Middle school teacher at St Andrews Lutheran College, Desiree Hughes, likes to keep up with current research in education for her students. Her Learning Intentions are clearly displayed in lessons and she establishes structural differentiation for students, so learning is targeted. Her pastoral care is embedded in positive psychology. In addition, she has developed the first co-curricular language program at the College, which offers students the opportunity to learn Chinese (Mandarin) as well as other aspects of Chinese culture.
“Desiree has set up a 'Learning Advisor Group' of Year 8 students and made frequent contact with parents regarding their children's progress at the College both academically and pastorally. She conferences with her students to determine the nature and depth of their learning and readily adapts teaching practices in order to maximise this capacity,” says Assistant Head of Middle School Thomas Casey. The number of behaviour management incidents has decreased in Desiree’s classes and there has been an increase in students wishing to participate in Desiree’s ‘learning assistance’ elective. She emphasises ‘learning is explicit’, beginning each lesson with a stated intention. Seeking real-world examples, she shows students the broader implications and uses of the academic skills they are acquiring. Desiree volunteered to be part of the College’s Action Research projects investigating how to create new learning streams in the field of modern languages at the College. Through this, she has introduced the first foreign language club to the College where students are able to learn Chinese. By designing and running this program for students, she has encouraged students to explore and develop their own interests in this field. With an understanding that Chinese as a language is growing both locally and globally, she has been able to provide students with new opportunities to not only learn the language, but also get involved in creative experiences and activities that explore elements of Chinese culture. In addition, she has volunteered to assist students with numerous other co-curricular activities. “Desiree has engaged with the broader community in the manner expected of all staff at the College; however, she has excelled in this capacity in her first year. She readily contacts parents/carers through personal conversations and is frequent in written communication to families. She remains well beyond regular school hours to provide students with an opportunity to seek additional assistance with work. The students under her care are better for having her in their day,” Thomas says. Desiree attends sessions to enhance pedagogy and interest groups relating to digital learning. As a keen learner, she is always seeking opportunities to learn from other staff members and students within the community. She’s contributed to the College’s co-curricular program and departmental planning and is valued by her peers. Congratulations Desiree on your nomination.