Life before Girton
I have been a teacher for a REALLY long time and as a qualified primary and secondary teacher have had the privilege of teaching students from Prep to Year 12 at many schools across my career. Before I began working at Girton I taught mainly Year 12 students at Nossal High School in Berwick and I was the Year 12 English Convenor; it was my joy to teach the first Year 12 English and History students to graduate from this select entry school for gifted students. Other positions I have held across my career range from Head of Liturgy to Head of History and even for one memorable and rather scary year, was the Art and Music Specialist teacher at a tiny, two teacher school in Gippsland.
2003 POST-GRADUATE DIPLOMA IN EDUCATIONAL STUDIES (Student Welfare) – University of Melbourne
1987 BACHELOR OF EDUCATION (Secondary) – Victoria College, Rusden Campus
1981 DIPLOMA OF TEACHING (Primary) – Aquinas College, Ballarat
VCE – St Mary’s College, Bendigo
What I Love about Teaching
I love the opportunity to learn alongside my students and always welcome the chance to enhance my skills; indeed, I feel it is my obligation to do so. Whilst I love the classroom, I admit that I really enjoy those odd moments when I am walking back to my office or on yard duty and I have those small but significant conversations with students that mean so very much. A smile and a chat with a student (or indeed a colleague) can light up the day. Teaching is a very tough profession in terms of the amount of work required but it is the human beings we get to interact with: be they students, teachers or parents that make it all worthwhile.
My favourite classroom activity
Other than the mountains of correction that are an integral part of my day I would have to say that everything about being in the classroom is brilliant. I love the subjects I teach – English and History – and tend to throw my arms around wildly and get very excited about the content I am teaching. This year I am trialling teaching all my classes in the one room and it has been such a delight to try to create a warm, inviting learning space which my students like to enter. I also really l enjoy creating activities which help my students to make sense of what I am teaching, to see the value in each other and to connect the curriculum with their lives beyond school. The English Department have introduced 10 minutes of silent reading at the beginning of every English class and sitting reading, looking up at the bent heads of my students as they read or catching the eye of a student who is grateful for those 10 blissful minutes of silence is a joy which is hard to beat. Finally, class discussion where the students contribute and identify with the novel we are studying, or an author’s concern is pure magic.
What difference can good teaching make?
One of the best things but also one of the scariest things about teaching is the fact that we can have such a significant impact on the young people we serve every day. We may not always be fully familiar with new course content or even new class members during those first weeks of school, but we have a really significant role in shaping the views and values of our students in terms of our subject, their attitude to learning and indeed, their sense of self. To my mind good teachers never lose sight of this responsibility, they remain always aware of the fact that words count, that actions count and that we should always try to make sure our students know that they count.
This is a huge question for me as to be honest, I wear way too many hats. Most importantly, I am wife to John, a mother of six (with five sons and one daughter) and grandmother to three gorgeous grandsons aged 7 years – 4 months in age. When I am away from my home in Melbourne and travel to Bendigo to teach at Girton, I miss my family terribly, but I confess that I do enjoy not having to wear the hats of Chief Cook, Cleaner and Dishwasher. I love to sing, am an active member of my parish church back home in Berwick, frequently ‘procrastabake’, am known as the creator of a brilliant sausage roll and revel in a good book. Since beginning at Girton I have discovered Audible and listen to books every time I am in the car; as a consequence, another hat I now wear is to share the title of books I love.
In terms of my professional hats I have the honour and privilege of being involved in a range of rolls which extend beyond the gates of Girton Grammar but also serve to enhance what I do here:
- I work for the VCAA as an assessor of the GAT and I am also the Assistant Chief Assessor for the History of Revolutions.
- I regularly lecture to teachers and students at conferences, revision lectures and even on vodcasts on subjects related to both English and History.
- I am a published author of 3 textbooks, 3 senior student activity books, write articles for teaching journals and to my great delight, a book on the life of my brilliant Mum.
- I regularly review and proof-read a range of Trial Exams and SAC tasks intended for Year 12 students for a range of publishing companies.
- I am a sexuality educator for the Diocese of Sale and regularly travel to schools in the evenings to present sessions to students in Grades 4-6 and their parents.