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?
This year is my fifth year teaching. I knew I wanted to teach after I first experienced an amazing teacher in year 4. I was advised in high school to follow my passion and everything would be ok, so I enrolled in a history degree with the plan to follow it through to a teaching degree. I then “lost my way” at uni and decided to add on a law degree. After completing both, and doing some work in finance management, I returned to uni and completed my education degree. I am a humanities major, obviously, but I also trained to teach home economics. Having taught in a practical subject complements my teaching in a core subject, but certainly does give me appreciation for the peace and quiet I can more easily garner!!
I worked for three years in two district high schools – both coastal, but one EXTREMELY remote. They were vastly different contexts, but at both I had amazing opportunities to really discover how to teach, how to manage a classroom, and how to form great relationships with students. I have taught both primary and secondary classes, in Society and Environment, Home Economics, ICT and Business, including a range of VET qualifications. I have also been ICT Coordinator. I moved back to the city to work at a school in its foundation year, which was a unique opportunity that challenged my beliefs and values about education and my role within the system. During this time I applied for my first formal leadership position, and was selected to a Head of Learning Area role at a neighbouring school. The call of the country remained though, so I decided at the end of the year to seek a country post again. I now work at a reasonably sized, senior high school in a large country town in WA’s south west. I teach Year 12 and 11 Modern History, Year 10 and Year 8. I have also taken on the Year 7 Coordinator role for 2015, which I’ve started in already, as we prepare for Year 7s to arrive in high school for the first time very soon. I have taken on a diverse range of extra curricular roles at all schools, serving students, colleagues and the wider school community.
Who or what keeps you inspired and motivated in your work?
First and foremost, my students. The day I can’t reach them, can’t engage them, can’t motivate and move them forward, from wherever their start point is, will be a sad day. I am constantly overawed by the ability we have as teachers to take a student from one point to another, and to realise that it’s our decisions, actions and how we supported them that is responsible for their growth.
I’m also highly motivated by the many wonderful educators I have worked and/or engaged with. We are all so different as teachers, and I love how willing most are to share and learn from each other.
What do you see as some of the biggest rewards and challenges for people working in education today?
Expectations are my biggest challenge, and I think it’s the same for all of us. Meeting those of ourselves, students, parents, middle and senior management, department, new research and understandings – it’s a complex world we work in! No wonder work/life balance is such a challenge as well!
The rewards though are simple. We make a difference. We are so lucky – even if that difference isn’t as obvious or in the way we’d like to see it
If you had the ability to make changes to the education system in Australia, what would you do?
Assessment practice would undergo massive transformation. I’d also like to see changes to the distribution of leadership responsibility – specifically within high schools. I’d like more people to have more responsibility, to enhance their accountability, and limit the idea of “new management = great change” because we all would have more ownership of processes and goals.
What role do you see EduTweetOz playing on the education scene in Australia and what are your hopes for the account this week?
It’s so important for engagement, connections and reflection. I’ve become so much more innovative in recent times because of the inspiration that flows from the people I’ve been interacting with and how it encourages me to think about topics I wouldn’t necessarily do so on my own.
I hope that we will have a vibrant and engaging week, with lots of sharing about the basic structure of what we do – TEACH.