Please welcome this week’s host Deborah Netolicky @debsnet

Dr Deborah Netolicky

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’ve been in education since I began teaching almost 17 years ago. An English and Literature teacher by trade, I also have a background in Fine Art. I have taught in Perth, Melbourne and London and have led English faculties in three Australian schools. More recently, I have managed school-based strategic projects in the arenas of professional learning, coaching, capacity development and continuous improvement. Over the last few years I have been leading a whole-school coaching and professional learning intervention at an independent school in Perth.

This year—after three and a half years of juggling full-time doctoral study, a 0.8 FTE school role and parenting two young boys—I completed my PhD with Murdoch University. My doctoral thesis used a slightly off-the-wall approach to narrative research to explore what experiences transform educators’ identities, beliefs and practices.

I enjoy sharing my work, research and personal journey through various platforms including Twitter, my blog, at national and international conferences, through my PhD thesis, and in peer-reviewed academic journals. I have also contributed pieces to other digital sites such news and views site The Conversation, and international blogs such as Times Higher EducationPhdTalk and Heutagogy CoP. Some of my own best learning happens as a result of connections and conversations that arise from connecting with educators from around the world.

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

Ultimately, education is about the student. I’m motivated by each child I influence, whether through teaching in the classroom, working in leadership in schools, or contributing to online and academic narratives about education and where it’s headed.

I am also deeply invested in the learning, growth and wellbeing of teachers and school leaders. They are the people in our schools charged with leading the learning, thinking, doing and being of students.

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

After the US election result this week, I’m reminded more than ever of the responsibility educators have to help young people become good humans. Our most gratifying rewards and toughest challenges lie in helping to develop knowledgeable, skeptical, skilled, kind, compassionate, generous individuals who advocate for and serve others, question inequities and are empowered to use their own gifts for a greater good.

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

The Coalition government’s dismissal of Gonski, and its attempts to discredit, undermine and slash funding from it, are harmful for Australian education. We need government to take seriously the need for fair, equitable, generous funding for schools. We also need our government to value higher education, including science, research and post-graduate study.

I also feel strongly that education policies and practices need to trust, support and grow teachers, rather than measure, reward and punish them against unreliable or limited benchmarks.

One thing I love about Twitter is that it moves us away from a silo mentality to one of collaboration across schools and systems. Sharing and giving back, especially by those schools that are the most privileged or well-funded, positively impacts education in Australia.

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

I find EduTweetOz a wonderful opportunity to get to know a range of Australian educators by experiencing their ways of hosting the account and engaging with their diverse interests and approaches.

As host this week I’m looking forward to connecting with people who might not yet be in my network and to sharing with the EduTwetOz community some of the voices in my PLN from whom I gain the most.

While I think the power of EduTweetOz is in the community, not the host, I will no doubt explore my own passions of coaching, professional learning, research and literature. As part of the ‘Flip the System’ movement that advocates for bottom-up and middle-out change, I’ll probably continue to advocate for change driven by those with tangible and tacit knowledge of our schools. I’ll also perhaps reveal my fondness using research literature and methodologies to inform educators’ work and decision making. My inner English teacher and narrative researcher will be drawn to sharing some of my own stories this week. I’m looking forward to it!

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