Whales Yrs 5 & 6
What is your background?
I grew up on the North Coast, studied at Southern Cross University and travelled for a few years before being fortunate enough to gain full-time employment here at BCPS in 2005. I now live with my wife Kate, our two daughters and baby son at Lennox Head.
What do you remember best about primary school?
Certain teachers (good and bad), friends, camps, excursions and being in the school band.
What teaching qualifications do you have?
I have a Bachelor of Education (Primary).
Where else have you worked and how has it shaped your general outlook and your approach to teaching children today?
I have worked in respite care for teenagers with severe autism, in youth hostels in Europe, as a builders’ labourer in the USA and as the room leader at a Montessori centre. My experience at the Montessori centre taught me the importance of hands-on learning for young children; the importance of giving students opportunities to explore their individual interests; of scaffolding learning so that we are constantly building on prior knowledge; and that students are working at a level that is appropriate for them. The Montessori centre also taught me about the influence of the physical learning environment, in terms of encouraging students to explore, create, ask questions and to love learning. My classrooms will always incorporate things like nature tables, fish tanks, craft centres, science areas, book corners and so on. But the classroom should always be kept as clean and tidy as possible – it’s hard to learn in a mess.
What are your main teaching and classroom philosophies?
My first priority as a teacher is for my students to feel safe and happy. I like to have fun with the students and I like to think they enjoy my sense of humour. I believe in helping students to become independent learners and I try to create a classroom environment which is stimulating and as student-directed as possible. In our class, we use rosters a lot and kids are responsible for running daily routines in the morning, such as job times. In terms of educational theories, I subscribe to ideas put forward by Howard Gardner, that all children have areas of talent (some of which can go unrecognised in more traditional school settings), Bruner’s constructivist theory (allowing children to construct their own knowledge based on their individual abilities and interests) and Blooms Taxonomy of higher order thinking. We run a Matrix unit in my class each term which is a kind of learning contract based around these ideas and students ask me daily with excitement: “Is it Matrix today?”. They love the freedom it gives them and they enjoy taking responsibility for their own learning. I am often amazed at the work they produce during these sessions.
What/why do you enjoy teaching at BCPS?
I love the diversity of people that I get to talk to every day. I love the small school setting and the community feel. It really is like a big family.
What do you enjoy teaching the most?
I love teaching science, personal development, English and, more recently, I have begun to enjoy teaching maths with a new approach.
What is your greatest achievement?
What aspirations still lie ahead of you?
To study permaculture in depth, to build a self-sustaining home, to write books, to continue to travel and to buy a sailboat and sail across the Pacific.
Do you teach any subjects other than your regular class?
I teach science to the Starfish, “rock and water” and BAT (Becoming A Teenager) to the Whales class.
What occupies your time outside school hours?
Family, cooking, surfing, fishing, diving and gardening.
If you weren’t a primary teacher, how do you think you’d be spending your days?
I would love to write children’s books and spend time doing all of the above.