My Classroom Website

Clare Hackney's Portfolio

Last Updated June, 2009

Strengths and Skills

  • My practicum experiences have been solely in Western and South-Western Sydney. The social disadvantage present in both regions often manifests itself in the classroom in the form of neglect, abuse, violent behaviour, and educational deficit. Many students live in public housing, and their parents have little education themselves to support their children at school. Working in these schools has given me the opportunity to work with parents and the community to help improve educational outcomes and also to focus on behaviour management.
  • Being exposed to a range of intellectual and behavioural challanges in my classroom such as IM, Austism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Phase 1 ESL students, agressive behaviour, and victims of abuse has meant that I have learnt how to effectively differentiate the curriculum, and how to curb behaviour issues by prevention rather than cure. I am now confident that I can deal with a difficult class with a large variety of needs present.
  • I have experience and an immense passion for Aboriginal education. My last practicum was a placement organised by the Koori Centre at Sydney University in a school with a 25% Indigenous enrolment, and a full time Aboriginal Education Officer. Students in my class who identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander had an Individual Education Plan (IEP) written for them that I as the classroom teacher had to implement. The school was also lucky enough to have an Indigenous Tutor Program in which community members would come into the school and tutor students and/or team teach with the staff. I utilised this resource when teaching a series of lessons on NAIDOC Week, and Aunty Lyn came into my classroom and taught with me.
  • I was very lucky to experience an open classroom with effective team teaching while on practicum. This class had 64 students, each with a very high level of need. This class and the teachers taught me about how to transition between lessons with such a large number of students by explicitly teaching effective listening skills, and how to resource a large number of students efficiently. By teaching a large number of students, and achieving success, I can now walk into a large class with confidence.
  • I enjoy hands on creative lessons and live by the rule that if i'm not having fun then how can the students be? I always use stimulating resources and innovative ways to present lessons including music where possible.

Teaching Philosophy

I believe that students should be the number one priority of each and every teacher. Bearing this core value in mind, it is vital that I find a way to connect and relate to each and every individual student in my class. Relating to students can be achieved on a variety of levels; spanning from listening and valuing what students have to say, to adjusting classroom activities in order to cater to student need AND more importantly student interest.

Relating to teaching colleagues is also an important facet of becoming a successful teacher. Although it is unreasonable to expect to become friends with everyone on staff, teaching requires a functional professional relationship which allows the sharing and acceptance of new ideas between staff members. The staff within a school also need to remain honest and ask each other for help when they feel overwhelmed so that the students are privy to some of the best teaching the school has to offer. Being enthusiastic and having a thorough knowledge of my students and how they learn is how I plan to gain the respect of future colleagues within the teaching profession.

Creating a relaxed classroom environment is vital in order to maximise student learning, and teacher enjoyment. It is important for the teacher to model honesty within the classroom, and this can be achieved by the teacher readily admitting their own mistakes. By taking misfortunes in your stride and laughing them off with a sense of humour, students will learn to do the same and accept that mistakes are a crucial part of learning. Students like to see their teacher treating each student with consistency, fairness, and following through with the consequences. Consequences should be pre-determined democratically by the whole class for those who choose to undermine the classroom philosophy and jeopardise the quality learning environment. A silent classroom is a scary classroom. Students will often be faced with issues in the classroom which require discussion in order to deepen their learning. By prohibiting speech, we are inhibiting their learning from progressing from a shallow understanding to deep knowledge. I believe the most productive classroom environment is founded on 'creative chaos' in which students feel comfortable enough to take risks and discuss their learning.