Introducing... Miss T!
Today we share with a bright and enthusiastic first year teacher who is navigating her way through a career in education.
A graduate of Deakin University, Ebonee has had a wonderful first year teaching primary and has been kind enough to share with the Smile Teachers community her experiences and ideas about positive schooling and teacher support.
aka Miss T-riffic
What is your current role and level of experience?
This is my first year teaching after graduating from Deakin in 2017, I currently teach Grade 3/4 in Melbourne.
What do you love most about teaching?
The relationships we can build with the kids and how excited they are to tell you what going on in their little world.
What are your strengths as a teacher?
I would say technology, I love to add new things into my lessons by incorporating laptops, iPads or our classroom pet Cozmo the robot (He’s a coding robot by Anki)
What things do you do to build strong positive relationships with your students?
I have a class of 22, 17 of which speak an additional language/dialect at home so I try my best to learn something about their culture/religion or celebrations they have and talk to them about it. I also set aside time in the day to catch up on the wellbeing of my kids, whether that be during circle time or during read to self, I’ll go around to each of them and just listen.
How can teachers be better supported in their role?
I am lucky enough to have a fabulous mentor teacher, but I think teachers could be better supported by having allocated mental health days or even sessions (so we don’t have to feel guilty about calling in sick), I mean tradies get rostered days off for working long hours.. and although we try to have that work-life balance sometimes (particularly as a graduate) it’s just not possible.
At Smile Teachers we believe a mentor is one of the most important aspects of a young teacher's career so much so we are going to be establishing a Smile Teacher's mentor program. Mental Health Day's... yes, yes, yes!!!
What has been your most rewarding teaching experience, please describe?
I’m only 8 months into my career, but my mentor this year is the Mathematics learning specialist and I actually got to appear on video for a whole staff professional development session that demonstrated best practice is mathematics teaching. I thought that was pretty rewarding because I got to share my resources and my love for technology with my school.
Outline your favourite lesson to teach, what would you have the kids do?
This year I introduced ‘Math Talk’ into my classroom and every maths lesson I have a word problem written on a piece of anchor chart paper. We share reading it together, I cover it up and we use our reading skills to recall what number skills the question was looking for, we break it down with the CUBES strategy and then we solve it on our own on our iPads using a template I made on the SeeSaw communication platform so our parents can see our work at home. After we complete the template we all have an opportunity to sit on the ‘Mathematicians’ chair and I say.. Good Mathematicians do... and they show their strategy or take one of the ‘Math Talk’ prompts from our board to share their amazing work!
If you could make one change to the current education system, describe what it would be and why?
Tough to pick just one sadly.. I would say the funding that teachers receive in Government schools to put together their classrooms. I know we don’t have to have the wiz bang furniture, colourful displays and latest technology – but if I didn’t put the money that I have into the classroom I have right now, I wouldn’t have a classroom library, a chair at my guided reading table, word work supplies, games, stationary (whiteboard markers in particular!) or flexible furniture for my fidgety kids.
I would have a chair at the front of my whiteboard, 6 tables with enough chairs for my 22, a guided reading table, a rolling whiteboard and an iPad cabinet.
How do you manage your stress level and maintain positive well-being to be happy and teach well?
Being a graduate, I don’t think I’m the best person to ask this question to, I’m still figuring out that work-life balance. I still take work home every night and do work on the weekends. I do try to have at least my Saturday or my Sunday to go out, see my family or my partner. Unfortunately, this is an area I definitely need to work on more. I don’t manage my stress until it’s too late and I have a breakdown.
What hobbies/interests do you have outside of teaching?
I’m a homebody. If I don’t have to leave the house, you would have to drag me out. I am a hardcore Disney fan and Netflix lover so I’m happy to just sit on the couch and binge watch a series or Disney movies all day. I also love my technology, so I love learning new things and teaching myself new tricks with my Apple gear (not a Microsoft person, my department issued laptop is evil).
Describe one piece of advice you would give a new teacher starting your career in education?
You can’t do everything. Your kids will learn in spite of you. Don’t push yourself to the brink, just do as much as you can.
What are you most excited for the remainder of the 2018 school year?
Summer holidays? Haha! No, I would say comparing the growth of my kids from Term 1 to Term 4 and celebrating that success with them. I do it every day, I compliment them and show them their growth but I look forward to sitting together with our books from Term 1 and our books from Term 4 and celebrating together. Even if they only moved a little bit, they still moved.
Is there any particular area you would love to see covered by SMILE Teachers?
Maybe online webinars about finding the work-life balance and managing your first year of teaching. I’m nearly done, but I think that for a graduate next year this would be really helpful.
The good news for Emily and all of our other Smile Teachers is that we will be bring you more engaging resources, including webinars and online PD to help you find a better work-life balance and how to look after your wellbeing.
Another great way to improve your wellbeing and work life balance is to join us in Bali, January 2019 for our Teachers Retreat, where you can rest, relax and rejuvenate while enjoying some awesome PD.