INNOVATION IN TEACHING
IIt was one student’s needs that prompted teacher Kelli Parr to start developing expertise in special education. The Kepnock State High School (KSHS) teacher has been doing her job for 21 years and is known for her knowledge of Australian curriculum and her ability to individualise learning for students with intellectual disabilities, with Speech Language Impairment or on the autism spectrum. No matter the subject, Kelli can help her students work in a classroom at their individual levels and achieve successful outcomes.
She had no background in teaching Special Education Programs (SEP), but her skills and fresh perspective saw her seconded into Kepnock’s Special Education Unit to develop the highly individualised curriculum for this one student.
Kelli’s interpersonal skills helped to secure resources from organisations and she was able to build links between the mainstream and SEP faculties, which encouraged further inclusivity of the students.
Eighteen months on, she has taken up the challenge of teaching in a new field of expertise, always incorporating new policy and procedures into her teaching. A voracious reader, she has been an active mentor to those entering the profession and develops programs that can be implemented in other schools regardless of their resources.
Kelli has developed an innovative program incorporating all Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) subject areas for Year 8 SEP students. ‘The Good Guide’ addresses curriculum requirements while also teaching students practical and social skills to use in life.
The question at the heart of the program is, “What makes a good person?”. While it has been trialled with the Year 8 SEP class, the plan is to have it roll out across the school as part of pastoral care, building emotional and social resilience. In KSHS’s student cohort there is a variety of ability levels and the program aims to engage all in their learning.
Important to Kelli is to have the trial class within the school environment, since building good peer relationships is a key component. A variety of activities are included, with students learning about civics, citizenship and ethics, and agribusiness, which makes use of the school’s farm. Students also learn about visual arts and media through designing a personal ethos shield and developing a story highlighting emotions and reactions through photos. Permaculture and sustainable farming are taught through a series of cooking classes.
“This kind of program not only shows Kelli’s aptitude for curriculum, teaching and planning, but also a strong understanding of both the students, their needs and how they learn,” colleague Rebecca Wolgast says.
The school’s records show a decrease in behavioural incidents and an increase in students taking ownership of their own behaviour in positive ways.
Congratulations Kelli on being shortlisted for the TEACHX Innovation in Teaching Award.