*If you could go back and meet yourself at the age of 21, what would you tell yourself?
That's easy. Four words. Be true to you. As a young teacher, the temptation to go off track in terms of your own authenticity is huge. It's about learning from other teachers, not copying them. Great teachers learn from others, mediocre teachers copy others. It is essential that we learn and grow and develop, but not copy. We are so tempted to copy the strategy of another teacher and try to do what they do without thinking about whether or not we can maintain that strategy ourselves. This is especially true in classroom management. So be true to you, and don't depart from that.
*What is one idea you have in education that goes against conventional thinking?
I would say the area of substitute teaching. I do a lot of work with substitute teachers and I have a lot of resources for them. I think one of the strongholds of thinking is that substitute teachers are babysitting. I continuously and tirelessly work against this kind of thinking. Unfortunately many substitute teachers go into their classes and they think that they are just there to look after the kids. This is even true when full time teachers are in a situation where they are covering a class. Instead of going in with the attitude of "what could I do to positively influence them" they instead are thinking that they just have to get through the time until the next teacher comes. They often have a really negative attitude about that. I always try to tell teachers not to treat covering a class as babysitting, but to remember that they have an opportunity to influence this class in a positive way.
*What one change in education is most needed?
This is easy for me. The one change that I want to see is more attention paid to the professional development of teachers. I am excited to say that this has actually started changing here in Australia. A lot of teachers have a negative attitude about it, and I don't understand this. Teachers should be modeling to their students that they are learning and growing as well. I am really committed to helping teachers grow professionally. I often get asked to speak to teachers myself, but there are just not enough hours in the day for me to do all that I would like. This is one of the reasons why I have developed my online professional development program. I love that we are able to make professional development so much more accessible through this kind of program. I think a teacher that is learning and growing is one that is continuing to be effective. We all know about the stale kind of teachers who are not interested in growing, just counting down the days until summer or retirement. I try to tell these teachers, in the nicest possible way, that they should be doing something else that they like better. Why stay in the profession if you think that way? A passionate teacher is someone who can last the distance. I think one of the best ways to keep your passion is to learn something new about being a teacher, and to be reminded about how incredibly amazing this profession is.
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