Year 1 students design and build their own playground feature prototype, transform this into a stop motion animation, and then pitch to their principal as to why it should be built, in an innovative project developed and implemented in collaboration with colleagues by a Redlands teacher. Sheldon College teacher Kaitlin Emerson’s passionate and child-centred approach to teaching is just one of the reasons she has been nominated for a Queensland College of Teachers TEACHX Excellence in Beginning to Teach Award. It is also one of the reasons that her classroom is recognised as a highly supportive and productive environment which approaches learning in an authentic, hands-on manner.
Sheldon College Director of Academics – Primary, Craig Kerwin, says the playground project is an example of Kaitlin’s embracement of purposeful learning to engage and motivate her learners. “Within this unit, Kaitlin’s students persuade the principal to construct a playground outside Year One, integrating the Key Learning Areas of English, Maths, Science, Technology and HASS (History and Social Sciences),” Craig says. “After a visit to a local playground, her students analyse the features of place and space. They apply this knowledge to design their own playground feature prototype. They then write a persuasive letter to the principal, listing convincing arguments for the new playground and create a stop motion animation which demonstrates the new playground in action,” he says. Craig says Kaitlin is a tenacious, diligent and highly reflective practitioner who sets her learning goals “well beyond a graduate teacher”. Keen to always improve her practice, Kaitlin requested timetable changes so that she could observe experienced educators in the classroom. She then immediately implements the strategies from these lessons in her own classroom. Her planning and resources are also shared and applied by her experienced Early Years colleagues, and she has been selected as a year-level representative to help in the design of the college’s new Pastoral Care program. Kaitlin works extensively with parents to identify any potential learning difficulties or social and emotional challenges for her students, which are then able to be addressed by expert health practitioners, as well as in the classroom. This approach has seen her students make significant academic and social and emotional gains and solidifies the essential connection between home and school. “Kaitlin is a highly skilled educator, who is respected for the knowledge and expertise she demonstrates on a daily basis, well beyond her years as a beginning teacher,” Craig says. “The long list of requests for class placement into Kaitlin’s Year One class is a testament to the respect that she holds within the community.” Congratulations Kaitlin on your nomination.