Currently teaching a Year 5/6 class at Heritage Christian School, Craig’s passion for teaching and dedication to his students have been recognised with a National Excellence in Teaching Award (NEiTA) …
Congratulations on being nominated to The Australian Scholarships Group (ASG) and receiving a National Excellence In Teaching Award (NeiTA). Can you tell us a bit about the award you actually received?
It is a nomination that is put forward by members of the community in appreciation of a teacher’s dedication to their profession. Nominations are then put forward to a committee, which sorts through the candidates; the successful candidates are then recognised with this award. I have been told that there were 2,000 nominations this year and that I am among the top 50 that actually received an award.
Such recognition is wonderful for the Heritage Christian School and you! What does receiving this award mean to you personally and professionally?
It was a wonderful surprise. To be recognised within the school community as doing your job well is extremely encouraging and uplifting. It is great to be reaffirmed that what you are doing is effective.
We understand it was one of your pupil’s parents who nominated you! How does that feel, knowing they think so highly of you and your work?
To be acknowledged by parents of the students I teach is such a positive means of feedback. It is wonderful to be recognised for the hard work I place into teaching and nurturing each student.
Have you ever been so well recognised for your work prior to this award?
Not to this level. I was nominated and won another award a few years ago from the Australian College of Educators, for the annual World Teachers’ Day, which again was a nice surprise.
Give us a run down on your career? How did you get to where you are now?
The majority of my schooling was undertaken at Heritage Christian School, where I now work! I arrived in Year 4 and continued through to Year 12 and was the first student to come back as a teacher. Following my 4 years of training at Christian Heritage College in Brisbane, I was offered a position here at Heritage, to which I am still currently employed. This is my 14th year here, and I currently teach a Year 5/6 class. I have also undertaken the role of Head of Primary this year and am enjoying the experience of guiding and developing the students within the primary as a whole. I am very happy to be teaching in such a supportive and family oriented environment.
What is the best aspect of teaching Year 5/6, in your opinion?
I have taught classes ranging from Year 2 through to Year 8 in my time here at Heritage. I enjoy aspects of all those grades, but must admit I really do enjoy teaching upper primary.
Students at this age are starting to mature and taking on more responsibility. I do enjoy assisting them at this stage of life, where they are transitioning from being a child to a teenager. The pastoral care aspect of teaching becomes very important during these years. I am honoured that parents would allow me to work in partnership with them in guiding their children through this crucial stage in their life.
Tell us what the key is to being an inspirational teacher, such as yourself?
Teaching for me is not purely an occupation, but rather a ministry that I believe I have been called to. I am very passionate about what I do, and students know very quickly whether a teacher really wants to be there.
It is important that there is respect, both teacher-to-student and student-to-teacher. Showing love and respect to one another builds trust. When students are in my care, I treat them as if they were my own. There needs to be a balance to the relationship for each child, both professionally and socially.
Students need to feel safe at school and to help achieve this, I believe a classroom environment needs to be one that is conducive to learning, displaying clear standards of what is expected, and these all need to be enforced. Students need boundaries and if these boundaries are over-stepped, consequences should result. Consistency and love are key factors in this procedure. Encouragement is another key aspect of my classroom.
The classroom environment should cater not only for academic progress, but also social, physical and spiritual development.
I honestly don’t see myself any better than other teachers, but students seem to enjoy being in class, so I must be doing something right. The day my classroom becomes boring and students don’t want to be there will be my time to move on.
Many elements combine to enable children to gain a quality education that provides them with a platform for their future lives. I don’t take this position of being a teacher lightly and will continue to look for ways to improve what I love to do.
You now go into the running for the National Awards in mid 2013, commemorated with a professional project development grant. If you receive this gift, what might you do with it to continue your great work?
Our school has recently started a process of Team Teaching Mentor Approach. I would love to further this program, in allowing myself and fellow teachers to go to other schools and learn from like minded teachers who could offer assistance in continuing to improve the quality of our teaching. A holiday would be nice, but I don’t think the money can be used for that purpose.
What are your plans for the future … can we expect more of your awesome teaching for years to come?
I am very content in my position at Heritage. If I become stale in my teaching or start not to enjoy it, only then might I consider moving on. So yes, I can see myself working with children for many more years.