To kick off 2017, please welcome Ben Kirkman (@ben46k)

 

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?

nt38e3eeI have worked in a number of Primary schools across South West Sydney as a mainstream and special education teacher. I have always enjoyed a challenge and have often put my hand up to undertake a variety of roles within the Department of Education. During my career I have undertaken roles as an Assistant Principal, Itinerant Support Teacher Behaviour, Disability Programs Consultant and have worked as a Deputy Principal in two schools. In 2017 I am about to begin a substantive role as Deputy Principal at Prestons PS which is near Liverpool in New South Wales.

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

The three main stakeholders within schools motivate and inspire me. I want to ensure that public education in NSW consists of outstanding teachers and I aim to serve them as part of a supportive executive. I have worked with wonderful staff (teachers, SLSO, Office admin) and their commitment to student learning inspires me.  I want parents of public education students to be proud of the system that their children are educated in and am motivated to ensure that home/school relationships are a priority of the schools that I work in. Lastly, the students are what drive me the most, especially those who require additional support or assistance. I am lucky to say that each day, I drive to work knowing that there is nothing else I would rather do!

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

On a personal note, my biggest reward working in education is seeing that ‘teachers make the difference’ and that in the schools that I have led, student growth is linked to quality teaching and can be backed up by data. I have been fortunate to work with amazing teachers in wonderful schools that each day make life changing differences to students, families and communities.

The biggest challenge for me from a big picture perspective is the national conversation regarding education. (As these conversations often reflect policy).  I have always been interested in words like vision, culture, purpose and why… and I think Australian society in general is often unsure about what they want schools to be. What is innovation? How innovative do we as a society want schools to be? What is fair? What content does society value? What skills drive the workforce? How do you measure engagement? Do we value compliance? To drive conversation around those themes, we need to understand the why… What is our purpose? I think that is a big challenge moving forward that affects policy and decisions that influences how successful we can be.

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

If I had the ability to make changes to the education system my first three priorities would be.

  1. A Pre School attached to each Primary School to support early intervention.
  2. A continuation of or improvement to the Local Schools Local Decisions reform.
  3. A funding model that is sustainable, valued and equitable at a National level.

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

The poisoned chalice of hosting on the last week of the holidays! My intention over the week is to support all educators in beginning 2017 with a growth mindset, inspired to make a difference in students’ lives. I hope to have conversations about instruction, current research, goal setting, relationships and hopefully provide a platform where each contributor can share ideas and thoughts that can support quality instruction and build positive school cultures.

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