Katelyn Fraser and Owen Ikin on @EdutweetOz

This week I’m profiling two of our EdutweetOz hosts. Katelyn Fraser, our current host is an early career primary teacher from Victoria. Owen Ikin, also an early career primary teacher is from NSW. Owen hosted our account two weeks ago, but unfortunately life happened and his profile didn’t make it to the blog until now. (Apologies Owen)

Katelyn Fraser

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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 have always known that I was going to be a teacher. Since finishing Year 12 in 2006, I was accepted into Victoria University to complete my degree, Bachelor of Education P-12. When I completed my course, I was lucky enough to land a position at my current school before I headed off to England for almost the entire Summer break. People are always surprised when I tell them that I submitted 91 applications on Recruitment Online and only had 4 interviews at schools but actually securing a job is tough!
This is my fourth year teaching and I have been at the same school every year. I was lucky enough to receive on ongoing position after two years. I have taught Grade 5/6 for 3 years, 2 of which we ran a 1:1 netbook program. This is my first year teaching a different year level (Year 3/4) and I’m loving it!
I volunteer my time to mentor pre-service teachers. Our school has a partnership with Victoria University and for the past couple of years, our pre-service teachers have been completing a 1 year DipEd Primary course. The course will be terminated at the end of this year. I will definitely be discussing this course and my experiences with it throughout my week.
Being an early career teacher and working at a large school, my opportunities to take on whole school roles have been limited. That being said, I take on every opportunity presented to me both within my school and finding opportunities to develop my knowledge and skills myself. Sometimes I’m guilty of taking on more than I can handle and I know I’m not alone!

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

Every single day, my fabulous class keeps me inspired and motivated. Every day. And that sounds ridiculously cheesy but they are a wonderful group. Don’t get me wrong, there are the challenging students amongst them too but I love having the opportunity to work with each and every one of them. Although my school is quite large, with over 40 staff in total, I am truly blessed to work with such wonderful people.

My team are amazing – they are so open to new learning and teaching opportunities and willing to make changes and try new things for the benefit of the students. I work in the room next door to our team leader who has to listen to me rant and rave about new things that I find and try and I always have her full support. Funny story; we actually went to the same primary school (she was the year level above me!) so we have a bit of a shared vision for education. She is fantastic – I’ve even got her on the Twitter and attending TeachMeets with me!
Speaking of Twitter & TeachMeets, I cannot forget to mention my wonderful PLN who have made me more confident as an educator. I also attended the DEECD PD “Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century” (see more here) last year and I am still in regular contact with my wonderful, collaborative group. I’ve also found that mentoring pre-service teachers can be extremely motivating as it forces me to reflect on my own practice. Also, their optimistic passion for teaching children is very inspiring!

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

Being involved in education is one of the most rewarding careers. Interacting and getting to know students holistically is the best reward in itself. Educators come up against many different challenges and usually on a daily basis – It’s all about what you choose to pay attention to, to challenge and to fight for.

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

I won’t lie, I’m not very politically minded or informed. (I trust my PLN to give me the information I need!) If I made any changes to the education system, it would be the way that teachers are perceived and the attitude towards education in Australia. But how? That is the big question. I know Bianca Hewes and I were talking about making a documentary series about teachers and only half joking. I think if parents, politicians and all stakeholders had the chance to see things from an educator’s perspective, surely their perceptions would be changed?

What role do you see EduTweetOz playing on the education scene in Australia and what are your hopes for the account this week?

I love the idea of a curation account for Australian educators! I have experienced the difference that Twitter makes to the life of an educator and I am thrilled that I decided (out of procrastination on school holidays… Shhh…) to join. I love the diversity of hosts on the EduTweetOz account and the different perspectives that they bring.
This week, I am hoping to discuss a number of things that affect me personally in the hope that other educators can relate! I am planning on running a small session at my school staff meeting on Tuesday afternoon about the “Power of a PLN” on Twitter and using the EduTweetOz account as an example. Look out for tweets on Tuesday – we will be using the hashtag #kpstweets I will also be joining and promoting the many other fantastic Twitter chats already occurring throughout the week, such as;
Sunday Night: #teacherwellbeingchat #aussieEd
Tuesday Night: #pstchat
Thursday Night: #ozprimschchat
Saturday Morning: #satchatoc

I am really looking forward to this week – Thank you for having me 🙂

Owen Ikin

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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?

In teaching years I’m an infant! After finishing high school I had this idea that university wasn’t for me. The same went for other students in my year as very few of us did anything else but enter the workforce straight out of Year 12 (most left by Year 10). There was a perception in the area that I grew up in that university was not attainable even though I had ideas of becoming a high school art teacher. For years after high school I worked in a warehouse driving a forklift and managing a cafe. It was during this time that I discovered I enjoyed teaching others and even became a trainer at the warehouse. I decided that I needed to take this further but couldn’t see myself working in these industries far into the future. I sent off an application for a primary teaching degree at the age of 24 expecting it to be rejected but ended up getting an early round offer. So I packed my bags to move to Sydney from Melbourne, began my degree and have never looked back.

Since graduating at the end of 2011 I have been casual teaching at a few schools and then became a Year 5 teacher at my current school since the start of 2013.

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

Seeing what students and other teachers do inspires me. Giving students the chance to drive their own learning and seeing what they come up with constantly amazes me. Just walking into another teacher’s classroom can also create ideas for my own teaching. Collaboration will long be a part of my teaching because of these experiences.
My students also keep me motivated. I believe the situation you grew up in should not determine where you end up and that education is the way have choices in life. This is why I want the best for them so that they don’t feel like their future is set and don’t have any other options.

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

The biggest rewards has to be seeing the changes in our students of course but also being apart of such a fantastic community of motivated and professional colleagues. I have never known a job like it and it is the people involved in education that make it such a wonderful place to be.
I think the biggest challenges are from the political influence on education. It seems to me that teachers voices are not heard enough and that education is used to win votes without a thought to how this affects students.
Another challenge is the wellbeing of our early career teachers. A lot leave within the first few years of teaching mainly due to the massive workload that teachers have. The challenge is making sure new teachers stay on past the first five years though productive mentoring programs and community support without burning out in the process.

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

I would fund all sectors to the needs of the students and have a serious look at how NAPLAN is run.

What role do you see EduTweetOz playing on the education scene in Australia and how did you find the experience of hosting the account for a week?

I always enjoy hearing about what other educators are doing and EduTweetOz is a great base for discovering other teachers and expanding my PLN. I see it as a voice for people involved in education so they can share what concerns them the most and as a vehicle for celebrating the profession. Something that doesn’t always happen in the mainstream media.

While hosting the account I found out what I already knew. That educators are always willing to share, laugh at and discuss the events of our profession. It’s been a great experience.

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