All posts by mrlangers

About mrlangers

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

Hosting EduTweetOz this week is @smitheesusan

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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?

Initially when I left high school I was a Youth Worker. There were a lot of  street kids who couldn’t read, write or do numeracy so I started teaching and assisting them in areas where I could. This led to getting a Bachelor of Primary Education and the rest is history. I have been teaching for 17 years now in support roles, as a classroom teacher and as Assistant Principal in which I led a number of successful whole school initiatives. I have worked in a range of schools but mainly high NESB. Currently I am an Assistant Principal Coach Mentor in Positive Behaviour for Learning Ultimo Directorate. In this role I get to work with an amazing team. We provide training for school teams in Positive Behaviour for Learning as well as coach and mentor  PBL school teams to assist with the implementation and sustainability after training. 
 

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

I am particularly passionate about student and teacher wellbeing. So being part of the  PBL team is wonderful.  When staff at a school , with big smiles on their faces, say how much behaviour has improved and teacher practise has changed for the better because of PBL, that is motivating and inspiring.
I’m also inspired by leaders who have turned students and teachers lives around with an importance on wellbeing  so learning can happen. Or when my students are so happy to be at school, want to learn and run up to me to say hi or how much they miss me, are excited by what you helped them achieve or that you care.
It is a great profession.

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

One of the biggest challenges I see for people working in  education today is the workload. So many people working very hard with very little rest.

The rewards for people in education is when you get to collaborate with an amazing team, when your student’s enthusiasm for  learning is ignited and they are so happy because they feel successful, when you know you have made a difference.
 

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

I would slow the changes down and give more financial support for schools so they could have time to innovate and collaborate to plan. Give teachers adequate planning time to be able to implement things properly.
 

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

I see EduTweetOZ as a wonderful way for educators to learn from each other and have informative discussions. I see it as a digital teachmeet that showcases what our wonderful educators are doing.
This week I will be looking at teacher and student wellbeing.
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Kira Bryant, come on down! @tirisays

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 interest in education really stems from a love of learning that was nurtured throughout primary and secondary school. I had many wonderful teachers and applied, at 17 years of age, for a DoE Preservice Scholarship for English Teaching. I ticked the ‘anywhere in the state’ option on the scholarship form and at the conclusion of my studies was placed at Seven Hills High School. It was a big move from home (North Haven on the Mid North Coast) and where I had been studying, at the University of New England in Armidale, but the community I found at SHHS really supported my professional growth and once I was there I never looked back. I worked for several years at SHHS before moving to Glenmore Park High School where I worked as a classroom teacher before gaining a promotion to Head Teacher English. After three years in the role I took some long service leave to partake in a week-long internship at Nancie Atwell’s school – the Center for Teaching and Learning which reinforced everything I believe in about teaching – the power of student choice, the impact of the explicit teaching of reading and writing skills, how opportunities to engage with quality literature can enrich lives, and the importance of celebrating student success. During my leave, I applied for a role in the corporate sector of the Department of Education and was appointed as Teacher Quality Advisor in Term 2. This role is about supporting teachers with their accreditation and providing quality, research-based professional learning.

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

I have always found something new and inspiring to focus on – early on in my career I focused on designing effective lessons and developing my judgement as to what I needed to provide in order for my students to improve. I was then offered a Year Adviser role which provided great insight into the ways student achievement is impacted by their social milieu and family events. At Glenmore Park High School, I continued the Year Adviser role and was also fortunate enough to be involved in a Middle Schools Program as well as literacy and writing initiatives – all which gave me an opportunity to learn about what makes schools effective and hone my skills to support positive change in the process.

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

I think one of the biggest rewards is the positive impact an educator can have on a students’ life. Some students are ready for success at school but many don’t know any and it is this opportunity to share knowledge and provide support with skill development that really does have an impact on lives. Technology has definitely changed the landscape of education so one of the challenges is ensuring our students can be active and engaged citizens who have the skills and confidence to chase their dreams whilst also maintaining their digital footprint in a responsible manner. I think maintaining a focus on educational success, positive connections between students and their school, as well as considering what is happening in the world can make an educator’s job a bit of a balancing act at times.

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

If I could change anything it would be to give teachers more time to focus on preparing engaging lessons, to team teach, to collaborate with colleagues. Teachers, somehow, find the time to do all of these things already but I can only see positives when I consider how much stronger professional relationships would be with more time to invest in them. From all the research I have read and from my experience of working in and with schools, it seems that finding enough time to focus on the aspects you’re passionate about as well as the accountability measures required can be tricky.

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

In the words of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s character Anne Shirley – ‘It’s not what the world holds for you. It’s what you bring to it,’ contributing to a sense of community, via social media or face to face, is more important than ever. As the education professional grows, as the world continues to change, it is only through collaboration and common goals that we can hope to continue pushing forward with the work that we do. I am excited to host the EduTweedOz account and hope to discuss aspects of Teacher Accreditation, considerations of what preservice and beginning teachers need, and some readings I am working through on writing and literacy instruction.

Step right up, Ian Van Biezen (@Ianvbz)!

I have always wanted to be a teacher, and a major influence was my year 9 math teacher a story which I have shared on my Youtube channel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXm9I2EbdT4&t=16s I haven’t posted on this channel for awhile, though I am going to be revamping the channel tomorrow. My background in education is an adult based. Before I decided to undertake my University degree in Primary Education in 2016, I was involved in the Education of Adults during my employment with Job Services Australia, the employment based agencies that help those on Centrelink find alternative work or training. My role was an employment consultant, I would conduct training on application writing, interview skills, and presentation. I spent over 5 years in that industry. 

I am currently an undergrad in my 2nd year of my primary education degree, My most recent education experience was a 6 month leadership role, working with Indigenous students at a local Indigenous School, running a program called Numeracy buddies where myself and my team would go in once a week and help tutor these students in their math skills, they were year 7 to 9 students learning 3 – 5 years behind where they should be, this was a voluntary role, currently I am volunteering once a week I the school I completed my practicum at in June teaching mainly math and science to a year 6 class. 

The motivation for keeping me focused on my Undergrad degree is motivation for learning! I think education is so important and that all students need good quality education and access to teacher’s who are passionate. I go to the school where I volunteer and I can’t wait. I enjoy seeing that lightbulb moment when I have taught something! I also love getting to know the students, their backgrounds and the feedback they give to me each week helps me grow and develop as a pre service teacher. 

One of the major challenges I see today from my experience in the Classroom is a lack of Government funding, particularly for those students with learning difficulties who need the extra assistance in the classroom, the funding seems to be in short supply in providing funding for Education Assistant’s and other useful equipment to assist these students to grow and learn. I also think the lack of technology in classrooms, particularly in the public education sector, is below expectations, I would think with the push for students to be more ITC aware, there needs to be a push to provide every child access to a computer or tablet within the classroom, particularly in the remote and LSE schools. 

I would like to see more project based learning across all Schools from K – 12 and move away from the traditional worksheets. 

EduTweetoz, I have only been apart of the chat and discussion for about a year, and I can see the influence the discussion is having on teachers and many are taking ideas they are learning and discussing back to their classrooms to implement or try! I believe EduTweetoz, will continue to grow and play part in the professional development and growth of teachers in Australia. 

As a pre service teacher, I am learning a great deal from just participating in Twitter and EduTweetoz chats, it is certainly helping my growth and development and this will only benefit my future students and myself as an educator. I hope that EduTweetoz, continues to share ideas, discuss education in Australia and if it is not already doing so, shape education policy, after all the teachers are at ground zero. As a pre-service teacher, I hope I can lead a successful chat as a facilitator, I believe it will help me grow and also continue my learning journey and hopefully attract other pre-service teachers as well. 

On my Twitter feed you can see my links to my blog post and Youtube channel. 

Meet Michaela Epstein (mic_epstein) and behold her tweets!

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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?

Despite my obsession with maths education, this wasn’t what launched my interests and career in education.

For my under-grad degree, I studied politics, psychology and maths, and it was through politics that my interest in education developed. I learned a lot about liberal theory, multiculturalism and human rights and, from these areas, I started to understand how impactful education is as a lever for social change. When there are inequities that exist in a society, education is a powerful way of rising above them and breaking down barriers. So I thought this was incredible! Since then my work has been in a number of different areas, but always dedicated to education.

Previously, I have helped in establishing an academic enrichment program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander high school students, with The Aurora Project. As a teacher, I taught humanities and maths, and also had the privilege of working closely with teachers in a coaching capacity. The schools I have taught at are in rural Victoria and in Melbourne – a big change from my home town of Sydney – and an eye opener in terms of seeing how much harder some opportunities are to come by when you are not in a major city.

Right now, I have two professional roles that I am deeply passionate abut. At Maths Pathway (@MathsPathway), an Australian-founded social enterprise, I am the Head of Learning. Outside of this work, I am currently President of the Mathematical Association of Victoria (@mav_info).

Both roles keep me on my toes in staying up-to-date with latest research, and thinking about how to best support and connect teachers. I have become more focused on maths education in recent years, because it is such an important area for young people – and unfortunately it is so often feared. So as someone who’s not based in the classroom, I believe that one of the most valuable contributions I can make is in bringing teachers and others in the education space together, to talk to and learn from one another.

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

Australia has an outstanding education system. Every day there are such brilliant things happening in schools around the country that are enabled by the dedication of teachers, school leaders and support staff. I am driven in my work to contribute to this community.

Throughout my career, I have also been deeply motivated by the people around me – my colleagues and friends, who are each completely impressive in their own ways. I am grateful to these people for providing supportive environments where I can be challenged in my ideas and challenge them in return, where I can be proud of my successes but also be honest and open about failure. Education is a wonderful field, where just when you think you’ve figured something out, a new idea butts in and can completely shake your thinking. Despite having frequent feelings of disorientation, I love this challenge.

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

I strongly believe in the connectedness of education, so the reward and challenge that I’ll touch on relate to that.

An undeniable reward of working in education comes from the real, tangible impact that you have on people’s lives. Teachers and others in education are not just cogs in a wheel, but important and influential in students’ lives.

One of the great difficulties in education is that of empathy. There are so many voices in education, and it is so easy to make assumptions about what people need or want. We are often impacted – in the processes and structures that shape our work and often in the outcomes we can attain – by people we don’t know. There is a challenge that comes with this in reaching across to different perspectives (e.g. from schools, communities, academia, enterprise or elsewhere) and talking and really listening to one another.

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

I believe that every student should be in a position where they leave school, aware of their own strengths, confident in themselves and understand some of the options ahead of them. Too often though, where a student lives in Australia and their socio-economic circumstances affects whether they leave the education system with these things. So what would I do? Help to initiate or strengthen actions that overcome systemic barriers for students. I’d love to hear people’s ideas and what they’re doing on this front!

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

By nature of its geography, Australia is very fragmented. I experienced this firsthand, when working in rural Victoria. EduTweetOz is a fantastic initiative for bringing people together to collaborate, celebrate success and provide guidance. It’s an honour to be part of the community.

This week I’d love to tap into the thoughts and perspectives of the collective on some of my education interests, hopefully having some knotty discussions along the way. In particular, I’m keen to hear people’s ideas about how people #talkmathsup. Maths is a hugely important part of education (yes, I’m biased!), but it’s often feared, badly stereotyped or hated on. The question I often ask people is: Whether or not you teach maths, what do you do to give it a better deal?

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.