AN award-winning teacher who has worked to improve Aboriginal students’ literacy says connecting with her pupils has been crucial to her success.
Southern River College teacher Natasha Moore was awarded the 2017 Kate Mullin Teacher Award, given to the WA teacher who has made the greatest contribution to improving Aboriginal students’ language and literacy.
The judges commended her for strong teacher-student bonds, increased attendance in her classes and the development of a school-wide plan to improve education for students who speak English as an additional language.
Ms Moore said she would not have been successful if she did not spend time getting to know and understand her students.
“The students willingly coming on this journey made a big difference, you invest a lot of time into their education and it’s rewarding for everyone else involved as a result,” she said.
“I have students coming in to connect before we begin the day’s work and that’s really important.“My room is rarely empty, I have students in during recess and lunch breaks for whatever reason and that’s really valuable, they can rely on you being there.”
Ms Moore said she felt honoured to win the award and seeing the praise from her students and their families meant a lot to her.
“It feels pretty wonderful to receive referee statements from family members and nominees from students, that feels pretty amazing for them to articulate the difference you make to them,” she said.
“It’s re-affirming to have people acknowledge the work in that way and gives you the confidence to continue to bring staff and community and student on board with something which is new and challenging for them to get their heads around.”
While her teaching methods have been praised, Ms Moore admitted she learnt just as much from the students as they did from her.
“They are so enthusiastic and bring a lot of insightful cultural knowledge and interesting insights which help and challenge you to see the world in different ways,” she said.
“To be exposing yourself as not the beholder of all knowledge as a teacher and showing you have lots to learn and can be taught things can be very powerful in the classroom.
“I like it being a two-way process in the classroom – they teach me and I teach them.”