All Saints’ College Junior School teacher Mr Bill Ellis has been announced as 2020 National Excellence in Teaching Awards (NEiTA) winner for outstanding and innovative teaching practices.
Nominated by students and parents, Bill’s teaching practice centres around developing student agency at every opportunity and inquiry-based learning that helps extend students’ learning as far as possible.
“Teaching is not all about having the neatest classroom or the most creative wall displays; it’s about honouring student voice and agency and developing their capabilities, and keeping that front and centre in everything we do,” said Bill.
“I strive to make my classroom a living learning space, with concrete examples of what we are exploring through our inquiries.”
In 2020, the NEiTA Foundation had a strong focus on innovative provision of home learning earlier in the year, and during All Saints’ College’s home learning period – All Saints’ @ Home – Bill integrated visible thinking routines as well as activities specifically designed to enhance students’ wellbeing.
“I used home learning as an opportunity to enhance the students’ digital technology skills and to try out things that we would usually tackle later in the year such as documenting our thinking and learning, or the planning and execution of a project digitally rather than by more traditional means,” Bill said.
The NEiTA Foundation, through the National Excellence in Teaching Awards, has been recognising outstanding teachers for 25 years and, this year, acknowledged teachers who put extra thought into digital methods to enhance learnings, worked to motivate their students and supported the wellbeing of students and took some pressure off parents.
“I’d like to thank All Saints’ College and the NEiTA Foundation for supporting and recognising innovative teaching approaches,” he said.
“These approaches help prepare our children for the worlds of learning, work and life. I am very fortunate to work at such a forward-thinking school which encourages students to find what truly drives them and gives them the skills to take their ideas as far as they can,” he added.
As a teacher in the early years of students’ learning and development, Bill believes listening to students helps both students and teachers thrive in the classroom.
“It is crucial to truly listen to children and learn exactly what motivates them, makes them curious or makes them anxious.
“Teachers have to be calm and gentle enough so students are comfortable to share ideas, energetic enough to raise the energy level in the room where necessary, and assertive enough to ensure that students are focused and reaching their potential during every learning experience,” Bill said.
Last year, fellow ASC teacher Miss Kylie Chatto also won a National Excellence in Teaching Award.