of a bad day or a horror week, I will sit down and watch one. I find it helps me with self-reflection and finding mechanisms to improve my practice. I’m a Graduate Teacher so I’ve got a lot to learn about teaching.

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

I can’t speak for other people working in education. My biggest reward is that I am in a profession that I enjoy and most days it doesn’t feel like work in the classroom. A close second is the support and relative freedom to improve my practice.

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

If I had this ability I would ask teachers, principals, and parents what they needed and what their visions are for their schools. Then I would help where I could to make their vision a reality. Each school is unique so who am I to bring in a change without asking or the rich experience of people at the coalface.

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

EduTweetOz brings so many different faces of education together and the sharing of ideas has been incredibly enriching. My hope this week is to highlight teaching in regional areas and resilience needed.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

It was an honour to be accepted to be a curator.

You can follow Mags on Twitter @ScientistMags

About this week’s host: Dr. Narelle Lemon

This week sees the start of the school year for most teachers and students across Australia. To keep us company as we go into that journey is Dr. Narelle Lemon who’ll be hosting the EdutweetOz account. Dr. Lemon has a wealth of experience as an arts teacher, a primary teacher, a researcher and a teacher educator.

Here are her answers to our guest questionnaire.

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’m a trained K-12 arts teacher, originally with a music background but now focused on visual arts. I have had the opportunity to work in schools with learners as young as 3 years of age through to VCE in the arts, as well a a stint as a generalist primary school teacher. For the last 8 years I have been working in teacher education in arts education and professional studies focusing on interdisciplinary skills such as reflective practice, cooperative teaching and learning, and the formation of communities of learners. I currently work in the School of Education at La Trobe University and hold the leadership position of Program Leader Teacher Education Primary which sees me working with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees and pre-service teachers training to be primary school teachers. I’m also researching in arts education, social media for professional development, and building teacher capacity with cultural organisations such as museums and galleries.

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

I’m so lucky to have colleagues from a variety of sectors within education who keep me inspired. I’m particularly taken by creative thinkers and people who like to look at challenges with motivation, passion and a sense of “can do”. I do have to say my #PLN on Twitter is one of my most motivating professional communities.

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

The biggest reward of working in education is that we have the opportunity to learn so much everyday from everyone around us. The challenge if for us to acknowledge this and to use the knowledge to continually move forward.

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

I’d like us to a change in how the arts (dance, drama, media, music, and visual arts) are viewed within the education sector of Australia. I would like to see a move forward in understanding just how much the arts as a whole supports all areas of learning and that it should not be one of the first areas to be cut within schools. I wonder how long it will take for us to realise there are so many skills that are transferable to the often more curriculum privileged areas of literacy, numeracy and science?

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 such a wonderful opportunity for a community to celebrate best practice, ideas, and strategies nationally, and indeed internationally. I love that it is such a positive example of how social media can break down physical boundaries to support sharing of content while nurturing relationships, participation, connections, collaborative knowledge making, and conversations  in a mutually respectful way with an education focus. I’m hoping to contribute to this practice.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

So excited about this week and can’t wait to see who connects and what ideas are generated.

Andrea Stringer

The start of a new year for EduTweetOz with @AndreaStringer

Welcome back to EduTweetOz for 2015.

After a break over the summer holidays, we’re excited to be kicking things off for the year with #SatChatOC host, @andreastringer curating the account for the week.

I’m looking forward following her journey this week and having a glimpse into her life as an educator.

Here are Andrea’s answers to our host questionnaire:


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?

  • Finished school in Year 10 (Junior) as I was offered an apprenticeship in hairdressing. After I completed my apprenticeship, I managed a salon and later owned a salon – “Hair by Andrea” (very original).
  • While I was hairdressing, I completed a course to teach at TAFE and also completed a Fitness Leadership course. While running my business, I also worked at a gym and did some waitressing. I eventually sold my business.
  • We moved to Canada on a work visa where I worked in a very large salon (commission based – the Aussie accent helped). After a year my visa expired and we began our family. We returned to Australia after four years.
  • I always thought I wasn’t smart enough for university (fixed mindset) but with my husband’s encouragement, I sat exams and was accepted at Australian Catholic University in Brisbane.
  • The following year we were transferred to Seattle so I became one of the first external students at University of New England. I completed my bachelor of general studies/teaching (major-PE, minor-World religions), graduate certificate, then masters with a focus on primary maths (UTAS). This was all as an external student.
  • Last year I completed a graduate certificate in Gifted Ed at UNSW.
  • I’m a primary school teacher with experience in Stage 1, 2 & 3. I’m credentialed in Washington, California, NSW (Australia)
  • I was often called an ‘unknown entity’ because I worked in US and had no experience in Australia. Yet my degrees were all from Australian universities.
  • Worked in Broken Bay Diocese for 2 years when I arrived back in Australia.
  • This is my third year teaching at Wenona and look forward to an exciting year ahead.
  • Areas of interest-learning spaces, collaboration, coaching & mentoring, motivation & engagement and leadership.

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

  • I think it is because of my personal journey. I thought I wasn’t ‘smart enough’ but my experiences has proven otherwise. Clearly a fixed mindset can hinder one’s learning. It only takes one person to help develop a growth mindset. At first I needed recognition from the universities I attended. Now I’m intrinsically motivated and feedback is the recognition I prefer.
  • I love learning, discussing education, interacting and connecting with people who are passionate (about anything).
  • I’m reading Drive by Daniel Pink which is explaining why I am the way I am.
  • My Professional Learning Network and my colleagues in the US keep me motivated and push me out of my comfort zone. They are always ready for an #educhat.
  • I have been inspired by many leaders and it’s hard to mention them all. But what they all seem to emphasise is how trust and effective leadership go hand in hand.

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

Rewards –

  • It’s all about the students. Not just those in your classroom but all students. Nothing beats the personal thank you note or the look they share when they reach their goal.
  • I love working with new teachers and I’m guessing this is because I had such a wonderful experience in my first years. Having a mentor was pivotal.
  • TeachMeets & Twitter are game changers in the education industry. Teachers and students benefit from taking ownership of their learning. Huge rewards for all!

Challenges –

  • Politicians should seek the advice of teachers and education professionals. The focus should be on long-term solutions and goals, not short-term fixes.
  • Providing all students the opportunity to learn and provide them with the resources, qualified teachers and the support they need.
  • At times, there is a struggle between compliance and creativity (including your commitment and beliefs). It would be great if they were on the same team. “Team Students”

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

  • Create a panel of very diverse educators that represent various contexts and invite politicians to listen. “You can learn so much if you just listen.”
  • Have those making decisions in education spend time in numerous classrooms in different contexts-without cameras or media present. Let’s not take it back to the basics but take it back to the students and their individual needs.
  • Create more cohesion between compliance and creativity & innovation.

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

  • EduTweetOz was one of my first connections on Twitter. For me it’s like the school library-a place where you can seek, search and find solutions. It’s a resource where educators are very willing to help you learn.
  • I would like to create a platform where educators receive support and can seek advice from all the EduTweetOz members. I like to connect people. I believe there are huge benefits for the students and education in general when we work collaboratively. Being the beginning of the school year, my goal is to generate a positive atmosphere on Twitter. I’m very happy for people to have different opinions as it keeps us questioning and growing but t is not what you say but how you say it.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Andrea Stringer

What does the future hold?

We are gearing up for 2015 on EduTweetOz. We are lining up hosts, spreading the word and thinking about what this account means to us and to the EduTweetOz community. Last year we put out a survey to gather some information about what people thought about the account, how they used it and interacted with it and how it could be improved. We’d like to thank everyone who took the time to complete it, Donelle (@dbatty1) has been compiling the results and we’ve been using them to think about how we can improve what happens.

One of the compelling things that came out of the survey was confusion about what the account was, with a number of people thinking it was a chat. The purpose of EduTweetOz has never been to host a chat but rather to share the experience, passion and expertise of educators around Australia. To build up a picture of all the different ways in which educators work, the roles they take, the impact they have. This was partly in response to some of the negative publicity educators receive both in the media and in the wider community and came out of a desire to build a community of educators that welcomed everyone and provided an entry point to twitter for those educators just starting out. Each week a new educator hosts the account and shares their life as an educator with the community. Each educator takes a slightly different approach, some hosts might run a chat and that’s fine, it really is up to the host to decide how to spend their week.

We try to ensure that the hosts come from all across Australia, from different sectors, settings, levels of experience and teaching areas. This might mean that you may sign up to host but not be contacted for a period of time. Please don’t worry, it might just mean that we have a lot of teachers from your field or state or sector who have signed up to host and we are trying to spread them out to share diverse experiences. If you ever have any questions about where you’re up to on the list or would like to sign up or learn more about what it entails feel free to contact the admin team: @poppyshel, @corisel, @dbatty1 and @liz_loveslife or email us at edutweetoz@gmail.com.

You can sign up here if you’re interested.

In 2015 we’d love to have some more High School teachers (particularly in Music, Physical Ed/Health, Languages, Design, Technology), Early Years Educators and Tertiary Educators. I mention those specifically as we haven’t had any/many hosts from those areas.

We really do appreciate all the effort the hosts make to tweet, answer questions, pose questions and engage with the community. Thank you to everyone who has taken on the account so far, you’ve been amazing!

Looking forward to more EduTweetOz in 2015!

It’s Not About Us

This is just a quick post to extend our thanks  to those in the EduTweetOz community who have nominated us for the 2014 Edublog Awards. In fact, EduTweetOz is a finalist in 3 categories: Best Educational Use of a Social Network, Best Group Blog and Best Twitter Hashtag or  Chat. To say we were surprised by this is an understatement.

We’re honoured to be finalists but feel we can’t take any credit at all. The account is made up of the voices of educators around Australia, with a different host each week. Any accolades EduTweetOz receive really belong to the many hosts of our account, and the great community that engage with them to further the conversation.

So, congratulations to all our hosts and to our great community of active participants who make the account what it is. You inspire us constantly, and your many different perspectives help us all to broaden our understanding of what it means to be an educator in Australia. We’re thrilled that people have valued this to the extent that it has been recognised in the Edublog Awards.

If you would like to vote, or to see the list of finalists, please click on the links above or on the images on our sidebar.

 

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.