Starfish Yrs 3 & 4
What is your background?
I was born in Melbourne and grew up in Ivanhoe and the surrounding north-eastern suburbs. I come from a loving, close-knit family who are an integral and important part of my life. These days I live in Bangalow with my husband Shane, our three-year-old son Syd, our blue heeler Ned and numerous chickens.
What do you remember best about primary school?
Getting lost in reading! I read every book I could lay my hands on and felt as though I had read every book in the school library by the time I completed Year 6. I enjoyed English, music and art.
What teaching qualifications do you have?
I completed my four-year Bachelor of Teaching at RMIT University in Melbourne. I completed a four-year Bachelor of Teaching at RMIT University, after which I moved to the Byron Shire in the early 1990s. I first began at the community school as the Starfish teacher in 2005. I taught full time until mid-2011 when my son was born. I now teach three days a week and job-share with Annie.
Where else have you worked and how has it shaped your general outlook and your approach to teaching children today?
I spent my first four years of teaching in the inner city of Melbourne and moved to the Byron area in the early 1990s while I was in my 20s. I began teaching at an independent school in Lismore where I remained for nine years. The school was quite small, mainly children from low socio-economic and Indigenous backgrounds, and predominantly boys. My first year there I was the sole primary school teacher and taught K-6 in one room. Those years were incredibly valuable to me, working with Indigenous children and their families, who often lived in appalling circumstances. It helped to form my now firm belief that education can make a difference. The scope and dimensions of that role shaped my own teaching and learning practices, ensuring my classroom caters for diversity and fosters empathy and respect. Those years were incredibly valuable to me as I learned a lot about young people, Indigenous education and culture, and the type of teacher I wanted to become.
What are your main teaching and classroom philosophies?
Of great importance to me is building strong relationships with my students based on genuine trust, while maintaining a sense of humour! My goal for the children I teach is for them to become effective, independent learners who are ready to face the demands of an increasingly complex world. I incorporate a holistic view of each child – socially, emotionally and intellectually. My aim is to create a balanced program which can cater for many needs. I also aim to cover all academic areas and develop independence, tolerance, social flexibility and a new level of thinking. My hope is for children to develop a real love for learning and a genuine love for themselves and what they can achieve. I enjoy inspiring children to become excited about learning and being proud of the end result of their endeavours.
What/why do you enjoy teaching at BCPS?
I have been teaching at BCPS for nine years and I continue to find working within such a supportive learning environment rewarding and challenging. It is a privilege to have the opportunity to make a difference to children’s lives and equip them with the skills, knowledge and behaviours needed to take on the many challenges they will encounter throughout their lives. The community school feels right for me, I can be creative in what and how I teach.
What do you enjoy teaching the most?
I love the constant learning, getting to really know the kids, building relationships, learning their little idiosyncrasies. I like the feeling you get when you have had a breakthrough, watching the kids grow socially and academically. In terms of what I enjoy teaching, I’m a bit of an all-rounder, really! I love project-based learning and I also enjoy designing projects using thinker’s skills such as Bloom’s Taxonomy and Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences, the De Bono Thinking Hats and Tony Ryan’s Thinkers Keys. I enjoy encouraging students to think about things in different ways, to look outside the square. I have a passion for literacy and open-ended maths tasks and I often try to make activities hands-on and visual.
What is your greatest achievement?
Giving birth to our beautiful baby son Syd, now aged three.
What aspirations still lie ahead of you?
I love to travel and explore the world, and it would be incredible to teach and live in another part of the world. I also want to find a creative outlet! And I hope one day to pick up the beautiful guitar that my husband bought me and actually be able to play something! I’d like to write a book or two someday.
What occupies your time outside school hours?
My son, listening to and watching live music, walking by and swimming in the ocean, socialising with my family and friends, cooking, reading and decorating and renovating our home.
If you weren’t a primary teacher, how do you think you’d be spending your days?
I love working with children and I particularly love their honesty. Some day I would like to work in the child psychology field or do some type of social justice work. Being a music journalist or traveling endlessly have also crossed my mind! I’m also passionate about design and would love to pursue something creative one day!