0438 641 977    peta@beyondtheclassroomaustralia.com.au

    

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Vanessa Alexander

 

Classroom Hero, Vanessa Alexander, shares her experience in self-preservation as a teacher and principal.

 

“I remember in my first term of teaching, in my first year. I was 21 and I was trying to understand how I could get my work done and live my life. So, I decided to put together a timetable for my day. Much to my surprise and horror, I calculated that there are only 168 hours in a week. Honestly, I thought I had calculated incorrectly, or I was making a mistake, or the calculator was wrong. But no, 24×7=168. It seemed such a small amount of time.”

 

Tell us about your childhood…

I had a great childhood! We lived on a property with heaps of pets! I learned via correspondence and had many great teachers. My mother has been the most prominent. My grandmother and many governesses were also my teachers.

 

Tell us about why you became a teacher?

I became a teacher to work with children. Listen to them, learn from them, support them on their life’s journey. To empower them to make a difference in our world.

 

Did anyone, in particular, inspire you to become a teacher? What was it about them that inspired you?

I’ve had some wonderful teachers along the way. My grandmother was a piano teacher. She is very inspirational. Definitely my parents. They taught me to be resilient in the face of challenges. They also taught me to stand up for my beliefs, but make sure I can back up my claim… even if no one is listening. My mum for sure! She was my first teacher as school began for me with correspondence.

In high school, my Japanese teacher was very inspirational. The passion, joy, and effort she put into teaching kids from the bush a very foreign language was something to behold. She organised one of the first overseas trips for our little western high school to Japan. It was the highlight of my high school education.

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Tell us about your experiences as a teacher and Principal? Where do you draw your inspiration in your role as a teacher?

I remember in my first term of teaching, in my first year. I was 21 and I was trying to understand how I could get my work done and live my life. So, I decided to put together a timetable for my day. Much to my surprise and horror, I calculated that there are only 168 hours in a week. Honestly, I thought I had calculated incorrectly, or I was making a mistake, or the calculator was wrong. But no, 24×7=168. It seemed such a small amount of time.

I also decided that people were the most important thing in my life. My family and friends and the kids in my class. So, in order to get my work done, spend time with family and friends and sleep, I was no longer taking work home with me. I came in an hour early and stayed an hour later every day and started to put in place some routines. I could plan weekly and not do things on a daily basis. Over the last 15 years, I have continued to refine this. I believe that to be the best teacher, you have to be your best self and what you like, enjoy and value is important. Life happens every day, and teaching, while a noble profession, is just a part of my life and I need to make it work best for me, so I can support the students in my care to reach their potential.

 

What did you learn from being a Principal in Mitchell? Has it changed you in any way?

  1. I learned that management is hard work, and you need a good support system around you.
  2. I learned that not everyone has your best interests at heart.
  3. I also learned that not everybody does the right thing.
  4. I learned that if you must have a hard conversation, it’s best not to avoid it. Hard conversations always lead to growth.
  5. Finally, I learned if people (students, staff, parents, community) ask for more responsibility, and you give it to them with your support, great things can happen.

 

You have a family with 2 beautiful children, Clara and Dougal, how do you juggle family and a full-time teaching load?

Organisation, routines (at school and at home), and prioritising family/friends first.

 

What are your tips for the first-year teachers? Especially living in a rural and remote setting?

Try to meet many people your own age. They don’t have to be teachers. That way teaching doesn’t become your entire focus.

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What is one thing you wish pre-teaching you knew about?

That a teaching degree doesn’t teach you how to teach kids to read.

 

Do you have one strategy that you use to work smarter and not harder? Could you share it with us?

Make things work for you. If you find you’re under the pump or stressing, change something.

 

You have done the coaching and some of the series with Beyond the Classroom Australia. What is the thing that you got out of being part of this community?

Being a valued member of a small, like-minded community.

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What do you do to unwind and relax? Is there a favourite place to go to unwind?

I don’t take work home unless it is vital or I’m really enjoying doing something. I cook, I watch a Netflix series or read a book. But mostly I do stuff with my husband and kids like swimming, bike riding, crafting, and playing board games.

Do you make time for self-care?

I love a weekend day sleep, a bath, a little bit of journaling, creating a nutritious meal that everyone eats!

What motivates you?

Knowing that no matter how small the impact, I can have a positive impact on someone’s life.

Do you have any favourite Blog, Instagram, LinkedIn or Facebook accounts, that you follow that inspires you in your professional life and personal life?

Personal:

The Root Cause

@ash_in_wonderland

@karla_kola

KLP Creative Co

 

Professional:

Spelfabet

Science of Reading

 

What on your list of loves (teaching resources, a book, skin products, Netflix/TV show, a particular clothing designer, a song, an activity, a magazine)

Whole foods
Regular exercise
Instagram!

Reading a good book… usually recommended by someone else. At the moment it is The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Favourite Netflix series… Anne with an E, the Queen’s Gambit, Downton Abbey, Gossip Girl, Harry Potter, Fantastic Beasts and Donna Hay Chocolate Mud Cake

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You were nominated by 2 people in your community. Can you tell us what inspires you to continue to make a difference with your students and your school community?

I know that I can and that I feel valued. The things the kids and their families say to me tell me how much the work we do together is appreciated.

 

Finally, what is next for Vanessa Alexander?

Baby #3 and a new house!

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Teach … [verb]

1) To impart knowledge of or skill in; give instruction in.
2) To instruct by precept, example, or experience

Empowering you, the teacher, to empower our children, the leaders of tomorrow.

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