Jenny’s Indigenous heritage is from her mother, a Yuin woman from the south coast of NSW. Jenny’s teaching career has taken her from Liverpool to the Riverina, overseas on teacher exchange and to Western Sydney. She has been a principal in the NSW public school system for over 15 years.
This is the third consecutive year that Jenny has come to ACU to share her knowledge, answer questions and address issues arising for our Indigenous students. Once again she has contributed enormously to the career development of our students.
Key messages from Jenny’s presentation included:
Quality Teaching demands that teachers are always learning and are self-reflective.
Be positive, act ethically and professionally.
Be prepared for the unexpected and be explicit in your teaching.
Get to know staff – have a map of the school.
Get involved - you are a part of a team.
Contribute – share and discuss ideas with colleagues.
Engage with the school community and the wider community.
Have high expectations but not unrealistic ones.
You can’t do it all in your first year.
You are in the future’s business!
Jenny answered the practical questions that students asked her about the support available in the NSW Public School system for beginning teachers, syllabus content and the nature of assistance offered by the NSW Teachers Federation.
Perhaps more importantly, Jenny skillfully facilitated conversation around many students’ fears concerning perceived failure, managing expectations and setting professional boundaries. She allayed these fears by discussing each one in depth, offering helpful advice and suggesting strategies gained from years of experience as a teacher and a principal.
This tutorial session for Indigenous Teachers in Australian Education also modelled effective teaching pedagogy that created a truly inclusive learning environment. Students moved their chairs into a circle, shared their Indigenous heritage and then were encouraged to ask questions and openly discuss different scenarios. Every student comment/question was acknowledged and affirmed. Student feedback about this tutorial indicates that learning outcomes were certainly met!
Jenny encouraged students to be inspired by the words of Sir Kenneth Robinson, an English educator: "There is no system in the world or in any school in any country that is better than its teachers. Teachers are the lifeblood of the success of schools."