Today we welcome a very special teacher who has been teaching for a decade!
She is a loving mother and passionate planner who has a gift for creating resources that make teachers lives more joyful, she provides exciting ways to stay organised and teaching well.
Her colourful and creative planners, stickers, lessons plans, classroom ideas etc. can be found on her popular page: Mrs Edgars Class
In this week's Feature a Teacher blog she shares her teaching experience over the past 10 years and enlightens us on why she just can't get enough of teaching.
She clearly articulates the challenges faced by teachers and provides insights into how we can manage our well being and how the SMILE Community can better support teachers.
Aka: Marvellous Mother of Many
Loves designing, photography and reading
What is your current role and level of experience? I have taught for 10 years and have mainly been in Year 1, 2 and 3 classrooms. This year I've been teaching Year 3. I went back to uni while teaching full time to do a postgrad in Gifted and Talented Education, as well as a Masters of Education (at this point I was much younger, baby free and had no other responsibilities!). I began my doctorate at UWA a couple of years later but I haven't been back to compete it as my dad became unwell. Honestly, teaching is a full-time load so anything additional to that is craziness! I really hope to get back into it at some stage as I love learning, and especially conducting research. I commend anyone doing study while teaching, or doing anything else for that matter! I got my Level 3 status somewhere down the line also.
What do you love most about your career? I love the positive influence you can have on the lives of young people as cliche as that sounds. There's nothing more rewarding then seeing your students succeed and reach personal milestones - whether it relates to academic goals, or social and emotional ones.
What are your strengths as a teacher? How does one answer this without sounding arrogant? Ha! I think it's imperative teachers collaborate - we can't do all the work on our own. I've worked in tiny schools of no more than 80 students and 5 teaching staff, and a massive school with over 1200 students, in a team of 6-7 teachers. Whether you work with many or few, collaborating and sharing resources is a huge help. I share everything I create and I love listening to the fantastic ideas my colleagues have to offer.
What things do you do to build strong positive relationships with your students? I try to really listen to my students - remembering when their birthday is, knowing when they are having sleep overs and going on weekend outings. Everyone wants to feel special and part of that is remembering the little things about your students and embracing things that are important to them.
How can teachers be better supported in their role? Teacher wellbeing has become fundamental as I'm sure most are aware of some of the current media releases - one of the more significant findings being that up to half of all Australian teachers are leaving the profession in the first five years (Sydney Morning Herald, 2017). Current workloads and stress levels in the education sector seem unsustainable. We're in a constantly demanding profession that takes so much of our time. Everyone's teaching journey is slightly different, and we all need different support depending on where we are in our careers. If there are teachers feeling overwhelmed, I encourage them to bring up issues with their admin team or union branch and specifically outline what they need so that they are able to be better supported.
In my own experiences, I definitely feel like graduate teachers need stronger mentorship programs when they enter into the education system - teaching is tough, it's hard to cope with the demands of the job without directed help and support where needed. But this also means giving the mentor teacher adequate time to be there to support them.
I also feel that teachers need more time to be able to program and plan for the students in their classrooms, achieved by changing focus of some staff meetings and having less administrative duties during DOTT times.
Allocating reasonable funds to teachers is another one I've come across- I've worked in schools where the budget isn't enough to cover a month's worth of photocopying, leaving teachers forking out for resources from their own personal funds and going to external businesses to print.
What has been your most rewarding teaching experience, please describe? There's been too many to just pick one. - Seeing my first class graduate - Receiving personal letters from students years down the track - Turning up to my class and finding its decked out with balloons, decorations and baby well wishes as a surprise before I left on maternity leave, along with a scrapbook of letters my students had written me.
Outline your favourite lesson to teach, what would you have the kids do? My favourite lessons are always those at the beginning of the year when you get to know all of your students a little bit better. We usually play lots of games and do team building activities. One of my favourites is one our principal actually introduced to our staff - extreme rock, paper, scissors. This link explains it better than I probably can: Extreme Rock Paper Scissors.
If you could make one change to the current education system, describe what it would be and why? I'd make leadership to women more accessible. We are in a female dominated profession which doesn't seem to be represented in our top leadership roles. I would love to see women being more supported and encouraged to apply for leadership roles, especially when their influence can expand beyond the classroom, to the school and wider community.
How do you manage your stress level and maintain positive well-being to be happy and teach well? I don't stay at work long after hours, weekends I keep free and I try to utilise my DOTT to get everything done so I'm not having it impinge too much on my family time. I keep up with my friendships and hobbies. Everything else I can credit to coffee.
What hobbies/interests do you have outside of teaching? Graphic design, photography, reading.
Describe one piece of advice you would give a new teacher starting your career in education? Just do what you can, prioritise and everything else can just be. Seek help when you are feeling overwhelmed. You got this!
What are you most excited for the remainder of the 2018 school year? I'm having my second baby, due September 18! I'm also most scared about this too!
Is there any particular area you would love to see covered by SMILE Teachers? I think SMILE Teachers are doing a fantastic job with what they're doing now!
We thank Mrs Edgar for her thoughtful and open account of her teaching journey today. The SMILE Community wishes her all the best for the arrival of her second child, we are excited to see Mrs Edgar at our SMILE Teachers events in the future.