The highlight of my year in education has been... reading the many nominations for our inaugural Unsung Heroes competition. It’s no surprise that educators across the country have inundated us with stories of the many wonderful people who quietly go about enhancing the lives around them with minimum fuss. Let’s just say there were more than a few lumps in our throats... They are the people we all wish we were more like. As a company, we have continued our expansion into New Zealand, where our Kiwi brethren have warmly embraced us, as we have them. Here in Australia we continue to grow, building on already established relationships and forging strong new partnerships throughout the sector. On a personal note, my favourite interview this year was with East Preston Islamic School’s Shanthi Antony and learning about the wonderful work this dedicated Catholic lady is doing, particularly in her school’s award-winning after hours learning support program.
The highlight of my year in education has been... the chance to mix and mingle with exceptional educators in Sydney at the lavish PTC NSW Presentation Evening. It’s always such a pleasure to speak with our delightful interviewees over the phone, but it’s something truly special to meet face-to-face with those who have shared so candidly with you their triumphs, their tribulations and their great visions for education. I’ll admit that meeting Mark Scott was a bit of a fangirl moment too! It sounds cliché, but it remains a great truth of this job; each month it’s a highlight to share your stories and to know that in many a staffroom around the country, inspired educators from all walks of life are flicking through the fruits of our labour!
The highlight of my year in education has been... for me, this has been a year of many firsts, and great change. I really enjoyed putting together the very first edition of Student Guide and sending it on its maiden voyage into schools, before taking the helm as editor of Australian Teacher Magazine in July. Having worked as a journalist for the magazine over the past few years, I never tire of sharing the inspiring stories taking place every day in Australian classrooms. This year I also had the opportunity to speak with staff at a very special school in Jerusalem. Sitting in the midst of a warzone, the school unites Jewish and Arab students through education and a unique teaching model. A recent highlight has also been the launch of our Unsung Heroes Awards 2016. We reached out to teachers, parents and students nationwide, to nominate an unsung hero in their school community, and the response was overwhelming. Sifting through the entries filled with words of genuine admiration, gratitude and awe was a heartening task indeed.
The highlight of my year in education has been... the opportunity to provide reliable, honest coverage of the world of education for our dedicated readers. Clarity and truth are easily exhausted resources in an industry which is as politicised as education, and whilst taking an opinion and having your say is certainly something to be commended, often our ability to make decisions for the betterment of students is hindered by a distorting haze of partisanship. Through my work this year I can only hope I have contributed to making things clearer, providing a source of balance and allowed you, the reader, the means to properly inform yourself.
The highlight of my year in education has been... exploring many interesting stories within education and speaking to such memorable characters (including the illustrious Jane Caro). Speaking to everyday heroes will always be a highlight of this job, from Dalisa Pigram-Ross who makes culture a point of pride in the classroom, to Guy Stapleton who wants every student to know their value, and then there’s Stephanie Salazar who has infectious joy for teaching, there have been many standout educators. Investigating issues like the Christchurch earthquake’s impact on education in New Zealand, the rise of anxiety amongst youngsters and LGBTI bullying have all been opportunities to learn about the good work teachers do despite facing incredibly challenging circumstances. This year has been full of humour and heart – I’ve been comically serenaded, shared jokes and heard emotional teachers recount their hardest moments.
Reporter, New Zealand
The highlight of my year in education has been... we all know it is not an easy gig, but day after day, educators show up and their passion for teaching and student learning is contagious. There is a division in New Zealand presently over the proposed COOLs (Communities of Online Learning), with many educators seeing the move as not COOL – and as a way to close schools, cut costs, and funnel public money to private donors. Others see it as an exciting move, bringing NZ schools up into the modern age, and something which will complement student learning. Either way, it has shown the passion for teaching is still well and truly alive in NZ, which can only be beneficial for its youth.
The highlight of my year in education has been... working with schools and organisations who aren’t afraid to challenge the status quo. This doesn’t mean being particularly rebellious or “innovative”, even. It just means educators and organisations who aren’t willing to merely accept that certain groups of kids have a pre-determined path set out for them. I’ve particularly enjoyed working in partnership with the not-for-profit organisation Kids Giving Back to deliver a program with students who access Youth Off The Streets’ schools in NSW. Elsewhere it has been good to see state politicians maintain the pressure on their federal counterparts to honour the Gonski agreement. Whether they’ll ultimately be successful, remains to be seen.
The highlight of my year in education has been... creating a new book to support teachers of children who have a disability which was published by Teaching Solutions as Including all children. This book fits well with my education philosophy – that all children have the right to quality education and support, and that teachers have the right to professional training and skills development that lets them work effectively with children with additional needs. I have enjoyed writing for Australian Teacher Magazine in the STEM and outdoor education areas, as well as for the New Zealand edition. Recently, I have been working on a life story for a young woman who has a disability called Cornelia de Lange syndrome, which has involved lots of interviews as well as the development of the story and cover art, ready to be published by Banksia Publishing. Real World Maths- building skills for diverse learners has also kept me busy, visiting venues to talk about the book.
The highlight of my year in education has been... focusing upon developing technology capacity in my colleagues. This has been a challenging and very rewarding task. The key lesson for me was in learning and accepting (from George Couros) that the aim should be to move each teacher “… from their Point A to their Point B”. Of course, this has also meant divesting myself of my typical impatience and head-shaking disbelief. I no longer wish to lead a technology driven revolution in education; the steps I’ve planned for 2017 are ‘baby steps’. To borrow from the other Simon (Breakspear, that is) “Viva la Evolution!”
The highlight of my year in education has been... commencing the year at a new school and instantly developing profound relationships with my students and new colleagues. Working in a different school has reignited my passion for teaching and permitted me to be innovative within the classroom and across the school. I have introduced a digital curriculum that has supported the newly implemented BYOD program and have created programs that support teachers, students and their parents. I have also been recognised as a Minecraft Mentor and an Online Collaboration Mentor which will permit me to work with teachers on a much larger stage.
The highlight of my year in education has been... to witness yet again the dedication of teachers. I am always impressed by the commitments made by my colleagues often at personal cost and sacrifice. Even though the community often doesn’t recognise this they continue to serve their schools with enthusiasm and diligence. Such efforts in the business world are rewarded with overtime and bonuses; teachers do it out of a strong sense of dedication, and the intrinsic satisfaction that comes from helping students achieve the best possible outcomes.