SC1 Demonstrated high level understanding of initiatives in student learning including the Standards, the Principles of Learning and Teaching P-12 and Assessment and Reporting Advice and the capacity to provide leadership in the alignment of these areas.

The Victorian Essential Learning Standards and the Principles of Learning and Teaching are initiatives that have been introduced by The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD). As a teacher I strive to promote learning excellence through a curriculum, which meets these standards and aims to cater for a broad range of individual students and encompass’ efficient and effective teaching strategies.   The Victorian Essential Learning Standards provide teachers with a clear set of standards for assessment and student achievements.  This is evident through the reporting system and progression points.  I have had experience in designing curriculum programs and using the new reporting format to assess student’s learning achievements.  Throughout the coming years the National Curriculum designed by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) will be released and it will be the role of the curriculum leader to deploy and help design the school curriculum to reflect and meet the ACARA stages of development.  2011 will see the optional trial of P-10 Science, English, Maths and History.  It will then be expected that in 2012 the new National Curriculum will be introduced across all Victorian Schools.

The Principles of Learning and Teaching (POLT) outline that students will learn best when:

-        The learning environment is supportive and productive.

  • I always maintain students on task while also being available and support focus groups.

-        The learning environment promotes independence and self motivation.

  • Students in my class have a choice in activities and I focus on teaching to need and interests while using the Inquiry Based Approach.

-        Students’ backgrounds, perspectives and interests are reflected in the learning program.

  • I pride myself on knowing each student and using their interest to design and incorporate into daily activities.

-        Students are challenged to support deep levels of thinking and application.

  • I provide students with a range of tasks suited for specific needs and also use open ended questions to extend students.

-        Learning connects strongly with communities and practice beyond the classroom.

  • With the use of our online classroom, class blogs, and next year the Ultranet the parents and local community have access to see what we are learning. This also provides the students a ‘real’ audience for their work.

During my roles as both a primary and secondary classroom teacher I have had the opportunity to provide a learning environment that reflects these principles via the following:

-        I constantly prompt discussion with students regarding their interests, hobbies, weekend activities, family and friends.  I respect all students as individuals and accept all ideas and skills they bring into class.  This relationship is the key to designing a curriculum based on their interests and helps to engage students.

-        It is important to place greater importance on “good” work and behavior rather than focusing on “bad” or “wrong” effort as this can provide a classroom with a negative feel.

-        As learning is a lifelong process it is important to encourage students to take responsibility for their own learning. Therefore as a teacher it is my job to help students understand how they learn best and provide this opportunity.

-        Providing students with extension questions or open-ended tasks to extend students.

-        To use the DEECD online continuum to plan curriculum intent with the students needs.

-        Using a range of assessment strategies, including VELS checklist, anecdotal records, notes, rubrics and open ended assessment tasks.

-        Ensuring students are aware of expectations and goals before assigning them to a set task, and encouraging them to ask questions if they do not understand.

-        Incorporating Information Computer Technology into the learning process giving students the opportunity to grow in an area of technology that is quickly changing the way we live and work.

-        Through the use of an Inquiry Based Learning Approach to integrate a theme or topic into all of the domains.  Not only can this ensure all domains are covered; it provides further depth into the unit topic.

-        Giving students choice is a powerful motivator and I have used this strategy in a number of subject areas by providing a range of activities.

-        Using the newly developed E5 instructional model to enhance the students educational experience by giving the students a clear understanding of the steps involved in the learning process.

One strategy, which works effectively in promoting personalised learning across a specific topic is through the use of the Inquiry Based Learning Approach. This approach is very similar to the E5 instructional model starting to be implemented across the State. I was fortunate enough to be involved in professional development with Kath Murdoch based on effectively implementing this strategy within the classroom.  Our unit team worked alongside Kath Murdock as she guided us through the learning approach throughout the term.  This opportunity was inspiring and gave me an invaluable insight into how effective the Inquiry Based Approach can be for both the students and the teacher.  A topic area is integrated and developed using students’ questions and wonderings.  This is aimed at engaging students, providing a deeper understanding of concepts and following personal pathways of inquiry.  Students are often involved in DOING something with what they have learned and this provides an opportunity for students to take action making their learning more purposeful.   Another reason why this strategy is effective is that all students can achieve success at varying levels and set individualized goals.

As learning is a lifelong process it is important to encourage students to take responsibility for their own learning. Therefore as a teacher it is my job to help students understand how they learn best and provide opportunities for students to explore topics that reflect their strengths.

As a leader in this area it is important to be able to share ideas, collaborate with staff and provide staff with advice and information to help develop and create a school wide consistent and clear approach.  I have proved to show initiative and leadership in this area by providing constant communication and professional development via presentations, video tutorials, e-mails, newsletters and brochures. These strategies will be further discussed in selection criteria two.

SC2 Demonstrated outstanding classroom teaching skills and the capacity to support colleagues to continually improve teaching and learning.

I have demonstrated my knowledge and experience in delivering outstanding teaching skills in the previous key selection criteria.  I firmly believe that using modern Web 2.0 tools assists in designing curriculum which reflects 21st century learning and not only further engages students but leads to an enhanced learning experience.

I am a passionate teacher who regularly seeks opportunities to extend and enhance my teaching capabilities and skills. My willingness to take on extra roles within schools such as the Ultranet Lead User, Curriculum Initiatives Leader, ICT Coordinator, Science Coordinator, P-2 Manager, School Council Staff Rep and AEU Representative, demonstrates this.  Each of these roles has given me the opportunity to enhance my knowledge and extend my experience in supporting colleagues and parents.

The key to supporting colleagues to continually improve their teaching and learning is through the use of effective communication and providing the opportunity to enhance their skills.  An example of my ability to achieve this was last year, when I established a free weekly email which is distributed to over 1700 teachers who subscribe both in Australia and now overseas.  These can be found on my online resume:  Each week, the email features a useful online tool or website for teachers to explore and incorporate within their classrooms.  Each of these is a teaching tool I have tried and tested.   Often the email will include information based on how to incorporate the website and helpful step-by-step guides on how to use the tools.  The purpose of the email is to publicise and promote the use of ICT tools and web links to teachers who are not regularly sourcing the available information on the Internet.  Therefore, hopefully increasing the use of wonderful educational tools available and provide support to teachers who are interested in continually improving their teaching and learning skills.  I have included various examples of feedback that I have received from subscribers:

Hello Simon,

I cannot tell you how impressed I am with the quality of your work.  I tell you that it has added an extra dimension to my teaching (and the inclusion of eLearning and ICT) would be an understatement.

All the best

Tony Merrett, Principal, Gunbower Primary School

I love this newsletter – I am currently in a coaching role and this is an invaluable resource for me….so many of the hints, tips and websites are the things I would love to search for, but just don’t have the time! I will continue to keep my eye out for useful ICT resources and sent them to you…keep up the great work!

Love the newsletter. Finally a way to keep up with it all without having to spend hours researching. Thank you so much.

I am a elementary computer specialists in Nevada.  I find your newsletters very well organized and easy to follow and enjoy reading them and would love to share them with the teachers I work with.

I’m not confident with ICT or adventurous so your simple “how tos” are just what I need. Many thanks.

I LOVE IT and have let others know about it so they too can share the ideas you include.  I am a Principal who teaches library in grade 5 /6 area and have used some of the ideas you have suggested, it has even made me look good!!

As a principal I send on all information to all staff.

Thanks for all your work!

These are great! Simple tools we can use with exact instructions!  As teachers we have no time to go looking for these things.  To have them presented in this format and sent to us weekly is invaluable!!!

Thank you!

I love it and regularly try the different things you send out. I also print a copy to keep on hand as I am an ICT coach and some of the things you send out might be helpful to my teachers at some point in their future.

I so appreciate the time and effort involved in creating these newsletters. I am currently in a coaching/teaching role in a senior secondary college and have found the hints and tips very valuable for my coachees, as well as in my own teaching. Thanks so much, these are a great resource. Tracy Doherty.

I’m new to tech tools, but am learning more with each newsletter. I’ve always struggled with learning about new technology available, so your newsletters are great to teach me about a new innovation, website or tool. You explain things well – especially for those not so confident with technology. Unfortunately my access to technology (in the classroom situation) is really limited at the moment, so I haven’t had any opportunity to try any of the websites / tools you have promoted as yet. But I am prepared to give things a go in the future!!! Thanks for the extra confidence and information!

Another example of my ability to communicate effectively and provide the opportunity for colleagues to enhance their skills was in my role as the Ultranet Lead User.   During this role I have developed and presented a number of useful resource for staff aimed at developing staff knowledge and skills at MFGSC please refer to my online resume (

One of the major projects I have been involved in during my time as Curriculum Initiatives Leader is to audit and collate the schools curriculum documentation.  It was seen as a cumbersome system and failed to showcasing the great work being done within the college.  I am currently in the process of developing an interactive curriculum map, aimed at achieving a user friendly, interactive, readily accessible overview of the curriculum at MFGSC.  In order to develop this across the school I developed a video tutorial outlining the staff responsibilities and directions to creating specific documentation.  This video can be found on my online resume: This was an effective communication tool as it allowed staff to access the same information across learning area meetings, KLA meetings and also at home or school in their own time. I feel that this was an extremely effective way of communicating with all MFGSC staff members and I will continue to use it in my role as both Ultranet Lead User and Curriculum Initiatives Leader.

If I was successful in gaining the position of Curriculum Initiatives Leader in 2011, I would continue to explore and develop innovative ways of sharing my knowledge and effective teaching strategies with my colleagues, therefore improving teaching and learning as a result.

SC3 Demonstrated high level ability to monitor and assess student learning data at the individual, cohort and whole school level and to use this data to inform teaching for improved student learning.

Assessment and monitoring both play a vital role in the teaching and learning process as assessment provides students, teachers and parents with important information regarding the students learning progress.  Assessment tasks need to be rich, purposeful and informative and act as a springboard to further extend each individual student.  Teachers need to ensure that they are using a variety of assessment tools to continuously monitor student’s progress throughout units of work, as it is a vital strategy for extending students.

During my experience in schools I have delivered various assessment tasks, some of these include:

-       Using open ended tasks to assess students varying levels of understanding

-       Using NAPLAN and the Early Years Online Literacy Interview to establish students reading and comprehension levels/strategies

-       Using spelling and writing analysis on samples of students work

-       Delivering tests such as, the Burt word test, Peter’s dictation test, the South Australian spelling test and the ENRP and SINE interviews

-       Using mind maps, check lists, self assessment and rubrics to further assess students

-       Specifically designed teaching focus groups for Literacy and Numeracy

-       Assess according to VELS, covering standards and outcomes

-       Development and analysis of Rubrics created to assess students against VELS.

-       Follow the school’s assessment schedule to ensure I collect all required data

-       Maintaining a Portfolio, complete with descriptions of the task students were expected to have accomplished.  This folder is sent home and the end of each semester alongside the students report providing a snap shot of students work throughout the semester

-       Reflective tools are used to help support the development and understanding of complex concepts and provide students with a range of useful learning experiences.

-       Report writing using VELS and the system progression points to reflect student progress

-       3 Way conference with student and parent to gain further insight and communication between home and school

Using these forms of assessment is vital to collate student data and use it to inform teaching and plan a curriculum aimed at improving student learning.  Using the above forms of assessment I have improved student learning and planned successful curriculum.  Here are some examples of how I have used assessment to inform my planning:

-       Conducting the Numeracy testing provided me with an overview of each student’s knowledge in the different math domains.  This in turn gives a clear outline of student needs and information regarding the students’ ability.  With this information, I arranged students into ability based groups with a specific maths focus.  Also this data helped me to design my weekly focus and work out what activities will provide students with meaningful and challenging tasks.

-       The use of Running Records outline students reading abilities and provides the teacher with information about future teaching focuses.

-       In previous years I have used portfolio tasks with VELS progression point outcomes specific to a strand.  This informed me of what needed to be taught next and whether or not some students need extra support in the specific area.

-       Constant informal assessment and note taking also contributes to the collation of student data and provides me with information to extend students or to revisit a specific area of a topic.  It is vital to continue this process to help plan and identify where the points of need are.

As a member of the Leadership team at MFGSC, I have taken part in a variety of discussions regarding the collection, analysis and distribution of school data.  I am also confident I could work alongside the PSD Coordinator in catering for students with special needs and ‘at risk’ as I have been involved in planning and implementing programs for students with learning disabilities and have worked at Barwon Valley School.

SC4 Demonstrated high level written and verbal communication skills and high level interpersonal skills including a capacity to develop constructive relationships with students, parents and other staff and contribute to the leadership and management of the school.

In my years as a teacher I have developed a high level and a broad range of writing skills such as, reports, essays, presentations, and literature reviews. I have also completed a first class honors thesis in Biochemical Science and presented my research data, both written (posters) and oral (seminars) to a variety of audiences.  These skills are further developed through the ongoing production of monthly newsletters and local newspaper articles for the 13th Beach Boardriders Club, Tech Tools for Teachers and school documentation.

Communication skills are a vital aspect of developing constructive relationships.  It is essential to build and maintain positive relationships with students, parents, teaching staff and the local community.

I have built positive student relationships using the following strategies:

-       Learning about each student (name, interests, hobbies, family).

-       Being enthusiastic.

-       Celebrating and displaying students work.

-       Clearly outlining expectations and classroom rules.

-       Respecting students as individuals, with interests, capabilities and backgrounds.

-       Always being available and approachable when issues arise.

I have built positive parent relationships using the following strategies:

-       Always being available for communication either through their child’s diary, e-mail, by phone or in person.

-       I also welcome parent helpers into the classroom and send home letters inviting parents to join the classroom to help with small groups and excursions. (During my time as a primary school teacher)

-       Our class website and blog page has also been a highlight in communication between school, home and beyond.

-       Knowing parents by name and greeting them when they visit the school.

-       Inform parents of student progress and how they can assist their child’s learning.

I have built positive staff relationships using the following strategies:

-       Providing staff with positive feedback.

-       I am always friendly and approachable.

-       I often conduct staff PD sessions and providing useful information and resources.

-       Always helping out with whole school activities and providing support when needed.

-       Contribute to team planning.

My role as the 13th Beach Boardriders Club president allowed me to continually improve my verbal communication skills, as it requires a high level of interaction with club members.  Some of the key communication processes that I regularly engage in are:

-       Small group committee meetings

-       Social events

-       Junior development camps

-       Large group presentations, MC/Host at social events and contests

-       Running annual general meetings

Interpersonal skills and good communication are key elements of building relationships with others.  Good communication skills and rapport with students, staff and parents is a vital element to the teaching profession.  During my teaching experience I have had positive experiences, as I have been able to develop and build strong relationships with the parents, students and staff.

SC5 Demonstrated commitment and capacity to actively contribute to and lead whole school improvement initiatives, manage major curriculum or student activities and a commitment to ongoing professional learning for self and others to enable further development of skills, expertise and teaching capacity.

During my relatively short teaching career my professional learning profile and committee memberships are testament to my belief in life-long improvement and through my leadership; improving the teaching practices of others.

P-2 Unit Manager (Clifton Springs Primary School 2009)

In this role I was in charge of the curriculum development.  I constructed and reviewed the IBL program designed to reflect the VELS across these specific year levels.  My role also involved overseeing that assessment and reporting were conducted in a consistent manner.  Day to day organisation, implementation of programs and excursion were also lead by this position.

ICT Coordinator (Clifton Springs Primary School 2008-2009)

As ICT Coordinator I was involved in mentoring and encouraging staff to use 21st Century Learning techniques. I was instrumental in organising and implementing the first Interactive Whiteboards (IWB’s) within the school.  A key initiative during this role was to run regular PD sessions for staff on various Web2.0 tools to help enhance the teaching and learning.

Science Coordinator (Clifton Springs Primary School 2009)

Whilst being Science Coordinator I was involved in a variety of programs and developments around the school and local community.  I was successful in applying for a grant for a school composting systems and auditing the science equipment.

School Council Staff Representative (Clifton Springs Primary School 2009)

This role allowed me to understand the school from a different perspective and it permitted me to gain a stronger relationship with the school community and leadership team.

Classroom Teacher of Mathematics and Science Yr7-11 (Matthew Flinders Girls Secondary College 2010)

I have had experience teaching in all areas across both Primary and Secondary education and am currently teaching in Yr 7 and 11 classrooms.  My knowledge and experience of such a variety of year levels and curriculum areas is an asset to your school.

Ultranet Lead User (Matthew Flinders Girls Secondary College 2010 -)

This role entails leading the school Ultranet deployment.  I have developed an action plan and professional development program for staff ( The position involves training staff and continuing professional development.

Curriculum Initiatives Leader (Matthew Flinders Girls Secondary College 2010 -)

One of the major projects I have been involved in during my time as Curriculum Initiatives Leader is to audit and collate the schools curriculum documentation. It was seen as a cumbersome system and failed to showcasing the great work being done within the college.  I am currently in the process of developing an interactive curriculum map, aimed at achieving a user friendly, interactive, readily accessible overview of the curriculum at MFGSC.  In order to develop this across the school I developed a video tutorial outlining the staff responsibilities and directions to creating specific documentation.  This video can be found on my online resume: This was an effective communication tool as it allowed staff to access the same information across learning area meetings, KLA meetings and also at home or school in their own time.

In closing, I feel I have shown the capacity and knowledge to fulfill a variety of leadership roles across the College.  I have an extensive knowledge of current Teaching and Learning initiatives, from the primary level through to the post-compulsory.  I have teaching experience across all year levels in Mathematics and Science and have experience in teaching and developing curriculum using the Inquiry Based Learning approach.  I have proven my capacity to develop excellent relationships with all members of the school community and have demonstrated a capacity to contribute to, lead and manage major school improvement initiatives.

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