This week we welcome @DenyseWhelan1 

  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Introducing Leigh Murphy from Education Services Australia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’d love people’s thoughts on this…

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

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

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

Leigh Murphy

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

Introducing new additions to the EduTweetOz team

This week we will be spending some time getting to know the new members of the EduTweetOz admin team. As you all know EduTweetOz is run by educators, all of whom have their own full time jobs, and we all know how full time those jobs are. It has been amazing how this community has grown in the past two years, to over 7000 followers! As a result of this growth, and in the interests of the wellbeing of everyone on the admin team, we need to expand. We are really excited to welcome Jennifer English, Allison Fairey and Mark Johnson to the team. Each of these educators has been a huge support to the account over the years and have their own ideas about where we can go next with EduTweetOz. Corinne, Donelle, Liz and myself are really excited to welcome them on board and work together to grow this community even further. I’ll be hosting the account Sunday night and Monday (it’s ages since I’ve taken the account for a spin so I’m looking forward to getting back into the rush of the EduTweetOz timeline), Allison (@amuseED) will have it Tuesday and Wednesday, Jennifer (@jeneng) will host Thursday and Friday, and Mark (@seminyaksunset) will host Saturday and Sunday. We hope this gives you all a chance to know the team a bit more. We are looking forward to any suggestions or feedback you have for us. Thanks for all your support!
Michelle (@poppyshel)

Museum Educators talking all things museums this week on Edutweetoz

This week @EduTweetOz is being cohosted by Dr Narelle Lemon (NL) and Mr Peter Mahony (PM) focusing on museum education.

  
Throughout the week we are very excited to be tweeting about learning in the museum from the perspective of museum educators, teachers, students and curators. The focus will be on object based pedagogy.

There will be a TweetChat on Tuesday 26th May 2015 at 7:30pm (EST) focusing on the following questions about learning with objects and in informal settings such as museums:

Q1. How do cultural organisations support learning?

Q2. How do you think you could utilise a cultural organisations in your local community for education?

Q3. Why are objects important in the teaching/learning of subjects?

Q4. What objects have you used in your teaching so far?

Q5. How do you access objects (original/replica/recent)?

Q6. How do you use objects to stimulate inquiry?

Q7. What can students do with objects?

Q8. Are some objects more useful than others? What are your experiences, recommendations?

The hashtag #MuseumEdOz will be used to connect teachers and museum educators national as a community during the week and beyond.

Who are your hosts?

Peter Mahony @vergeofperil  

Peter is Manager of Education and Digital Learning for Sydney’s Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences. He is responsible for program direction and delivery of the Museum’s booked group learning experiences including the Thinkspace digital learning centre, and is curriculum leader for special projects including The Mars Lab. Peter believes that a revolution in school-museum learning partnerships is just around the corner and lends all available effort to running punk learning experiments to try to find a way. Qualifications include Master of Teaching, Graduate Diploma in Music Therapy, Bachelor of Arts, and Cert IV Workplace Train and Assessment. Peter’s background is in community and performing arts. Back in the day, with the Castanet Club he toured nationally and internationally as performer and musician, including to the Edinburgh Arts Festival. These days Peter sings in Sydney based gospel choir Cafe of the Gate of Salvation.

 Dr Narelle Lemon @rellypops

Narelle is a Senior Lecturer at La Trobe University in Melbourne working with pre-service teachers in the areas of arts education, interdisciplinary skills, and integration of digital technology in learning including social media. Her research agenda is focused on engagement and participation in the areas of teacher capacity building in cultural organisations such as galleries, museums and other alternative education settings, social media for professional development including Twitter and Instagram, and working in academia. She works with teachers through visual inquiry, narrative inquiry, action research and participatory research methods. Narelle also coordinates the Master of Teaching (primary) within the School of Education at La Trobe University.

Narelle’s passion is for learning has been throughout her career as a F-12 arts (music and visual arts) and generalist primary teacher and now with future teachers. She firmly believes everyone can learn from each other. She is very much looking forward to cohosting @EduTweetOz with the focus on how museums, and other cultural organisations such as galleries, libraries and aquariums, can support learning across the curriculum as well as for teacher professional development. She is a firm believer that this is a wonderful platform to support one another and form a community to explore learning.

When Narelle is not teaching, researching or tweeting she dabbles in mountain bike riding, photography and drawing.

Narelle blogs at http://chatwithrellypops.wordpress.com

Connection to Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences in Sydney, New South Wales.  

Peter is Manager of Education and Digital Learning and Narelle is currently a Visiting Research Scholar with the Museum.

Details about the museum can be found here:

Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences

500 Harris Street, Ultimo, Sydney, NSW 2007 Australia

Twitter: @maasmuseum

Instagram: @MAASMUEUM

Web: http://www.maas.museum

Kimberley Sutton from NSW takes over EduTweetOz

This week we’re very happy to have Kimberley Sutton taking over the hosting duties for EduTweetOz.  Kimberley is well known to Australian teachers as one of the moderators of the weekly #AussieEd chat. You can connect with her at @teachmisssutton

KimberleySutton

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 for as long as I can remember, however I think the moment that really struck me was after my HSC when I went to East Timor volunteering for 5 weeks. I spent a fair bit of this time teaching English to primary school students. I loved seeing the huge smiles on the kids faces whenever I walked into the classroom. They wanted to learn from me and enjoyed learning.

Since graduating I have worked a number of roles in education. I have worked as an Early Childhood teacher, high school tutor, sessional tutor for the University of Notre Dame and now my most current role is classroom teacher. I currently teach year 6.

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

My students mainly. Every day I like to challenge them. Every day they find a new way to wow me.

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

I think one of the biggest rewards of someone working in education, particularly primary, is simply to see a child grow and learn right before their eyes.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Thank you for this wonderful opportunity. I’m very excited for the week ahead!

This week’s host: Mark Johnson

Want to find out some more about Mark Johnson who has been hosting the EduTweetOz account for the past 7 days. Here are his responses to our host questionnare:

MarkJohnson

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?

Around 20 odd years ago I found that I was getting more and more back pain from working as a landscaper.  After looking at my options someone laughingly suggested I should become a teacher.  Mainly because most people said that I couldn’t possibly do it, I became a teacher.

I am currently a year 4 teacher at a large P-12 campus on the Gold Coast.  This is my 15th year of teaching, and I can honestly say that I have never enjoyed it more.  I love my job!

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

I am very much motivated by the fact that I love going to work.  I enjoy the interactions with the students and I am lucky to work with an incredibly friendly and open group of teachers

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

I don’t have any grandiose thoughts about ‘changing people’s lives’ or ‘making a difference’.  But I do feel I’m contributing to helping young people learn in a space they are comfortable to be in.  The challenge is bending against a system that feels learning is not important unless we can measure it.

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

A massive injection of funds into schools for children with a disability.

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 learnt so much from following EduTweetOz.  It is rightly recognised as an important resource for educators.  I’m just hoping to share a little of my journey as a teacher, warts and all.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Look out, I’m out of the cage!



To keep in touch with Mark, follow him at @seminyaksunset 

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!