Natalie is a primary school teacher from Glorious Western Australia. She began teaching in 2015 after graduating as a mature age student. Natalie originally comes from a background in finance in the mining industry, and after having a child she decided on a career change.
Why did you become a teacher?
I started my teaching degree back in 1994 but swapped to a Bachelor of Commerce, which was a decision I always regretted. Sounds cliché, but I always wanted to be the teacher that made a difference.
What has kept you in the profession?
As a graduate teacher I am still very passionate and plan to stay in the profession for as long as that passion remains. Ultimately it is the students that ignite that passion in me and even though I hope I to “make a difference” to all 32 students in my class, if its only that one child that has learnt something or had a safe, fun and friendly environment to come to each day then I have achieved my goal.
What is the best lesson you’ve ever taught? What made it so?
Being a graduate teacher this is a hard one for me to answer as some lessons are still a bit of trial and error, but I would have to say the lessons that are hands on and keep the students active. I regularly use Kagan structures and group rotations so these keep students engaged, consistently moving and don’t allow for off task behaviours to occur.
What is the biggest challenge you face?
For me it is remembering to take time out for myself and get some down time. Like most teachers, we put all of ourselves into our classes and consistently go above and beyond. I am always telling myself to find the balance, but unfortunately my students tend to weigh in more most of the time.
What do you love the most about teaching?
This is also linked to why I became a teacher. I currently teach at a Visible Learning and Kagan school therefore my high expectations are regularly communicated with my students. I just love seeing them challenge themselves and the pride they exude when they succeed. I don’t just mean with grades – most of the time it’s those little milestones that are the most important.
Is there something you would like to try out with your classes?
I’m trying out a few new things this year. Firstly, I’m loving the concept of Math Talk and Growth Mindset so I want to do more of that in my classroom. I also started using Seesaw last year and I have found it to be an awesome tool in the classroom. This year I have connected with a Year 4 class in the United States and we are going to share our experiences through Seesaw – can’t wait for that. Finally, I want to do more tinkering in the classroom and plan to open some of the old computers that we have at school and let students explore, deconstruct, and rebuild.
What advice do you have for beginning (or experienced) teachers?
I would say it is the same advice that I give my students; Mistakes are proof that you are trying and if at first you don’t succeed try again. What is important is what you do with the information learned from that experience – it may not have worked this time but tweaking it may just make it amazing. Here is a little video that always brings a smile to my face.