Dr Sarah Mathews

Brisbane Bayside State College, QLD

Teaching Fellow

Why did you apply for a commonwealth bank teaching award?

Initially, after I saw the Award information I discarded it – thinking I was too busy and not competitive. It was after two colleagues approached me and said I should apply that I read further. I looked at the questions and was quite excited by the reflective nature of them and thought “why not?”.

How did you find the application process?

I found the process incredibly reflective. Life in schools is so very busy, so to take the time to create a narrative of my journey and highlight my achievements was wonderful. I think the questions matched my thought processes. The online application process was easy enough.

How has becoming a teaching fellow benefited you?

A great benefit is meeting and being inspired by the other Fellows. Being immersed and sharing narratives and ideas is amazing. The trip to Singapore has enabled deep learning and reflection with the Fellows. The alignment of the Singapore system has shown me what is possible. I am going to continue to advocate for every student through inspiring teachers and leaders. The award in my school has given me a new challenge and motivation to drive further improvement in maths.

What is the program you’re implementing at your school as a result of the award?

I am implementing a program to improve the consistency and effectiveness of pedagogy in maths. I am working with a lead teacher in maths to develop small professional learning communities where teachers are reflecting on their instruction and thinking deeply about how to target their teaching for specific students. The aim is to focus on the teachers to support students to develop their capability in maths.

What advice would you give any teachers or school leaders thinking about applying this year?

My advice is “have a go!” I found the application process provided a great platform to reflect and it also provided some internal motivation. I figured, even if I didn’t get to the next stage I have already gained from the experience. If you have a story to tell, then tell it in the application process. Don’t get too bogged down by the sub-questions – you know what you have done and what has worked – this is your story.