My core values are honesty, fairness, kindness, and creativity, and these values underpin my approach to education, teaching, and learning. I view education as an intrinsic right to a shared human heritage built on the steady accumulation and passing on of skills, knowledge, and understanding. Education is a tool that empowers individuals to form and maintain a bond with learning and the learning process. This places a great responsibility on teachers as the facilitators, guides, and champions of learners and their personal learning journeys. The onus is on us as educators to take on those roles actively and honestly, guided by the principles of fairness and kindness, to ensure all children are empowered in their development and can achieve their learning goals.
To be an expert is to continue to learn, to understand that there is no ultimate end point of learning, and to be always open to new insights, knowledge, and understandings. To be a teacher means becoming an expert in two key areas: students and content. Relationships form the core of teaching and learning (Gleeson and O'Flaherty, 2016), and my personal philosophy is to promote positive classroom environments where all students feel safe, heard, and understood (Armstrong, Armstrong, and Spandagou, 2011; Bell, Limberg, and Robinson III, 2013). To be an expert on students means learning from them and about them, but it also means learning about how best to improve in their learning (Heydenrych, 2001). This requires consultation and active listening, and I rely on an ethos of shared storytelling to give students a voice in the classroom and allow them the time and space to teach me about themselves. I am also a firm believer in the inspirational power of a teacher’s authentic passion (Frenzel, et al., 2019; Keller, et al., 2018), and I use my own passion for human creative endeavours in my English and Visuals Arts classrooms to help students engage with the curriculum requirements and key learning outcomes.
As you will see in Evidence Set 1, as a creative professional I am wedded to cyclical improvement through the ongoing application of planning, implementing, assessing, and reviewing. I have been a reflective practitioner for more than twenty years, and I always look for opportunities to improve my practice. As I bring this mindset to teaching, I look for ways to engage students in this cycle so that they can monitor and improve their own learning. I do this by being explicit on the structure, methods, and outcomes of the learning process, and by ensuring all students can participate in my classes in a way that is appropriate for them and their needs. I am a firm believer that grades tell only a very small and very short story, and that the crux of assessment is timely, relevant, and reliable feedback (Readman and Allen, 2013).
In line with my ethos of a continual cycle of improvement (Whitton, et al., 2016), I believe it is important to engage in a broad community of practice with other educators and practitioners, such as teachers, school leadership, writers, artists, and academics, to expose myself to, and share, new ideas. I am committed to evidence-based practice, keeping on top of the latest discoveries and learning theories, and continuing my professional development. As a published author and literary critic, I remain engaged with my community beyond the school grounds, reflecting my belief that learning can occur in both formal and informal settings, and that we can, in fact, learn something new from almost anything. I also think it is important to model positive community engagement for my students so they can see the authentic outcomes of what we’re doing in the classroom (Wiggins, 1989).
• Armstrong, D., Armstrong, A., and Spandagou, I. (2011). Inclusion: by choice or by chance?, International Journal of Inclusive Education, 15(1), pp. 29-39. DOI: 10.1080/13603116.2010.496192
• Bell, H., Limberg, D., and Robinson III, E. (2013). Recognizing Trauma in the Classroom: A Practical Guide for Educators. Childhood Education, 89(3), pp. 139-145.
• Frenzel, A. C., Taxer, J. L., Schwab, C., & Kuhbandner, C. (2019). Independent and joint effects of teacher enthusiasm and motivation on student motivation and experiences: A field experiment. Motivation and Emotion, 43(2), 255–265. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11031-018-9738-7
• Gleeson, J., and O'Flaherty, J. (2016). The teacher as moral educator: comparative study of secondary teachers in Catholic schools in Australia and Ireland. Teaching and Teacher Education, 55, pp. 45-56
• Heydenrych, J. (2001). Improving Educational Practice: Action Research as an Appropriate Methodology. Progressio, 23(2), pp. 37-51.
• Keller, M. M., Becker, E. S., Frenzel, A. C., & Taxer, J. L. (2018). When Teacher Enthusiasm Is Authentic or Inauthentic: Lesson Profiles of Teacher Enthusiasm and Relations to Students’ Emotions. AERA Open, 4(2), pp. 743-769. https://doi.org/10.1177/2332858418782967
• Readman, K. & Allen, B. (2013). Practical Planning and Assessment. Australia: Oxford University Press.
• Whitton, D., Barker, K., Nosworthy, M., Humphries, J., Catherine, S. (2016). Learning for Teaching, Teaching for Learning (3rd ed.). South Melbourne, Victoria: Cengage Learning Australia.
• Wiggins, G. (1989). A True Test: Toward More Authentic and Equitable Assessment. Phi Delta Kappan, 70(9), 703–713. https://doi.org/10.1177/003172171109200721