Introducing this week’s @EduTweetOz host – Rhys Cassidy (@rhyscass).

We have been so privileged to have such amazing guest hosts on @EduTweetOz over the past 9 weeks. This week we are thrilled to have @rhyscass tweeting for us. Here’s his responses to our 5 questions. Have a read, get to know Rhys, and stay tuned for what’s sure to be a very interesting week on @EduTweetOz. Enjoy!

Please tell us a little about yourself. What is your current role and what does it involve?

I am Coordinator of Performing Arts and a Film, Media and English Teacher at Runcorn SHS.  I ampassionate about developing students’ and teachers’ media and digital literacy and am a strong advocate for eLearning. I wrote and implemented the Junior Media program for Years 8-10 at Runcorn SHS and introduced iPads into the curriculum in Junior and Senior Media subjects. I utilise Education Queensland’s New Learning Place tools (blogs, edStudio, edTube) in English and Media to foster self and peer assessment and reflection. Recently, I have been overseeing the implementation of a Digital Passport at Runcorn SHS that hopes to improve Year 8 students’ ICT skills and awareness. I also developed a game design toolkit with Dr Peter Hall from Griffith University for designminds.org.au and I am helping to organise an Arts Showcase at my school called Image Nation where I hope to facilitate my students’ collaboration with other students and teachers locally, nationally and globally. I am a graduate of Metropolitan Region Aspiring Leaders Program, a District Panelist for Film, Television and New Media and a member of the QSA Arts LARC. I am currently preparing for the ATOM 2013 National Conference (July 4-7 at QUT Garden’s Point).

What do you plan to talk about on Edutweetoz this week?

I plan to tweet about media education, digital literacy, design thinking, 21st century teaching and learning, digital citizenship, leadership, arts education, creativity, hacking, collaboration, reflection, cross-disciplinary teaching and learning, gaming, programming and robotics in education, educational change, connecting education sectors with industry and business. In the lead-up to and particularly during the ATOM 2013 Conference I will be tweeting about media and digital literacy and insights arising from the conference.

Who are your teaching role models and why?

I am inspired by many amazing people both within and beyond teaching. In education, I have teaching and leadership role models. I was lucky enough to be taught by Dr Michael Dezuanni from QUT who continues to be an inspiring colleague and Anita Jetnikoff, also from QUT. Both of these accomplished academics are also highly experienced teachers and continue to contribute to media and literacy research and education. My first Head of Department, Pat Fenwick, was a supportive and driven mentor who demonstrated care and concern for staff and students in a fair and pragmatic way. My first media teaching colleague, Paul Murray, was an amazing mentor with deep knowledge, passion and experience in media education and who encouraged me to join ATOM QLD as an executive member in my first year of teaching. Sam Pidgeon, HOD of Junior Secondary at Runcorn SHS, Honorary Vice President of the QTU (and a million other roles!) is a strong, visionary leader and communicator and inspiring teacher who continually achieves transformational things for staff and students. Josephine Wise is another inspiring role model whose intelligent leadership, knowledge of curriculum and commitment to quality teaching and building staff capability has seen her lead Drama Queensland and contribute at a fundamental level to The Arts National Curriculum.

What issues do you think are most pressing for teachers today?

I think the current tension between ’21st Century’ education and more traditional educational systems and structures is at the core of the issues facing educators today. If we continue to perpetuate outdated models of education we will only prepare students for ‘success’ within the school system and will fail them in inspiring a love of life-long learning. I also feel the current political debates about education are both alarming and inspiring. Alarming in that there is still a large contingent of politicians and the general public who do not understand or value the important role education plays in every person’s life; inspiring in that there is a growing awareness of the revolutionary potential of teaching and learning. Life balance is another issue for teachers which is increasingly impacted by systemic agendas and demands. In my experience, most teachers are passionate, devoted, professional people who work far beyond allocated hours and care deeply about the education and well-being of their students. I regard teaching as a life choice rather than just a job and a concern is the level of exploitation of teachers’ time and energy that seems to exist in the schooling system.

What are your hopes for education in the next 10 years?

I hope that the connection of educators and access to research and best-practice via social media will create a revolutionary groundswell that will put education at the top of the social and political agenda and enable the redesign of education systems and strategies. Further, I hope that teachers are enabled to leverage the full potential of technology to connect students to the myriad learning opportunities available. Consequently, I hope that learning will become an exciting, enjoyable experience for students facilitated inside and outside institutions by passionate professionals increasingly valued by society in economic and cultural capital. Finally, despite my love of technology, I hope that face to face teaching and learning remains a priority to allow for the building of empathetic relationships and communication as I strongly believe these connections are at the heart of solving the problems of the 21st Century.

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