Tuesday 19th September, 2017
Natalie Shephard spent 10 years teaching history at a state school in the UK before joining OneSchool’s Melton campus six years ago. Straight away she saw the distinctions.
“The differences between my experiences are pretty huge and not just in the context of going from a state school to an independent one,” she says. “The most obvious difference is the way I teach senior history, given that I teach via VC. This has challenged the way I teach, as some of the more hands-on elements have had to be adapted to the virtual environment.”
The opportunities available to Natalie are not lost on her, some of which are not available in other teaching environments.
“The structure is also massively different in terms of OneSchool being global,” she says. “I feel that there is more flexibility here and I have been presented with some unique experiences. I’ve trained staff interstate, travelling to Sydney to work with MET’s faculty to train them in how to use Canvas.”
And personal development? Another positive for Natalie.
“That type of support is fantastic,” she says. “I have been asked on numerous occasions to present for the History Teachers Association of Victoria and I always have the full backing of the board at my campus to take the time to do so.”
Natalie also likes how those running the school are always thinking ahead. Especially with the advent of the different learning platforms the school uses.
“The introduction of Zoom as a VC platform has just taken teaching to the next level,” says Natalie. “The increased interaction that comes with it means that some of the pedagogy that had previously not been possible, such as group work, is now accessible to VC students. I was lucky enough working in the UK to have taught learning to learn so the SDL and VC culture within this school has taken my passion in this area further.”
It helps that the students are not only embracing this form of teaching, but in the main, are self-motivated – a key ingredient with this kind of learning environment.
“Students are gradually coming to understanding this more and have become responsible for their own learning,” says Natalie. “They are more resilient as learners. The students that I work with are pretty awesome. I love the way that they thank me at the end of the lesson. The culture shift since I have been working here has been marvellous and students are now far more dedicated to achieving their best. Although it can be a double edge sword in terms of creating more work, I now make sure that I have practice assessment tasks prepared ready for those students who are going to ask me for them. Students are increasingly pro-active in wanting to know what they can do to improve and how can they get better and what else they should be doing.”
Of course, what also helps is the support on the ground from the school’s parents.
“Parents are grand in the way they support and respect my professional judgement,” says Natalie. “The time they sacrifice in driving buses, preparing food on staff training days and their willingness to get involved in their child’s education.”