Mackenzie Burn has gone above and beyond to provide opportunities for her students and maximise the strengths of staff. Committed to embedding her own learning in her teaching, Mackenzie has recently been the feature teacher for Claire Christian’s production of Lysa and the Freeborn Dames writing education resources for La Boite Theatre Company. She will be working with Queensland Theatre to build resources for schools for their upcoming work Antigone in Term 4. Realising students learn better given a real-world context, Mackenzie has worked hard to give them as many as possible real-world experiences of Brisbane’s live theatre and the people who work within it. This way, students are exposed to the real-life experiences of playwrights, actors, etc. and are able to draw on these experiences when creating works for their own assessment.
To give students a sense of the inner working of theatre she has arranged tours of Brisbane’s live venues for them. This has been of great assistance when the students then developed their own scripts. She has liaised with experts in the field and had them come to class and pass on their expertise in a way that gives context to what the students are being taught. An example of this was that in 2018, a local playwright came to the school and ran a series of classroom workshops with students to develop their scriptwriting skills. This led to classes developing their performance for the school and being assessed in a real-world application of the curriculum. This can be used by Mackenzie in teaching future classes. In 2019, Senior Drama students have been provided with workshops from guest artists including Myths Made Here and performances from Griffith University in preparation for the new SATE syllabus. Mackenzie continues to have guest artists and professional playwrights work with the students to inspire and develop confidence in their own creativity. Mackenzie actively provides opportunities for Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander perspectives to be embedded in learning experiences. More recently a member of the Bangarra Dance Theatre Company came and led four workshops on Indigenous dance. The choreography was used as part of the NAIDOC Week celebrations and will continue to be used as part of the acknowledgement of country for school events. Mackenzie builds solid teacher-student relationships, setting clear expectations, providing feedback and managing the class as a whole so students feel safe in their learning and creative space. Working with another drama teacher, she has set up a classroom theatre with lighting and sound that immediately puts students in the headspace of what the room is intended for. The space will continue to be used for performances each term for family, friends and members of the school community. “Student enrolment in extra-curricular performing arts activities has dramatically risen with a Dance club and Drama club now established at the school. Unit plans, year level plans and student resources are now completely aligned to Australian Curriculum / SATE and have been established as a staff resource for future teachers in this space. Drama students are meeting the school's AIP targets of 85% receiving a C or higher and 40% receiving B or higher”, Head of Department Alison Miles says. Mackenzie is commencing a project, in connection with her participation in the Metropolitan Aspiring Leaders program, that will develop extra-curricular Arts Programs at Mitchelton State High School and analyse the impact on community participation and future enrolment at the school. Mackenzie develops relationships across the whole school community, becoming involved in school groups and committees and partnering with parents and outside organisations. Mackenzie has arranged for students to perform at local fetes, festivals and community events. She continues to undertake professional learning and establish links to other drama teachers both internally and externally to learn from. She is participating in both the Aspiring Leaders Program to develop her Lead Teacher skills and the Write That Essay program to be used to help develop her students’ writing skills. Part of the program has seen a coach come into her classroom and help her learn the pedagogy of teaching sentence and paragraph types. Additionally, because she is in a single-teacher subject area she collaborates with other teachers externally to moderate work and calibrate the materials and assessment she creates with peers. Mackenzie also extended the dance program she established at the high school to allow in students from local feeder primary schools. In some cases, this allowed students access to dance teaching they had not so easily had before, and the Principals of these schools are keen for further collaboration to occur. She is also working with a fellow teacher to deliver a new Essential English program for the school and has established a school performance calendar. Congratulations Mackenzie on your nomination.