Life before Girton
I grew up on a wheat and sheep farm in the central wheat-belt region of Western Australia. I entered the teaching profession a little later in life, and have separate qualifications covering primary and secondary teaching coupled with a Masters in Special Education. Prior to teaching I gained a Visual Arts degree and while trying to be a professional artist I was also involved in organising and teaching in the community arts sector in small, isolated rural communities in Western Australia. I also studied Arts Management at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts. I later worked in airport security at Perth Airport for several years whilst completing my initial teaching qualification.
I have been teaching for over ten years in state primary schools in both Western Australia and Victoria; a Catholic secondary school in Victoria; and secondary and primary independent schools in Victoria – including Girton.
Doing the same thing in the same place forever is unimaginable to me!
What I Love about Teaching
I love being able to assist students who have struggled with a concept or skill to finally ‘get it’! There is nothing better in the teaching profession and it’s always such a wonderful celebration – these are moments where the learning area or student age is irrelevant – although the longer and harder the struggle has been, the more special the achievement.
The best thing about teaching at Girton has to be the kids! …and their expectation that they can do whatever they want with their learning – in a positive way that is… the sky is the limit!
What do you like best about the year level you teach?
Teaching within the Learning Resource Centre I teach students over a number of year levels – sometimes all at once! My focus is on the individual and their progress – from where they start with me and their identified learning needs, to moving them forward with this as quickly as possible. My aim is to move students out of my class groups (if possible) because they are now achieving at the expected class level – that is a celebration!
My favourite classroom activity
Small group collaborative learning activities like playing spelling games provides students with lots of fun – it’s competitive but supportive, and enables them to learn by supporting each other without realising they are actually learning; a much better approach than the old boring rote learning – where correct spelling of the words is forgotten by the following week. I can also monitor how each student is processing and working out how to spell words, and can tailor future lessons based on this knowledge.
What difference can good teaching make?
Working with students who find meeting the expectations of ‘standardised’ testing challenging, irrelevant or impossible; I relish the opportunity to assist my students to find a real way of learning that works for them – and to assist in setting them upon their successful lifetime learning journey.
For me flexibility and inquisitiveness is the key – in thinking, attitude and learning styles – along with patience and perseverance – if it wasn’t quite successful today, try again tomorrow…
During 2015 I was the Regional Director of Tournament of Minds in Central Victoria assisting in the organisation of the event at La Trobe Bendigo. Seeing all those excited children and their enjoyment and accomplished performances on the day makes all the work and stress feel worthwhile.
As a counter balance to teaching I enjoy pursuing my innate creative needs – painting and drawing and small figurative sculptures; although it’s been a long time since I have exhibited professionally.