Malena Martins will be taking over the @edutweetoz account for the week beginning June 16. Here are her answers to our 5 questions.
Please tell us a little about yourself. What is your current role and what does it involve?
I’ve got six “educator” roles, I think…
- I’m an Education Support Officer — I tutor Yr 7 and 8 students in numeracy using the QuickSmart program and I work as an Integration Aide at the same school.
- I’m a private tutor to a delightful middle high school student.
- I teach literacy to Yr 7s at Distance Ed Victoria once a week via an online portal, as a result of some prac work I did there recently.
- I’m a final year Bachelor of Education student, majoring in Primary and Special Education (studying at USQ online).
- I’m the Developmental Play Coordinator for Pop-Up Playground (popupplayground.com.au) – I develop and run kids’ games with the team. My bio should be up there later this week.
What do you plan to talk about on Edutweetoz this week?
- The ‘online university experience’, from assignments and engagement to welfare.
- The importance of evidence-based pedagogy. ‘Multiple Intelligences’ is the fluffiest thing I’ve heard of, and I’m angry about it. Show me a learning style, and I’ll show you a guy who can teach the Napoleonic War via perfume.
- ICTs and pedagogy.
- Autism/Asperger’s & pedagogy.
- The literacy and numeracy lessons and Uni assignments I’m doing this week.
- The games I’m planning this week.
- Any fascinating education-based links that come up.
Who are your teaching role models and why?
Depends entirely on the student, context and content. I’ve seen two or three teachers who I think could establish incredible teaching relationships with most young children with the Autism-previously-known-as Asperger’s. Psychologists Tony Attwood and Richard Eisenmajer have been brilliant AS <-> NT translators, and are great communicators -I try to emulate their style when working with adults. I’ve seen Donna Williams easily establish relationships with children I struggled to reach. I’ve had a few brilliant lecturers who were great at teaching me the how and why who I try to emulate with children – most recently Maths lecturers – Rosemary and Calvin Irons at QUT and David Martin at USQ, and a Middle Years/Behaviour Support lecturer at USQ.
What issues do you think are most pressing for teachers today?
I think the ruling triumvirate are stress, money and time. I think these are followed and influenced by the amount of voluntary work teachers are expected to complete and the restrictions placed on the public behaviour of people who teach. It could be argued that the bowdlerised lifestyle expected of Primary and Early Childhood teachers is surpassed only by that expected of clergy. I think both devolve from the expectation that teaching should be a vocation, and we should dedicate our lives to it – and both are unfair.
There are a variety of other truly vital issues whose successes or failures will always be predicated on teachers’ stress, time and budget allocations:
(a) Student and teacher equity:
- Appropriate implementation of assistive technology;
- Provision of adequate support for students with special needs (not just students classified as ‘having a disability’) especially cognitive, behavioural or emotional needs.
- Provision of adequate support for teachers with special needs
- Provision of adequate extension for students who need it, as above.
- Meaningful implementation of ICTs.
- Restrictions placed on ICT use within schools.
- Restrictions placed on educators’ online presences.
What are your hopes for education in the next 10 years?
- I truly hope the teaching wage goes up, and continues to go up.
- A stronger emphasis on teacher content knowledge in primary schools – i would love to see subject experts engaging students and providing them with a strong foundation in the early years. We need, for instance, fewer students coming out of primary schools saying ‘I hate maths’.
- A brutal disregard for pseudoscience-based pedagogy.
- A concomitant emphasis on evidence based pedagogy.
- Administration which truly enables teachers to continually engage in professional development (not just a day here and there).
- Apprenticeship-type schemes in which prac students are affiliated to and paid by two or more schools (as long as this isn’t used to disadvantage ES staff).
- Meaningful and pragmatic use of ICT in schools.
- Equity for students and teachers, prefaced by the implementation of the Gonski reforms.
- A great improvement on educational environments for students with special needs – it must be recognised that the traditional classroom is NOT the best or only learning environment.