This week’s host is Andrew Turnbull @turnbullteacher

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?

After Year 12 was directionless and didn’t get into Uni or anything. I started doing volunteer work at the Australian War Memorial in the Hands-on Area and loved it, especially working with school groups. I was then asked to work in the Main Galleries, the youngest member in the Galleries at 20. I would talk and interact with visitors as is my nature but at busy times with school groups. I’d be placed to work with and brief them upon entry and my record was over 2000 students in 1 day briefed. I was also starting to work with the redevelopment groups for the new galleries including relaying educational feedback from visitors. I was advocating a more educational approach for the Memorial, not a reactive Museum style visit. The Memorial started the History in a Box program a few years later and remember someone asking me about that idea. Maybe I helped.

I then wanted something new and so got a traineeship in Literacy through Australian Catholic University and then started my teaching degree. By moving to Melbourne I was then able to work towards the secondary strand in History and Religious Education. I did start in primary but am now at a Catholic Co-ed school NW of Melbourne and been there 10 years. I have taught RE, History, Humanities, English, HPE and VCAL (Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning) as well as begin a Homeroom Leader and for one year was Daily Organiser.

I am currently teaching 3 Year 7s, 2 Year 10s in Religious Education and a Year 11 VCE Religion and Society. I may also be the only teacher to use Metallica’s “Creeping Death’ to introduce a unit on the Eucharist.

I also have a Year 10-12 Homeroom. Other roles include wanting to get more students involved in school photography and getting the Library staff their coffee orders.

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

Students are the key reason I teach. Some workmates inspire me for sure but I feel most at home in the chaos of a classroom. They inspire me to challenge myself, to try new things and ideas and are (mostly) happy to come along for the ride. I am sure that Social Media, in particular Twitter, has been a source of the greatest motivation for me in my teaching.

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

 A huge reward in education is a simple “thank you” from students, families etc. Other forms of appreciation are great but it’s not what I look for in my job. To sit and have a laugh with students. To let them know the can trust me and I can trust them. To see them walk in and walk out with a smile. That’ll do me.

Challenges are many but I feel that a willingness to try new things and ideas must still occur but be managed properly. To start something and see it through. I also feel that professional development needs to be seen in different methods of delivery. I have experienced greater professional development of social media platforms than any sit down, butchers paper and Mentos lollies kind of days. Flipped Learning, Twitter, YouTube, Skype, Webinars are all valid forms of PD but still fighting the traditional view of PD as having worth.

Mental Health is something we talk a lot about in education for students and seeing it more and more in all adult work areas. I admit I have seen and experienced great support. But what about actual Mental Illness? Conditions such as depression seem to be placed into the Mental Health area because it seems safe to do so, politically correct. But it’s not, it’s a mental illness. So when it comes to supporting teachers with mental illness…that is what I am interested in.

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

Accountability in all areas. Teachers are becoming held to greater account and that is necessary. But we also need to be supported when we are being held to account by various groups but in fact we are the right e.g. parents.  

I would also like to see teachers wanting to undertake professional development through different means such as Social Media and Skype recognised as being just as worthwhile as a day away.

I also still believe we need a true national education system from at least F-10 and have everyone support it with aim of moving to a national Year 11 and 12 framework. This must also include a vocational pathway and support. VCAL in Victoria is a wonderful example of this and something I strongly support.

I would also like to see more respect and professional support given to Casual Relief Teachers, especially those regularly used by schools. Don’t just see them as an 840-320 replacement but someone whose professional abilities should be nourished if so desired.

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

The use of Twitter, and EduTweetOz and REchatOz in particular, are methods of sharing ideas externally that is the most powerful education community I’ve ever been a part of. I’d always used YouTube but through these Twitter handles I have learnt how to use them more constructively. What I’ve learnt about Flipped Learning has been huge! Students are now starting to buy into the videos that I am making as well as playlists. I’ve also made a point of refering students to particular channels in areas such as maths and science. This is where I can see being involved this week as being helpful not just for me, but for my students.

I also hope to learn other ideas and share mine in other subject areas. There is no reason at all that an RE and Maths teacher cannot share teaching ideas. That is my professional goal for this week. I would then like to share this with my whole staff for what I did, maybe something anyone involved should try and do.


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