Here in Australia we are about to start our school year, with teachers back at work next week and the kids the week after that. This year marks the start of my 15th year in the classroom, and I consider myself very lucky to have the career I have had so far. I have had the chance to be involved in a lot of projects that have transformed learning for kids at my school but they have also transformed me as a teacher and transformed me as a leader.
Over the last 5 years I have been strongly involved in the Empowering Local Learners Project and for the last 3 of those years I have had the privilege of leading the implementation of this project across 16 schools and preschools from preschool to year 12. As a result of this work, kids from across all of these 16 sites have shown significant growth in their numeracy outcomes national testing (NAPLAN), but more importantly that that kids are now loving maths and enjoying challenge, this was not their relationship with maths in the past. For me professionally it has transformed every part of my teaching practice. I have had the opportunity to work with some amazing teachers locally as well as building strong relationships with Flinders University, particularly Deb Lasscock and Kristin Vonney, two phenomenal teachers from the Flinders Centre for Science Education in the 21st Century and that centre's leader Professor Martin Westwell. This work has given me the opportunity to present both nationally and internationally at both education conferences well as research conferences and has been recognised in our states teaching awards over a number of years.
However this year I am finding myself in a place where I need to let this project go. I will not be in a position that I am leading it, and there will be much few people involved than previously, the project will be on a much smaller scale than previous years. Therefore my level of involvement in the project will be limited at best. I have taken this hard, this hasn't been easy for me to reconcile in my own head, it really seems like it has been a grieving process. So much of my time and my energy over the last 5 years has been poured into this project, and so much of my identity as a teacher is wrapped up in the work, so the process of letting it go has been hard.
But as the saying goes as one door closes another opens. This year I find myself in a new position at our school, I have responsibly over leading pedagogical innovation across our school, in taking the work that I have done with the Empowering Local Learners Project across the town, as well with my own mathematics faculty in the school, and extending this work to other subject areas in my own school. Part of this position is the development of curriculum and pedagogy for our new STEM centre that will be built over the course of this year. This is a very exciting time for our school, in creating new opportunities for both our students and our staff. In embarking on this new job it is also an exciting time for me and I look forward to the challenges ahead.
I guess the point of this post is that it was started by what I perceived as a big loss to me professionally, the loss of something I had spent more than a third of my teaching career on, but in reality it has been a gain. Even though I am sad my involvement will be limited, this is not a project I need to let go, the work will continue in my own practice despite my level of involvement. As one teacher said "There is no way that you can take this project out of me", and it is true, no matter where I go with my career, this project has permanently changed me as a teacher. I know that with this project I have been given a lot of opportunities that some people never get in their teaching career so in my head I need to reframe it it is something I need to move forward with, instead of something I need to let go.
As with any professional learning experience that we have found particularly inspirational, it is about what we do with what we learned once it is all over. We can be sad that it is over, but we need to look for those open doors that we can use to help move it forward. This was part of my reason for choosing to do the #MTBoSblog18 challenge this year. Part of me helping to move the project forward desipite my lack of involvement is to keep myself accountable to that and this blogging challenge is one small way of keeping myself accountable to it. Much of the work with the project was inspired by MTBoS members so it is only fitting that I share what I have done with this work back with that community, to also let that community know how I am moving forward with some of their ideas.
Senior Leader of Pedagogical Innovation and Mathematics Coordinator in Regional South Australia.
Opinions in this blog are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of my employer.