Harry Potter fan who loves art, music and hitting the farmer's market.
She teaches so well and we would love to visit her classroom...
This is Bec Pezz!
What is your current role and level of experience?
I am currently a Grade 3/4 teacher and have been teaching for 12 years which is scary as time goes so quickly. Over this time I have spent 7 years teaching 3/4- my first 3 years as a Graduate and then again for the last 4 years, a year of 1/2, 3 years in the middle teaching Prep/1 and a year of straight Prep/Kinder/Foundation.
Next year I will be back teaching 1/2. I'm looking forward to it but I was really hoping to teach grade 5/6 for the first time. Hopefully this is something I will get to do soon.
At the moment I have stepped back from all leadership roles but in the past I have been a Math co-ordinator and spent a couple of years on leadership. I am also trained as an EMU (Extending Mathematical Understanding) teacher, the equivalent of Reading Recovery for Maths. I haven't taught this for about 5 years but would love to go back into a similar role one day.
I spent 7 years at my first school and have been at my current school for 5 years. The experience of moving was really hard but it is definitely something I would like to do again as I learnt so much changing environments.
What do you love most about working in education?
Building relationships with my students and seeing them succeed. I live in a 'rural city' of 120 000 people so I often see the kids I have taught in the past and I really love that. Some of my most 'difficult' students are the ones who always stop to chat and it is so rewarding to know that all of the hard work that goes into helping my students succeed pays off.
I also love the day-to-day in my room, talking to my students, helping them with work and seeing them understand new concepts is super rewarding.
If we were to walk into your classroom on a Monday morning, what would we see?
Part chaos, part major routine :)
My school opens for students from 8:30am so we are expected to be in our classrooms from then, even though the bell doesn't go to start the day until 9am. Before school starts my room is normally super busy which is the slightly chaotic part as my classroom has become a bit of a drop-in place for some of my past students or friends of kids in my class. I like being able to spend this time talking to students and parents. Knowing my students and my families makes my job a lot easier- relationships first is the best advice I've ever received.
As soon as the bell goes at 9am we are all about routine. We follow the same timetable every Monday as I find it is really important for my students to start the day knowing what is happening and be in a space where they can switch back on to school work.
What things do you do to build strong positive relationships with your students?
Throughout the year I try to go to one out of school event for every student in my class whether it be sport, dance, gymnastics, etc. This year I even went to in-line hockey which was a new experience and really fun considering my only knowledge of hockey comes from the Mighty Ducks movies (if you are too young to know what these are google them). Showing my students that I care about them really makes a difference and it is also a great way to get to know each child's parents better. It is amazing what information a parent may be happier to tell you on the side of a soccer field than they would be in a parent teacher interview.
As my students just come in to the room any time between 8.30 and 9 I can't greet them at the door but I do make sure I speak to every child 1-on-1 every day. Building relationships is the most important part of our job because without trust students find it harder to learn. I really value it and work hard at making sure my students know I care.
I have definitely gotten better at this the longer I have been teaching.
When the happiest teaching, what would you be doing?
If I could teach anything it would be art or maths full time or at least a few days a week. I love both but if I could choose just one it would be art.
If you could make one change to the current education system, describe what it would be and why?
The pressure on students having to learn something within a set time. This is impossible for some kids who are just not able to grasp a concept within 12 months.
How do you manage your stress level and maintain positive well-being to be happy and teach well?
This is something I have really struggled with and have to work hard at. I am a completely different teacher because of this compared to 5 years ago. Teaching can be a very draining job and it is unique in that we can bring our work home with us all the time. I find it really hard to switch off from thinking about 'my kids' particularly if something big is happening and I had a string of 3 years where it became so bad that I almost quit.
I now make try to leave work at work as much as possible and this is something I have become much better at in the last few years. When possible I try to get my planner finished by Friday afternoon before I leave work and this has made a huge difference to my mental health and time with family. I also leave my computer at work or in a cupboard at home so that I won't open it and check emails- emails for me have been a huge problem in the past, nothing ruins a Saturday more than receiving a nasty email from a parent. This has meant I have had to be better organised but it has made a huge difference and not planning over the weekend has only improved my teaching as I am well rested not ruined it. Reports are the exception though.
Eating right and exercising every day are also very important for me to be my best. Yoga and music are also needed.
What hobbies/interests do you have outside of teaching?
Sadly I am not sporty at all, I seriously missed that gene but I love art and am a member of our local art gallery. Whenever I get to Melbourne I love going to the NGV or wandering the streets to look at street art and I love art history too.
Music, books and food are my other interests. I read every day for fun and it's a great way for me to judge my stress levels because the worst year I had as a teacher I found it too difficult to read as I wasn't able to concentrate. Whenever possible I love going to concerts and always have music playing in my car and classroom. Buying fresh food and eating local are also important to me and I go to our local farmers market every month to buy healthy food to cook. I bake whenever possible.
I'm also one of those annoying yoga people but I love it and go a few times a week. It's my go-to de-stress and I've been practising it since I was 17.
Describe one piece of advice you would give to your former self before becoming a teacher?
You are replaceable and not invincible. If you get sick someone else will come in to do your job, if you leave they will replace you. Do your best, look after yourself and try to relax.
What are you most excited for the remainder of the 2018 school year?
Spending time with my class who are just amazing this year. Being able to do some Christmas activities and just enjoy being part of our 'class team' will be nice. I am not looking forward to moving classrooms but that's okay!
Is there any particular area you would love to see SMILE Teachers deliver for your school?
More of everything you are already doing, particularly advice around well-being :)