Mrs Smith puts the O in organisation, so much so she is self-diagnosed as having OCD.
Obviously, she means that she is an Organised Creative Dynamo. One of the most powerful teacher's on the planet. So we just had to share her with our Smile Community.
You can see for yourself how much she loves teaching and finds joy in being organised and on top of her game. We love how Mrs Smith has her classroom perfectly ordered so that she has the freedom to focus her time and energy on connecting with her students and building relationships.
Today Nicole shares her journey as an educator with the Smile Teacher's community, hear from her about the importance of building relationships, being supported by parents and what to focus on in your initial years of teaching.
Mrs Nicole Smith
Aka: Organised Creative Dynamo
Foundation Prep Teacher
What is your current role and level of experience?
I am currently in my fourth year of teaching. However, this is my first year teaching Foundation/Prep and it is certainly different to every other year level I’ve had.
What do you love most about your career?
I love the relationships you build. You get to watch your cherubs grow, develop and learn skills they never thought they could learn. I also love the random quotes and sayings they come out with. Every day is different.
What are your strengths as a teacher?
I would say I am quite strong at organisation. To be honest I’m probably a little OCD. I like everything to be kept in certain places, in matching containers and with matching labels. Thinking about it, I may have a slight problem.
What things do you do to build strong positive relationships with your students?
I try hard to build personal relationships, focusing on more than just student’s academics. I always make an effect to ask how personal hobbies are going and share elements of my personal life also, so it’s a two-way relationship. If I want my students to be honest and open with me, I need to model that behaviour. For those ‘tough’ children I feel like I am always grumbling at, I find it extra important to take the time to build strong connections with them so they feel loved and supported.
How can teachers be better supported in their role?
Well a good starting point would be parents showing more support. I find parents are willing to go in and ‘bat’ for their child no matter what, they love to take their child’s side and rarely stop to consider the teachers perspective. A thank you from time to time from parents also wouldn’t go astray. I don’t think parents realise how much time and energy is involved in teaching and that when the end of the day comes, we don’t stop thinking about their child.
What has been your most rewarding teaching experience, please describe?
I love seeing students progress from the start of the school year to the end. During the last week of school, I always show students a writing piece from the start of the year, so they can visually see just how far they have come.
My big ‘wow’ rewarding moment has been with a little girl who repeated Foundation/prep due to her being mute and refusing to do anything that wasn’t colouring. The first time she spoke to me she said “Mrs Smith I love your earrings”. I couldn’t believe it, I thought these must be the world’s best earrings ever. Two days later she asked a question during floor time about my dog and that’s when I realised she was listening and taking information in. One week later she did Show and Tell and that was it, I couldn’t stop her talking. This little girl had completely transformed and I could not stop smiling, I was so beyond proud of her.
Outline your favourite lesson to teach, what would you have the kids do?
I love teaching Theme Studies, which is a mix of the Science and Humanities curriculum. My favourite unit so far has been fairy-tales. This was a familiar topic for students, however it extended their knowledge and thinking beyond my expectations.
My favourite lesson was based on Jack and the Beanstalk, where we planted magic seeds (broad beans) and watched our own mini beanstalks grow. My students were constantly checking if the plants basic needs were being met and loved drawing/writing about each of the plants life cycle stage.
If you could make one change to the current education system, describe what it would be and why?
Not a change to the education system, but I have always said that universities need to change the process of getting a teaching degree. I agree it should be a four year course, however I think that your final year should be a full time paid internship. You learn for more on the job then you do at university and I believe it would reduce stress levels and teachers burning out in their first year teaching.
How do you manage your stress level and maintain positive well-being to be happy and teach well?
I love a good workout session. I find it the best way to destress, well that and Netflix. I am also a talker, I really value my co-workers, friends and my husband listening to my concerns and ideas so that I can get perspective and destress.
What hobbies/interests do you have outside of teaching?
Most weekends I spend outdoors taking the dog for a walk, going to church and enjoying bulk brunch dates with my friends and husband.
Describe one piece of advice you would give a new teacher starting your career in education?
Your classroom doesn’t need to look ‘Pinterest worthy’ or have the best resources, its all about the relationships you create with your students. Your first year teaching is hard work, but remember to take time to look after yourself. If you are constantly the last car in the staff car park, you’re probably over doing it.
What are you most excited about for the remainder of the 2018 school year?
School holidays! Haha. Other than reports to write, I seriously love term four. I love Christmas crafts, school concert preparation, new students coming in for orientation days and preparing my little cherubs to move onto the next year level. I hate seeing my little people move to a new teacher, but I adore the fact that they are ready for it. It means that my job is done and that is a great feeling.
Is there any particular area you would love to see covered by SMILE Teachers?
Teacher mental and physical wellness is so important and it’s always nice to be reminder to find our flow and wellness.
We couldn't agree more! Mental and physical wellness go hand in hand and Smile Teachers focuses own developing wholesome health in teachers. You could join us on a tropical island getaway at our Bali Teachers Retreat to help you better manage your well being.
We are also running our Mindset Manoeuvre Workshop in Perth on October 5th to provide teachers with authentic ways to better manage their mindset.
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