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 have been involved in education in a lot of different forms throughout my life. I went to a Catholic primary school, then a Catholic high school, then a Catholic university, then I worked at a University, and then gained employment at a Catholic high school. Whilst I have been heavily involved in Catholic education, I am committed to furthering the cause of education across all sectors and systems. I spoke about why I became a teacher on my blog, but, I will paraphrase it here. On the first block of my practical visits during my Graduate Diploma of Education, I sat in with my supervising teacher during parent-teacher interviews. About half-way through the interviews, a man appeared with his son (an all-boys school in a working-class suburb – my old high school as it were). The boy’s father sat down in front of us, wiped his black, greasy hands onto his mechanic’s tunic and shook both of our hands. The following moment is forever seared into my memory, never to be forgotten, and eternally there to inspire me to be the best educator I can be: at the moment we told him that his son had topped his class, he broke into tears and said in broken English, ‘I have worked 2 jobs for the last 5 years to make sure he doesn’t end up like me: breaking his back to make sure his kids can have the best life.’ That is when the totality of my decision to become a teacher really hit me: This is exactly what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. The rest of my life is to be dedicated to changing the live’s of others. After all, even if I only change the life of one child, then it’ll all be worth it.
I am now a HSIE and RE educator in South-West Sydney, and have worked at a University in the past, acting as the Student Rights Advocate (providing support to students), and also helping the elected student representatives. In 2017, I will be undertaking a few major ‘projects’: I will be the Assistant Year 11 and 12 Coordinator, I will be going back to uni part-time to do my Master in Educational Studies, I will be training to teach VET, and I will also be undertaking a leadership formation program.
Who or what keeps you inspired and motivated in your work?
The students. It’s as simple as that. I am there to serve them. After all, if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have a job. I aim to provide them with the best learning experiences they can get. They keep me honest and push me to help them.
What do you see as some of the biggest rewards and challenges for people working in education today?
Rewards: Being responsible for the formation of young minds as they enter the world and become our future leaders. One of my favourite moments is when students approach me either when I am still teaching them, or many years later, and tell me that I helped to make them who they are today (I always assume it’s for the better – it helps my ego).
Challenges: Not really knowing where the world is going: how can we prepare students for the world when we don’t know what’s around the corner. There are trends and fads, sure, but as sure as night follows day, there will be something new on the horizon that we will then need to prepare students for. Trying to stay on top of it all is a challenge.
If you had the ability to make changes to the education system in Australia, what would you do?
I would like to see an increase in teacher professional development allowances in schools. Something along the lines of 20% of their timetable should be release time to allow them to undertake professional reading, program, or do something that will ultimately benefit their student’s.
I would also like to see (as do many educators) an increase in funding and an increase in the type of technology available to students – along with appropriate training for the teachers on how to use it. After all, the only thing worse than spending money on technology is spending money on technology and then have it sit there because no one knows how to use it.
What role do you see EduTweetOz playing on the education scene in Australia and what are your hopes for the account this week?
EduTweetOz goes a long way to helping educators connect – as I always say, no educator is an island. Where student learning is concerned, every educator anywhere should be doing whatever they can to help them. I never claim to know all of the answers – sometimes I need to run it by others.
It is my aim that this week I can engage everyone in a meaningful and respectful debate about education and to help as many people as possible to connect to not only benefit their own professional development, but also their students.