Welcome to EduTweetOz, Kelly Maree Cheung (@AustralasianEdu)

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?

20160418_130449School avoider. Truant. Forger of parental signatures. Frequent visitor of sickbay with phantom pains. Socially anxious. Quiet underachiever. Constantly reading. I was the kid that didn’t cause trouble in class – god forbid attention would come my way. Even when I was in class – I wasn’t really present. Yet, I really liked, and still like, learning. I really liked, and still like, dialogue and discussion about what is and what could be. With much hesitation, I thought I’d give teaching a try, and I quickly realised how much I loved the work.

Returning to the school environment on my practicum made me realise that schools can be places where even the misfits can fit in, if a community is welcoming, knowledgeable, and willing to work towards a sense of inclusive belonging. In my years since, I’ve taught secondary English and History, coached debating teams, mentored students as a Year Advisor, and constantly worked towards ensuring all students know that they are recognised and valued for who they are.

I’m currently away from the classroom completing a PhD on the text choices of secondary English teachers while primary parenting a kinder child and a one year old.

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

My own teachers – the good and the exemplary, have always inspired. Shoutout to Kevin Williams and Paul Cannon from Primary, and Josie Mitchell (deceased), Anne Heaney, Brian Bowe, Graeme Judd, Deborah O’Neill, and Michelle Peters from Secondary.

My students have always inspired and motivated me to give them my best.

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

The biggest rewards are always in those moments of shared success; whether it’s a student finishing a novel for the first time in their life or writing something that is really important to them. The challenges are the barriers students and teachers face in and beyond the classroom. Education may be a series of personal accomplishments, it may be the unfurling of a larger world but while a competitive ethos strips opportunities and avenues away from all but the most privileged, education as a mission is tarnished by iniquity.

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

I would make schools centres of communities and open to the public. Health and specialist professionals should work within communities of schools and be freely available to all families to ensure all students receive timely interventions in support of their learning needs. I’d also ensure needs based funding was sustained for as long as it’s needed.

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

EduTweetOz brings together a range of individuals across sectors providing snapshots into the complexities within the Australian education sphere. I hope my turn on the account provides insight into some of the complexities within my experiences and understanding of education in Australia.

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