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Building the capacity of future generations

What do you like most about the job?

Ten years ago the evolution in neuroscience and its applicability to learning was equivalent to landing on the moon for the first time. Since then we’ve come leaps and bounds in our understanding of what the optimal conditions for learning are. I love innovating in this space, with our interdisciplinary team, to create a great teaching and learning environment for all students.

What was the most unexpected thing you have had to do in your job?

It was the 2016 end-of-year school presentation and our Aboriginal dance troupe invited me into their dance choreography, by surprise. My role, a kangaroo. With skinny legs burning as I danced in a low squat position for many minutes, sweat beading down my face, I noticed everybody laughing hysterically at me. I thought to myself, they’ve probably never seen a 6ft4 skinny fellow look so awkward and out of place.

What is the worst thing you have had to do?

The worst thing for me is always having to suspend a student. It feels awful to have to deny a student access to their friendships, teachers and support networks because they are acting in a way that creates significant risk or actual harm to themselves or others.

How transferable are your skills?

My role in leading and managing the process and working to scale things up across our system to seed similar teams, qualify me for several roles within government, across various sectors.

How have you coped during the COVID crisis?

I’m inspired and buoyed by the response of NSW public education during an unprecedented time of hardship, my daily meditation practice is a constant source of peace and joy from within, and as a keen surfer, being able to leave the shores of our seemingly perilous situation and bask in the beauty of our Australian beaches is also very restorative.

What advice do you have for people wanting to get into a teaching career?

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Teaching always will be a profession with significant flux, as we change and respond to society’s emerging needs. Although the education system would recommend studying a STEM area, I say study something in the NSW curriculum that you’re passionate about and excel at. It’s the intellectual excellence and passion for teaching a particular discipline that will gift students (or the teachers you may end up leading) with the skills and aptitude for lifelong learning.

What personal skills do they need?
Intellectual rigour, resilience, emotional intelligence and a growth mindset.

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