EXCELLENT LEADERSHIP IN TEACHING AND LEARNING
Fiona Laing is not only a leader in her classroom and school. As a longstanding (and now past) President of the English Teachers Association of Queensland, Fiona has played a critical role in shaping the landscape of English teaching in Queensland and setting the future agenda for this wonderful subject area.
As an English teacher and Head of a dynamic English Department at Forest Lake State High School, Fiona has an innate ability to know and understand every single student who takes English as a subject. Her tireless commitment to her students, combined with her expert knowledge of curriculum and pedagogy, and her vivacious character, make her a superb English teacher.
Fiona uses her deep knowledge of students and her understanding of disabilities, learning needs, trauma and language barriers to modify and adapt curriculum and learning resources to ensure every student succeeds.
In leading her Department, Fiona’s leadership style is positive, engaging and supportive. Her strong ethical position guides her curriculum leadership to ensure that all content is appropriate, yet challenging, and responsive to the needs and challenges of the school cohort.
“She leads from the front of her English faculty…with her broad and extensive experience of curricula and organisational leadership, she has the ability to harness and work with vision on curriculum and cultural change with teachers and HODs,” explains Principal Denise Kostowski.
Fiona’s faculty leadership has resulted in her Department consistently meeting and exceeding student achievement targets. Frequent communication with parents and families has contributed to continued improvement in student success – because Fiona brings everyone along with her on the journey to success.
Moreover, she initiated and led the Griffith University Accelerating Literacy Learning Program at the school, which contributed to dramatic improvements in students’ reading levels, as well as increased teacher confidence and capability by providing teachers with practical strategies to engage students in reading.
Outside her school, Fiona is a Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority (QCAA) confirmer and utilizes the in-depth knowledge she gains from this role at school where she is accountable for and leads processes of calibration and moderation across all English subject areas.
One of her great achievements has been leading The English Teachers Association of Qld (ETAQ). Early in her presidency, Fiona set up a process for the Management Committee to develop a vision and a three-year plan for the organisation. Towards the end of the first three years, the initial plan was reviewed and updated for the next three years. Her ability to recognise and tap into the particular abilities of Management Committee members has contributed to ETAQ being a more dynamic organisation.
Fiona’s leadership has given the organisation a renewed energy and purpose as evidenced by growing membership, at a time when similar organisations in other states have all seen declining numbers; increased attendance at Professional Learning events; the development of new formats for Professional Development activities; a greater willingness of members to be involved in ETAQ activities whether it be presenting at seminars or conferences, submitting articles for publication in Words’Worth, or joining discussion groups. Fiona has also been mindful of the needs of members in rural and regional areas and has supported ETAQ’s development of initiatives to service these members through the establishment and maintenance of local branches and especially the adoption of technology that allows ETAQ to deliver to teachers and students everywhere in Queensland. The very recent and highly successful presentations for student and teacher preparation for External Assessment in English are a tribute to Fiona’s vision and capacity for leadership.
Further, her role as ETAQ delegate to the national association, AATE, has allowed her to fact-find and compare operations in each state with that in Queensland. It also allowed her to have a unique opportunity to lead the preparations for how best to support teachers throughout this implementation of new assessment processes. Fiona’s leadership of ETAQ has played a vital and pivotal role in this space, benefiting teachers across the state.
Fiona is well respected by staff and students alike. She has been described by Denise as a “lifelong learner, dedicated to honing her craft, in order to better the results of all students”.
Congratulations Fiona on being shortlisted for a TEACHX Excellent Leadership in Teaching and Learning Award.