Ms Nicola Matthew

Life before Girton

  • Master of Literacy Education – University of Wollongong
  • Bachelor of Education – University of Melbourne
  • Diploma of Teaching – Deakin University

Before teaching at Girton I worked in Singapore at a large international school, teaching students from over seventy different nations. International school teaching has been a large part of my professional life and I have lived in Singapore, on and off, over many years. In Singapore I was a classroom teacher, and was also a Literacy Specialist Teacher and School Literacy Leader, working with students from Kindergarten up to Year 8.

In Australia, I have taught in inner city Melbourne schools, in areas such as Brunswick, Ascot Vale, and Clifton Hill. After moving to Bendigo I began some casual relief teaching and worked part time at Girton, before commencing teaching full time roles.

I started my teaching career over thirty years ago, but I have had other jobs. As a university student I worked very briefly in a fruit canning factory, a Collins St café and, later, at David Jones department store as a sales assistant and professional gift wrapper. To this day I still adore a well wrapped present!


What I Love about Teaching

I am passionate about teaching literacy, language and literature. These interrelated strands of English are the vehicles through which students learn about themselves, other subjects and the world around them. They are incredibly empowering subjects.

During much of my time as a teacher I have worked closely with students who experience reading difficulties. It is highly satisfying to assist students to become more effective readers as I know how essential to life and learning this skill is. I love making literature ‘come alive’ for my students and helping children think critically and respond creatively to texts is something I particularly enjoy.

Girton is a positive learning environment where everyone is known and cared for. I applaud the strong sense of belonging that is nurtured at Girton and appreciate the unique feeling of community that exists.

It is an enormous privilege to be a part of each child’s learning journey, and I value the opportunity to make a significant contribution to my students’ development.


What do you like best about the year level you teach?

I have taught Year 1, Year 2 and Year 5 in Junior School. Each year level contains its own joys.

The younger students are in the early stages of formal education. Everything is new and exciting. They are generally open-hearted and approach learning with barely contained enthusiasm- which is highly contagious!

I am currently teaching Year 5. In Year 5 the students are developing a much higher level of independence and personal agency. They are starting to think beyond their own personal situations and are curious about the world around them. Year 5 students occupy a space between childhood and adolescence. They are on the cusp of great change and discovery. I work hard with my students to help them get ready to transition to Year 6, where they will be leaders of the Junior School.


My favourite classroom activity

One of my favourite comprehensive activities is to share an exemplary picture story book with my students, followed by a ‘talking partner’ activity involving discussion prompts and talking points. Sometimes the talking points are polarising and requires the student to examine their own values system and beliefs. Students are expected to make a judgement or evaluation and support their answers with evidence from the text and, where appropriate, from their own experience. I explicitly teach my students to build on each other’s answers and clarify their own thinking in the process. This promotes engagement, critical thinking and deepens comprehension.


What difference can good teaching make?

Developing our inherent creativity is important to me as a teacher. In addition to traditional forms of recording our learning I am always exploring new ways for students to express their understanding through creative means (song, art and drama).


Other Hats

Outside of work I enjoy family time with my husband and children, reading, cooking, gardening, visiting historic properties and travelling to new countries and regions. At the moment I am dreaming of a post-Covid world when travel is again possible.