I was so humbled and honoured to have been a finalist for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Teaching’ in this year’s TeachX Award after being nominated by an inspirational educator Melissa Alexander. We worked together quite a few years ago and Mel has since moved onto different roles in different schools, but we have always stayed in touch talking ‘education’ while hiking and sharing our thoughts!
As a new teacher in quite an affluent school in England I remember squeezing whole netball teams into my car to play at competitions on Saturdays! Seat belts were not law back then! Bringing my rally car into school and inviting world famous rally drivers in to run road safety quizzes and taking my gymnastic team to demonstrate at local events and, of course, the Scalextric race circuit in the back of my room with the class rabbit hopping around!
Teaching in the Solomon Islands was challenging but extremely rewarding, having hardly any equipment, I made resources for learning stations, used jelly pads to print, (no photocopiers in those days!) juvenile crocodiles to stimulate learning and coping with ‘shake shakes’ (earthquakes) frequently. Driving out to remote villages on rugged roads to collect students for school and writing a Mathematics curriculum. Being able to share adventures I had scuba diving on the reefs and wrecks from WWII, stories of encounters with sharks! All my learning I was able to share with my students.
Arriving in Australia I undertook further study and worked in Catholic Education. I worked as Senior Primary Teacher to establish innovative programs to enhance hands-on learning and later as Deputy Principal where I was able to work closely with families to deliver newsletters in Portuguese and Vietnamese and establish before and after school care with another school.
After having my first daughter, Lynda(dear friend and professional) and I set up a’ fine motor skills’ play group for mothers called ‘Let’s Learn’. Professional women were starting families later in life, we saw a need for an educational program for these new ‘mums’ …like ourselves who were older…how to ‘play’ with babies and toddlers. It was quite a success and hit the media!
Teaching in Brisbane lead me into Teacher Librarianship where I introduced school Readers’ Cup Competitions and literature groups. After discovering the Maker Movement, I set up a Makerspace in a library setting. A decade working with #bestteachingpartnerever, Megan Daley, was full of fun and adventure…a book could be written about it! Oh! wait, she did …”Raising Readers”.
I also started this blog TinkeringChild and shared my journey of developing a Makerspace. The blog has developed into a resource for teachers and parents to address STEM, constructionism and other educational ideas. I’ve often been asked to speak and present at conferences and workshops over the last 8 years. I enjoyed time working with pre-service teachers at Griffith University, with Prof. Sarah Prestridge, as a sessional tutor in integrating technology to enhance teaching and learning.
Working at a girls’ school is exciting and has allowed me to help girls see themselves as successful students in the areas of STEM and by providing many out of school-hours clubs like Coding & Robotics Club, STEMies Club, where girls can be inventors and creators, and TechMate where a significant male comes along to challenge themselves together to make, create and enjoy an evening of STEM.
It has also provided me with the challenge of needing to up-skill in coding…visual block programming, python, C++ and even building websites with HTML and CSS!! Of course, I’ve discovered so much about AI and Machine learning, as well as working with AR, VR, MR!!! To think 46 years ago such areas were nearly unheard of!!!
Funny how an invitation to be interviewed and being a finalist (didn’t win, but that’s all good😊, there are so many incredible teachers achieving fantastic things) has given me the opportunity to reflect on my journey as an educator…..wouldn’t have changed a thing…I love being a life-long and life-wide learner!