Madeline Beveridge: Maths teacher, blogger and researcher

Madeline Beveridge will be taking over the reigns of EduTweetOz on the evening of Sunday, January 26, following an inspiring week from primary principal, Jason Borton.

Madeline

She’s been keeping a blog, Mathitude for the last 6 months which is always very thoughtful and interesting, and she has the ability to explain some pretty complex issues in clear terms.

I find I learn a lot from her blogs and twitter presence., She often causes me to pause and reflect critically on what I think about things, so I’m looking forward to seeing what she’ll bring to the account this week.

Here are her answers to our five questions:

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 very much consider myself a ‘beginning teacher:’ I’m about to commence my fourth year out of university. I studied Bachelor of Advanced Science with Honours at UNE, which gave me the opportunity to squeeze a four year honours degree into three years. I initially started out majoring in physiology and biochemistry, but after a semester I realised that I really missed mathematics, and hence switched to a maths major. I tossed up between medicine careers in business (even sitting the GAMSAT for admission into graduate medicine), but teaching was something I was always drawn to. Hence, upon completion of my undergrad I enrolled in a Dip Ed at Southern Cross University in my hometown of Lismore.

I chose teaching because I’m not interested in a ‘desk job’ or the corporate life. I wanted to work with people, and I was absolutely fascinated by education and learning. I wanted something with variety and challenge. This made teaching a pretty obvious choice at the end of the day.

I worked full-time for two years straight out of uni: one year in an all-girls Catholic school in Brisbane, and then in a co-ed Independent school in Lismore. In 2013 I made the move to full-time study. I’m currently enrolled in a Master of Education (Honours) with plans to upgrade to a PhD mid-year. I’m investigating if/how emphasis on metacognition and self-reflection impact on students’ academic decision-making. I’ll continue to work as a casual teacher this year: I’ve got data collection on the cards and it’s difficult to balance FT teaching with that!

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

I am goal-oriented to the extreme. My genuine love for education and learning keeps me motivated with my research and teaching. In addition, The intellectual challenge associated with both my research and my blog (http://matthitude.wordpress.com/) is inspirational and motivational. It’s always giving me idea for things to try in the classroom.

I’ve found the twitter community to be extremely engaging and invigorating. It affords me the opportunity to connect with educators from a range of backgrounds across the country (and the world) and definitely keeps me fresh.

Finally, (and probably most significantly), I’m a bit of a perfectionist at heart, and I like to help others, so the desire to want my kids to do better is really rewarding. Witnessing changes in students over the year is the most rewarding, inspirational, and motivational part of teaching. In particular, seeing students develop their self-efficacy, confidence and capacity to self-advocate.

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

The biggest rewards is the kids themselves. The knowledge that you’ve made a difference to a kid’s day. Whether it’s seeing a student go from failing to getting Bs and Cs (or even As), or develop their self-confidence and self-efficacy as a learner, or moving to make more ‘productive’ decisions as a learner.

I did a full post (http://matthitude.wordpress.com/2013/12/19/being-a-good-teacher-not-a-sufficient-reason-to-remain-in-teaching/) on the challenges that beginning teachers face, and it explains my thinking a bit more, but essentially I believe some of the most significant challenges are:
– Limited preparation time, and a really dense curriculum (‘too much to teach, too little time!’) that results in shallow learning and trying to teach everything without engaging in material
– Lack of mentorship for beginning teachers
– Dealing with negative attitudes towards teaching
– A political climate that doesn’t appear to be terribly supportive of teachers.

See also:
http://matthitude.wordpress.com/2013/11/23/what-i-learnt-in-my-first-three-years-of-teaching-part-2/
http://matthitude.wordpress.com/2013/08/03/what-i-learnt-in-my-first-two-years-teaching/

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

Equitable distribution of school funding based on student need, so that all students, regardless of their socioeconomic status, has the opportunity to succeed
Reduction of contact hours to provide teachers with more preparation time, leading to lower stress levels, more thoroughly prepared and innovative lessons, and improved staff wellbeing.
– More structured opportunities for feedback and collaboration, particularly for beginning teachers
– Increased access to PD, particularly in rural areas (I’ve noticed a different in metro vs country in my teaching experience)

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 an invaluable platform for collaboration amongst teachers, particularly those in rural/remote communities. I hope to discuss some issues relevant to regional teachers in my tweets this week. In addition, EduTweetOz facilitates teachers with a forum to canvass issues that concern them, and allow teachers to self-advocate for change
I hope that over the week I am able to share my experiences and continue to learn from others!

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