I will remember this year in education for… the Federal Government’s action to improve the well-being and mental health of Australia’s students, and how schools support students with disabilities. It has sought to inspire all students in digital literacy with the Digital Literacy School Grants (DLSG) and STEM. We were temporarily distracted by learning spaces, but the focus is back on classroom learning and the NAPLAN report cards in the areas of reading, writing, language conventions, numeracy, and ICT. John Hattie is challenging us to look at ‘collective efficacy’, the impact of what we have done and have a debate about our complacency for the top 40 percent. David Gonski has provided an issues paper and opened the ‘Review to achieve educational excellence in Australian schools’.
Our proudest achievement at NEAT this year has been… working with a few special keynote speakers. One was Andrew Fuller on establishing a resilient mindset (classroom and school), creating a culture of co-operation in schools, and strategies to help anxious and avoidant students to overcome anxieties related to learning. He presented optimal performance strategies in challenging moments, and how teachers and parents can intervene effectively with behavioural problems.
I think the biggest issues for our members in 2018 will be… teacher engagement and work-life balance with increasing time constraints, testing, standards and compliance demands. Teachers’ networks of subject and professional associations can play a vital and inspirational role in the development of teachers in their early career and enable collaboration with more experienced teachers. It is essential that more teachers’ views and experiences are heard by policymakers and key stakeholders in the education community as they make time and safeguard personal professional learning opportunities.
What I’m really looking forward to in the coming year is... the opportunity to provide teacher networks with a series of cross-sectoral and working meetings of these associations with the State Minister for Education as well as the Secretary, the CEOs of Independent Schools and the Catholic Education Office in Tasmania. As a small state, sharing economic futures, values and strategic intents in the years following updated legal framework of the new Education Act, it will be important to focus on high quality teaching and learning in all Tasmania’s schools and colleges.