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?
Hi. I’m Vince. My Twitter handle references an email from a 12-year-old student some years ago at school who addressed me as “Mr Vince”. (She signed off with “Love”. 😊 This was greeted with much mirth by my colleagues!)
I honestly have no idea anymore why a very young, naïve, and reasonably sheltered 17-year-old me decided to become a teacher. Perhaps I became a teacher because of family connections and because I was familiar with it as an occupation. I do certainly remember that, in my final year of high school, teaching was the only thing I wanted to do. I haven’t been disappointed with my choice.
I’ve been teaching secondary students in the humanities subjects since January 1988. I genuinely love teaching. I have every intention of sticking with teaching for perhaps another decade or two.
In my time as a teacher I’ve held various roles and seemed to have adopted a pattern of opting to become “downwardly mobile” every 8 – 10 years. Working with kids inspires and invigorates me. Teaching, despite its challenges, brings me a lot of joy in my life.
In my time teaching I have taught in the state, Catholic and independent sectors – and enjoyed them all. I have learnt from so many wonderful colleagues in so many contexts. I have also taught as a part-time sessional lecturer in teacher education. I have taught in all boys’ schools, co-ed schools, and currently teach in an all girls’ Catholic independent school. My entire teaching career has been in and around Brisbane / South-East Queensland, but I have had the opportunity to travel from time to time. My students have included lower socio-economic students and quite affluent students. I’ve taught vocational education students and taught some highly academically driven students.
I am currently a full-time classroom teacher but have spent a substantial amount of my career in middle leadership roles as a head of curriculum or as a pastoral / student welfare middle leader (such as Year Level Coordinator or Head of House). In 2017, I decided to step away from middle leadership as a Head of House of 9 years. In my 30 years of teaching, the majority have been in roles connected to student welfare. In most recent times, this has meant working with students with significant well-being needs.
Who or what keeps you inspired and motivated in your work?
I am blessed to work with some wonderful colleagues who inspire me. I am also blessed to work in an environment which prizes learning, personal development, and the well-being of both staff and students.
I believe teachers are privileged to have the opportunity to work with so many kids and to touch so many lives. Unlocking students’ potential to engage with their world in an empowered way is certainly a motivation for me.
Educators that inspire me include: Sir Ken Robinson @SirKenRobinson, Christopher Emdin @chrisemdin , and Angela Duckworth @angeladuckw .
What do you see as some of the biggest rewards and challenges for people working in education today?
Where else do we get to engage with kids who are on the cusp of entering the adult world? There’s a reward in seeing students making their way in the world as healthy, happy and successful people.
So many challenges.
A key challenge for teachers is to engage with students in a meaningful way, to guide them positively in a world with so many voices competing for their attention. To engage them in authentic deep learning, to engender a love of learning, to be a voice of hope and reason is a world that can sometimes seem so foreboding.
I’d be remiss not to mention also the challenge posed by the fragile mental health of many of our students. We need to do what we can to protect and care for our students.
If you had the ability to make changes to the education system in Australia, what would you do?
So much to rant about and so little time.
In Queensland, I would love to separate the senior years of schooling from university selection processes.
I would love to see schools become concerned primarily about learning, rather than assessment. I would love to see educators, families, bureaucrats, and politicians fully understand that performance in assessment may not actually be an indicator of a person’s potential, ability, intelligence, or worth.
What role do you see EduTweetOz playing on the education scene in Australia and what are your hopes for the account this week?
Edutweetoz plays an important role in helping educators to connect and share. Twitter PLNs open our eyes to perspectives and experiences outside our own. It allows us to explore a diversity of opinion and voice… and hopefully Australia and the world (and our students) are all the better because of it.
I hope the account this week generates conversations, interactions and learning for teachers.