She’s one of Queensland’s longest serving teachers, and she’s also one of our most inspirational.
Generations of women—some long after they have left the classroom—have singled out Somerville House Year 6 teacher Lynne Schlyder as the teacher who influenced them to aspire and succeed. Mrs Schlyder’s creativity, energy and intellectual rigour, her ability to make a classroom come alive, and her passion and commitment to see her students grow in confidence are just some of the reasons she is a finalist in the Queensland College of Teachers TEACHX Outstanding Contribution to Teaching Award. After a lifetime of teaching, including the past 38 years at Somerville House, Mrs Schlyder says she “can’t imagine” doing anything else. “I find it extremely fulfilling,” she says.
Mrs Schlyder challenges students with “crime scene investigations” and engineering and mathematical problem-solving tasks. One challenge includes students being given five minutes to think about a problem in silence, before pairing up around the room with pens and paper.
“The wonderful thing about that is students who don’t even think that they like Maths—you can hear them all over the room saying, ‘I’ve got it—I think I’ve got it—can I show them?’,” Mrs Schlyder says. “I am very interested in unlocking ‘the mystery’ of Mathematics … many students fear it … and so I make it my aim to have no one in my class say they don’t like Maths after May. By May, I want them all to realise that it’s an achievable thing and that they can enjoy it.” As a result, many of her former students have gone on to have successful careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematical fields. Instilling a love of reading and knowledge in her students “to feed their intellectual souls” is another of her goals. She reads engaging literature out aloud to them and sets 20 minutes’ daily quiet reading.
“I try to awaken them to the joys of literature, which then increases their vocabulary and their comprehension. Knowledge is not only power, it’s a lovely thing", Mrs Schlyder says.
Mrs Schlyder says she uses teaching strategies that “take the formality out of just ‘chalk and talk’” and “give students ownership of what they’re doing”.
“I do challenge them all the time,” Mrs Schlyder says, “It is very lively, but I have to say I run a very tight ship. What I like is forming the relationships with the girls and I fall in love with my class at the beginning of every year, and I weep tears of blood when they go.”
“I write a class song at the beginning of every year that ends with … ‘We care for our friends with integrity, we are the girls of 6D’, and they often quote that back to me – they like the idea of being melded into this little group … they like being members of a team.” Recently she wrote personal letters to congratulate six of her former students who have been announced as prefects for 2020. “I’m getting emails back from them now saying how much influence I had on the way they think. So, they are the sorts of things that make you know that you’ve had an impact and think I can still do a really good job and I love it.”