Jenna Cullen

INNOVATION IN TEACHING

A Logan high school has developed its own online Institute for Teacher Development thanks to an award finalist who is passionate about celebrating the expertise and skills of teachers.


Marsden State High School (MSHS) Teacher Librarian and Head of Department of Teaching and Learning, Jenna Cullen, had a vision to develop an online, collaborative learning space to better support her colleagues’ professional development and wellbeing.


“After school, we have young parents who just have to run off and moreover, we have people who have sporting commitments or they're tired because they have been absolutely flat chat all day,” Ms Cullen said.

“People are hungry to improve … and so we talked about what it would look like to bring in some of the flexible, online element (for professional development),” she said.


There are now 33 hours of professional learning delivered by 25 different presenters in the Marsden Institute of Teacher Development (MITD) online bank, including IT lessons for teachers to use if they go into sudden lockdowns, and extensive information for early career teachers on topics including neuroscience and wellbeing.


Every teacher at the school is also set to take part in an “online disco” in which they will spend an hour interacting with MITD resources.


The creative approach to professional learning is just one of the reasons Ms Cullen is a finalist for this year’s Queensland College of Teachers TEACHX Innovation in Teaching Award.


Ms Cullen said she was passionate about teachers being respected and celebrated as skilled professionals and subject experts.


“There’s so many people trying to tell teachers how to do their jobs; there are so many agendas and we are the ones at the coalface who have to translate all of the research into classroom practice, and deal with the emergences in the classroom where we've got the complications of 28 students and everything that goes with our communities, and everything that goes with what's happening that day, in that room,” Ms Cullen said.


“I'm really, really passionate about re-professionalising teaching – making teachers feel like they have a say in the future of education and empowering them to understand that … they are performing action research in their classrooms every single day,” she said.

MSHS has an extensive professional development program which includes 42 Professional Learning Communities that meet eight to eleven times a year, and one of the state’s most in-depth early career teacher programs, which includes mentoring over their first three years.


Last year Ms Cullen also led a Highly Accomplished and Lead Teacher team, setting up a ‘Wikipedia’ page in which they shared links and resources, and she completed a Master of Education, which focussed on teachers’ impact on student learning.


Ms Cullen said MSHS had provided her with wonderful opportunities to grow and innovate and that she loved working with her colleagues, mentoring early career teachers as one of the school’s Lead Mentors, and being a part of the dynamic MSHS community.


Winners of the TEACHX Awards will be announced on October 28, on the eve of World Teachers’ Day celebrations in Queensland. Finalists win $500, and winners $5000, for professional development.

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