Author: Jacqueline Magee
In Learning from Singapore: The Power of Paradoxes, Professor Pak Tee Ng from the National Institute of Education describes teaching and its impact. He writes:
“This labour of love is down to earth. It may not be glamorous. It is long-suffering. It does change lives, not in dramatic ways, but quietly and surely”.
I’ve read these words many times. They resonate, because they remind me of my teaching colleagues in the schools I have worked in: those who have spent their entire professional lives at the chalkface, helping their students learn, caring for them, spending their weekends and holidays preparing lessons and giving feedback on work. All without the hope or expectation of recognition. All without the high status afforded to many other professions. All for one reason: to make a difference to their students’ lives.
With the support of the Commonwealth Bank, Schools Plus is shining a light on the life-changing work of 12 such exceptional teachers and school leaders from across the country. The winners – brilliant pedagogues, innovative thinkers, and highly effective principals – were announced at an awards ceremony in March following a rigorous assessment process. Final selection of the inaugural Fellows was made by a panel of education and business leaders chaired by Schools Plus Pioneer David Gonski. The Fellows each received $30,000 towards a significant project in their school, $10,000 towards personal professional development, and a study tour to Singapore led by Learning First.
The Fellows and I travelled to Singapore in July, where we visited schools and key institutions including the Academy of Singapore Teachers, the Academy of Singapore Principals and the National Institute of Education. The purpose of these visits was to examine the policies and practices of the Singaporean school system – one of the highest performing in the world – and consider the lessons that might be relevant to the Fellows’ work in diverse Australian contexts, from metropolitan Sydney to suburban Brisbane to remote Western Australia. The Fellows devised specific research questions on relevant areas including teacher professional learning, leadership, and innovative curriculum and pedagogy, and discussed their experiences and ideas for reform with their Singaporean counterparts.
The Fellowship, though, is about much more than the financial reward and a trip to Singapore. Schools Plus and the Commonwealth Bank have identified a cohort of highly talented and committed educators who have dedicated their lives to students and schools across the country. Through the Fellowship, this group is now working together to make their mark on teaching and learning and Australia. In Singapore the Fellows began to define their collective purpose and plan their next steps – this is just the beginning. Individually, the Fellows have been changing the lives of their students for years, quietly and surely. Collectively, they plan to improve Australian education – in dramatic ways.
Congratulations to the 2017 Teaching Fellows:
Sharyn Angel (Qld), Chad Bliss (NSW), Shanti Clements (NSW), Leah Crockford (NT), Michael Devine (Vic), Wilbur (Charlie) Klein (WA), Sarah Mathews (Qld), Lesley Mills (NSW), Christine Roberts-Yates (SA), Craig Skinner (WA), Belinda Wall (NSW) and Eddie Woo (NSW). Read more about the Fellows here.
Nominations for the 2018 Commonwealth Bank Teaching Awards open on September 4, 2017 at www.teachingawards.com.au.
Jacqueline Magee is a Senior Associate at Learning First.