Beau Pett has only been teaching for two years, but in that time he has managed to dramatically transform the Japanese Department at Gladstone State High School. It is this success story that has prompted Beau’s colleagues to nominate him for an Excellence in Beginning to Teach Award. Before Beau arrived at the school, Japanese students were disengaged in their studies, and Japanese as a subject was floundering. This was largely because there were difficulties in finding Japanese teachers and therefore the program’s sustainability was limited. However, things changed with the arrival of Beau.
Upon joining the team at Gladstone State High School, Beau immediately began to investigate new methodologies in language teaching, sought advice from a range of experts, and journeyed to Brisbane to experience new pedagogical approaches to teaching Japanese. Upon returning to Gladstone, Beau applied and shared his learning, with excellent results—engagement in Japanese improved dramatically and for the first time, students were communicating in Japanese, engaged, and eager to learn. The number of students learning Japanese has doubled within one year of Beau arriving. It is easy to understand why Japanese is now booming at Gladstone State High School. Beau has a strong but firm presence in his classroom. Through careful planning, Beau is able to create a positive learning environment in which every student feels valued and able to practise their Japanese speaking. This is most clearly exemplified by Beau’s use of story-telling pedagogy in the classroom, whereby students direct the story themselves with teacher guidance in Japanese—a truly enjoyable activity for language learners. Beau has now developed a four-year Japanese program in collaboration with his more senior colleagues. He has supported others to understand how to work with the Australian Curriculum and ACARA documentation. Beau has improved the intellectual rigour of assessment items and developed a sophisticated pedagogical approach that is cutting-edge. Beau has been described by his peers as someone with patience that knows no bounds, someone who treats all people with dignity and respect, and is an impressive colleague. Congratulations Beau on your nomination.