All posts by mrlangers

About mrlangers

Deputy Principal, public school maths teacher, husband, dad, science fiction nerd, creator of organised conflict.

Welcome Michael Walker (@krustyklo)

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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? 

My name is Michael Walker and I am currently a secondary teacher at a middle suburban secondary college in Melbourne, Victoria.

I completed my VCE in 1989 and was interested even then in teaching, putting education degrees in my list of preferences for university courses. However, my parents had a belief that I would be more interested in engineering and so I put those first above the teaching degrees, and received my first choice of engineering course, along with a scholarship. I believe that I dodged a bullet there as I would   have been graduating around the time the Kennett government was closing schools. Even now there are nowhere near as many people my age employed as teachers than people much younger or older than I am.

Whilst there were parts of the engineering course that interested me, much of it I found boring and couldn’t see myself doing that as a career for the rest of my life. In addition I struggled with the transition to university from the high school environment. Fortunately the engineering course had a six month work experience component, and I did work experience at a small IT company fixing hardware and providing helpdesk support and they offered me a job. Fast forward six years and a number of different roles within the company and I found myself unemployed when the company was placed into administration and liquidated.

Whilst looking for another job, I happened across an old friend when going swimming one night, and he told me he had just changed jobs and his old IT job at an inner suburban school was available. I rang up the following day, was informed that they were interviewing for the job that day and if I could fax through my resume and turn up for an interview in 2 hours, they would interview me. As I walked in the door upon getting home from the interview, the phone rang offering me the job! My career in education had begun.

A significant part of my support job was classroom support, including opening one of the computer rooms at lunchtimes, and I quite enjoyed the classroom part of the IT job and interacting with students, as well as the opportunity to learn new things all the time. In my first year I had a small but life changing experience that pushed me towards teaching. I had taken the class set of laptops into a class for some publicity photos but the photographer was running quite late. So there I was in a classroom with a class of year 8s, the principal and the normal classroom teacher, all of us standing around with the need to do something productive. I’m not sure exactly how it happened but I was invited to show the kids something, anything, on the laptops. So I started showing them how to compose a budget in Excel, and kept going for most of the 50 minutes until the end of the period with the students engaged and productive. As we walked out, I was asked if I’d ever considered taking up teaching as I had apparently done quite well!

Towards the end of that year, my manager pulled me aside and was openly honest about how he understood that schools didn’t pay IT staff much compared to industry, but they were very happy with my work and he wanted to negotiate alternative ways to keep me at the school, with one of the suggestions being time off to do a university course part time. With the earlier experience fermenting in my mind, I jumped at the chance to do a Bachelor of Science / Education at Deakin, and did so starting in 1999.

However, whilst I was able to juggle full time work, part time study, and home life having also married in 1999; after 5 years personal circumstances meant I had to discontinue the course to prioritise my family but I continued working at the school doing IT support.

After doing the same job for 10 years, circumstances changed and financially I was in a position to complete what I had started, so left my job and commenced a 4 year full time degree at LaTrobe University undertaking a Bachelor Science / Science Education majoring in Maths and a submajor of Computer Science.

A teaching friend offered advice that I should start looking for jobs from June in my last year, and sure enough my current job was advertised in July, and I was the successful applicant.

I have taught Science in junior years up until this year, Maths in junior years, VCE IT and Software Development, and this year  started teaching the new Digital Technologies subject to Year 8 classes. Last year I took on a role co-managing the year 8 Maths team and this year have been doing that role by myself as my co-leader took on another role.

In Victoria, there are 2 pay categories (starting at 1-1 to 1-5, then 2-1 upwards). As part of stepping up pay grades from 1 to 2 this year, I had to add a responsibility role so after discussion with the relevant Assistant Principal wrote my own role as Digital Technologies Coordinator responsible for implementing and managing the new DigiTech curriculum in our school. I was also persuaded to take on a subrole supporting the Arts/ Technology domain coordinators in promoting and implementing the Design technologies curriculum in the school.

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

On an intrinsic level, I am really motivated by the challenge of understanding and implementing curriculum in pedagogically appropriate ways. I love learning new things about the content and how to teach it in ways students can engage with it, understand it and, most importantly, apply it in meaningful ways.

On an extrinsic level, I enjoy spending time around students and talking with them about life, the universe, and everything. Students want to learn, are curious about the world, and some of the best discussions I have had about the content or other topics have been completely spontaneous in the yard during yard duty, or even on the 902 bus on the way home!

I also enjoy the company and support of my colleagues, and appreciate the differences we all have and the way they contribute to all of us moving forward in our understanding and knowledge of what we do. Or maybe I just enjoy the bad puns and dad jokes… 🙂

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

Whilst it seems to be a cliché, I believe the education system in Australia, and indeed the world, is at a crossroads. The rewards will come from choosing the right ways forward, the challenge is in determining what they are. You could write an encyclopedia (you know, that thing that is like a book version of Wikipedia) about the challenges in education – and obviously many, many people have.

The big challenges I see are both old and new ones. The challenge of “what works” in the classroom to maximise learning is an old problem – there have been disengaged students since the start of mass education. How to respond to compliant but disengaged students playing the game without really learning. The challenge of whether we should respond to a changing society or whether the old ways still work best. How to coexist with those staff we work with on the other side of that fence. The challenge of increased expectations and the increased workload that goes with that, but without the increased resourcing needed to do it to an acceptable level, let alone to the high standard it is increasingly apparent we need to be aiming for if we want our students to genuinely be successful in the post-secondary world. Most teachers I have spoken with openly about this issue admit they can only do their job to between 50% and 70% of the standard they would like to achieve. The challenge of recognising student success and wellbeing will be best achieved with recognising that teacher wellbeing also needs to be recognised. A teacher struggling with their own issues isn’t going to give 100% to their students – Jane Caro expressed it really well in this podcast: https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/wilosophy-with-wil-anderson/id951354264?mt=2#

Lastly, the challenges of education responding to a changing society including the increasing pervasiveness of digital technology and information communication and technology. How best to leverage this change to maximise learning, be relevant in society, and if/how the role of teachers, education leaders, governmental educational leaders / politicians, and institutions needs to change.

On a personal level, the challenge is to continually improve, acknowledging that a teaching career is a marathon, not a sprint. I also struggle with finding like-minded people around me so that we can mutually develop based on our shared beliefs and challenges. This is one godsend of the internet and forums like Twitter and EduTweetOz.

The rewards? On a personal level when students understand ideas. More importantly, when I have been able to reignite hope in students who have lost hope. Schools can be quite hostile places and lots of students have checked out by the end of middle school. For the system itself, if it can respond to the challenges, the rewards will be a new generation ready to engage productively with the world they are entering, rather than being inadequately prepared for a world that no longer exists.

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

At the very least, I would recognise the need for change, and that change needs to be resourced, most critically with time. The expectation of teaching as a vocation meaning it is acceptable for teachers to give up significant amounts of their own time to maintain the status quo, let alone create innovation at a grassroots level, needs to end. Yes, there are other jobs where people do work in their own time. IT, the industry I came from is one – but the pay rates for professional IT jobs requiring after hours work is multiples of that for teachers without the need for dealing with teenage angst!

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

I have been a follower of the EduTweetOz account almost from the day I first joined Twitter. In my teaching it has played a role in continuously feeding me a serendipity of new ideas. Even when I have disagreed with the weekly account facilitator, it has been an opportunity to clarify why I have such a strong reaction to a comment or concept, and what I think and the logical basis behind it. I see this as being a continuing strength of accounts such as these, and I don’t see the need for that diminishing at all in the foreseeable future. Teachers need intellectual stimulation, exposure to new ideas, and in many schools / faculty teams that doesn’t exist or is actively discouraged in favour of maintaining the status quo – and online forums are a great way to do that.

My hope for the account this week is to generate discussion on the role of education in wider society, the role of teachers, the role of students, of schools; the day to day trials, tribulations, and rewards of teaching; and the role of technology in making teachers more efficient and/or education more engaging and relevant. Be gentle with me!

 

Introducing Belinda Faulkner (@belindateaches)

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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 started training as QA manager in pharmaceuticals – 89 staff from 24 different nationalities so I quickly learnt to be engaging & innovative. GMP is not the most stimulating tonic. Since then I’ve done training across a wide range of industries and subjects. Most recently resilience training for long term unemployed in which I had 100% retention rate of participants. In 2014 I was diagnosed with MS which saw me decide to do something I’d thought about for 20+ years – teaching. Now doing M.teach(sec) to be a science teacher.

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

I think I have something to offer as I’ve worked in science and done jobs for 20 of 26 letters of the alphabet. The people I’ve mentored who like to remind me I’m awesome and the people in MS forums inspire and motivate me.

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

The biggest reward I think is being part of the moment when someone “gets” something. The biggest challenge is to get ahead and realise soft skills are actually hard and they aren’t 21st century skills, they’re 20th century skills and we’re behind. Also catching up with the fact many adults weren’t ever taught soft skills.

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

Start from the ground up and revolutionise teacher education professional development.

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

Starting discussion and debate on current issues. I want to start some discussion especially on soft skills.

Give a warm welcome to Angela Robinson (@learningkind1)

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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?

As a young school leaver I had a vision of myself in power suits and running around efficiently conducting business, making deals and meeting bottom lines.  How little did I know.  Business was certainly not where my heart was at or where I wanted to contribute to the world. Upon reflection I realised a career working with people, challenging my own intellect and caring for others was much better matched to how I could happily spend my working life and hence a switch to the field of education was obvious.

I started in a classroom, as a classroom teacher, in a remote part of Australia in 2002.  To this day I am a classroom teacher, peppered only with time away to have a family.  As is the nature of classroom teaching, I have accepted added responsibilities at times, taking time out of the classroom to coordinate Environmental Sustainability Initiatives as well as Early Years Literacy Programs school wide.

I thoroughly enjoy the challenge of being a classroom teacher and passionately skip between Prep and Upper Primary grades.  I am currently teaching and learning with Year Six at a regional Catholic school in Queensland.  We have 475 students, fifty- nine of them in Year Six and for the first time this year I co-teach with a peer in a newly built flexible learning space.

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

There are a number of aspects to this career that keep me inspired and motivated,  however the students are front and centre of this pack. Being part of a team that is ‘all about the students’, and being thoroughly supported to make decisions and implement classroom practice that is student centred keeps me invigorated in my role.  I, like never before, feel that education is moving closer and closer to the ideals I entered and left university with, it’s becoming more and more the ‘norm’ that students are ‘on the ride’ with other stakeholders, enjoying their education, rather than being ‘at school’ being ‘managed’ through a system towards graduation.  Further to this, the fact that no two days, years, class groups or schools are ever the same keeps me very interested and actively challenged. I must acknowledge how fortunate I am for the environment and team in which I work.

I am inspired by the ever growing number of professionals who care about the quality of the education we offer our children in Australia, they are prepared to question the status quo, investigate best practice, and be risk takers in the pursuit of doing things better for the children. Growing my PLN has been such a fantastic opportunity to understand and realise that there are so many other educators that, like myself, have not been content with the industrial model of education. It’s been so rewarding to connect with other educators who are interested in always learning new and better ways that take us closer to those ideals of fitting curriculum to the students, not students to curriculum, valuing all abilities, not just the cognitive or sporting ones, building a positive growth mindset and actively teaching and learning skilful mental health practices.

I must mention specifically the integration of mobile devices into my classroom and the empowerment I feel as a teacher towards the differentiation of learning experiences for my students.  Like never before, I am able to differentiate my practice in a way that is manageable and practical for one person with thirty students.

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

Working in education today offers many rewards and challenges to us all.  Speaking for myself, I am rewarded when the children walk away proud of themselves, wearing their feeling of accomplishment all over their faces.  I am rewarded when it comes back to me that feedback given or decisions made in the course of my day have played out to make significant positive impacts and play a crucial role in empowering students and their families towards a better education and school experience.  I am rewarded when children engage so genuinely with their learning that they are crying empathetically for a character in a book you’re reading them or racing home to keep going with the tasks you started in class.

Undeniably, the challenges are many.  Big picture, macro challenges I see facing education in Australia today include the elimination of socioeconomic and geographical disadvantage – helping all Australian children receive a quality education with access to the people and resources most relevant and best suited to their needs and in a timely manner is yes, a big challenge but one our policy-makers must not shy away from.  

Another challenge I perceive for education is the great majority of educators and parents who are challenged by change and the moves that education must make to remain relevant and best serve our children for their futures.  Coupled with the fast-paced change of technology today’s modern teacher needs a different skill set, different approach to professional development and to be brave, informed risk-takers in a way that they never have before.  Furthermore, making sure that all educators are educating for and with best mental health practice is challenging at the macro level.  

On a micro level time is my biggest challenge.  Like most of us in education, I am a partner, a parent, a carer and a community member.  Implementing a classroom practice that reflects my beliefs about education is always balanced against the question of how to best use my time. Taking time to fit curriculum to the children not the other way round, providing opportunity to grow and develop varied strengths and abilities, providing choice in the promotion of student ownership, implementing an effective feedback loop with actionable student follow-up, managing a crowded curriculum to ensure quality depth of learning as well as meeting obligations to  ‘cover’ it all and keeping my own professional development up is a continuing negotiation I have going on in my mind. The use of time I do not negotiate however, is taking the time to stop and listen to a student who wants to share something, taking the time to smile at a student and ask how their game went over the weekend, taking the time to look at the creation they brought to school to show you.  It’s this time that I know matters the most.

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

If I had the ability to make changes to the education system I would prioritise the need for socioeconomic and geographical disadvantage being addressed and actioned, understanding that funding such would have ripple effects beyond the here and now.  I would like to see many non-professional responsibilities removed from the job description of teachers, pure supervision and administration roles for example, so that we may place higher expectations on how teachers spend their teacher time.  I believe putting explicit frameworks in place to ensure all teachers are genuinely engaging in regular, effective professional development that influences classroom practice will raise the bar and encourage a culture of professionalism that will nurture a generation of school leavers making relevant, healthy and effective change in the world.  

Making sure that educators know and learn about the brain and the neuro-diversity that it is capable of is another change I would bring about.  It is beyond my belief that teachers, at least in my formal studies, learnt zero about the brain unless they did it off their own back.  Finally, I think there is room for a discussion about the use of specialised teachers in primary schools.

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

I really love the idea of EduTweet?Oz being a platform giving insight into many different facets, roles and experiences of education across Australia. It is a great opportunity to widen everyone’s interpretation of contemporary Australian education and allows us to build empathy and understanding as we move towards having more and more national and global conversations.

My hopes for the account this week are to give all followers an opportunity to step inside a Year Six classroom in regional Australia.  I hope to share a snapshot of where a classroom teacher is at, in Week 3 Term 2.  I hope to share some of the rewards and challenges experienced in one week in my educator shoes, I hope to share snippets of the professional reading I am doing and provide some insight through the eyes of my students and most importantly I hope to learn from those who engage with me and the discussions generated.

Welcome this week’s host: Imogen McLennan (@ImogenMcL)

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Hi!
My name is Imogen and I am in my 6th year  teaching primary students. I am currently teaching Year 5 in a government school near Darwin in the Northern Territory. I have taught each primary year level which has been challenging and rewarding. By the frequent changes of year levels and schools around country Victoria, Melbourne West and Darwin I have often hit the ground running with adjusting to new year levels, schools and all that goes with that. It also means I have gained a lot of varied experiences, which has certainly impacted positively on my teaching development. I am keenly interested in how the design of learning spaces effects teaching and learning opportunities and as well as teachers working collaboratively to support and inspire one another.
Teaching in the Northern Territory gives me the opportunity to develop my understanding of indigenous culture and how to change some of my language choices, gestures and interactions with indigenous students in order to build rapport with them.
I am looking forward to some interesting discussions this week as we learn with and from each other.

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.

And now, Danielle Vandenberg (@DanielleVeeDB) settles in for the week

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?

kzwqtg6cI began my career in fashion design in a large fashion house in Sydney but I always felt unfulfilled and that I wasn’t actually doing anything of importance. After two years I left and followed my calling which is a love of English, Drama and pedagogy. My own English/Drama teacher was an absolute inspiration and really motivated me to learn, I thought it was a privilege to be able to impact young people’s lives in that way. I am currently Head Teacher English and have this year, with a few colleagues registered as a professional teachers’ association focused on innovative pedagogies, which I think is an opportunity to build a learning community of teachers who want to engage students through evidence based research. Our FB group is Innovation 4 Education Association but or email to all NSW Teachers is coming soon. I really look forward to collaborating with some amazing educators!

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

Students who rely on high quality teachers, as I did, to get the most out of school. There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing a student whose life you have positively impacted. Like minded colleagues who are focused on transforming education, taking on feedback and deep learning. My own kids who I believe need strong role models and the opportunity to shine at school regardless of their interests and talents.

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

It is an exciting time to be in education. Education hasn’t changed much in the last 100 years so to have he chance to be part of this revolution is exciting. However, it is also the greatest challenge because traditionally students and parents fear change more than they embrace it.

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

I would love to see the HSC exams draw on skills such as collaboration and critical thinking and instead of having exams which students possibly learn by rote, have them solve real world problems. I love teaching English but sometimes teaching the HSC feels extremely formulaic.

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

Collaboration is a big one. Twitter has made it incredibly easy to engage in professional learning at flexible times and engage in meaningful conversations with educators around the world. I really hope this week inspires teachers to give new pedagogies and practices a go and it encourages people to take an interest in our professional teachers’ association so we can build a community of teachers willing to support one another in a very interesting time in education.

Please welcome @wiebam to the EduTweetOz hosting table!

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? 

img_4400I grew up across three countries, South Africa, Botswana and Australia. My parents sacrificed so much for me and my siblings by immigrating from South Africa. They left good jobs, friends and family so my siblings and I could follow our dreams through education. Whilst at school I loved every subject from maths to science to sport as I just loved learning. So I quickly got known as the teacher’s pet. Which at the time I thought was great as who wants to get in trouble. I finished my last three years of high school in Queensland and headed to the University of Queensland to complete my Bachelor of Applied Science in Human Movement Studies Education. My course (I have now learnt) is not a typical teacher prep course as the focus was more on the studies of the content areas (such as Biochemistry, Biomechanics and Sports Psychology) rather than the theories surrounding learning and education. But I must confess teaching prac was the eye opener for me. Being a teacher’s pet, I did not understand why kids would not want to learn and follow instructions. My skills a football referee (soccer for the uninitiated) came to be very valuable as man management was a strength of mine on the pitch and had also be one in the class room. Once I was finished with uni, I was married and had my first child – so teaching had to wait for a year. I then got that special call asking me to be a permanent teacher. I jumped at it with excitement even though I would have to work so hard as I was not a HPE and science teacher as I intended but a senior chemistry and maths teacher. I drove head first into it and struggled like crazy but loved it. My ambition took over very early in my career, I became a Year coordinator, QCAA panel member, started brand new subjects and was the Sports coordinator. After 5 years I transferred to become a foundation teacher in a brand new school. I loved the fact that I could be part of forming a culture. After a year I become the Acting Head of Department for Science whilst running an excellence program in engineering. I did this for a year and then applied to another brand new school. I got the job and became the Foundation Head of Department Science and Maths. After a year this role has evolved into be the HOD of Science and HPE. I have the great pleasure of being in charge of the STEM program and have been blessed with all the fantastic experiences I have had. In my head I would not have predicted that my career would have taken the roundabout path that it has but I know I would not have changed a thing!

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

I have been very fortunate to have had 3 keys teachers growing up, Mr Riaan Van Schalkwyk , Mr Bill Wilson and Ms Sharon Cordiner. These people inspired me to work hard as I could but to also accept that there is no such thing as perfection. I will be forever grateful for all the support and guidance they gave me growing up as a student and still now as a teacher.

As the teacher now, it is my students that help to keep me motivated. They are very vocal in telling me that they do not want to sit and be spoken at. They want to learn but they can’t always express what is the best way for them to learn. For me teacher is not just a job it is a privilege  as I get to help guide my students to reach their full potential. And show them how fun science is as everyone loves exploding things.

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

For me the biggest reward in teaching is the quiet “Thank you Miss”. It those times when a student is not understanding and then suddenly the light bulb goes off or when they feel like the world is completely collapsing around them and as a teacher I like being the one just to give them that thumbs up or small smile of encouragement. Teaching is more than teaching the curriculum for me – it’s about helping the students through the good and bad days to walk out of high school as good people.

In terms of challenges in education, I believe that the largest one is work load. Teachers love to teach and if there is anything that they can do to help their students they will do it. I know that I spend many many hours planning, researching, purchasing and making all sorts of things for my classes. I love doing that but then when it is accompanied by all the paperwork there are not many hours in the day. I have three young girls, a husband, fur babies, friends and family that depending on what week of the term it is don’t always get the best of me as. So work life balance is a very tricky thing when you love what you do but also love the rest of you.

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

I would love to see the following:

  • Teachers truly respected as professionals as without us no other profession would exist.
  • Science seen as a fun subject not just a hard one.
  •  A funding model that supports early intervention.

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

Sometimes teachers can become very isolated in their classrooms. EduTweetOz is a way of connecting with likeminded people from across the country to share thoughts, ideas and feedback. To bring up a child it takes a village. So a village of educators is a great place to gain advice and support as no one teacher has all the answers.

@Thingsbehindsun come out into the open – hey Ben Evans!

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?

djej9yfgI hold degrees from Durham and Cambridge universities in the UK. I have taught in four Schools over the past 19 years – mostly selective in terms of academic ability, boarding, day, boys’ Schools and co-educational institutions. I am a teacher of Chemistry and have been a classroom teacher, Head of Department, and have run the academic side of the School (in my last two roles). My current title is Director of Teaching and Learning, at a boys’ School in Adelaide. Both my parents were teachers, and so the only job I was keen not to do was teaching; unfortunately, it quickly became obvious that I had little interest or talent in other directions, and hence I followed the genes.

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

The chance to impress one’s personality on the role. No teacher is ever simply a cog in a larger machine, and any other teacher would discharge the role differently. Every teacher is therefore an individual, able to inspire in their own way. All the boys with are under the age of 18, so all of them are developing all the time (physically, emotionally, mentally). Having a hand in the development of young people is always rewarding; even when they get things wrong, it’s always part of the learning process. Each new School year brings with it a sense of renewal, and you’re only as good as your last year – this serves to guard against complacency.

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

Teaching is a job where every day should have a high, even if it’s only a little one – your team wins a close game, a couple of pupils have that genuine ‘lightbulb’ moment. Teaching is a job where it’s easy to keep learning, and there should be no sense of stagnation. We teach because we love our subjects, and by communicating that subject and learning more oneself, it enables us to remain engaged with the material. Introducing children to the finest minds of history, the best literature, art, philosophy and thought is indeed a noble profession.

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

Where to start! We need to change the edu-narrative, from seeing education as nothing but a ‘means to an end’, to something which is essential in and of itself. Education is more than simply a ‘pre-career’, and education should be more to do with making minds than making careers. We should do more to raise the levels of subject expertise in the profession, and look to raise the academic standards for those accepted to education degrees. We should eschew the tired narrative of skills over knowledge and understand that the skills of critical thinking, creativity and collaboration are not things we should look to teach explicitly and in a knowledge vacuum. Australia is falling in the PISA rankings, and this is more to do with flawed thinking rather than any lack of talent.

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

Conversation and dialogue – education is complex, and no-one has all the answers. To paraphrase Dylan Wiliam, everything works somewhere and nothing works everywhere. We need to be open to the opinions and experiences of others, whilst being clear in our own educational philosophy. Disagreement is good, lack of certainty is wise and absorption of the thoughts of others is essential.

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.

Batter up! It’s Marco Cimino (@MrMCimino)

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?

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I have been involved in education in a lot of different forms throughout my life. I went to a Catholic primary school, then a Catholic high school, then a Catholic university, then I worked at a University, and then gained employment at a Catholic high school. Whilst I have been heavily involved in Catholic education, I am committed to furthering the cause of education across all sectors and systems. I spoke about why I became a teacher on my blog, but, I will paraphrase it here. On the first block of my practical visits during my Graduate Diploma of Education, I sat in with my supervising teacher during parent-teacher interviews. About half-way through the interviews, a man appeared with his son (an all-boys school in a working-class suburb – my old high school as it were). The boy’s father sat down in front of us, wiped his black, greasy hands onto his mechanic’s tunic and shook both of our hands. The following moment is forever seared into my memory, never to be forgotten, and eternally there to inspire me to be the best educator I can be: at the moment we told him that his son had topped his class, he broke into tears and said in broken English, ‘I have worked 2 jobs for the last 5 years to make sure he doesn’t end up like me: breaking his back to make sure his kids can have the best life.’ That is when the totality of my decision to become a teacher really hit me: This is exactly what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. The rest of my life is to be dedicated to changing the live’s of others. After all, even if I only change the life of one child, then it’ll all be worth it.

I am now a HSIE and RE educator in South-West Sydney, and have worked at a University in the past, acting as the Student Rights Advocate (providing support to students), and also helping the elected student representatives. In 2017, I will be undertaking a few major ‘projects’: I will be the Assistant Year 11 and 12 Coordinator, I will be going back to uni part-time to do my Master in Educational Studies, I will be training to teach VET, and I will also be undertaking a leadership formation program.

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

The students. It’s as simple as that. I am there to serve them. After all, if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have a job. I aim to provide them with the best learning experiences they can get. They keep me honest and push me to help them.

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

Rewards: Being responsible for the formation of young minds as they enter the world and become our future leaders. One of my favourite moments is when students approach me either when I am still teaching them, or many years later, and tell me that I helped to make them who they are today (I always assume it’s for the better – it helps my ego).

Challenges: Not really knowing where the world is going: how can we prepare students for the world when we don’t know what’s around the corner. There are trends and fads, sure, but as sure as night follows day, there will be something new on the horizon that we will then need to prepare students for. Trying to stay on top of it all is a challenge.

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

I would like to see an increase in teacher professional development allowances in schools. Something along the lines of 20% of their timetable should be release time to allow them to undertake professional reading, program, or do something that will ultimately benefit their student’s.

I would also like to see (as do many educators) an increase in funding and an increase in the type of technology available to students – along with appropriate training for the teachers on how to use it. After all, the only thing worse than spending money on technology is spending money on technology and then have it sit there because no one knows how to use it.

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

EduTweetOz goes a long way to helping educators connect – as I always say, no educator is an island. Where student learning is concerned, every educator anywhere should be doing whatever they can to help them. I never claim to know all of the answers – sometimes I need to run it by others. 

It is my aim that this week I can engage everyone in a meaningful and respectful debate about education and to help as many people as possible to connect to not only benefit their own professional development, but also their students.