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This week, School Stream is saluting teachers. The winners of the prestigious Commonwealth Bank Teaching Awards were recently announced and the lasting change created by the 12 winners is as inspiring as ever. Schools Plus, a national charity that connects donors with schools in disadvantaged communities to improve student outcomes co-present the award. Their CEO Rosemary Conn says: “The contribution teachers make to the development of our children is incredibly important”. She is right. Teaching and school leadership positions have a reach and influence on lives that is unmatched by few other professions. Let’s look at some of the 2019 winners and get inspired!

Educators both inspire others and need inspiration

While the awards recognise teachers for their work in creating long-term meaningful change for their pupils, schools and the wider community, another function of the awards is to inspire:

“By putting a spotlight on the incredible achievements of the Fellows, we hope their work will also inspire and influence teachers in classrooms right across Australia.”

And inspiration is important for teachers. It sustains motivation, drives self- improvement, sustains collegiate relationships, as well as generating creativity and innovation. With passion, focus and flexibility considered the secret weapons in a teacher’s arsenal, what does this look like in practice? Perhaps we can learn from looking at the initiatives of the 2019 Teaching Fellows?

Meet (some) of the 2019 Teaching Fellows

Here is a snapshot of three of the projects and subsequent community impact of the 2019 Teaching Fellows. If anyone ever doubts the power of education, they need look no further to be proven wrong.

Newton Moore Senior High School, WA

‘Ashley Stewart is using STEM, problem-based learning and Spatial Training to drive better classroom engagement and improved NAPLAN results in mathematics at the Newton Moore Senior High School in Bunbury. Motivated by her passion for inspiring women in STEM fields and her concern about the NAPLAN scores of Indigenous students – particularly girls – she chose to use spatial training as an entry point into a subject that felt somewhat daunting for her students. Pleasingly, levels of classroom engagement have soared, and NAPLAN scores have edged ahead of similar schools.’

Learn more at https://www.teachingawards.com.au/

Holy Spirit College QLD

‘Holy Spirit College offers “a second or often last chance at education,” for young people whose lives are affected by trauma, violence, drug use or mental health issues, says Erica, the founding Principal. With a strong focus on numeracy and literacy skills, staff build learning around students’ interests and aspirations and teach flexibly in inter-level learning groups. Success stories include ‘’a young man who overcame homelessness and is now an apprentice mechanic, and a young woman with crippling anxiety who has been able to take up a work placement in a childcare centre.”’

Learn more at https://www.teachingawards.com.au/

Cecil Andrews College WA

‘John was concerned too many students were dropping high-level STEM subjects at Cecil Andrews College and he was determined to halt the exodus. He has created a vibrant robotics program at his school that is now part of a network of 12 other schools. The inter-school partnership between the remote and city schools is based on the inclusion of Aboriginal cultural perspectives in STEM learning. The first project was the construction of remote-controlled racing cars. Co-taught by Elders, students learn about components, develop software skills, and build a track that embodies the six seasons recognised by Noongar people.’

Learn more at https://www.teachingawards.com.au/

Teachers deserve a celebration every day

Teachers often cite key drivers as being to motivate, encourage and inspire. Teachers give so much to their students and still manage to keep up with all the other demands of their profession, and that is something worth celebrating every day.