Please tell us a little about yourself. What is your current role and what does it involve?
I’m an assistant principal of a NSW public primary school. In NSW, assistant principals are full-time teachers as well, so in addition to school leadership, I am responsible for teaching a Year 2 class.
My key responsibilities at school, aside from my class are:
- employing casual relief teachers and overseeing daily timetables and routine changes.
- student welfare coordinator
- supervisor for Stage 1 (I have 8 class teachers to support/supervise)
- New Scheme Teacher mentor
- Teacher professional learning
Plus any other duties as the need arises.
What do you plan to talk about on Edutweetoz this week?
Since it’s the last week of the NSW public school term, and we are half way through our school year, I thought it would be a good opportunity to ask people to reflect on how things have been going for them this year. I’d like to hear about the success stories, what people are proud of and what goals they are setting for the second half of the school year.
Who are your teaching role models and why?
I’m lucky enough to have worked with so many great teachers, and each has had an influence on me, but one woman, from my early years stands out.
In my early years of teaching, I was lucky to have as a supervisor a wonderful teacher named Melissa Nyholm, now the deputy of Lane Cove Public School.
If I was overwhelmed or didn’t know how to move forward with a challenging student or class, she would have me list the issues that were troubling me. She would then ask me to choose from that list the one thing I could do something about now, or the one thing I would like to change.
This helped me to focus on what I could do, put things into perspective and plan for a way forward. I still use the same strategy today.
I remember Melissa saying to me, “Don’t come with a problem, come with a solution”.
I think these words shaped the teacher and leader that I am today. She helped put me on the path to becoming a proactive agent of change.
I always admired her ability to remain calm under pressure and treat other people with such respect and dignity. I try hard to emulate those qualities.
What issues do you think are most pressing for teachers today?
The expectations of teachers are extremely high. We are expected to personalise the learning for our students – providing each with just the right level of challenge and support in every learning area. Parents are quick to complain if they don’t think their child is being challenged enough, or supported enough, and time poor teachers feel a lot of guilt if they don’t think they are effectively catering for all their students all the time. There is always more that can be done for each student.
We are also coming to terms with the digital and social media revolution and the skills our students will need to navigate this new and rapidly changing environment we find ourselves in. Just look at how much the world has already changed in the last 5-10 years. We need to be up-skilling ourselves so that we can support our students. Many of us also are considering how we can change the way we teach, to foster the self-directed learning skills that our students will need to adapt to a future which may look very different to the world we are in currently.
In the midst of this landscape of high expectations for personalised learning, and the digital revolution, we also have the spectre of the global education reform movement which is influencing educational policies around the world including Australia. The reform movement is driven by big business and politicians. One of its aims seems to be to get maximum results (on standardised tests) for the least financial investment. Teachers are being left out of the decision-making process and deprofessionalised in the process. We are in a time of change and its essential that we keep ourselves informed and start engaging with the decision makers. We are the professionals and we need to ensure our voice is heard.
What are your hopes for education in the next 10 years?
I’d like the voices of teachers to be heard and respected in debates and discussions about education reform.
I’d like to see public education once again valued and properly funded. I believe that all children, regardless of their family finances and background are entitled to a quality education. Unfortunately in Australia this is increasingly being viewed as a luxury and a burden. I really hope that changes.