EXCELLENCE IN TEACHING
For Eliza Watt, no challenge is insurmountable. Her resilience, adaptability and unwavering commitment to her students’ success is why she has been recognised and nominated for a QCT Excellence in Teaching Award.
Eliza Watt is currently the Acting Head of Special Education Services at Nursery Road State School. In the classroom, she consistently demonstrates exemplary teaching practice through constantly evolving her pedagogy to meet the needs of the students before her.
For instance, Eliza’s innovative use of visual images of the students in her lessons has enabled her students to establish strong social connections with their peers – something her students previously had been unable to do. Eliza sees her students as the unique and powerful individuals they are, and tailors her teaching to ensure every single one of them is empowered to reach their full potential.
Eliza’s solution-focused approach to her students’ learning is evident in their results. An example is provided by one of her students who presents with a complex and rare disability that results in significant pain. This student is also largely non-verbal and as a result of the disability, has spent significant time away from school with limited access to learning or engagement with the school community.
Eliza took the initiative to establish networked communication between herself, the students’ parents, therapists and previous teachers to support the student and developed an Aided Language Display to enable the student to ask for support where needed. She refined and developed the tool to enable the student to expand the communication of their needs, thereby facilitating greater time in the classroom, which, thanks to the tool, has, according to one parent, “become a place of safety and security rather than a place of pain to be endured”.
Thanks to Eliza’s work and commitment, this student’s communication, self-reflection and self-regulation have improved dramatically.
Eliza’s resilience and unwavering commitment to her practice were tested and demonstrated in 2018 after she suffered a workplace injury, which left her physically unable to manage the duties of the special education classroom environment for a full year.
Undeterred, Eliza committed herself to the school community in an even greater capacity than before. She engaged with colleagues and supported their professional development through peer mentoring, as well as observation and feedback processes. Further, she took on roles in parental support which has no doubt helped her develop her strong ability to understand and acknowledge parents’ concerns, and work towards developing practical solutions.
As a parent explains, “Eliza was a significant contributor to the ‘parent partnerships’ program, and consistently used this experience to further develop herself as a professional. It was during this time that Eliza developed an even greater sense of the challenges and needs of our diverse students, and [this] prompted continuous self-reflection about the support networks our families have access to.”
In addition, Eliza mentored colleagues through developing teacher strategies to better support the cultural, physical and/or socio-economic diversities within the school community. Eliza has continued to reflect on this forced absence from the classroom as she returned to teaching there in 2020, and has continued to implement and champion these strategies and processes throughout the school community.
Congratulations Eliza on being shortlisted for a TEACHX Excellence in Teaching Award.