Monday 13th November, 2017
Having started as the Glenvale-Bendigo founding Campus Coordinator (now Head Of Campus), Mary Baxter has worked in a number school and non-school environments, with the last 25 years being a teacher. Thirteen of those years have been with OneSchool and she has loved working there.
“OneSchool is progressive and innovative and as a result, there is never a dull moment,” she says. “Change in education is on-going. To be successful, it’s important to be progressive and to ensure that our students have excellent opportunities to learn and to be armed appropriately for their world. I love that as educators we facilitate the learning process and as a result, we make our learners both independent and accountable; two hugely important life skills for success. While OneSchool is cutting edge, it still has the ‘community school aura’ about it where parents, students and all families are invested in the schools and show this through their on-going support.”
If you speak to teachers throughout the various OneSchool campuses in Australia, you’ll find there is a common theme as to why they enjoy working there compared to other schools where they have taught. Mary is no exception.
“The biggest difference I have found is that sense of community,” she says. “Parents want to be involved in the school and want to know how their children are performing. From a professional perspective, I love that we have opportunities to grow and develop as educators. We have access to fantastic educators from all over the world and have opportunities for professional learning from amazing educators like Sir John Jones and Sugata Mitra. Opportunities like these are life changing and keep teachers engaged and refreshed.”
A couple of aspects of teaching that she was unsure of initially were the virtual classroom and self-directed learning. At first she was worried about whether she would be able to utilise the platforms.
“The Virtual Classroom scared me. There was no way I was ever going to sit in front of a screen and lecture to students – that was going to kill my love of teaching,” she says. “Yet, nine years later, I can honestly say that I have transitioned through several modes of virtual deliveries and have, as a result, become a more resilient and adaptable teacher. The virtual classroom forces you to plan well! I have certainly become more creative and have learnt over the years a number of strategies that help me establish a rapport with the students who may be over 100 kilometres away. I love to teach and hope that I can still inspire students over a large flat screen.
“Self-directed learning works hand-in-hand with the virtual classroom. The lesson is only one third of the approach. This sets the tone and the direction for the study and the assignment.”
Mary especially likes the students and parents and how they interact with teachers is something other schools could learn from.
“The students are no different to other kids, however they are so much nicer, more resilient and respectful,” she says. “They take on board advice and are happy, especially when they are active. The parents are amazing! They are such a fabulous support in all aspects of what we do. They volunteer their time in the canteen, the library, to attend excursions, to cook, to drive buses to sew. They are fabulous.”
As well as loving her job, Mary says there is another bonus to OneSchool that you won’t find at too many other schools in Australia – its global reach.
“When I first started at Glenvale I never for one minute envisaged our system to be global and so progressive,” says Mary. “I love that I am part of a global community and I have a voice through my RP and his team. Our sites are well maintained and our students have access to fantastic resources. The HOCs are all well supported and we support each other. We meet fortnightly and share many ideas as our experiences are similar. This has been a fabulous push at our schools as it ensures we are all united and all sharing the one vision.”