A day in the life of Anne De Manser

19th December 2014 at 00:00
In an Australian all-through school, the assistant principal is proud of the creative ways in which teachers and students are integrating technology across the curriculum

I am assistant principal at a small school in Victoria, Australia. We have 250 pupils from Prep (age 5) through to Year 12 (age 18). My work is divided into three areas: administrative, ie, managing the curriculum; welfare, working as a house mentor and a restorative practice counsellor; and teaching. I teach English across Years 5-10.

I live in town, so it's just a two-minute drive to work. I'm usually at my desk by 8am, in order to get a few jobs out of the way before the students arrive for a 9am start.

Because of our small size it's possible to get to know all the pupils. By the time they reach Year 12, they've had 13 years with us and become like our own children.

At this time of year, with final exams just around the corner, my morning is filled with discussions with older students about study planning, scholarship applications and the exciting concept of "life after school".

Tuesdays are my "visiting" days. I like to wander around the classrooms between recess and lunchtime, catching up on the learning and taking a few photos for the school Facebook page. Social media has revolutionised the way we communicate with parents: they are much more likely to read a Facebook feed than a newsletter screwed up in the bottom of a school bag.

I recently conducted a 21st-century technology audit, looking for strategies that have become integral to the teaching and learning in our classrooms, rather than merely add-ons or replacements for pen and paper. I was pleasantly surprised to find these strategies everywhere.

On my first stop, I discovered that history students in Years 8-10 were making life-sized teepees. How did they manage such authentic-looking replicas? Well, they watched a YouTube video.

Next I visited a Japanese lesson for Years 5-7, who were in the middle of a Skype call with our sister school in Tateno, Japan. Meanwhile, in the art room, pupils were using an app to manipulate images to create beautiful pop art; across the corridor, in woodwork, children were consulting plans on their iPads for detail on their carved chopping boards.

In another area, one group of Year 1s and 2s were sharing a story on the interactive whiteboard while a second group worked on personalised Mathletics programmes. In the gym, a PE class was being videoed for assessment feedback. Food tech students were looking on Pinterest for recipe ideas, and drama pupils were busy "chatting" to their classmate, who was overseas on an exchange.

This was all in the space of two periods, and if I had kept looking I'm sure I would have found many more examples. Before, I sometimes felt that our teachers were slow to adapt, but now I realise that they're a lot further down the technology path than I had thought. Technology-driven creativity and curiosity is happening all over our school.

At lunchtime, a playground dispute is resolved with a restorative conference before I head off to my senior English class. We've been studying dystopian fiction and today we have a lively discussion on the dystopian elements of our own society. Frighteningly, there are many.

A staff meeting on positive education rounds off a productive day and I'm back in my office by 5pm to prepare for tomorrow. The tomorrows are the reason I love teaching - every one of them is so different.

Your day

Do you want to tell the world's teachers about your working day, the unique circumstances in which you teach or the brilliance of your class? If so, email chloe.darracott-cankovic@tesglobal.com

We will give your school pound;100 if your story is published.


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