The start of a new year for EduTweetOz with @AndreaStringer

Welcome back to EduTweetOz for 2015.

After a break over the summer holidays, we’re excited to be kicking things off for the year with #SatChatOC host, @andreastringer curating the account for the week.

I’m looking forward following her journey this week and having a glimpse into her life as an educator.

Here are Andrea’s answers to our host questionnaire:

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?

  • Finished school in Year 10 (Junior) as I was offered an apprenticeship in hairdressing. After I completed my apprenticeship, I managed a salon and later owned a salon – “Hair by Andrea” (very original).
  • While I was hairdressing, I completed a course to teach at TAFE and also completed a Fitness Leadership course. While running my business, I also worked at a gym and did some waitressing. I eventually sold my business.
  • We moved to Canada on a work visa where I worked in a very large salon (commission based – the Aussie accent helped). After a year my visa expired and we began our family. We returned to Australia after four years.
  • I always thought I wasn’t smart enough for university (fixed mindset) but with my husband’s encouragement, I sat exams and was accepted at Australian Catholic University in Brisbane.
  • The following year we were transferred to Seattle so I became one of the first external students at University of New England. I completed my bachelor of general studies/teaching (major-PE, minor-World religions), graduate certificate, then masters with a focus on primary maths (UTAS). This was all as an external student.
  • Last year I completed a graduate certificate in Gifted Ed at UNSW.
  • I’m a primary school teacher with experience in Stage 1, 2 & 3. I’m credentialed in Washington, California, NSW (Australia)
  • I was often called an ‘unknown entity’ because I worked in US and had no experience in Australia. Yet my degrees were all from Australian universities.
  • Worked in Broken Bay Diocese for 2 years when I arrived back in Australia.
  • This is my third year teaching at Wenona and look forward to an exciting year ahead.
  • Areas of interest-learning spaces, collaboration, coaching & mentoring, motivation & engagement and leadership.

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

  • I think it is because of my personal journey. I thought I wasn’t ‘smart enough’ but my experiences has proven otherwise. Clearly a fixed mindset can hinder one’s learning. It only takes one person to help develop a growth mindset. At first I needed recognition from the universities I attended. Now I’m intrinsically motivated and feedback is the recognition I prefer.
  • I love learning, discussing education, interacting and connecting with people who are passionate (about anything).
  • I’m reading Drive by Daniel Pink which is explaining why I am the way I am.
  • My Professional Learning Network and my colleagues in the US keep me motivated and push me out of my comfort zone. They are always ready for an #educhat.
  • I have been inspired by many leaders and it’s hard to mention them all. But what they all seem to emphasise is how trust and effective leadership go hand in hand.

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

Rewards –

  • It’s all about the students. Not just those in your classroom but all students. Nothing beats the personal thank you note or the look they share when they reach their goal.
  • I love working with new teachers and I’m guessing this is because I had such a wonderful experience in my first years. Having a mentor was pivotal.
  • TeachMeets & Twitter are game changers in the education industry. Teachers and students benefit from taking ownership of their learning. Huge rewards for all!

Challenges –

  • Politicians should seek the advice of teachers and education professionals. The focus should be on long-term solutions and goals, not short-term fixes.
  • Providing all students the opportunity to learn and provide them with the resources, qualified teachers and the support they need.
  • At times, there is a struggle between compliance and creativity (including your commitment and beliefs). It would be great if they were on the same team. “Team Students”

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

  • Create a panel of very diverse educators that represent various contexts and invite politicians to listen. “You can learn so much if you just listen.”
  • Have those making decisions in education spend time in numerous classrooms in different contexts-without cameras or media present. Let’s not take it back to the basics but take it back to the students and their individual needs.
  • Create more cohesion between compliance and creativity & innovation.

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

  • EduTweetOz was one of my first connections on Twitter. For me it’s like the school library-a place where you can seek, search and find solutions. It’s a resource where educators are very willing to help you learn.
  • I would like to create a platform where educators receive support and can seek advice from all the EduTweetOz members. I like to connect people. I believe there are huge benefits for the students and education in general when we work collaboratively. Being the beginning of the school year, my goal is to generate a positive atmosphere on Twitter. I’m very happy for people to have different opinions as it keeps us questioning and growing but t is not what you say but how you say it.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Andrea Stringer


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