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Giving back to the education community – Early Career Scholarship

Teachers Health is delighted to once again sponsor the Public Education Foundation’s Teachers Health Early Career Scholarship. The scholarship recognises outstanding public school teachers in their first three years of teaching and provides $10,000 to support their professional development.

Changing lives in remote WA

We’re delighted to introduce this year’s well-deserved recipient; Sandra Chambers – a year 4–6 teacher at Wiluna Remote Community School in Western Australia.

Sandra is committed to building strong relationships with her students, families, and the community and knows the importance of Indigenous students seeing their culture reflected in the curriculum. She’s excited to use the funding to further support her students and the wider school community through an increased knowledge of two-way pedagogy, which aligns Indigenous and western knowledge. 

“Our students are deeply engaged with learning that centers their country and culture, and many aspire to work as Martu (Indigenous) rangers when they leave school. This professional development will support me to facilitate two-way practices at a classroom and whole-school level, particularly in STEM and language fields."

“It's really exciting to be able to participate in training, conferences, and professional development opportunities to which I otherwise wouldn't have access. I'm looking forward to bringing back what I learn to my school, and seeing the impact that this has on students' engagement and learning.”

Teachers Health is proud to once again give back to the education community through its support of the Public Education Foundation scholarships. Brad Joyce, Teachers Health CEO commented, “Sandra is a passionate teacher whose dedication and enthusiasm to teaching and her students is making a real difference. We’re proud to support her professional development and look forward to hearing about the better outcomes for her school and students that the scholarship will help her to achieve.”

Congratulations to Sandra – we look forward to hearing more!

Maths & motivation!

We caught up with Linda Le, the recipient of last year’s inaugural scholarship. To recap, Linda is a maths teacher in south-west Sydney who planned to use the scholarship to investigate how other countries engage and motivate their students in the classroom. She hoped her findings would support her in introducing new ways to excite her students, share her enthusiasm for maths and contribute to her school community.

 

Healthmatters: Hi Linda! It’s been a year since you received the inaugural Public Education Foundation's Teachers Health Early Career Scholarship. What professional development did the funding support you with?

Linda Le: Thanks to the scholarship I was lucky enough to complete a STEM Education Course in Japan – which included visiting a range of prestigious scientific institutions (and immersing myself in the magnificent Japanese culture). I also undertook an education tour in southern Finland – a combination of lectures, seminars and practical school visits. The two trips were quite varied in their nature and itineraries but both extremely exciting for me!

 

HM: Can you tell us a little about your trip to Japan?

LL: This was an incredible STEM course – opening my eyes to new worlds of technology and science. The exhibition on ‘Androids: What is Human?’ at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation got me thinking about human existence and questioning how our perception of being human will change – what will separate us from robots in the future? At the Jaxa Space Research Facility I got to see full-scale satellite models, real rocket engines, and a life-size model of Japan’s Experimental Module for the International Space Station. So much maths and science incorporated into this one piece of amazing technology – a real moment of wonder for me! My visit to the National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS) – one of Japan’s top five research facilities which specialises in metals and organic and inorganic materials – allowed me to see how the research being done assists in Japanese industries such as manufacturing, the environment and technology, aspects which I was excited to bring back to Australia into my world of STEM teaching. And the Maglev Exhibition Centre – home to world’s fastest bullet-train trials (expected to travel at 500km/h!) – inspired me to create lots of speed, distance and time-related mathematical questions. But the absolute highlight of my time in Japan would have to be my visit to KEK: High Energy Research Institute Corporation, where I really saw science in action! I was amazed to witness a particle accelerator in real life and stand in the very laboratory where Professor Makoto Kobayashi worked when he won the 2008 Nobel Prize in Physics. A once-in-a-lifetime experience!

 

HM: Wow, it sounds like your trip to Japan was jam-packed and provided you with plenty of inspiration and ideas to bring back to Australia and into your classroom teaching. How about Finland?

LL: My education tour of southern Finland was completely different to my time in Japan – inspiring in very different ways. The trip allowed me to firstly understand Finnish culture and secondly (and more importantly to me), how this translates into the Finnish education system – from the curriculum and student assessments, to education costs/fees, school timetables and school inspections.

I learned more about ‘phenomenon-based learning’ – in other words learning by doing, which puts an emphasis on social skills, communication and teamwork, and utilises different types of assignments, connects different school subjects and allows teachers to work together and learn from each other. It’s a fresh way to look at teaching and learning – something I’m enthusiastic about.

I was also excited to visit a Steiner high school in Finland. Steiner schools place emphasis on respect for the spiritual nature of the human being and the development stages of children and young people, and focus on deep engagement and creative endeavour. I found the architecture, classrooms and the way education is taught at the school to be remarkable, and for me the whole experience of visiting a Finnish Steiner school was very moving as I considered what elements I could incorporate into my teaching.

The Finnish education system places a high emphasis on early childhood and care and view learning through play as essential. My visit to an early childhood education centre allowed me to witness this first hand and the different types of activities students undertake to maximise engagement and motivation – something that I’m passionate about!

 

HM: What did you take away from your professional development trips?

LL: Finland has a very beautiful word which I brought home with me to incorporate into my teaching – ‘SISU’. It’s not just a word but a national feeling meaning “whatever it takes” – combining bravery, ferocity and the ability to keep moving forward no matter the difficulties. The Teachers Health scholarship allowed me amazing opportunities which I wouldn’t have experienced otherwise and I’m even more excited about my work, my profession, and my contribution to my school and education community. Thank you so much Teachers Health!

 

The Public Education Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to providing life changing scholarships to young people in public education, as well as their teachers and principals. For more information on their scholarships, visit publiceducationfoundation.org.au/scholarships