Introducing Tenille Henniker

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?
TenilleI completed my Bachelor of Primary Education ​at Wollongong University in 2014. Before I studied Primary Education I completed a Diploma of Children Services 0-5 years old. I knew this wasn’t for me as I had always wanted to become a teacher. After graduating in the school holidays leading into 2015 I ended up picking up a position at Ajuga School which is an School for specific purpose (SSP) which is for students with an Emotional Disturbance. I was on the Austism class. I started the first day as casual by the end of the week I was Temp and by the August of the same year I became permanent. During my time at uni I always used to say I wanted to work at a low socio economic school and with the kids that needed it the most. My main passion has always been about making a difference. I have always have had high expectations of myself and the students. I am currently receiving Assistant Principal on the Support Unit at Belmore North Public school, I have been in this role since mid way through term 3 last year. My support Unit currently has 5 class which are made up of students with Autism and Intellectual disabilities. I am currently on the 4/5/6 class. I have so much passion and drive for students in special ed. It honestly gets me out of bed every morning knowing I am going to see those smiling faces.

Who or what keeps you inspired and motivated in your work?
I have started to network more in my area, seeing other schools, classes, teaches and what they do really motivate me and keep me inspired. I have always been really lucky to always have such great bosses, mentors and supportive teams. I love new ideas, implamenting changes for the better, it keeps me motivated and fresh. I also gain a lot of ideas from Twitter.

What do you see as some of the biggest rewards and challenges for people working in education today?
The biggest rewards would be the smiling faces of those kids every day, successes in the small things such as the light bulb moments, working with kids every day, while doing what you love, being able to be a positive influence and role model in these kids lives, especially for the kids who may not have always had the best influences.
Challenges would have to be: timing (never enough hours in a day), work load.

If you had the ability to make changes to the education system in Australia, what would you do?
​This one is a hard one. I am sure across time there are lots of things that ​can/could be changed. Some of the things I would like to see would be: smaller class sizes, more opinions valued from the people on the ground (teachers), more special ed schools and support for students with disabilities in main stream schools, more funding for schools instead of budget cuts.

What role do you see EduTweetOz playing on the education scene in Australia and what are your hopes for the account this week?
It is great to have different people from different parts of education. By hosting they get to share all the different ides, perspectives and influence and get their different ideas out there. I hope this week to get more of an idea and understanding of special ed out there, I would love to know peoples perceptions on special ed and possibly more networking with other people in special ed.

Advertisements

New to EduTweetOz, here is Kylie Youkhana

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?
kylie

I am a mature-age, early career teacher. I graduated from Macquarie University in 2014 with a Bachelor of Education (Birth – 12). I did not get a UAI in high school and therefore I did not even apply to go to university. I thought that the doors to higher education were shut so I worked in administration and was in the role of an Office Manager. I always felt like something was missing, I could do my job, and do it well, but it wasn’t fulfilling. I decided to look into TAFE courses and met with a TAFE counselor who had me complete an aptitude test, the test showed my areas of strength and highlighted teaching as a career that would suit. From there I discovered that I was able to get into university via alternative pathways. I completed a STAT test and was accepted into a B.Ed degree at Macquarie University, while completing my degree I worked at a temp agency for child care and then as a nanny for an amazing family. Upon finishing my degree I worked as a Casual Relief Teacher and then secured consistent work from my current school. With my current school I have worked in a variety of roles, New Arrivals, LaST, EaLD, RFF and Classroom Teacher. For the last two years I have been a Stage 3 teacher on a 5/6 Composite Class. I have also lead the choir, coached the PSSA team, as well as being part of our school STEM Action Team. I am currently coordinating our community of schools’ performing arts festival. I am a self professed techie and love sharing my knowledge, skills and passion for integrating ICT with my colleagues.

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

Of course I love the lightbulb moments, but the ultimate reward for my work that keeps me motivated is watching a student learn to love learning. I love seeing the student who thinks that they can’t, all of a sudden realise that they can. I love knowing that every day will be different and that for some kids I am the difference in their day.

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

Biggest rewards: Working with inspired people (colleagues and executives) and inspiring our students.
Biggest Challenges: The gaps…. Gaps in preparation from university for real teaching practice, gaps in communication from the top down, gaps in knowledge and understanding among all students.

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

I would put key decision makers into classrooms so that they get first hand experience at what life is truly like. I would reform standardised testing and make it more relevant and accessible for students. I would reduce the administrative burden on teachers. Am I going too far?

What role do you see EduTweetOz playing on the education scene in Australia and what are your hopes for the account this week?
EduTweetOz brings us all together, it gives us a place to share our thoughts and to challenge our perceptions. It is a place where our voices become one, and one collective voice can be powerful.

Welcoming Nicole Kapernick

Hi everyone. I’m the daughter of two primary school teachers but education has been valued in my family going back some generations. I dreamt of being a journalist rather than a teacher but when I completed my degree in Drama I needed to work, and teaching was the obvious option for me. I loved school as a student. I had many excellent teachers who mentored me, and I wanted to be ‘one of those’ teachers in the system – the teacher that made school a place you wanted to be.

nicolekapernick

I’ve had three stages in my career thus far – optimistic, idealistic, young drama teacher; mother of three trying to earn some money and stage her return to the profession and now- older, wiser, still idealistic but more reasoned teacher of English working full time for the first time in some 13 years.

Along the way I’ve worked in a range of Catholic schools from Lismore to the inner suburbs of Brisbane – co-educational, all boys and all girls. I’ve not had any senior roles but have mentored practicum or student teachers and always had a pastoral role as homeroom teacher.

My students are primarily what keep me motivated in my work. A long time ago a wise teacher told me that “being a parent makes you a  better teacher and being a teacher makes you a better parent”. As a parent I see the flip side of the classroom at home and the impact teachers have on young learners. I am always motivated to be the teacher students go home and talk to their parents about for the ‘right’ reasons. I’ve met and worked with quite a few inspiriting colleagues over the years and I try to integrate a little bit of their educational DNA into my approach to teaching.

The rewards in education are obvious to me – I get joy out of seeing my students succeed, I feel privileged to be part of their lives and to play a small part in getting them where they need to go and I’m guaranteed to learn one thing and laugh at least once every single day. The challenges can be overwhelming. I genuinely worry for the younger teachers I see new to the profession and wonder how long they will survive in our systems. At times I resent the public perception of my profession and their criticism of our effectiveness, amongst friends and politicians alike.
I think the greatest challenge is to have the courage to do less. It’s a challenge to say “No. Enough. Trust me. We don’t need to do that just now.”

If I could change the Education system in Australia I would dearly love to make it far more egalitarian. A free, well resourced, engaging education is the golden ticket for our young people and if all of them genuinely had this opportunity, our community would be immensely richer for it.

I follow @EduTweetOz because it is a strong community of amazing professionals who genuinely seem to love being educators and want to collaborate to make our profession stronger. I look forward to the insights that others will share with me this week and to shamelessly stealing any resources that are posted in good faith.

Guest Host: Meridith Ebbs @imerinet

  1. 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?

Ebbs, Meridith

I have been teaching for over 20 years. I enjoy working with people and teaching was always something I came back to when exploring different career options.

I am primary trained and I have a Masters in Adult Education. I have taught K-10 for many years. During the 90’s I was also a computer trainer where I taught people to use computers in the workplace. During this time I also worked as an instructional designer and wrote custom training materials for corporate clients.

 

Currently I have two roles. I work as a year 5 teacher two days a week and I also work for the University of Adelaide as the NSW Project Officer three days per week. In my role as Project Officer I travel the state facilitating workshops and speaking at conferences to assist teachers with integrating computational thinking, digital technologies and coding in the classroom. This involves unpacking the NSW Syllabus for K-8 where technology is compulsory from 2019. I also introduce the concept of computational thinking and various digital technology tools. The university has free online courses to assist teachers wanting to upskill in preparation for the digital technologies curriculum. https://csermoocs.adelaide.edu.au/moocs/

 

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

 

I love learning and I am inspired by people who have a hunger for more knowledge. So jobs that require this are exciting for me. I also work with amazing people in both my roles, that support and encourage me both personally and professionally. My professional learning network (PLN) is also inspiring and they are an amazing resource. I love meeting my virtual friends face to face and developing virtual relationships into real friendships.

 

I enjoy teaching, both students and teachers show such excitement when they learn something new. This is inspiring.

 

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

The biggest rewards for teachers are the same today as they have been for years. Seeing the light bulb moment in a student, receiving a token note from a student saying how much they loved a lesson, casual personal moments with students that create a connection you never had before. These are the reasons I continue to teach in a school. I think it is fantastic to see the increase in the number of awards and scholarships available for teachers now and I encourage everyone to apply or nominate unsung heros for acknowledgement.

 

The real challenge for teachers is the changing face of the profession. Teaching is in the midst of disruption on so many levels.

  • Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) has resulted in increased administration and accountability. This is important and necessary but leads to an increase in administrative responsibility in the form of documentation and also development of new activities to comply with the changes.
  • Changing pedagogy is having a huge impact on teachers and their craft. Research on changing pedagogies is limited and often difficult for classroom teachers to access so establishing what works and how best to implement it is time consuming. Obtaining information on how to implement the new pedagogies is also difficult to find, as their are so many variants on the same idea and limited free details on exactly how to use these ideas. This requires schools to invest and commit to often costly resources and programs that may or may not be best practise.
    1. Project Based Learning
    2. Problem Based Learning
    3. Flipped Learning
    4. Inquiry Learning
    5. Co-operative Learning
    6. Open-Ended Instruction
    7. Differentiated Instruction
  • The increase in analytics and formalised data collection. This results in increased workload and often increased need for formalised assessment.
  • Increased requirements on the use of technology. Teaching is one of the last occupations to fully utilise advances in technology.

    In the business world

    1. Fast wifi is an expectation,
    2. 1:1 computing has been in the workplace for over 30 years
    3. Computer Graphic Design, Augmented reality, virtual reality, Drones,  automation and 3D printing are being used in real life applications.

 

In education, many classrooms still function the same as they did in the mid 1900s. Adopting technology in education is essential yet it can be expensive and requires teachers to increase their own skills. Is the cost of professional learning both in time and financially the responsibility of the teacher or the employer? Many teachers need to upskill themselves to be able to teach the new Digital Technologies Curriculum areas. While schools may support this there will still be a gap that needs to be filled by the teacher in the form of sourcing projects, lesson ideas and planning time.

    • Changing content and updated curriculum in recent years have meant the recycling of classrooms programs is not possible. This results in time spent updating and reinventing teaching programs. This is time intensive but not necessarily a bad thing. Teaching should be writing programs to cater for their students. The benefit is there are many free resources that can assist the planning of projects and teaching which means you do not have to create every resource. Changing teaching programs is a good way to modernise classroom practise so students stay engaged.
    • Connectedness 24/7 has many benefits to obtaining information and gathering resources when it suits your personal lifestyle. It also creates a blurry line for personal time. Phones dinging and buzzing while relaxing with family and emails from colleagues and students at any time can be intrusive and create the dilemna of when should I answer them. It is important we utilise the “Do not disturb” function on our phones and ipads so we are not interrupted while resting with family and friends. Maybe consider removing your work email from your phone so you are not tempted to answer emails during your down time.

 

  • Teacher wellbeing is commonly discussed as a reason for teachers leaving the profession. It is crucial we take responsibility for our own wellbeing and manage the stresses in our lives to maintain balance and positive wellbeing. Our families and students deserve a balanced person in their lives so we need to be proactive in obtaining the support we need to maintain positive wellbeing.

 

  • Standardised testing is another challenge faced by teachers. What priority should we place on these? Are they designed to test student knowledge and how much do we structure classroom content to cater for the test? The pressure on schools to perform well in these tests results in “teaching to the test” by some teachers, to ensure their students perform. Does this create the most engaging and educationally sound environment?

 

There are many controversial issues listed above. These are my observations in my travels and conversations with various teacher groups. These are only the issues that come to mind as I write this post.

 

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

I would like to see every school have fast wifi and the technology resources they need to engage students in the new digital technologies curriculum. Opportunity for teachers to have paid sabbatical to do research and improve their pedagogical approaches in the context of their personal and school needs.

 

  1. 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 an opportunity for teacher voice. Each week it presents a different viewpoint on different issues in education. This creates an interesting account to follow as you see the views of others that you may not hear in your usual professional circles.

 

This week I would like to highlight the priority for teachers to upskill in the area of computational thinking and digital technologies. I plan to share resources that I think assist with this area and pose questions for discussion.

 

Find out more about Meridith Ebbs here http://imerinet.weebly.com/about.html

 

Introducting Ian Van Biezen @ianvbz

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?

-Xy63z2k_400x400

I am currently a Pre-service teacher in my third year of my Primary Education Degree at Curtin University, in Perth Western Australia. I decided to become a teacher due to an experience I had in year 9. This experience started with a teacher who had know interest in seeing me succeed, when I asked a question about a concept he said “If you don’t get it, you never will.” In second semester, we got a new maths teacher, who completed a diagnostic assessment with me, designed an individual program for me and worked with me in each lesson. I was taken from a D to a B within one term. This to me is what teaching is all about.

During my experience at University, I have been fortunate enough to be apart of the leadership with program with Curtin Volunteers. In 2016, I had an opportunity to manage a team of volunteers working with a local Indigenous School assisting Indigenous students in improving their numeracy and literacy skills. I was involved in this program through 2016.

Last year I also completely my first practicum blocks, and worked with a year 6 class over 4 weeks, and continued to volunteer with the same school for a further 6 months once a week, I learnt so much and had the opportunity to work with mentor teachers with varied experience. One key area that stood out for me, was differentiation in learning I found this quite challenging at first when developing lesson plans. In the classroom I had an ESL, and a child with learning disabilities along with a gifted child. The success was so rewarding and I could really see these students thrive and I even had a parent state, “thank you for taking an interest in my child.”

This year, I am volunteering as a project leader with a small team at a local primary school each Wednesday, again helping students with numeracy and literacy. I am working with a year 1 class and take small groups and the most rewarding part of this, is the light bulb moment when they understand or get something, they are so excited. The opportunity has also provided with a good contrast between working with older and younger students. Currently, I take small group lessons working on their phonics and CVC words.

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

The children I work with and seeing them grow each week. I find even after a week of being away from them the change and growth I see is totally transformative, I am year 1 students are like little sponges, they absorb and remember everything. They are little people and having conversations with them and getting to know them is so rewarding. Teaching is about building those relationships and learning with them. I am continually surprised each week with the progress and change in the year 1 ones I am currently working with. I look forward to each week.

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

This biggest rewards I see in teaching are the impacts teachers make on their students each day, teachers have the power to change lives each day, through building those key relationships, understanding a child’s background and catering for all students within their classroom. The opportunities to be able to teach throughout Australia in both metropolitan and regional centres with very diverse leaners are amazing opportunities and when I graduate I am considering a regional placement, as there is a great need in these areas.

The marketization and de-valuation, and neoliberalism is taking away the autonomy teachers once had in the classroom; de-valuing the profession; focus on standardized test outcomes, and not looking at the overall picture of how learning and student outcomes occur in the classroom.

Teachers are being undermined and the trust with teachers is diminishing within the classroom and community, because of the effects of NAPLAN, and my school’s website, with the teacher blame game becoming a political issue, rather than looking at the real issues occurring within our schools; the addressing of inequality for instance.

Teachers are now swamped with more admin, to justify their positions; which takes the focus away from teaching; and helping those students who need to most assistance, thus they continue to fall behind. Good leadership requires a climate of trust to be built and acknowledge teachers as capable autonomous professional, supportive of a collaborative environment and transparent.

With the advent of neoliberalism and marketization in schools, the teacher profession is slowly becoming de-graded, the way to drive change is to is for teachers and the community to begin thinking critically against the grain, so that the inequality in education can be narrowed further. NAPLAN, my school’s website is not focusing on the real issues facing disadvantaged students, and social issues are also not taken into account, these issues are at the forefront of teaching each day.

There is a focus on academic standards, rather than social justices, and their needs to be a balanced approach to both. Schools, particularly public are becoming a commodity, producing human capital; rather than focusing on “teaching”.

Within the school system, there seems to be a real disconnect between the requirements of administration and the objectives and goals of each teacher regarding their own professionalism and autonomy; a disconnect is occurring from the principal down –  causing much dissatisfaction from the teaching staff. In an ever-competing market, the focus is becoming more about academic achievement, high standards and expectations for both teachers and students; thus, placing pressure on the teachers. High stakes and high evaluation seem to be key components, and the focus is being lost on actual teaching, because of these high standards, academic success being pushed, are students from LSES being further left behind?  Autonomy it seems has been taken away from the school; it seems with the school case study “it is there way or the highway” whether it is working for students in your classroom or not”, with very clear programs and expectations in place from year to year, a cookie cutter approach.

This does not take into account the learning styles, cultural, social backgrounds of students; essentially if you are not getting the results at this school in your classroom, we will show you how. (Dictatorship?). Education is not about being the highest preforming school; but allowing all students to flourish regardless of their circumstances and allowing teachers the autonomy to do so. Furthermore, it seems if the teachers don’t conform or bring other ideas to the table, it can be frowned upon. The devaluating of teachers and the trust in them, cannot be good for school culture, pressure is being placed on teachers, with high level of surveillance, observations, and the monitoring of teacher practice, ensuring staff are committed to the school’s ethos.

Teachers are increasingly under pressure to produce the results; student outcome versus school outcomes, the sanctioning those teachers who are not preforming and ensuring their practice is adhering to the prescribed curriculum and standardized framework.

Every increasing accountability practices are becoming more demanding, produce stress and anxiety, generate a sense of fear and worry, which are systemic of a broken education system, and is a contributing factor to why teachers are leaving the profession at alarming rates, Generating a fear of self-doubt and low confidence can affect a teachers ability to pass on learning to students, with that fear ever looming in their minds “What if I am not meeting the standards, will I lose my job, what if I have done my best, but I am still not like Mrs Jones next door”.

There seems to be a narrowed focus on pedagogies focusing on test preparation, rather than viewing the child as a whole picture, which NAPLAN my school’s website don’t take into account. Teaching requires a balance of both academic achievement and the development of social skills, therefore students may not succeed to the best of their abilities. Literacy and numeracy are fundamental and important skills for students to develop; however, there is the social and emotional issues to consider rather than just focusing on learning outcomes. There is an undermining of social needs occurring with schools now focusing on more corporate outcome based approach, rather than the individual student. Celebrating student achievement is one thing, but is the competitive nature being fostered creating further mental health problems in both students and teachers?

The problem with a corporate approach to learning, is that both students and teachers feel less relaxed, more stressed and causes a decline in a student’s attitude to learning.  There seems to be a focus on just “learning the content”, pressures to complete homework rather than allowing kids to be kids. Further problems arise within in this school, were it seems there is nowhere to move within the curriculum; there is a requirement that we differentiate to alter the curriculum, but they want it done all the same, it is a cookie cutter approach to teaching, which doesn’t meet all needs. Teachers are not encouraged to have a rationale for practice or account for the development of meaningful relationships.

In the world o Neo liberalism, many teachers now feel they are not being listened to on policy, with much of their input not being taken up, with decisions being made by administration. Teachers, are had the coal face each day, and see what occurs in the classroom, know their students and how to meet their needs; principals are not victims of a marketization of schools; with more of a focus on budgets school and student outcomes; and less focus on student and teacher needs.

Creativity is being stifled, there seems to be a culture of mis-trust, teacher autonomy, school democracy, and collegial staff relations – very evident on my practicum. The meetings are very much stand and deliver, with the attitude of “its our way or the highway” with many teachers avoiding the staff room and difficult conversations. Many schools now are adopting the market driven ideologies of efficiency, economy and competition, which is driving higher outcomes, and more accountability than ever before to maintain and keep that competitive edge. The marketization occurring in schools along with neoliberalism continue to undermine the professionalism of teaching; capabilities and autonomy; narrow pedagogy; and curriculum which sideline the other important areas of social and equity concerns.

A broader system of Governance is required –

The culture of education will only improve in Australia, when conditions are created the support and trust teacher’s judgements in the classroom; provide more autonomy and restore integrity within the profession, while literacy and numeracy are extremely important, there needs to be a greater focus on social relations and social justice imperatives.

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

I would really like to see NAPLAN and the my schools website dismantled. I am not a fan of standardized testing, as it its a ‘cookie cutter” one size fits all test. The test does not cater for the diverse range of students that teachers deal with including those with; learning difficulties, ESL and gifted students. The other issue I have with NAPLAN is the results can be manipulated, and with 10 years of NAPLAN and results flat lining, something is definitely not working and there is a continual blaming of the teachers. Teachers need to be given the autonomy back, and the Government, parents and community need to be able trust teachers to deliver the curriculum and assessment of their children, after all this is what we spend  4 years at University for.

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

Twitter is very much becoming away in which Australian teachers can network with each and learn and grow. Twitter is crucial way that Teachers can bring about change within the Australian education system through providing constructive and positive ways to drive change over social media that is so desperately needed. It is also an opportunity for Teachers to grow their own PLN and learn about current trends in Australian education, Twitter is like professional development 24 hours per day 7 days a week, forever active.

As a pre service teacher, I will be hoping to continue to grow my PLN and will base some of my questions and thoughts around advice for pre service teachers as well as thought provoking questions for in service teachers. I think some of the key focus areas will be classroom management, differential learning and digital technologies curriculum.

 

Guest Host: Daniel Yong

J7gvlvSI_400x400

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 graduated in 2015 with a Master of Teaching (Primary) from the Western Sydney University. Education was not a profession I had aspired to work in. I dreamt of working in the fields of journalism, acting and youth work. I was one of those students who could not sit still, and I guess after certain events in life, I realised that the one thing that made me happy was being selfless and empowering young people. As a fourth year teacher, I am able to build confidence in young people and guide them towards finding their passions, and achieve their dreams if they work hard. No matter what adversities they may face. This year I have maintained my teaching role as the Stage 3 Years 5 and 6 teacher at Lansvale East Public School. Some of the roles I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved in the past include: Being selected to work on an action research project with the Primary English Teaching Association of Australia (PETAA) on dialogic pedagogies, working with the community of schools (CoS) in the Fairfield Network on transitioning primary school students into secondary mathematics, and working with Stage 3 teachers in neighbouring schools on enhancing reading programs. I am currently working on a project to enhance my teaching of vocabulary for EAL/D students with Paul Dufficy. In addition, this year I am fortunate enough to be mentored by Dr Brad Russell (Director of the Albury Network) to lead a project on dialogic pedagogies within both my school and the wider community.

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

Quite simply, my students and the outstanding teachers and individuals I meet in life and on social media.

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

Let’s speak about the rewards first! In my opinion, the greatest reward in education is when students reach that “Aha” moment. Whether it is from a question they had once found challenging, or simply realising that they have just reached a goal after working hard on it for some time. And I personally love it when my students thank me for being a part of this journey, it gives me goosebumps every time. Like every career, there are always challenges. A few of mine are time, resources, balancing the paperwork, and personal downtime. The truth is that I am still working these out. However, if you truly have the passion for what you do, you always remember the purpose for why you work so hard during the tough times.

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

I love the idea of how high school teachers operate. Faculties that have expert subject specific teachers teaching young people. This should be done from Year 3. I really think we might achieve better outcomes for our students if we follow this model. However, I do not like the idea of different faculties not communicating with one another. I’m not sure how this would work, but it’s just an idea to think about!

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 powerful platform that connects Australian educators with one another. It is crucial we reflect upon our practices and talk to one another about what works best. The most dangerous obstacle to hinder our progress against the world is to remain trapped in our own little bubbles. This account is just one of the tools that will help us all grow as education professionals. By hosting this account, I hope to gain a deeper insight into the practices of other Aussie teachers, and perhaps have them reflect with me on our own pedagogies across the country.

Introducing Steve Pinel @Steve_Pinel

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?

 

Good in maths and science at school, and completed a degree in Electrical Engineering, and found the study more inspiring than the work.  While at uni, I spent a fair bit of time working as a volunteer in youth work, mainly high school kids, but also some upper primary, which I loved.  Putting maths & science together with working with kids, and teaching was a natural choice. Went back for my Dip Ed after two years working as an engineer.
LK9zBzmo_400x400

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

 

Main substantive role is as Head of Science, at two schools, one state school, one low fee independent school.  Also had some experience as acting Deputy at both schools. The most fun I’ve had was as an ICT Mentor Leader during the period of time of the federal government laptop program, moving a school from virtually no computer access to basically 100% laptop ownership by students.

 

Current role is Head of Science, and chief spanner-in-the-works, in that I enjoy asking the hard questions of admin, particularly around data.  Not in a destructive way, but as a way to sharpen our focus, and ensure that what we ask of our teachers is actually useful. Data is hard.

 

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

Always love my students, but my science teachers here are amazing people. My kids are currently students at my school, which is a great motivator for ensuring that the school is doing good things.

 

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

 

A big challenge on our plate is the effective use of data.  Few teachers or leaders have any real maths training that prepares them for the effective use of stats and data.  Rewards are always the wins you have with students that make a difference to their lives.

 

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

 

Can I put in three?

  • Mandatory stats and data training for preservice teachers
  • More focus on chance and data in maths education, and less on algebra. Most kids don’t need algebra. Everyone needs to understand data. Is there a theme here?
  • Staggered start for students at Prep – Holland has a model where students start Prep whenever they are ready during the year, and some start with half days or 2-3 days per week.  Some kids are just not ready for school, and some are ready early.

 

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

 

I think the role of EduTweetOZ is Provoking thought, & conversations with people that we wouldn’t normally mix with at our local schools.  What do I hope for? Much the same. Interesting and thoughtful feedback on my own questions and comments. Challenge my thinking?

Introducing Melinda Haskett @HaskettsHSC

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 roles, including relieving in executive positions and am proud to be accredited as a Highly Accomplished Teacher. In May 2016 I moved out of school, via merit selection, to the Teacher Quality team at the Department looking after induction, professional learning and accreditation. Last May I took a promotional position as relieving PSO (PEO) for Leadership and High Performance giving strategic policy advice in the areas of School excellence, LSLD, Teacher Quality and Leadership.

melh

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 but my answer would include leveraging off the expertise that currently exists in our schools. Every school should have a quality teacher in every classroom, every lesson.

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. Later this week I’ll be Tweeting from Canberra at the AITSL HALT Summit – with the countries most expert teacher leaders.

Introducing Bec West

eLJQuc56_400x400

  1. 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 teaching in an Independent Autism Unit before moving to mainstream education where I continued to implement my skills in special education for students with high needs. I didn’t always want to be a teacher – teaching was my safety net on my University selections, but once I went to my first prac I loved it and knew I was exactly where I was meant to be. I made the most of every opportunity given to me which meant having a lot of roles over my years of teaching, including sport coaching, choir, dance group, chess club, gardening and being a member of various KLA committees. I was encouraged to utilise my skills and take on more of a leadership role in the school and I became an Assistant Principal in 2012. I went from a large metro school to a small Central school in the country which was a unique and wonderful experience. I had the opportunity to really connect with a close-knit community and make some positive changes within the school. I returned to Sydney in 2016 as an AP in a small school and have most recently moved into more senior executive roles where I get to focus on building teacher capacity. I am currently the relieving Primary Advisor for the Futures Learning unit.

 

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

I find many different sources of motivation and inspiration. My immediate family (husband and 3 children) will always be my biggest supporters as well as my amazing friends and family. I have a fantastic mentor who was the reason I went into leadership roles and today he still guides me and provides advice when I need it. I have a great network of educators who are great to bounce ideas off and share insights with. I find inspiration in the works of Simon Sinek, Sir Ken Robinson and John Hattie. TEDTalks are definitely something on my ‘must watch’ list. Having a great team to work with is also a great way to stay motivated each day.

 

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

The biggest reward is being able to make a positive impact on the people we work with. Not just the students, but the teachers, parents and community as well. It’s a wonderful thing to see someone’s life grow and change over the years they are with you in a school and how your contributions to their education can foster a passion or enhance their skills.

 

The biggest challenges working in education today are not so different to what they have always been;

  • How education is perceived by parents, community and the media
  • Keeping up to date with changes in culture and society
  • Maintaining high levels of professional learning as pedagogy and technology change
  • Staying on top of an ever-increasing workload

 

 

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

I would change the way that students begin school. I don’t believe a child’s age should indicate their readiness to begin school. Schools are the only places we dictate where a child should be based on their age. Even sporting groups allow a little leeway for kids to play up a level if they are capable but our ability to do that is heavily hindered. I am very keen to pursue further studies on this topic as education systems around the world show that we do not all begin schooling the same way. Age does not dictate our interests or our abilities.

 

  1. 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 tool for teachers to collaborate and engage in professional dialogue. Having it online makes it easily accessible for teachers around Australia, and the world, to interact and share their experiences and opinions in a safe forum. In my time hosting the account for the week I hope I can engage more to follow the account, therefore bringing more teachers together. My aim is to share resources that will benefit educators in their professional development and classroom practice while encouraging people to converse on a variety of educational topics.

 

 

Excited to introduce Helen Georgiou

1. 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 involvementhelenG in education was a happy accident. Being ‘first in family’, I had no familiarity with professional (or academic) careers or university so after completing a combined Bachelor of Science and Commerce at The University of Sydney a year earlier than required, I completed a Diploma of Education at UNSW. I loved science and wanted to travel, so this seemed to make sense to me. I taught in Sydney and then London as a high school physics teacher and returned to do Honours a few years later. I didn’t intend for it to be in education or to go on to do my PhD but my experience was so positive and I ultimately felt that this is probably the role that I can contribute the most in (I didn’t see myself as a school leader and also didn’t think I could teach high school science forever). My PhD research involved looking at the way people make sense of physics, and how instructors can help this along. I am now a lecturer in science education at the University of Wollongong (and honorary lecturer in the School of Physics at the University of Sydney). I mainly teach pre-service primary and secondary teachers. My research focuses on the teaching and learning of science.

2. Who or what keeps you inspired and motivated in your work?
My work is inspiring at so many levels; from the everyday things like being able to run fun demonstrations and experiments with students in the tutorials (fire! robots!) to working on big projects which try to solve tricky problems. It is hard work but I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t love what I get to do.

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

I think anyone in education would be aware of the rewards; you are a part of something bigger than yourself, you get to contribute to the development of learners and for discipline educators like myself, you get to understand and appreciate your discipline in an entirely different way.
I feel like the biggest challenge for people working in education include the (sometimes very ridiculous) expectations placed on them, ignorance around the complexity of teaching and learning (which means aspects of education are devalued) and the politicisation of elements of curriculum and pedagogy.
4. If you had the ability to make changes to the education system in Australia, what would you do?
I think the education system in Australia is pretty good as is!
Having worked in different sectors and countries though, I did encounter some things that I thought were really positive. For example, I felt much more supported and part of a ‘network’ when I worked in London; they had a smaller bureaucratic unit (the local Borough, or ‘council’), so collaboration and professional development was much better managed and they had ‘programs’ for beginning teachers (they even had names- NQTs, Newly Qualified Teachers). This model also helped focus on local needs (here, it’s either the State or the School… too big and too small in my opinion). It just seemed like this approach helped make the education community more connected.
Also, obviously being in science education, I think that there is definitely not enough being done to address these issues.

5. What role do you see EduTweetOz playing on the education scene in Australia and what are your hopes for the account this week?
I can’t stress how important it is to have professional communities such as EduTweetOz around. Personally, being a part of a wider discussion, whether it’s a local research group or international research community, is the most important part of what I do. We need to keep talking and listening to each other to make progress (and to avoid repeating mistakes!)

I hope that I can provide some insight into science, education, and what I do as an academic. More importantly, I would just love to connect with members of the EduTweetOz community. Make sure you reach out!

UOW profile: https://scholars.uow.edu.au/display/helen_georgiou (some papers publicly available)
Usyd profile: http://sydney.edu.au/science/physics/about/profiles/heleng-2016.shtml