Caitlin Odger, who teaches across the primary years, has overcome challenges that few beginning teachers face in the first few years of their career. After completing her initial teacher education in Brisbane, Caitlin sought and received permanent employment at Valkyrie State School, which is located in a remote region of Queensland, to teach a combined class of Kindy, Prep and Year 1 students in addition to science for students in Prep to Year 6.
Valkyrie State School had recently undergone significant staff turnover and had just appointed a new Principal. While some would consider this set of circumstances a challenge, Caitlin instead took this in her stride and from day one demonstrated confidence, bravery and excellence in her teaching practice. Teaching across multiple year levels in the one class while navigating multiple curricula can be complex. However, Caitlin’s sophisticated working knowledge of the Australian Curriculum and Queensland Kindergarten Learning Guidelines, and her ability to draw from a diverse range of teaching techniques have allowed her to manage this complexity with grace. Her ability to do so is evident in the success of her students, who all achieve above ‘C’ level. To motivate and inspire her diverse group of students, Caitlin consistently seeks innovative approaches to learning. She draws from hands-on and practical experiential approaches and inquiry. For example, to support student’s biological inquiry into plant growth, she worked with her students to construct and nurture a vegetable garden. This is simply one example of how Caitlin’s firm commitment to her students’ learning is borne out in her practice. In order to continually improve her practice, Caitlin actively seeks online professional development and reading and travels significant distances (a 300km return trip) to attend conferences where possible. She also supports her colleagues’ learning, and is actively engaged in professional conversations and professional learning sessions. Her professional maturity and excellence was recognised when she was asked to serve as Acting Principal for a period of time. Caitlin is clearly an indispensable asset to Valkyrie State School. Congratulations on your nomination, Caitlin!