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Please meet Vince Wall.

Why did you decide to become involved in education? What are some of the roles you’ve had and what does your current role involve?

Hi. I’m Vince. My Twitter handle references an email from a 12-year-old student some years ago at school who addressed me as “Mr Vince”. (She signed off with “Love”. 😊 This was greeted with much mirth by my colleagues!)VinceWall

I honestly have no idea anymore why a very young, naïve, and reasonably sheltered 17-year-old me decided to become a teacher. Perhaps I became a teacher because of family connections and because I was familiar with it as an occupation. I do certainly remember that, in my final year of high school, teaching was the only thing I wanted to do. I haven’t been disappointed with my choice.

I’ve been teaching secondary students in the humanities subjects since January 1988. I genuinely love teaching. I have every intention of sticking with teaching for perhaps another decade or two.

In my time as a teacher I’ve held various roles and seemed to have adopted a pattern of opting to become “downwardly mobile” every 8 – 10 years. Working with kids inspires and invigorates me. Teaching, despite its challenges, brings me a lot of joy in my life.

In my time teaching I have taught in the state, Catholic and independent sectors – and enjoyed them all. I have learnt from so many wonderful colleagues in so many contexts. I have also taught as a part-time sessional lecturer in teacher education. I have taught in all boys’ schools, co-ed schools, and currently teach in an all girls’ Catholic independent school. My entire teaching career has been in and around Brisbane / South-East Queensland, but I have had the opportunity to travel from time to time. My students have included lower socio-economic students and quite affluent students. I’ve taught vocational education students and taught some highly academically driven students.

I am currently a full-time classroom teacher but have spent a substantial amount of my career in middle leadership roles as a head of curriculum or as a pastoral / student welfare middle leader (such as Year Level Coordinator or Head of House). In 2017, I decided to step away from middle leadership as a Head of House of 9 years. In my 30 years of teaching, the majority have been in roles connected to student welfare. In most recent times, this has meant working with students with significant well-being needs.

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

I am blessed to work with some wonderful colleagues who inspire me. I am also blessed to work in an environment which prizes learning, personal development, and the well-being of both staff and students.

I believe teachers are privileged to have the opportunity to work with so many kids and to touch so many lives. Unlocking students’ potential to engage with their world in an empowered way is certainly a motivation for me.

Educators that inspire me include: Sir Ken Robinson @SirKenRobinson, Christopher Emdin @chrisemdin ‏ ‏, and Angela Duckworth @angeladuckw ‏.

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

Where else do we get to engage with kids who are on the cusp of entering the adult world? There’s a reward in seeing students making their way in the world as healthy, happy and successful people.

So many challenges.

A key challenge for teachers is to engage with students in a meaningful way, to guide them positively in a world with so many voices competing for their attention. To engage them in authentic deep learning, to engender a love of learning, to be a voice of hope and reason is a world that can sometimes seem so foreboding.

I’d be remiss not to mention also the challenge posed by the fragile mental health of many of our students. We need to do what we can to protect and care for our students.

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

So much to rant about and so little time.

In Queensland, I would love to separate the senior years of schooling from university selection processes.

I would love to see schools become concerned primarily about learning, rather than assessment. I would love to see educators, families, bureaucrats, and politicians fully understand that performance in assessment may not actually be an indicator of a person’s potential, ability, intelligence, or worth.

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

Edutweetoz plays an important role in helping educators to connect and share. Twitter PLNs open our eyes to perspectives and experiences outside our own. It allows us to explore a diversity of opinion and voice… and hopefully Australia and the world (and our students) are all the better because of it.

I hope the account this week generates conversations, interactions and learning for teachers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Introducing Melissa Reily

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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 didn’t always want to be a teacher. In fact, quite the opposite. I went to a pretty rough comprehensive high school, where both the teachers and facilities were not given the respect they deserved. I saw some pretty awful things and because of this I convinced myself that teaching was one profession I would never even consider.

I went to University unsure of where I would eventually end up, and fell in love with archaeology from the very first lecture. My love for the discipline didn’t falter until the day I graduated. As soon as I stepped into the real world, however, I was far less sure of myself. I graduated at a time when there were very few jobs in archaeology or heritage management in Australia, and I believed my prospects for employment were limited at best. As a graduate with First Class Honours who also won an academic prize for the original research in her thesis, perhaps I should have had a little more faith in myself. But I didn’t.

After a couple of years of trying some different jobs and professions, I turned to teaching. I started with my own private archaeology education program and consultancy, and then quite quickly moved into classroom teaching. I completed my Grad Dip Ed and haven’t looked back.

I am currently a teacher of History and an ICT Integrator at SCEGGS Darlinghurst. That is the perfect role for me because I am able to combine the two things that I absolutely love: things that are very, very old (Ancient History) and very, very new (technology). An odd combination, I’ll admit, but it works for me.

In the classroom, I feel like I am home. If anyone had told my twenty year old self that I would be where I am right now, I would have laughed openly. But my 42 year old self knows that I have ended up in exactly the place I should be.

Home.

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

All of the students I’m yet to teach. The thought of all of those lives that I have the opportunity to positively influence keeps me motivated to strive to be the best I can possibly be.

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

If only I had the answer to this question! Student success (and I don’t necessarily mean the success that is measured by marks or leagues tables) will always be the biggest reward in teaching. As for challenges, there are always so many from both in and outside the profession, and they are constantly in a state of flux. What I have noticed very starkly of late, perhaps because it is the beginning of the school year, and at this time there is always a veritable explosion of media articles regarding education and schools, are the number of “experts” offering their opinions on our profession and the ways in which it can be improved. These “experts” are rarely teachers, even though we are the ones at the cold face of education. The erosion of teacher authority in the higher debates on educational theory and practice poses a great challenge for teachers.

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

Magic wand style? A single education system, managed by the state, generously funded and resourced to support the highest quality teaching and learning for students, irrespective of socio-economic status. In this system, I see the teaching profession as being highly respected, with salaries commensurate with the importance of our jobs.

Realistically? Better funding, governance and bureaucracy in education. Wait, that was meant to be realistic…

In all seriousness, our education system needs a major overhaul, not just of funding models but of everything, from the ground up. As it has been said many times before, our children are the future and our treatment of the way in which they are educated should be reflective of this gravity.

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 an avid social media user, particularly of Twitter for several years. I actually took from break from Twitter for a couple of years, and in the time that I was gone, there was a huge increase in the use of this platform for extending professional networks, sharing resources and teaching ideas, and engaging in robust debate on issues of education.

EduTweetOz plays a vital role in all three of these areas. Importantly, because of its ‘democratic’ curation, it has a variety of voices and perspectives prodding this debate along.

My hopes for the account this week is that I’ll bring my expertise and experience to the table, but leave my opinions in my personal Twitter accounts. To facilitate and moderate, but not to dictate. To this end, I’ll be posting the latest news and interesting media pieces throughout my days as curator, and to lead a discussion on something important each evening. No spoiler alerts though, you’ll have to tune in to check out the discussion.

To add something truly interesting in the mix this week; from Friday I’ll be participating in an archaeological dig in Tasmania, which is actually teacher Professional Learning as well. So I’ll be tweeting from the field and I’m sure I’ll have some truly funny stories to relay along the way!

Can’t wait to join you all on Sunday 🙂

Please welcome Matthew Beggs back to EdutweetOZ!

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 actually realised this year that I’ve been teaching for ten years and I cannot believe how fast the time has gone. I entered education and teaching after completing a degree in media studies and attempting to make it as a writer for a period of time. Teaching was always something in my mind as a potential career and it was something recommended to me by others. I have been teaching at the current school where I work in the western suburbs of Melbourne for the past five years and am currently the Grade 5/6 team leader. The previous two years to this I was teaching 3/4 and then previous to that 1/2. This year is my first year as a team leader and it has definitely creates some challenges. At the same time it has created some wonderful opportunities to extend myself as a teacher that I do not think that I could have been able to do in previous years.

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

I think every day I turn up to work there is always something exciting and inspiring. Whether it be the student who has the “a-ha moment” or the opportunity to undertake new and exciting experiences, there is always something to motivate and challenge me. I think the fact that this year I have moved to a year level that I have never taught before is something that has motivated me to take greater risks as a teacher, which ultimately has led to me being more motivated to deliver the best possible educational experience that I can for the students that I work with.

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

I think one of the greatest rewards in education is still that moment where you can see the lightbulb goes off. The moment that a student you are working with achieves something that you might of initially felt was impossible is always such a rewarding thing. The small moments can sometimes lead to moments that are much larger and I think these small moments can sometimes be forgotten with the amount of noise that we are exposed to. A challenge that I feel in education today is the fact there is so much noise for everyone to navigate. It is becoming increasingly hard to distinguish which voices should be listened to and which voices should be ignored and ultimately this has an impact on both teachers and students.

 

 

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

I think there needs to be greater interaction between those who are training teachers and schools working at the coalface. I feel that there needs to more done from all parties involved to help prepare teachers for the realities for the workforce. If more is not done to help bridge the gap that exist between teaching rounds and the reality of the workforce, teachers will continue to burn out as the pressures on them continue to increase.

 

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

One of the things that EduTweetOz does so well is it allows for different voices to be heard in a constructive manner.

 

I think it helps to keep myself grounded as a teacher as I am able to see an amazing array of different examples of phenomenal teaching. By allowing for more voices to be heard, we are ultimately helping to promote the collegiate nature that we all seem to strive for.

I think for myself this week it is another chance to connect with those within the educational community and find what ends up making us tick as teachers. I think we seem to talk a lot about what drives us within the classroom it is always nice to reflect on what drives us outside the classroom (also what helps keep us sane outside the classroom). I think by trying to help myself and others identify our passions and to connect with others who might inspire us to be better as teachers and aren’t we always learning anyway? This account is a wonderful reflection of the Australian educational community and I hope that I can be a small part of this.

Our first host for 2018 Markeeta Roe-Phillips @MarkeetaRP

IMG_2464Why did you decide to become involved in education? 

Education is in my blood. My mother was a teacher, as are most of my aunts and uncles on her side of the family. I knew when I was a precocious preschooler, reading to my baby brother, that I wanted to be a teacher, but was dissuaded from this by the careers advisor during secondary school because I was ‘too smart’ and ‘would be bored’ and ‘owed it to society to do more than teaching’. After year 12 I did a student exchange to Honduras, Central America where I attended a local high school for half the day and volunteered in a local primary in the afternoon. I LOVED the teaching side of my experience and yet when I returned to Australia I enrolled in a Commerce degree! (From living in a third world country to a degree that, at its core, was based on consumerism and capitalism – no cognitive dissonance there at all!)

The tipping point that prompted me to head back to uni was a conversation I had with my mother. We were visiting Melbourne and were browsing in an art store. I picked up a block of marbled paper and launched into a long list of cool ways it could be used in a JP classroom. My mother rolled her eyes,”Would you please just go back to uni and get your teaching degree?”

And so, as a single parent of two small children that’s exactly what I did. It took me 7 years to finish my B.Ed/B.A while I worked and raised my children but I did it, and haven’t looked back.

What are some of the roles you’ve had and what does your current role involve?

I registered in the middle of 2012, and immediately dropped my paperwork into a number of local schools for relief work. The following day I was asked to cover a teacher librarian; my first day of teaching was spent processing returns and reading picture books to JP classes! (I felt like I was cheating someone, getting paid to do that!) The following day, in a different school I was the Design & Tech specialist teacher. By the end of the day I was asked to take over a 5/6 class for the rest of the term, and ended up staying for the rest of the year.  Talk about being in the right place at the right time!

Since then I’ve shared both a 3/4 class and an upper primary special education class, had my own 6/7 class for two years, had my own 4/5 class for a year, worked 1:1 with a child under the guardianship of the minister and done some relief work while working on my Master of Education.This year I’m planning to do relief work while finishing my M.Ed. If a contract presents itself I will jump in with both feet, but am looking at this time as an opportunity to finish these last three subjects.Over the last year I have also become actively involved in supporting other teachers through Edufolios, helping them to use the AITSL standards to reflect on their practice.

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

Kids! Always kids.  Seeing my kids (by birth and by education) grow and become the best they can be makes my heart sing. It’s corny, but it’s true.

I am motivated to be the best I can be for them. I am driven to be creative, to be innovative, to practice research based pedagogies and evidence based practice for them.

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

The biggest rewards sometimes come in the smallest of packages (and I run the risk of repeating myself here): our kids.  Of course! And in the intellectual stimulation of working toward achieving that first reward.

The challenges lie in the the barriers to achieving meaningful experiences for our kids: apathetic colleagues, government policies, parental expectations (either way, depending on the family), budgetary constraints and time.

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

How long is a piece of string? I think our whole education system needs to be dismantled and rebuilt. The industrial revolution has long since passed and so too should have this system of education that was designed around it!  However, that’s not going to happen anytime soon, so in the meantime I would like to see children working with teachers in ‘stages’ not ‘ages’; I would explicitly teach ALL students metacognitive strategies from preschool; I would re-engage the community because it truly does take a village to raise a child; I would revisit school hours/terms; I would engage more speech pathologists, occupational therapists, psychologists and physiotherapists to work in partnership with teachers to provide meaningful intervention (rather than just assessments)… The list could go on for pages, but I think you get the picture.

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

EduTweetOz provides a forum for Australian educators to share ideas, successes, challenges and (virtual) space in a way that is accessible to all. It is a space that encourages critical engagement with ideas at the same time as it offers an insight into the working – and personal -lives of educators around the country. Educators can dip in their toe, or dive right in.

My hope for this week is to prompt – and contribute to – some interesting discussions and to offer general support during this early part of the school year. I’m looking forward to ‘meeting’ a whole raft of new educators too!

Last week’s host was @MsDolling

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 was piqued when I was 11 years old and volunteered my time to coach gymnastics at the club I was also training at. I knew I would not be paid for my time, but I was keen to help out. Gymnastics was an interesting place- you weren’t graded by your age; you were graded by your skills. I might be 13 years old, and in Level 5 with 15y/o’s; 11 y/o’s and maybe even an 8 y/o. I think that is a very interesting model, particularly when I consider the implications it could have on the schooling system. I earned my coaching certification and was a member of the club for 15 years- 10 of those years as a coach.

I began university as a Psychology major, but was drawn back to teaching. As a beginning teacher at Rooty Hill High School, I was very keen to follow the path of student welfare, but my Mentor and Principal had other ideas! I was nudged into the world of Professional Practice- mentoring, coaching and a very unique strand of school leadership. I have been the English faculty Professional Practice Mentor (PPM) for the last four years, and the position is ever-evolving. I am privileged to work with expert English teachers, an amazing team of PPM’s and our supportive executive.

My coaching instincts never really abandoned me, and I’ve been active in developing and leading co-curricular opportunities for students. From choreographing the school musical; to coaching the U15 girls’ volleyball team; to co-leading the Young Writers Festival; I am passionate about offering every possible opportunity to Western Sydney students. Most notably I built a public speaking and debating club for students from Years 7-12. Teams meet weekly, and have participated in competitions across Sydney.

I am proudly and predominantly a classroom teacher and am passionate about sharing my love of literature and communication with students.

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

I am inspired by Western Sydney.
The people and culture surrounding our West are effervescent.

There are so many innovative, creative educators in Western Sydney, and being educated in Western Sydney, I know how essential it is that we recognise the amazing things that are happening here.

I believe that education is the solution (to innumerable problems), and this fuels my dedication to students and my work.

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

Rewards: There are hundreds of seemingly small moments within a day or week that add up to their own reward. An understanding conversation with a colleague, a Yr 7 student taking to the drama stage for the first time and lighting up, a shift in grades that shows improved understanding. All of these examples may sound saccharine, but when an ex-student contacts you to say they knew exactly how to write their University ‘Metropolis’ essay, or another asks you to proof-read their journalism article- you feel the weight of your impact.

Challenges: Assumptions.

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

I would shift away from privatising education and principals as CEO’s.
I would foster a culture of respect for the profession and my colleagues.
I would listen to teachers, students and parents.

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

EduTweetOz is connecting educators around Australia. I’m looking forward to building connections. I hope to engage in professional discourse, discussion and play around:
English:
– The new HSC English syllabus and how schools and teachers are approaching it.
– Love of reading.
Society & Culture:
– I will be teaching my first SAC class in 2018 and need to prepare!
Mentoring:
– A key interest in line with my position as Professional Practice Mentor. I’d like to make strong connections with others who work in this space.
Adaptive practice:
– My 2018 school plan project lives in this realm. How do we measure adaptability? How do the experts do it?
– Discovering how others use classroom observation

This week’s host: Melinda Haskett – @HaskettsHSC

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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 completed my BA Education (Secondary, Humanities and Social Sciences), with majors in Geography and English, at the University of Sydney in 2002. Over the past 15 years teaching in South West Sydney I have had a variety of formal and informal roles, including relieving in executive positions and am proud to be accredited as a Highly Accomplished Teacher. Last May I moved out of school, via merit selection, to the Teacher Quality team at the Department looking after induction, professional learning and accreditation. Earlier this year I began as relieving PSO (PEO) for Leadership and High Performance.

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

As a teacher I am passionate about my subject areas, in particular Society & Culture, and enjoy sharing my expertise with other teachers. Working with students, early career teachers and school leaders keeps me motivated to be the best teacher and systems leader I can be.

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

The biggest rewards are seen in the classroom every day. Classroom teaching has immediate rewards – your impact is seen, known and measureable. The impact of school and system leaders is however harder to measure. Change management is a huge issue for education right now along with how we ‘undo’ the teaching and learning myths about what works best to improve student learning.

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

I might open this question up to the EduTweetOz peeps for discussion.

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

I’m hoping for some robust but friendly debate and definitely some myth busting on quality teaching and leadership.

 

EdutweetOz meets @chriscawsey

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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 woman of my generation the availability of scholarships for study at university was very attractive and, like many young teachers, I thought I would only teach for a short time. I thought I would work in the city. I thought I would seek a career change after my scholarship requirements were met.

It was not to be. I worked in secondary schools in western Sydney as a teacher in special education and social sciences. After 6 years as Leading Teacher at St Marys Senior HS I moved to Rooty Hill High School as principal in 1997.

From the start of my career I loved the fact that every day was different – teaching is never boring. I loved the fact that I was learning every day and I was creating opportunities for students to learn and transition to their adult lives with skills, capabilities and dispositions that enabled them to pursue their own passions and dreams. This is the heart of my work, work I do each day with the wonderful team of professional colleagues at Rooty Hill HS. The school was recognised in 2017 with its second Educator Magazine Most Innovative Schools award.

I have been privileged as a principal and systems leader to work in the school, the community, the professional community and  across the education sector. As the 6th largest industry in the country, education provides many opportunities for engagement, leadership and influence.

In addition to being principal of Rooty Hill High School I was president of the NSW Secondary Principals’ Council from 2010-2012 and I still continue to work with the Council on projects and advocacy.

I am also a non-executive director on the following boards:

  • Australian Council of Educational Leaders (ACEL)
  • The Smith Family – Australia’s largest educational charity supporting disadvantaged children
  • Western Sydney Giants AFL Club

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

Australian children have the right to education in a first world country. As a secondary school teacher and principal I believe our profession has a moral contract with every student and their families to ensure each student does his or her best. The complexity of this work is not well understood outside the profession and one critical role of the principal is to work with teachers and students to create learning that is creative, relevant and challenging.

John Hattie has said that average student learning improves 9 months per annum without much intervention. I have an expert interest in finding ways to improve student learning trajectories and developing a culture of learning that values the “whole” person, a culture that is personalised and recognises the wide range of talents and potential in each student. Our task is to design  universal, targeted and intensive learning that ensures success in curricular, co-curricular and extra-curricular learning.

Our current projects at Rooty Hill HS include:

  • Embedding a capability driven curriculum
  • Student self-assessment of the ACARA capabilities using an online portfolio
  • High quality professional practice and learning design
  • Entrepreneurial learning
  • Strategic Partnerships including working with Social Ventures Australia as a “Powerhouse School”

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

It is a privilege to be a teacher and principal and some of the  biggest rewards are intrinsic – knowing you are making a difference in the lives of young people. Every day we prepare students to live in their present so they will shape their own futures.

The challenges are very real. The include:

  • Workload
  • Disruption
  • Inequity
  • Assumptions and bias confirmation

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

As I have said on Twitter and in presentations there are some recurring themes. Educators are in the critical business of #stupidityprevention.

I could list many issues that concern me for the future of our school sector in this country so I will just list 5 moral issues that need to be addressed:

  • The acceptance of growing inequality between our schools that is now having a major impact on our overall PISA and international performance. We have to fund for need across sectors, not just within them.
  • Assessment of learning and progress – not well understood, not well developed – resulting in over-reliance on external, high stakes testing that is somewhat reliable but may have little validity. Students only get one chance; we have to do better.
  • Vocational Education and multiple pathways. The over-reliance on university entry as a measure of student and school success is a long term disaster for many of our students and, in the longer term, our economy.
  • The pressure to move the control of teachers and teaching away from the profession into the control of government bodies-there are unspoken gender dimensions to the constant “teacher bashing” that accompanies any debate about education in this country.
  • The responsibility of the whole community for providing funding and opportunities for every child – especially our most disadvantaged children and our sickest children.

Please be upstanding for @brookssensei

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 have always wanted to be a teacher even back when I was I High School student, however there seemed to be a stigma at the time that ‘anyone’ could be a teacher (I know understand how wrong I was!). I worked in the mining technologies industry for 7 years prior to becoming a teacher, firstly as a Software Engineer but then in various other roles as a Product Manager, Systems Specialist and then worked FIFO on a gold mine with the software from my previous employer. I was moving up the corporate ladder with a hefty salary but was unhappy. It was my wife who reminded me that I had been thinking of becoming a teacher, and ultimately urged me to consider it seriously.I enrolled in Primary education, but was offered a job in High School, six weeks into my first semester during a practicum. I was a Japanese teacher for two years in the public system, and moved over to my current school (the school I went to as a student) last year to teach IT. I took on the Digital Technologies Coordinator role at the beginning of this year as part of the Curriculum Team, endeavouring to build our school into a leader in Digital Technologies. My department currently looks after Digital Media and Business Studies, too, so I have a variety of hats that I wear.Outside of my own school, I was lucky enough to become a Google Certified Innovator (#GoogleEI) this year as part of their #SYD17 cohort. I am also part of the TeachMeetWA (@wapln) administration team cohosting #TMWAreach twice a term.

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

The students always inspire me! Walking into that class, I am always encouraged to do my best for them.Moreover, my professional learning network through my school, TeachMeetWA, the Google Certified Innovators and more widely through Twitter.

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

Rewards – the opportunity to utilise technology, for me it is the ultimate game-changer for education- being part of the dramatic revolution in education that is happening as we speak- the ‘aha’ moments in the classroom – that face when students get it is pricelessChallenges – preparing students for an unknown future in a time- having to ‘cover the curriculum’ when we are trying to change to do more cross-curricular project based learning- the media’s obsession with what teachers should be doing better

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

Where do I start!? Ken Robinson’s vision is a starting point. I think we should be moving to a system like @hightechhigh – authentic, cross-curricular assessment covering a small portion of the curriculum using project-based learning. Get rid of grades, get rid of year levels, get rid of ‘the curriculum’ or at least only cover the key points, get rid of university entrance exams and more! Focus on the love of learning!

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

EduTweetOz is a great opportunity to showcase and share some of the best teaching knowledge in Australia. I am hopeful that more teachers will take on the challenge so that we can build a shared repository of knowledge throughout the country.

Welcome @laraheppner to EduTweetOz!

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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?

Some people hold out for their dream job. I’m lucky that I fell in love with the job that I defaulted to! I studied science at University, but was talked out of entering research by my Uncle who was a research scientist. I entered teaching, and over the years is has definitely grown on me to become a passion. I’ve taught Science and Chemistry for 12 years now and I’m currently Science Coordinator at a Catholic co-ed high school in Adelaide. I have also been Head of Science at an International School in Japan, and am heading off on a different adventure next year as a STEM innovator at a large public super-school in Adelaide.

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

I’m kept motivated by my students – wanting to do the best job I can for them, which is especially felt for Year 12 classes where there is so much pressure to prepare them well and help them get the highest grade they can achieve. I also am motivated by the “a-ha” moments when you find ways to turn around troubled/disengaged/uninterested students. Sometimes it’s the smallest things – like trying to explain desiccants to students with the example of the little sachets in tortilla wrap bags…except they don’t eat Mexican…until weeks later they come in and say they had wraps and now they know what a desiccant is! It inspires me to hear of students I have taught who have enjoyed my subject enough that they decide to continue studying it at a tertiary level, or that their values have been impacted as an adult by their high school education.

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

One of the biggest challenges, I think, is the perception of teachers – all those holidays and early minutes and glorified babysitting! This perception of teaching as an easy profession, a back-up job or a low-skilled job diminishes the complexities that exist in reality. Work-load is a big issue, making full time teaching unmanageable for many new graduate teachers. The classroom is more complex – there are so many competing demands, learning needs, new technologies, administrative duties- which makes teaching a really difficult job. But the rewards of impacting the next generation remain, and I think that is what draws many teachers to education and keeps them there.

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

I don’t know how any 18 year old can know what they want to do at that age. I’d like to see greater breadth of high school study (not just 4 subjects at Year 12 level), and less of an emphasis on the ATAR. I’d like to see more focus on inspiring students to live as lifelong and curious learners, with less focus on standardised testing. I’d like more time for teachers to collaborate, and a structure for equitable access to professional development across all sectors and experience levels of teachers.  

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

Teachers are only as good as the team they are supported by. A high performing professional network can only improve the quality of teaching in Australia, and support teachers to serve our students better. Teaching shouldn’t be seen as competitive, but as collaborative – sharing makes us all better so there’s no reason to hoard your worksheets! I hope to start some discussions around sustainable schools, professional development and science teaching.

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.