Why did you decide to become involved in education?
Education is in my blood. My mother was a teacher, as are most of my aunts and uncles on her side of the family. I knew when I was a precocious preschooler, reading to my baby brother, that I wanted to be a teacher, but was dissuaded from this by the careers advisor during secondary school because I was ‘too smart’ and ‘would be bored’ and ‘owed it to society to do more than teaching’. After year 12 I did a student exchange to Honduras, Central America where I attended a local high school for half the day and volunteered in a local primary in the afternoon. I LOVED the teaching side of my experience and yet when I returned to Australia I enrolled in a Commerce degree! (From living in a third world country to a degree that, at its core, was based on consumerism and capitalism – no cognitive dissonance there at all!)
The tipping point that prompted me to head back to uni was a conversation I had with my mother. We were visiting Melbourne and were browsing in an art store. I picked up a block of marbled paper and launched into a long list of cool ways it could be used in a JP classroom. My mother rolled her eyes,”Would you please just go back to uni and get your teaching degree?”
And so, as a single parent of two small children that’s exactly what I did. It took me 7 years to finish my B.Ed/B.A while I worked and raised my children but I did it, and haven’t looked back.
What are some of the roles you’ve had and what does your current role involve?
I registered in the middle of 2012, and immediately dropped my paperwork into a number of local schools for relief work. The following day I was asked to cover a teacher librarian; my first day of teaching was spent processing returns and reading picture books to JP classes! (I felt like I was cheating someone, getting paid to do that!) The following day, in a different school I was the Design & Tech specialist teacher. By the end of the day I was asked to take over a 5/6 class for the rest of the term, and ended up staying for the rest of the year. Talk about being in the right place at the right time!
Since then I’ve shared both a 3/4 class and an upper primary special education class, had my own 6/7 class for two years, had my own 4/5 class for a year, worked 1:1 with a child under the guardianship of the minister and done some relief work while working on my Master of Education.This year I’m planning to do relief work while finishing my M.Ed. If a contract presents itself I will jump in with both feet, but am looking at this time as an opportunity to finish these last three subjects.Over the last year I have also become actively involved in supporting other teachers through Edufolios, helping them to use the AITSL standards to reflect on their practice.
Who or what keeps you inspired and motivated in your work?
Kids! Always kids. Seeing my kids (by birth and by education) grow and become the best they can be makes my heart sing. It’s corny, but it’s true.
I am motivated to be the best I can be for them. I am driven to be creative, to be innovative, to practice research based pedagogies and evidence based practice for them.
What do you see as some of the biggest rewards and challenges for people working in education today?
The biggest rewards sometimes come in the smallest of packages (and I run the risk of repeating myself here): our kids. Of course! And in the intellectual stimulation of working toward achieving that first reward.
The challenges lie in the the barriers to achieving meaningful experiences for our kids: apathetic colleagues, government policies, parental expectations (either way, depending on the family), budgetary constraints and time.
If you had the ability to make changes to the education system in Australia, what would you do?
How long is a piece of string? I think our whole education system needs to be dismantled and rebuilt. The industrial revolution has long since passed and so too should have this system of education that was designed around it! However, that’s not going to happen anytime soon, so in the meantime I would like to see children working with teachers in ‘stages’ not ‘ages’; I would explicitly teach ALL students metacognitive strategies from preschool; I would re-engage the community because it truly does take a village to raise a child; I would revisit school hours/terms; I would engage more speech pathologists, occupational therapists, psychologists and physiotherapists to work in partnership with teachers to provide meaningful intervention (rather than just assessments)… The list could go on for pages, but I think you get the picture.
What role do you see EduTweetOz playing on the education scene in Australia and what are your hopes for the account this week?
EduTweetOz provides a forum for Australian educators to share ideas, successes, challenges and (virtual) space in a way that is accessible to all. It is a space that encourages critical engagement with ideas at the same time as it offers an insight into the working – and personal -lives of educators around the country. Educators can dip in their toe, or dive right in.
My hope for this week is to prompt – and contribute to – some interesting discussions and to offer general support during this early part of the school year. I’m looking forward to ‘meeting’ a whole raft of new educators too!