Fiona Clarke has been teaching and guiding students at Delahey’s Mackellar Primary School for 20 years.
What’s your connection to the area?
I have worked in the area since 1996.
During this time I have seen the development of the area from a newly developed home and land package suburb to a now established north-western suburb of Melbourne.
During this time, I have been a part of many family lives, to the point where my first students are now the parents of the next generation of Delahey residents.
How long have you been teaching, and how long at Mackellar Primary School?
I began my teaching career at Maple Street Primary School in Bendigo in 1995.
During this time I was completing my Bachelor of Education with Honors degree.
In 1996, I was employed as a casual relief teacher for two weeks at Mackellar Primary School.
Apart from a short teaching experience in the UK, and family leave, I have remained at this school as a teacher for the past 20 years.
What do you love about Mackellar Primary School?
The school community as a whole. The diversity and challenges the students provide.
The way the students interact and support one another.
The collective responsibility that the teachers share in providing learning opportunities for all students.
This school is always looking for ways to improve teacher practice and student learning in an ever-evolving profession.
The students work together in a co-operative manner and acknowledge each others’ successes.
Students are supported to make responsible choices and direct their learning.
Students are given a sense of purpose to the work they are doing and learning.
What do you enjoy about teaching?
Watching children learn and grow into young adults.
When a student responds to learning with ‘ohhhh – now I get it’ you know you have made a difference to this child, and you feel an overwhelming sense of achievement.
You feel as though you have equipped them with the knowledge, skills and dispositions to enable them to become lifelong learners.
It’s hard to describe this feeling of accomplishment, and that’s why it’s often hard to say goodbye as the children complete their promotion parade at the conclusion of their year six of primary school.
The tissues are always out. Every day is different in teaching and brings about new challenges.
There is no time to be bored in our profession, as it is always progressive.
What’s your secret to successful teaching?
Knowing and understanding your students, colleagues and parents.
You need to be able to accept and embrace change. Learning needs to be authentic and visible for students.
Students need to be supported to articulate what they are learning and why. Be reflective and model reflective practices for others.
Be flexible and organised. Alongside the implementation of the curriculum, focus on the building of confidence, independence and resilience in students.
How do you like to spend your spare time?
Spending time with family and friends, family holidays, keeping fit, cooking, shopping.