Jen Moes is a geography teacher working in a school in Central Coast, NSW.
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’ve wanted to be a teacher since my very first day at school. I have a poster from that day. It says “I am 5. I can walk on my knees. I like Koalas. I want a cat. I’m going to be a teacher.”
Throughout High School my natural ability and interest was in History and Social studies so it was no suprise to anyone when I studied to be a history teacher.
I have predominantly worked at two schools. I was appointed on graduation to Mosman High School on Sydney Harbour’s North Shore. I spent 10 amazing years there learning how to teach. MHS is a non-uniform School and has a uinque culture. It was an amazing team to be part of. There, I was very involved in welfare and student voice.
I commuted to MHS from the Central Coast. I was somewhat relieved when I recieved a transfer to a Central Coast School in 2011, Wadalba Community School. WCS is a large K-12 School with a very diverse socio-economic community and is only 14 yrs old. It is very different to MHS and I have reinvented myself from a welfare leader to a curriculum leader. I also moved from a History/English staff at MHS to a HSIE staff at WCS… I now teach Geography 😢
Throughout my career I have been involved in union activism and representation. I have held the position of Fed Rep at both schools and have been a TFed councillor and relief officer.
I have also been involved with the BOS HSC exam process. I have been part of exam committees, Senior Judge Marker and Senior Marker.
Who or what keeps you inspired and motivated in your work?
I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. It’s like I was born to teach. Small picture stuff like making a difference to my students lives, watching students engage in my passions (HSIE), helping my colleagues achieve their goals, making my school a fair and enjoyable place to work, is why I go day to day. It’s the big picture stuff like universal public education, community building, future Australia, future world that morivates me to keep fighting for what I believe is fair and appropriate through the powerful tool of education.
The few times I have been away from the classroom, I have missed it desperatly. The sound, the smell, the sights etc…. Yep, I was born to teach.
I have recently had a huge addition to my understanding of education as my kids are now at school (Kindy and Yr 2.) I have always been an ‘out’ teacher. My wife and I were married in my first year of teaching. She and now our kids have always been valued members of my school communities. My sexuality has played no significant part in my teaching. That is changing as I become more motivated for my kids to see their very ‘normal’ experience of family reflected in their classrooms. This has seen me focus on developing the celebration of universal diversity explicitly in classrooms.
What do you see as some of the biggest rewards and challenges for people working in education today?
The rewards will always be intrinsic. Knowing you made a difference and getting the chance to mould minds. As a sociologist, I’m very interested in our current historical position. Like all of the great human eras before now, we are at the very beginnings of major changes to how humans live and behave. The digital era is beggining to change the practices of the industrial era and we as teachers are at the forefront of developing a new tomorrow now.
I think the challenges will always be the same too. Trying to meet the ever changing demands of diverse communities while also doing what we know and feel is right as profesionals. There are the added challenges of being the bridging generations between the industrial and digital eras.
If you had the ability to make changes to the education system in Australia, what would you do?
You know what? I wouldn’t change anything. I believe that utopian communities do not exist and it is foolish to try to produce one. Of course I would like somethings to be different: much greater funding of education, the end of public funding of private institutions, the equality of outcomes for all students despite race/ability/gender etc and a move away from standardised testing; however, I truly believe that what we do in Australia is unique, envied and wonderful and in the main part producing holistic, confident young adults and a future that they’ll be creating and I’ll be living in.
What role do you see EduTweetOz playing on the education scene in Australia and what are your hopes for the account this week?
I see EduTweetOz as a great way to assist teachers in the ‘getting connected’ process. It also gives individuals a platform to test ideas, strategies etc on a fairly safe and collaborative group who can give both the ‘gush’ and also the criticism needed before testing them out at our own schools etc. I think EduTweetOz is unique amongst Ed chats/accounts because it does not have a base interest or POV. Some weeks I’m interested and engaged, some weeks I’m not. A bit like choose your own adventure really.
Not sure where this week will take us. My major interest at the moment is the universal and meaningful celebration of diversity in the classroom. I’m particularly interested in the elements of the evolving LGBTI communities and also the changing perception towards the differently abled. I’m also interested in how we challenge our own ideas of diversity.
Look forward to chatting with you this week.