EXCELLENCE IN TEACHING
A Logan City Mathematics teacher and former fitness trainer has been turning around students’ results and improving their health and wellbeing with her innovative approach and passion.
In 2020, after 25 years in the profession, Lisa Collins has become the first teacher from Browns Plains State High School to be certified as a Highly Accomplished Teacher.
Lisa aspires to instil a passion for mathematics and to help students better understand its importance and relevance in the modern world.
In 2019, as Year 9 subject coordinator for Maths, Lisa recognised that change to the program was needed to improve results. She led the development of new unit plans to include differentiated content and redesigned assessment. In one semester the Year 9 pass rate rose from 47 per cent to 69 per cent. This also meant that in 2020 there were two Specialist Mathematics Preparation classes in Year 10, due to the improved results of the students.
Lisa also initiated the M3 Program where, on Monday mornings, senior students voluntarily tutor (‘Mathematically Mentor’) juniors. This increases the confidence and abilities of the juniors in an environment where they do not feel embarrassed.
The Maths teacher created the ‘Stress Less’ program as a ‘Follow Your Passion’ elective. With a background in personal training, Lisa teaches ways to reduce stress, including meditation, yoga and massage. Also taught is how to improve time management, maintain good sleeping patterns, and receive enough daily nutrition. Information about traditional spiritual healing is provided by a local Indigenous Elder.
Indicators of the program’s success are the number of students who recommend it to a friend. Sixty per cent confirmed they had already used some of the strategies to reduce stress in their life and ninety per cent said the course met or exceeded their expectations.
During 2017-2018 Lisa ran a Vocational Education and Training (VET) class where all of her students graduated with a Certificate III in Fitness and one student, with her support, was successful in obtaining a school-based traineeship. Many senior students have been inspired by her to increase their health and fitness and have joined gyms.
As a Year Level Coordinator for Year 12, Lisa collaborates with all stakeholders to help plan intervention strategies for students at risk and to forge positive relationships. Her cohort has a 95 per cent attendance rate and is often ranked first on a weekly basis.
Head of Mathematics Department Tomasz Dolecki says that students feel they are supported and engaged to produce improvements in Lisa’s classes.
One method Lisa is well known for are ‘brain breaks’ where the lesson is interrupted for students to laugh and connect. The other is her use of the physical environment: she often takes students outside to have them learn maths in the ‘real world’.
“Lisa's experience as an HPE teacher and passion for fitness as a personal trainer means she loves making her students move. They often don't realise they are learning mathematics with her as their teacher,” Tomasz explains.
Lisa is a member of the school’s Parents and Citizens’ Association and requests resources throughout the year for senior jerseys, camps, senior formals, mystery tours and graduations. She also supports extra-curricular activities like the Kokoda Challenge (a 48km hike her team completed in just under 16 hours).
Lisa undertakes extensive professional development, including short courses through Griffith University and EdX to upskill content knowledge and leadership skills.
She has become a qualified endorser and confirmer for the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority (QCAA) in General Mathematics. Lisa mentors beginning and pre-service teachers and has introduced mathematical warm-ups for faculty staff to use.
Teachers frequently ask to observe Lisa's lessons as she is a role model for anyone looking for answers when faced with a challenge in their teaching practice. In a recent staff survey, 100 per cent of her colleagues reported she had influenced their teaching in some way.
Lisa has overcome many challenges in her career. Whatever the challenge, Lisa applies a positive attitude, a philosophy of being a lifelong learner and problem-solving skills.
Congratulations Lisa on being shortlisted for a TEACHX Excellence in Teaching Award.