Today we have the pleasure of introducing to the Smile Teachers community a very enthusiastic and motivated teacher from a Perth high school. She has charisma, passion and can dance! Introducing...
Jack of all trades
Soon to be...mind reader
What is your current role and level of experience?
My current role is Head of Year 7 in Student Services and also a Health, Physical Education & Dance Teacher. I have been teaching for 6 years as HPE teacher, 4 years as a Dance Teacher and 1 year as Head of Year 7.
Why did you choose a career in education?
I chose a career in education because I am passionate about creating caring and supportive environments for young people so they have the opportunity to develop to their full potential and can be positive and effective members of society. I am also very passionate about promoting physical and mental health and encourage healthy living for young people so they can be happy. I feel team sports are a great way for students to develop their resilience, communication, decision making and team working skills.
What do you love most about your current role?
What I love most about my current role is seeing my students achieving their goals and succeeding at school, whether it be academically, socially or a sports achievement, the everyday wins of seeing my students happy and thriving in Year 7 really makes it easy to love my job. Working with students who were struggling at the beginning of the year and are now enjoying school & achieving is just the best feeling. I love my role as Netball coordinator as I really enjoy taking the girls to carnival days and seeing them really bond as a team and celebrate their wins.
How do you create a positive learning environment for your students?
I create positive learning environments by firstly getting to know my students and what they are interested in and what they like & enjoy, we then establish class routines & expectations together as a class to keep them safe and happy during my lessons. I create meaningful and engaging programs which include activities that I feel are relevant to my students & will achieve successful learning outcomes. I make sure that I cater for all my students needs so that they can achieve success in my class and develop positive communication, decision making and team building skills. I always make sure that I am enthusiastic and positive myself and have a laugh every now and again with them - and remind them I am not a robot.
Explain your favourite classroom strategies or behavior management tools?
Back to basics here, 3-2-1 is my favourite teaching strategy to gain students attention. Seating plans/allocated grouping is always great to assist with behaviour management. Having a 'do now' activity on arrival is a great way to get students focused and in my dance & sports classes having a warm up prepared for them which they arrive and know this is what they have to complete first. Knowing and using students names is a really great tool for behaviour managing. Having a restorative approach to behaviour gives them a chance to start fresh every lesson with myself and other students in the classroom.
What has been your most rewarding teaching experience?
I would definitely say my most rewarding teaching experience has been this year as Head of Year 7. This role has given me the opportunity to get to know students on a more social and emotional level and understand clearly what their needs are and what they want to achieve from their schooling. It has given me the skills and tools to support students more with behaviour, attendance, well-being and to collaborate with other teachers in the school to adopt strategies for improving my teaching. It has been a huge eye opener to school life as a whole for a young person for me.
If you could deliver a lesson on any topic or theme, what would the lesson entail?
A physical education lesson, a round robin format of Netball or Soccer where the students run themselves throughout the lesson with allocated umpires, scorers, teams, team names, team colours and even sometimes team songs. This is my favourite style of teaching PE and I feel the students are super engaged and it gives them opportunity to work on their team & social skills and also gives me opportunity to get involved in the games, have some fun and score some goals against them.
If you could make one change about to the current education system, describe what it would be and why?
I would allocate more funding to resources and buildings at public schools e.g. providing schools with new gyms and sporting equipment. The wear and tear of sports buildings and equipment is huge in schools and I feel we do not have the resources to keep up with this.
How do you manage your stress levels and ensure you are teaching well?
To manage my stress levels I make sure that I exercise and eat healthy and to practice mindfulness. I walk my dog after work & take her down to the beach which is a huge stress relief for me. I feel I have created myself a great work-life balance and switch off from school at the end of each day. I try not to take marking home also. This has taken a few years to master, however is beneficial for my mental health and really works to reduce stress and anxiety after school hours. I ensure that I am teaching well by checking in regularly with my head of learning area (HOLA), fellow colleagues and check my students are achieving and enjoying my lessons. I make sure I attend professional development days to debrief on how I am going. There is also mental health days you can take.
If you could have any super power, what would it be and why?
Mind reading - this way I would be able to know exactly what a students requires of me, what they are thinking, how they are going to react or if they are just hungry...I would have the best classes ever.
Describe one piece of advice you would give to a graduate starting their career in education?
Don't be afraid to ask for help! Also, make sure you write down your wins for the day to end on a positive.
What are you most excited for the remainder of the 2018 school year?
I am excited for our end of year excursion where my whole year group will spend the day at adventure world celebrating surviving their first year of high school and we can all have some fun.
Is there any particular area you would love to see covered by SMILE Teachers?
I would like to see more teacher mental health strategies covered by SMILE teachers.
Thank you, Miss Barnes.
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