We love Betty Chau’s focus on positive education, and we’re excited to have her hosting EduTweetOz this week. Here are her answers to our five questions.
Please tell us a little about yourself. What is your current role and what does it involve?
I was born in Hong Kong then migrated to a small country town in NSW called Cootamundra. I moved to Sydney after Yr 12 for Uni and studied a B.Arts/B.Ed at UNSW. I was fortunate enough to get a full-time position when I graduated at Monaro High School in Cooma where I taught English and a bit of Yr 10 History for three years before moving to the ACT in 2010 and working in my current school, Dickson College (a public Yr 11-12 school), as a Psychology teacher. This year I taught Consciousness, Learning and Memory as the first semester unit and Infancy to Adulthood in the second semester.
Since 2012, I’ve also been a Year Coordinator and was the acting executive of student wellbeing for the first half of this year. This role involved a lot of meetings with students and parents to help the student re-engage in attendance, time management, referrals to mental health contacts, pathways planning and making sure the student is on track to meet the minimum requirements to get a Yr 12 certificate and/or ATAR.
What do you plan to talk about on Edutweetoz this week?
I am very interested in positive psychology and ways to implement strategies to promote staff and student wellbeing. I have set up a Twitter, Facebook and Edmodo account for teachers to share resources and ideas on wellbeing called the Positive Education Initiative, working in conjunction with the Raising Hope Education Foundation. So wellbeing is definitely high on my topics list!
As a person who grew up in a rural area and taught in one, I am also planning to tweet about country schools too.
I also like to celebrate the wonderful and inspirational teachers I know or read about so I will be sharing stories about that too.
I may also tweet about random things to do with my other non-teaching passions: food, theatre, the ukelele, Joss Whedon, anything from the 90s
Who are your teaching role models and why?
As the only ESL student growing up in a country town of 6000, my teachers looked out for me from day one. My first of MANY favourite teachers was Mrs. Eleanor Mowbray who taught me in Yr 1 & 2. I still remember how I used to gather all my teddy bears, dolls and figurines and pretend that they were my students and I was Mrs Mowbray marking the roll and reading them stories. Mrs. Mowbray, like the rest of my other favourite teachers, taught me more than the alphabet. She taught me compassion, kindness and tolerance through stories (to this day, my favourite picture book is still Koala Lou because of Mrs. Mowbray) and song (she has a beautiful singing voice).
In high school, my Yr Coordinator/Physics teacher taught me the importance of doing something you love. He taught me that it was okay to ‘fail’ as long as you pick yourself up and try again. He taught me patience and persistence and that teachers are human beings too.
Nowadays my teaching role models are rapidly increasing as I get to work with some amazing educators and get inspired from ones I’ve never met by readings their blogs or tweets.
Special mention to Jan Donohoe, Mark Friend and Renae Crawford who mentored me in my first school where I knew no one within a 200km radius. They let me observe, collaborate and supported every crazy idea I had! Without them, I’m not entirely convinced I would have lasted!
What issues do you think are most pressing for teachers today?
A few come to mind. Firstly, the difficulty of being one of the few “change agents” in a school making it quite a challenge to convince the majority to accept and embrace change and 21st C learning and teaching.
Secondly, the inequality of resources across schools and sectors. We need all schools to have technology and wifi that is reliable and actually works. Simple as that.
Last but not least, I think the most pressing issue is whether or not we are developing into a system where teachers feel they have to ‘teach to the test’.
What are your hopes for education in the next 10 years?
1) NAPLAN will be a thing of the past.
2) All schools will have reliable wifi
3) We have an Education Minister with a background in education and/or consults teachers
4) Terms like “TeachMeet” will be in every educator’s vocabulary
5) There will be significantly more girls in STEM subjects