This week the account moves to NSW, with Kurt Challinor taking up the reigns. Learn more about Kurt here.
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 think as a kid, I had always wanted to be a teacher. I loved school and had good relationships with my teacher and I enjoyed learning and working with kids so a career in education was a logical step for me.
I’ve spent almost all of my career as a teacher in the Catholic system and this is something that I am particularly passionate about. I have also spent most of my teaching career working in all boys schools in Sydney, which I love.
Currently I teach Ancient History and Studies of Religion at Parramatta Marist High, a systemic Catholic boys’ high school in the west of Sydney.
I’ve held a number of different roles in education. I’ve been a Year Coordinator, an HSIE Coordinator and a Religious Education Coordinator, all roles with their own challenges and opportunities. Last year my school established a professional learning organisation within the school called the Centre for Deeper Learning. Directing this new initiative has become the next in a number of exciting roles I’ve held. In addition to teaching, my role now consists of designing professional learning opportunities for our own staff as well as organising and facilitating professional learning opportunities in Project and Problem Based Learning, the Flipped Classroom and STEM for teachers from schools from all around Australia.
Who or what keeps you inspired and motivated in your work?
I work in a really exciting school where change is embraced and we try hard to keep current with all trends in education. I think that the opportunity to work with incredibly intelligent, hard working and innovative teachers helps me to keep looking for opportunities to get better at what is our core business, educating young people.
Our boys are also fantastic and are so appreciative of the work their teachers do. This make coming to work each day something I really enjoy.
What do you see as some of the biggest rewards and challenges for people working in education today?
Teaching is hard work. I think one of the biggest challenges for teachers today is to be embrace the inevitable shift away from a traditional teacher centred approach to education and to place the students in the driving seat. Another challenge I think we are all facing relates to the rapid pace of change in education today, particularly in regards to technology. I think we need to let go of the notion that we can become ‘expert’ in everything and be content to just have our heads above water. Positive educational change can’t take place if we are waiting for the perfect time or to have all the training we think we need.
The rewards in education haven’t changed. We all became teachers because we enjoy working with young people. The little victories we have along the way are the rewards we value most.
If you had the ability to make changes to the education system in Australia, what would you do?
I think we can learn a lot from the successes of other countries. I was lucky enough to visit Finland earlier this year and their model of education has much to offer. I think teachers are not always afforded the status as professionals that we should be. Greater autonomy for schools and teachers to use their professional judgement in regards to their own context would be a good start.
What role do you see EduTweetOz playing on the education scene in Australia and what are your hopes for the account this week?
I think the concept behind EduTweetOz is terrific. What a great opportunity to have educators from across the spectrum sharing their experiences and affording us all a glimpse into their lives for a week. During the week I hope I can share some of my day to day life at school and hopefully start some discussions about quality teaching and learning.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to host this week and I really appreciate being asked to be involved.