It’s World Teachers’ Day in Australia. The 2020 school year has been like no other, with school communities quickly adapting to ever-changing circumstances. We asked a few rural teachers what they learned from this landmark year, and what being a rural educator means now.
Skye Kelly | Swan Hill North Primary & Swan Hill College
Skye, how long have you been teaching?
I have been a classroom teacher for five years now.
Where do you work and what do you teach?
I’ve primarily worked in junior years — prep and Grade 2, at Swan Hill North Primary School. Late last year I took leave from my position, with the intention to travel abroad in 2020 but, as can imagine, that dream quickly evaporated back in March. Since then, I have been very fortunate to find work between two schools in Swan Hill; the Swan Hill College and, again, Swan Hill North Primary. I worked at the college in terms two and three teaching maths and science. This term, I am teaching PE Health at the college, three days per week, and the other two days I teach PE at the primary school. I’m very thankful that I have been able to gain and maintain employment with these schools during this difficult year.
What will you take from the challenges of 2020?
Gosh, where do I begin? It’s really made me aware of the importance of teaching students to become independent learners and independent thinkers. Also, the vital benefits of practicing positive psychology and mindfulness with our students.
What do you love most about the teaching profession?
I love that my job is about aiding children to be the best they can be. Each day, I go to work and spend my time helping my students to develop skills, knowledge and abilities. At Swan Hill North Primary, we have a real focus on developing the broader life skills of our students, helping them to eventually become independent young adults, and I take great pride in this approach to education.
What was it like getting back to face-to-face learning this term?
I think teachers and students have loved getting back to school, equally. It has been a return to some normality — it is familiar and it is social. From all of this, I think we realise the key role of social engagement in school. Education is not just about reading, writing and arithmetics; our students need to be able to socialise with each other and with their teachers, and I don’t think we’ll take that for granted any time soon.