May 1 2023

The Professional Me

If you’ve browsed my blog at all, you know it’s a bit eclectic. There’s some personal stuff, a bit of work-related content, and a whole lot of books. If you’d like to connect with me professionally, I’m on LinkedIn. If you’re just after an overview of what I’ve done/ am doing, you’ve come to the right place!

I’m currently working as a sessional academic in the School of Education at Curtin University whilst I undertake my PhD. My teaching areas are as you’d expect from a book nerd, passionate about literature and literacy – the importance of teaching language, literacy and literature, and ways to engage students creatively as they develop their skills and interests as young readers.

My PhD research builds on this also, examining the impact of Premier’s Reading Challenge programs on student reading engagement and literacy achievement. (Sensing a theme here?) My most recent role prior to my move to Perth in late 2022 was as the NSW Premier’s Programs Officer (Reading and Spelling), a slight expansion of the role I held from 2018 to April 2021 – Premier’s Reading Challenge Officer. It was one of the best jobs in the world, and included:

  • supporting PRC coordinators to implement the PRC in their schools
  • evaluating potential additions to the PRC reading lists, and curating what is, I believe, the largest student reading list in Australian (if not the Southern Hemisphere … note to self, check that out!)
  • coordinating author and illustrator workshops and sessions to support student engagement in reading
  • Overseeing the planning and implementation of the Premier’s Spelling Bee
  • etc etc etc … there’s a lot involved in this job. It’s pretty amazing though. Did I mention, best job in the world?

Before that, I was a teacher at Evans High School, Blacktown, from Term 2 2006 to 2017.
From 2016 – 2013, my duties included:

  • English teacher, 7-12
  • 2IC of faculty
  • Head Teacher English (Relieving)
  • Year Advisor – 2008-2013, class of 2013, aka #TeamRodgers

I valued my time as a member of the English Faculty, and still consider them my professional family. I appreciated the opportunity to develop my leadership skills through working as 2IC in the faculty, and I still consider myself very much an English teacher – it makes me happy when students come in to work on tasks that belong to programs I was instrumental in implementing during my time in the Faculty.

From 2014, I worked in the wonderful school library, collaborating with staff and students to implement a shared vision of our space as innovative, engaging, and inspiring heart of the school. In my role as teacher librarian, I am proud of having achieved a great deal to improve the reading and learning culture of the Library@Evans, including:

  • creating of a Senior Study Room, in order to provide seniors with a space to access technology and Stage 6 specific resources
  • establishing of the Library Warriors Program, which allows students from across the school to participate in and contribute to the running of the library, including core decision-making activities for future developments
  • revitalising the learning space, with new furniture, comfortable couches and bean bags, and a more welcoming environment
  • significant weeding and refreshing of the fiction collection, in consultation with students, to ensure that student interest is met
  • significant refreshing of the non-fiction collection, in consultation with staff, to ensure that future curriculum needs of faculties are adequately catered for
  • creation of Quick Reads and Graphics collections, which cater for student interest, as well as meeting the reading needs of students with literacy issues and students with language backgrounds other than English (including our Intensive English Centre students)
  • liaising with the technology team to provide a bank of electronic devices, including chromebooks, ipads, and laptops, for student use
  • collaborating with students to develop a makerspace, which will provide myriad opportunities for students to create, collaborate, tinker and think.
  • implementing a series of student centred activities, including Breakfast Club, the KnitWits, Puzzle Time, and Homework Hub, which run either before school or during break times, to provide additional support and engagement opportunities for students
  • developing a Researching and Referencing Handbook, used by staff and students to ensure a consistency of referencing across the school, and to develop stronger academic rigor around research and information literacy skills
  • creating the Evans Festival of Stories – a week long celebration of the stories that surround us, that runs in conjunction with our Book Week celebrations.

There was a dramatic and significant increase in student borrowing in the Library@Evans since 2014, and an increase in the level of student use of resources for study and research purposes. More importantly, though, there was a strong shift in the culture of connection. The library is a vibrant and active place, with students often jockeying for position on the comfy couches or new bean bags, but -always- respecting those around them. Students with socialisation issues find a space to call their own, often alongside a large group of students who are quizzing each other on Chemistry, and another who are sharing strategy tips for PokemonGo or Clash of Clans. It’s a wonderful place to spend my day, and I’m extraordinarily proud of what I was a part on in developing this great space.

Alongside these achievements in my faculty and library, I have had numerous other professional opportunities during my time at Evans, including;

  • Technology team member
  • Drug Education Coordinator
  • Community of Schools team member
  • Welfare team member
  • Communications Officer
  • Social media officer

I have led in-school professional development on numerous topics, including;

  • photoshop for dummies
  • Web2 tools – animoto and extranormal
  • O365 and Google Apps for Education
  • Drug education strategies for staff
  • research and referencing skills
  • Oliver and the library
  • clickview for education
  • Project based learning

In addition to my professional involvement at a school level, I have a wide range of external professional achievements. These include:

  • conference presentations;
    • SouthWest Sydney Region ICT conference – Gaming in English (July 2013)
    • Keynote presentation, Cyberschools University of Queensland – Libraries and Social Media, a modern day love story (August 2015)
    • ICTE conference – Library Warriors and student engagement (March 2016)
    • WATL conference – The Library Story, and why it matters: social media, engaging spaces, and community connections. (September 2016)
  • other presentations;
    • numerous teachmeets, both in person and through Adobe Connect and SecondLife, on topics such as gaming in education, creating an engaging learning space, and social media for community connection
  • publications;
    • Library Warriors @ Evans. SLANSW Journal, Learning Hub 2015
    • Library Warriors and student engagement. WASLA Journal, ic3 2015
    • Oasis in the library – a work in progress. SLANSW Journal, Learning Hub, Volume 2, Autumn 2016
  • Highly accomplished ICT educator with PLANE – Professional Learning Anywhere, Anytime: A Network for Educators (2012-2014)
  • Positions as Vice President and Treasurer, School Library Association of NSW (2014 to 2016)
  • Regional Coordinator, Global Education Project (2013-2015)
  • Ambassador, Teach.NSW (2015 to present)
  • Consultation with DEC corporate communications team on social media in Education
  • Passion Incubator project member, EducationChangemakers (2016 ongoing)

I’m sure there are things I’ve forgotten to include here, and to be honest this page serves more as a reminder to myself, for when I get around to doing my application for higher levels of accreditation and/or applying for a job. So, if you know me, and can think of something I have forgotten to include here, let me know!