Before I was a Teacher I was a Nutritionist and Dieitian. I authored many articles in a variety of magazines, as well as a regular column (called Adams Apple) in two Sydney newspapers. I was also a regular guest on radio stations around Australia, and was invited to speak as a guest lecturer for a range of government, community and corporate functions about nutrition and health related topics.
I completed a Master of Teaching degree as a High School Music and Science Teacher. Yes, it is an unusual combination, but my excuse is that I like to exercise both sides of my brain. A more likely explanation however is that I get bored very easily and like a variety of things to think about. After working in schools in outback NSW as well as many of Western Sydney's more disadvantaged areas, I gained a Careers Advisors qualification. As important as plant cells and semi quavers are, I figured it might be slightly more advantageous to a lot of young people to help guide them into the right career path.
Both whilst I was studying as well as whilst I was teaching, I worked for a variety of tutoring agencies doing both one-on-one tuition as well as small classes. I found that I could make more of a difference at the individual level this way, but felt that neither the school system (public or private) nor the existing tutoring companies addressed the most important aspects of learning. Most of the things we are taught about at Uni whilst studying to be a teacher (such as constructivist teaching, multiple intelligences, higher order thinking skills and behavioural conditioning) kind of go out the window as soon as you land in the classroom, and fade into the background as idealistic theories rather than practical teaching solutions.
The unfortunate reality is however, that applying these learning theories in a classroom environment is very difficult, whilst many of the tutoring agencies are not particularly fussed about how you actually go about tutoring. To me, the ability to teach, the ability to communicate foreign concepts in a way that makes sense to someone with no prior understanding of them, and the ability to change a young person’s attitude from disliking something to facing it with confidence, is a very delicate art, and a skill I think is incredibly undervalued. If you can do these things, you are more likely to make a lucrative living in the corporate world as a professional trainer, but these are exactly the skills we need to make a difference to our children.
Despite being a Health Care Consultant, a Teacher or a Careers Advisor, my most important job is as a parent. I started Top of the Class a) because I wished that such a service was available to me whilst I was growing up, and b) because I'm certain that among parents who want the best for their children, this will be exactly what they are looking for.
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