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 choose to teach because education can transform the trajectories of young people – it’s the greatest social lever for change. Through my formative expriences as a young man, I came to deeply understand the power and opportunity that education gives to individuals and communities and opted to begin my official teaching career in a remote Indigenous community in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands while taking every opportunity to learn my craft. It was supremely challenging and deeply rewarding. I had great support and developed quickly as a leader, becaming the principal at 27 years old after working to support teachers at a regional level. Although trained as a middle school teacher, I’ve taught from K – 12, acted as a regional mentor and studied two Masters degrees, one in Applied Linguistics and one in Instructional Leadership. I also spent some time in policy at the South Australia Department. In my current role at EC I’m best described as an adult educator I suppose, working with teachers, leaders and entrepreneurs all over the world. As Director of Programs, I endeavour to ensure every minute of our professional learning is engaging, relevant and enabling and I’ve loved the challenges thus far.
Who or what keeps you inspired and motivated in your work?
The teachers and leaders I’m lucky to support most days. They are the true heroes of education, the anonymous extraordinaries, who work incredibly hard to be the key figure in the learning journey of their students. I love seeing a teacher or leader’s idea become reality and the positive impact that it makes on learning. I also love interacting with my network of curious, engaged educator colleagues on multiple platforms and geeking out on some research from education, psychology, linguistics, economics and policy.
What do you see as some of the biggest rewards and challenges for people working in education today?
The greatest challenge for educators is receiving and taking the time to be revolutionary not just reactionary. That’s difficult to achieve with an established status quo and the inertia from the set of expectations from the industrial model of education. The world has changed in profound ways and it’s education’s time to also transform. That will only come from empowering school leaders and teachers to make the change they wish to drive.
If you had the ability to make changes to the education system in Australia, what would you do?
In a sentence, I’d attempt to rehumanise education by personalising it.
First, totally rethink the ATAR regime to enable secondary teachers to have additional freedom to use their passion to teach. I’d also look to broadly transform assessment expectations to formative model based on developmental continua targeting students point of need, leveraging technology to make this happen. I’d find a way to schools to shift to deep learning, foregrounding the need for empathy, collaborative problem solving and curiosity. And I’d find a way to systemically support all teachers to continue to grow at every career stage, ensuring incredible teachers and great leaders. Ulitmately,
I’d love to raise the status of teachers so that is actually reflects the incredible dedication and hard work that it is.
What role do you see EduTweetOz playing on the education scene in Australia and what are your hopes for the account this week?
EduTweetOz is a brilliant community of educators and it’s only through frank, focussed and respectful discussion that we can increase our collective understanding and make change happen. I hope to be able to throw out some interesting provocations and catalyse some practical insights over the week 🙂