EXCELLENCE IN BEGINNING TO TEACH
In her first year out of university, Mabel Park State High School (MPSHS) teacher Naomi Kitching created a new, successful three-level framework for teaching students English as an Additional Language and/or Dialect (EAL/D). Her current job as EAL/D Coordinator at the school was created specifically for her due to her effective pedagogical practice and curriculum knowledge.
Every single one of the school’s EAL/D learners receives support, whether that be in their usual classes, or in a specialist parallel class or through intensive English support. Naomi currently supports over 125 EAL/D students in ten parallel classes and four intensive English classes.
Principal Michael Hornby says the differentiation allows students to achieve success within their own current language abilities.
“For example, 75 per cent of our EAL/D students in parallel classes received a pass grade in their subjects in Semester 1, 2020. Because students are succeeding, they are building confidence and are more engaged and participating in class,” Michael says.
Naomi also developed senior pathways to increase successful transitions from school.
“As a result, our number of actively supported Senior EAL/D students has doubled in the past 4 years. EAL/D students choose to come to MPSHS because our flexible pathways allow them access to mainstream curriculum yet still provide support with language development. In 2018-2019, 100 per cent of students achieved QCE attainment,” Michael says.
Naomi’s EAL/D framework has been such a success she has engaged with other schools to establish an EAL/D Community of Practice to help another school set up their own framework.
Naomi has brought greater awareness of the many cultures represented in the student body, creating opportunities for students to learn more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and language through her support of the Multicultural Program. Work with Indigenous staff has enabled the language needs of Indigenous students to now be recognised under the EAL/D umbrella.
She conducted a moving Multi-Faith Memorial Service after the Christchurch tragedy in 2019, as the event was deeply affecting Muslim and New Zealand students at the school.
Naomi started the annual Eid celebration for the 130 Muslim students at MPSHS, and many of those students have said that for the first time they feel part of the school community.
Naomi has organised speakers to come to the school to inspire them, such as Young Australian of the Year finalist, refugee, and human rights activist Rahila Haidary.
She is developing with the Community Engagement Coordinator a Multicultural Ambassador Program, where culturally diverse students will build leadership skills engaging the wider school community.
Naomi has also built professional relationships with larger organisations, like Reconciliation Queensland and the Queensland Association of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, to create whole-school initiatives. She partnered with Access Services to create the first designated community hub based in a Queensland high school. The hub will support migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers to be successful participants in the local community.
She used her connections to have two laptops donated to students who needed them to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Naomi and another teacher liaised extensively with the Department of Foreign Affairs and others to arrange travel documents for a refugee student who had been offered a scholarship on the school’s first international trip to Samoa in 2020.
“This student experienced the trip of a lifetime because of Naomi’s dedication,” Michael says.
Congratulations Naomi on being shortlisted for the TEACHX Excellence in Beginning to Teach Award.