Paul Trotter has held leadership positions as senior as principal, but he recognised that his passion was for classroom teaching and it is there that he continues to make a significant contribution by teaching mathematics at Sheldon College. Jarrod Pleass, Director of Academics – Secondary at Sheldon, mentions that Paul integrates his students’ social-emotional needs into his teaching, forming strong relationships and achieving results. A recent indication of this occurred when a former student of his from six years ago was suddenly taken to hospital and she asked for him to visit her for support.
“Students in his class are continuously challenged to think more critically and to solve problems that are traditionally suited to much older students. This approach allows him to build relationships and partnerships with his students which indirectly allows also for rapid social and emotional growth. For these reasons, high-achieving students have become commonplace in Paul's classroom,” says Jarrod. Paul uses active learning strategies to ensure that maths is experienced as a dynamic and exciting subject. He helps them to construct new thinking. An interesting part of his approach is to set micro-targets, which supports the students to develop their own success criteria from the larger curriculum goals. This ensures a strong focus on the development of meta-cognitive processes. Data analysis is also utilised. A dedicated teacher, Paul has never stopped learning to ensure he is the best teacher he can be for his students. Paul has completed Honours in his Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree researching the effective use of technology to motivate students in literacy and numeracy programs. He has now commenced a PhD to focus on the personalisation of learning through the innovative use of technology. Further postgraduate study was not only focussed on research. Jarrod points out, “In order to support his students’ social and emotional needs, Paul has also enrolled in a Diploma of Counselling course which will see him become a member of the Australian Association of Professional Counsellors.” Paul has been invited to present his findings on successfully navigating student-centred theories of learning within the age of NAPLAN testing at next year’s Queensland State Sector Principals Conference, a major event on the education calendar. A teacher of 15 years, he regularly shares with and supports his colleagues and he is making use of links he has developed with researchers across the state to have further positive impact on school classrooms. Actively involved in extra-curricular experiences, he has coached soccer and rugby union for the College. Paul maintains strong parent relationships and is in frequent communication with them. “Paul is a talented, passionate and dedicated teacher, who because of this skill set, can teach anything to anyone,” Jarrod says. Congratulations Paul on your nomination.