Narelle Woodberry, an early career secondary school teacher from NSW, will host the Edutweetoz account for NAIDOC week in 2014. Here are her answers to our five questions.
I am a first year Secondary teacher at an inner city school – stage 6 only. I am currently teaching English.
I am also currently the President of the Met East Region Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (AECG). This means I, alongside other AECG members, advise and consult with not only principals, but directors around the Sydney Region- as far down south as Waterfall, North to the Bridge and before Canterbury.
This consultation and advocacy role is a volunteer role and is around all issues to do with Aboriginal Education – from advocating for Aboriginal students to assisting schools in incorporating Aboriginal content into the curriculum.
Prior to becoming a teacher I was an Aboriginal Education Assistant at several schools in the Eastern Suburbs. I have also worked in other various roles in education and training. Essentially in the past 20 years or so I have in one form or another been an educator – now I have the formal Degrees – I have a Bachelor of Education (Secondary:Humanities)/Bachelor of Arts (English) from Sydney Uni.
I became involved in education simply because it is in my blood – my mother Joyce was one of the first AEO’s in Sydney metro in 1975. Mum was also one of the foundation members of the NSW AECG- so really I couldn’t avoid it.
Who or what keeps you inspired and motivated in your work?
For me it is about seeing a student who previously wasn’t getting it or doing any work just one day have that ‘ah ha’ moment & also about sharing my cultural knowledge with all students – but also motivating Aboriginal students to stay in school and to see that they do have the skills and knowledge to cope academically. Essentially, beating back the stereotypes.
What do you see as some of the biggest rewards and challenges for people working in education today?
The rewards are the students successes I don’t just mean the standardised testing results but successfully making it to Year 12 in spite of all the challenges life has thrown at them. The challenges are essentially having a government who doesn’t understand what’s a teacher does – the mainstream media rubbish we put up with on a daily basis & the sheer amount of work involved in being a teacher.
If you had the ability to make changes to the education system in Australia, what would you do?
Make it compulsory for ALL education staff go to through cultural awareness training – essentially an immersion into the local Aboriginal community – to understand what their students are going through but also so they have a better knowledge about Aboriginal people.
Basically show the rest of Australia that Aboriginal culture is a living breathing entity that’s not dot painting and Aboriginal culture and people don’t just live in Central Australia.
What role do you see EduTweetOz playing on the education scene in Australia and what are your hopes for the account this week?
To share my ideas- get help as a mature age first year out teacher & to help spread the fun that is NAIDOC week.