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Education a university for the real world

Dear guidance counsellor

Transcript of interview with Madonna King and Professor Donna King.

Introduction: At QUT we believe that teachers do more than build understanding. They build confidence, resilience, they help students to make sense of the real world and the faster technology changes, the more important teachers become. If you feel the same way, this podcast is for you. Welcome to PodClass.

[Children laughing and a school bell rings]

Every step that you take forward you’re actually changing a child’s life, you are taking people with you.

This idea of the silent classroom is also a little bit of a myth and could be getting in the way.

They have very little time to just take a breath, sit down and think. Where do I want to go, what do I want to do with my career?

It's amazing how many fresh ideas you can have when you can ask your question of the entire world.

I have given it all I have got, I am exhausted and I need a break. I think that is part of it.

Sometimes when first year, we think goodness how are we going to make a teacher out of you? But then you see them in fourth year and you think gosh they are better than I am. [Multiple voices laugh]


Madonna: Hello. You are listening to Podclass. A chat with QUT experts with Madonna King. And our aim is to make life easier for those who lead the learning each day in our classrooms. Our teachers today we're talking to who, what, where, when, and why of seeking career support and advice with Professor Donna King. Welcome.

Donna: Welcome it’s an honor. Thank you for having me.

Madonna: Anyone told you you've got a sensational name! [laughs]

Donna: [laughs] I know, very similar to yours actually.

Madonna: So I'm told you oversee the teaching of teachers, but is there a more formal title?

Donna: Yes, Madonna actually. This week I just started in a new role at QUT as the Associate Dean of Learning and Teaching. And I'm a professor now of education. So my job is actually to oversee the teachers and all the teaching of teachers and all the courses that we have in our initial teacher education programs QUT.

Madonna: So how is your job relevant to a teacher standing up in a classroom this afternoon?

Donna: Well, I am prepared. I am helping and leading the preparation of our pre service teachers who will go out into classrooms and learn from teachers that are in classrooms today. So many of our teachers in the classrooms today, uh, supervising teachers for our pre service teachers and they had them in the classrooms and they teach them lots of skills that we can't give them on the university campus. They get that real world experience in the classrooms.

Madonna: So Donna, have you actually ever been a teacher?

Donna: Yes. So as a teacher for 10 years prior to moving into academia,

Madonna: So what made you go into teaching in the first place?

Donna: Oh, well, you know, I finished school and I got the top T score, which, you know, that's nine 90. That's talk now, but it was an OP one I guess. And I was, you know, people were encouraging me to go into medicine, but I was really inspired by my, year 11 Maths teacher and she was just so inspirational because she just loved mathematics and she brought mathematics to life for me. And she said to me, if you’re good at mathematics, why would you study anything else, you know, university, go on and do maths. And, you know, teaching's a wonderful career and I think she inspired me a lot.

Madonna: So her saying that, did you go home and think I'm going to be a teacher?

Donna: Probably at that point I thought it's a possibility for a career for me. But it probably wasn't until I was, I was moving through my, my science degree at university that I thought, I think this is the direction that I really want to go.

Madonna: What made her such a good teacher? Because your eyes light up when you talk about her.

Donna: Her passion for mathematics, her ability to teach complex concepts simply her um, interest in her students. And back then we had 40 students in our maths class and she managed them all so incredibly well.

Madonna: You volunteered for this chat. Why?

Donna: Well I think I've reached the point in my career where I feel really like I can give back now to the profession. I actually know enough. I've been in the career more than 30 years. I've worked in various different roles and I really feel like I can now help others. And I think this podcast will be a way, a forum to do that.

Madonna: So we're talking today about seeking career support and advice, but shouldn't every single teacher to do that at some point?

Donna: Absolutely. But lots don't.

Madonna: Why don't they?

Donna: I think they get into a routine that, you know, this is what I'm doing and they're so busy coping with the day to day needs of the classroom that they have very little time to just take a breath, sit down and think what it, where do I want to go? What do I want to do with my career? Is this where I'm going to stay for the rest of my life? Or are there other things that I like to progress on in education?

Madonna: How does a teacher know that they need to say career support and advice? So the little warning sign?

Donna: I think so. I think around about the five year mark for me. So I'd been teaching in classrooms for about five years and I think I actually had become a little bit, I mean maybe bored is a bit of a harsh word, but I, I felt like I was doing the same thing over and over again and I had mastered my teaching and I was ready for another challenge.

Madonna: So did you seriously think about leaving the profession at that point?

Donna: Yes, I did. Right at that point.

Madonna: What made you stay?

Donna: I did actually look at other options and I went around, talked to a few people and then an opportunity came up within the school I was working in and I applied for it and I got it. And it was a leadership opportunity and I think that just gave me the, the new career direction that I needed.

Madonna: In getting that leadership opportunity. Did you actually practice what you preach? Did it to just seek career advice?

Donna: At that point, probably from my friends and family. Not formally.

Madonna: Should you have done it formally in retrospect would it have assisted?

Donna: I think so. And I think at that point I was probably a little bit young and naive and didn't think to actually go to the principal and say, this is what I need. This is what I'd like. I didn't advocate enough for myself and I think that's something that we could do more of. As teachers.

Madonna: You told me earlier you were a teacher for 10 years and you thought about leaving at the five year mark. What eventually made you leave at the 10 year mark?

Donna: I had a family, so I had my first child at the 10 year mark and I felt that going back into full time teaching would have been a bit too much with the young child in a city. I'd moved cities and I had no family support. So at that point I was lucky enough to be able to finish my masters and start thinking about a PhD but, that wasn't until I'd done a bit of tertiary teaching. I realized that was the direction I want to go in.

Madonna: What was your master's in?

Donna: Science and technology.

Madonna: And your PhD?

Donna: Context based chemistry in years 11 and 12.

Madonna: That's just too, hard for me.

Donna: I could elaborate, but it's boring for everyone.

Madonna: You know, you talked about almost leaving at the five year mark and we hear about so many young teachers leaving the teaching profession. We have these new generation coming through and many of them just seeing teaching now as a stepping stone for three or five years before they go on to something else. Or is it that they reach a crossroads that they just can't get over and they decide to leave for that reason?

Donna: I think there's multiple reasons. And I think you've hit on one of them and I think that it is a bit of burnout at that point in their lives. And it's like, I've done this, I've given it all I've got, I am exhausted and I need a break. I think that is part of it. Particularly teachers that end up teaching in really in schools that have students with lots of high needs. The other thing I think is that, the younger generation coming through perhaps don't think of staying in career is forever the same career forever. I think they have a different perspective about their careers and I think they think that I will go into this and do it for five years and maybe I'll look around and try something else. So the way they think about their careers is different.

Madonna: That's a real challenge then for teaching as a profession.

Donna: It's, it is a challenge because the research shows that our best teachers are the ones that stay in the classroom the longest and develop those important skills over many, many years. So we really do want to keep them in the profession.

Madonna: Is there enough being done even in the research world to try and have that public debate?

DonnaL: There is some work being done in that world. It's not actually my particular area of research at the moment, but what, there are some schools that are developing some really great initiatives that are really helping their beginning teacher, like Marsden State High School has got a brilliant beginning teacher mentoring program and it's very structured and there are sessions, the way the teachers go to out of the classroom, they're taken out of the classroom, they are aligned with a mentor. They have a program throughout the year that they're going to work on. And that seems to be very successful.

Madonna: Largely teachers from what they do appear fairly selfless. Are they not necessarily good at seeking career advice about themselves?

Donna: I would say probably yes to that. They probably aren't. Yeah.

Madonna: What should you do if you've been teaching, let's say for a decade and you want to take a step up? Where do you start?

Donna:  think for me, well, I can draw on my experience, which, may or may not work for everyone, but I was the recipient of some excellent mentoring throughout the course of my career at different stages. So when I moved to university, my PhD Supervisor was a brilliant mentor for me in terms of transitioning to an academic career. I also had an excellent Head of School who was a great mentor in terms of progressing my career. I also was afforded opportunities to do courses at QUT that really helped progress my career and gave me opportunities to do things like, you know, surveys that look at how you’re going and your career and how you can improve.

And there was a number of, of things that I've been given that helped me. The other thing was that I was given one on one counseling with a career advisor through the course of these opportunities and to sit down with somebody for an hour to talk about you and your career and then to set goals and to, and I'm a bit of a goal setter and if you write your goals down, you're much more likely to achieve them, which I've always done. But, I was to sit down with a career purse, a counsellor, talk about your career, talk about what you want to do and where you want to go. It was incredibly empowering for me.

Madonna: You were very lucky as you say. Would a teacher seek that same advice.

Donna: They have to be able to advocate for themselves a bit in this, this domain I think. And the first place is always, I guess if you've got a good relationship with your leader in your school to start there. Okay. So that would be the first place to start. If for some reason that's not the place to start, then I would invest resources, money, time into seeking support outside of that school. You mean thinking supportive? Well, I would start with the careers advice advisor. I have a careers counselor and I, you know, not everyone is able to do this, but I would invest a bit of my own money in that if I needed to.

Madonna: And how do you know if the advice you're getting is right for you?

Donna: I think you have to listen to your heart a little bit and reflect on the person that you are and the parts of the advice that you feel are really right for you and trust your own judgment in that. But you know, you're going to make mistakes. You're not, it's not all going to be perfect, but

Madonna: Have you made mistakes?

Donna: Oh yeah.

Madonna: You want to tell me about any of them?

Donna: Oh gosh, yes. You know, along the way I've, I'm a person who tries to build bridges, but occasionally I haven't done that as well as I would've liked to. And I've had to repair some relationships along the way because of that.

Madonna: But has that helped you get to the position you're in that, that you learned from that.

Donna: Absolutely. Absolutely. I learnt skills out of that and I had great people I could talk to,

Madonna: Cause sometimes we're too scared to make mistakes.

Donna: Absolutely. Yeah. But you're not going to grow or progress if you don't make mistakes. Yeah.

Madonna: Is a Bachelor of Education enough now to be a good teacher or what type of up skilling would help a teacher's toolkit.

Donna: Yeah, no, look, it's lifelong learning. It never stops. It never stopped for me every year of my career through teaching in a classroom to teaching in a university. And that lifelong learning has to be something that you want to do. It has to be, in an inner desire. But it also has to be something I believe that, you seek out throughout the course of your career. So I'd just give a little example. Say you wanted to up skill in digital technologies, then you would need to seek out some learning to help you with some.

Madonna: My own example is the babysitter for our children has just finished a bachelor of education at QUT. But she's gone back to do a course on mental health. So if there are teachers out there, iss it important to actually improve your education qualifications or it's best for them to think of something like digital literacy or mental health or, or dealing with teenage girls or…

Donna: Yeah, I think, I think the first place to start is the context and the classroom and the school that you're teaching in. And what are your needs? What do you need to do to be a better teacher in the classroom initially? And then once you've mastered that, it might be more for interest's sake. So what are the things that I'm really interested in and how can I seek out some learning in that, that my progress, my career in that direction?

Madonna: Just on that, you know, we have MOOCs, short courses, master's courses, how do you work out what you want or what might actually deliver the promotion to you?

Donna: So you can, I mean, the practical things, they can go online and you can read about the MOOCs and see what's available. You can talk to people at, for example, at QUT. You can give you more information about them. And then the other thing is you can do a taster with them. You can have a go and you know, a few sessions in, you can decide if it's for you or not for you.

Madonna: Yes. Okay. And so if you are a, a young teacher, an experienced teacher, does it matter then? Should we have the teachers who have been teaching for 20 years doing that too?

Donna: Absolutely. Or is it more a no? It's for anyone.

Madonna: What about a principal's school leadership team.

Donna: Yeah. So principals have specific needs. I guess which is usually in the leadership area and there we're developing opportunities for them through the MOOCs to, to do leadership courses.

Madonna: So it's difficult when you're a, made a leader amongst your peers, how do you navigate that?

Donna: It's like, well, this is what you've got to do. You've just got to step up. You've got to make these hard decisions and you're never going to please everyone.

Madonna: But you told me in a chat once that you know, one mentor showed you how to think outside the square.

Donna: Yes.

Madonna: Explain that to me.

Donna: I guess my first mentoring in academia was about how to be a researcher and a teacher. So part of the academic career is that you don't just teach, you also have this big research agenda that you need to be achieving. And so, that was really new to me when I started in academia and he would talk to me about the research he had done, the way he thought about theories and he would encourage me to do the same thing, to read widely, to think, to write and to develop myself as a researcher as well as a teacher.

Madonna: Okay. Have you had any shocking mentors along the way?

Donna: I think I've been a lucky there. Yeah.

Madonna: So for a teacher looking for a mentor, is it necessarily a teacher or should they be looking towards a business person or an academic or someone outside the profession?

Donna: Well, I guess it's hard to say because teachers have different needs. It's depending on their needs, but so beginning teachers, I would say somebody's definitely there close by teaching in the same year level or, or year level above. Certainly someone within their school environment. For other teachers I would say. You know, for example, if you're looking at moving into being a learning support teacher or working in the librarian area and look for mentors that have been in those areas and know that job.

Madonna: You said, you know, you might want to go to, into the library and into learning support. How does the teacher actually look for opportunities to advance?

Donna: Well I think you've got to talk to people and investigate and do your homework so there's no point jumping into something until you really know that's what you want to do. So finding out, I'm one to forget, you know, information is power. So do your research, find out what courses are out there, find out, talk to people in that field and see if it's a job you really want to do. And then start taking the steps towards that.

Madonna: So you have really taken opportunity after opportunity in an early career academic program and mid-career academic program, the QUT women in leadership program. And then you became a mentor for that too. What did that latter program teach you?

Donna: The latter program was brilliant. It actually gave me the confidence to be able to apply for Associate Professor. I went into that not really thinking that I had the skills for that and out of it I, I developed a huge amount of confidence that was a particularly designed for women. And women tend to undersell and undervalue themselves. So it teaches women teachers do too. Yes.

Madonna: And what about confidence? Do you think, you know, our teachers seem so confident standing up in front of the class each day. Is that your experience?

Donna: Yeah, yeah. Most of them. The women teachers I know are all fantastic teachers, but in terms of managing their careers and believing in themselves and knowing that they could go further if they wanted to, they really lack that confidence.

Madonna: Is there career advice you didn't take that you should have?

Donna: Look, I remember when I had to move schools and I was plateauing in my career because I had to move cities for my husband's work. Getting advice from the principal that said, well, you know, that's a step down because backwards. And I remember thinking, well, at this stage in my life, this is the right step to make. I need to plateau.

Madonna: Well, that's an interesting point because I'm wondering, how early in a teacher's career is it important to seek advice you don't want to get out? And a year later it'd be knocking on a door saying,

Donna: Yeah, I think, I think the minute a teacher starts thinking, do I want to do this? Do I want to keep doing this for the rest of my life? Or is having some kind of worries about being in the classroom every day? Perhaps that's kind of an indicator that they need to be thinking and seeking advice or getting help. Um, or if they reach a point where they're a little bit bored and they've been doing the same thing over and over again, that might be a point.

Madonna: So what would we have to do to keep those early career teachers from leaving?

Donna: Come on. God, if only I was, I had the power to change things, to change what they need. They need a much lighter workload, much lighter than what they give. They need to have time to prepare much longer periods of time than an experienced teacher would need. They need days off during the week where they can go and be inspired by inspirational speakers.

Madonna: But the community's not going to accept that.

Donna: Yeah. They know they're not probably.

Madonna: And why is that? Because we don't, because I think the community's perception is you get your holidays, but unless you've actually been a teacher, you do not understand how full on those days are from the beginning. The minute you walk into that, onto the school ground to the minute those children leave and it's not like a desk job. It's nothing like that. It's, it's hugely emotionally exhausting. And there's research that's been done about the emotional labor of teaching. So it's very demanding.

Madonna: Why do students choose it as a career?

Donna: Because like me, they want to give back. They want to help the next generation and they love kids. I love kids.

Madonna: And then they, um, what's the word that they get there? And it's not what they thought it was.

Donna: I think, sometimes the structures aren't in place to help them.

Madonna: What kind of structures, because we're talking about that, that support that's needed. What would you like to see?

Donna: I'd like to see every beginning teacher being a really, um, an excellent mentoring beginning teachers program, which QUT has developed with Education Queensland. So we have many of these schools have taken these on board and I would like to see every beginning teacher as part of those programs with a really good strong mentor and then opportunities for that mentor to advocate for them. So when things are getting tough and they're getting exhausted, they can find a ways of taking the pressure off those beginning teachers.

Madonna: It's a system change in a sense. Is there anything a teacher themselves can do to help or to affirm themselves?

Donna: Yeah. Look, I've was talking, I need this week to a beginning teacher, her first year in a primary classroom and every time I see her I say to her, make sure you take your weekends off. Don't do any work over the weekends. Don't take a thing home. And it's hugely important that you realise you relax, you recharge your batteries.

Madonna: But set in practical, you know that the exam results of June, absolutely.

Donna: Absolutely.

Madonna: Parents are contacting them on the weekend.

Donna: That's right. But she said to me, I stay back late and I get the work done, but I'm not, I'm not, I'm really trying to keep my weekends free. So there are periods of the year where that won't be possible, but at least now, you know, in her first term or she's trying to develop her own skills in the classroom, she needs to have an opportunity to recharge her batteries.

Madonna: So let me give you a scenario or two briefly. I'm a teacher. I'm seven years out and I teach business and Italian to years 10 and 11. I feel as though my career's flattened. There's only a few people above me at my school. How do I set goals? Where do I begin?

Donna: Okay. So I, I'm a bit of a goal setter and I write them down and I start every year off with goals. But sometimes some people need somebody else to help them set their goals. So I would start with a pen and paper and thinking about, you know, what do you want to achieve in the next three months? What do you want to achieve in the next six months? What do you want to achieve in the next year? And then maybe a three year and a five year goal.

And then if you are a person that really doesn't know where to begin, then I would start by talking to, again, I go back to somebody you admire or somebody that you like or trust that's you know, a colleague or even an outside person, a friend and just starting to talk to them about how you set your goals about some of the goals that you want to set. And then from one conversation leads to another thing which leads to another thing. I think you just got to start somewhere.

Madonna: Is your aim in writing them down to hold yourself more accountable?

Donna: I think so. There's research to show to say that if you actually write them down, goal setting gives you long term vision and short term motivation and you're much more likely to achieve goals if you write them down.

Madonna: You also said the top time frames, three months, six months, nine months. Is their research to suggest that it's important to put a time frame to include a time?

Donna: Absolutely. Yeah. And then to revisit it and see if you've achieved them.

Madonna: And what happens, you know, I get to my six months and haven't even achieved most three months once.

Donna: Then you have to just re reevaluate it and change it. How important is it to be reasonable, not to be overambitious very important. Very important. Because I would say that you need to, you need to feel like you're ticking something off. So out of those three or four things that you want to achieve, even if you only got one done…

Madonna: You've done that one thing, you've just received a big promotion. Was it on your goal list?

Donna: I think it was. I acted in this position last year and I think after I acted in the position, I started to think that I could possibly do it, but it wasn't really until the last six months of my career.

Madonna: Will you tell me what would be on a goal for the next three or six months? I'm just wondering, are they small things in being able to develop an authority or to meet a certain amount of people or is it that you need to increase a network of, of supporters what?

Donna: Yeah, so for me in the role that I'm in at the moment, probably the goal for me for the next three months is really to get my head around the job and understand it better and understand the people that I'm managing. So that would be my three month goal. And then the six month goal would actually be to have achieved, some specific things within the initial teacher education programs I'm overseeing.

Madonna: So if you took yourself back to when you were a teacher, what might be tangible goals that you would write down?

Donna: Well first term it's about getting the classroom in order and meaning order tidy or now in order in terms of setting up your rules with each of the students that you teach, and showing that you have structures, that they are clear about, they’re clear about your expectations, that they know that you mean business and that you will follow through and it's really getting that discipline going in the first term.

Madonna: But aren't they the goals for the students, not the goals for the teacher?

Donna: Well, I guess they are goals for teacher and students. And then the teacher I guess is, is looking at, um, I mean I remember being a teacher and my goal was to really have my classroom respect me and build a really good rapport with my class. That would have been my goal for the first term.

Madonna: Can I come back to what we were talking about it, the role of parents and perhaps the role of everyone in judging teachers, parents and now so involved in their education. You've actually been critiqued as a teacher, as part of a big research program. Tell me about that.

Donna: Okay. So I was, involved in a research project that looked at teachers in science education. And I was a science education academic and lecturer. And we looked at how, looked at how our emotions and the student's emotions vary throughout the course of our teaching. So what we did was we gave all the students in my class a clicker and they had to click on a number from one to five, five when they were really feeling positive emotions in my class. One, when they are feeling quite negative emotions in my class. And three was kind of in between.

And then we collected all that data and we graphed all that data and we looked at key events. So we looked at moments really it comes down to just, you know, short periods of time in my class when there were peaks or when they were troughs. And then we micro analyse that to look at what was happening there that the students either really enjoyed it or the students didn't enjoy it. And,so the peaks for example, when I was doing science demonstrations with the students and they were really excited, you know, when you did, you know, the egg went in the bottle or you know, the Mentos and the Coke, you know, erupted or whatever and there would be joy and they'll be happiness and people would, you know, it would be great and they go, five, I'm having a great time, this is really good.

And then when I would explain those experiments and explained that pedagogical approaches around it, it dropped a bit. But then we interviewed the students. So we, this was part of the research project and we asked them what was going on there and they said, well, it was low out there because we were sitting and we were listening and we were attentive. Didn't mean that our emotions were bad or anything or that we didn't, we were actually really appreciated that background information too. So what that told us was that you need opportunities for high emotional engagement, but you also need the lower emotions where students are listening and engaging and taking in what you and that word engagement is so, so important with everyone who was critiqued.

Madonna: Was that a common theme that doing experiments and acting something out? She was provided the peak engagement?

Donna: Yes. Well we actually did a similar study about in a middle years science classrooms. So that's grade eight, nine and 10 science classroom. And we actually found the same thing there that when the teacher did, experiments, there was a, you know, very positive emotions were expressed by the students in their class. So yes, that's something that's common across science education that we've found. So they're just the two studies I've been involved in.

Madonna: I'm feeling sorry for ancient history teachers for example.

Donna: Yeah, right. Well, I guess I'm, the thing is that you have to, out of all this sort of, you know, the, the message is that you have to be prepared to vary what you're doing and teachers know this set, you can't just use one teaching strategy because what happens is, because in particularly in science has shown that that transmissive didactic approach of teaching really does disengage them and they turn off. So it is about finding a variety of pedagogical approaches that you can use to engage teachers. And it would be the same in history and it would be the same in other...

Madonna: You left the career, a career of teaching at schools to go into university after a decade. Is there an obvious point where a teacher should know that they want to leave the profession? How did you actually know?

Donna: It was a bit serendipitous for me. I just had a colleague who rang me and said, Oh, you've got a masters, would you like to do some tutoring at Australian Catholic University? And I was home on maternity leave with two little girls and I thought, Oh, why not? It's sessional. It's a few hours here and there. I wouldn't mind giving that a go. And so that was really, I never ever in a million years imagined I'd be where I am today.

Madonna: But if you didn't take that opportunity, you might be teaching. If there's a teacher listening, thinking, you know, the pool is whether I stay or whether I leave, is it best they leave.

Donna: I, I would have been just as happy. I think staying, to be honest. It's just that this opportunity presented itself and I, and it was better for me at that point in time to be doing part time work and I couldn't work out a way to be a brilliant full time science and maths teacher while I had two little kids. And so I saw this as a way of doing it for an interim, not realising that it would lead to another career. Staying for me would have been another option had I been able to get a really good, perhaps part time job. Secondary teaching doesn't lend itself to such good part time work because you've got to be sometimes in the classroom every day. I'm part of every day. Primary is better cause you can job share better.

Madonna: So how transferable do you think are teacher skills?

Donna: ...are very, extremely transferable. I think we've got amazing skills that we can use in so many different areas. The ability to think on our feet, the ability to communicate, to read emotions, to engage people in presentations, to problem solve.

Madonna: So right. You should just move our teachers into parliament. Perhaps you don't have to answer that one but, but, but do you think teachers understand their value?

Donna: Probably not. So much they probably, like I said, this so committed to doing the daily job that that is their sole focus.

Madonna: Any book you'd recommend that the teachers actually read up on?

Donna: I have one that I was given when I was doing my graduate diploma in Teacher Education and I did a course on, it was teacher effectiveness training and I found it really helped me as a beginning teacher just to, and it really aligned with my values for teaching. And this book is now available online. It's not very expensive.

Madonna: And how did it help you though?

Donna: Well I think it just gave me strategies about how to do active listening with students. Um, when students have problems, some of the ways to solve those problems without it escalating, how to deal with conflict in the classroom. Really practical things.

Madonna: Sometimes I think it's so easy to be crippled by self-doubt. Have you ever suffered that? Tell me about earlier in your career when you might have...

Donna: Oh yes, look, I can remember days driving to school and thinking I've got to explain this really complicated chemistry concept today and I'm not sure I'm going to get this across and how will I do it? And, going into the classroom thinking, I hope this will go well. And I guess, you know, you don't get it right and sometimes the lesson is absolutely terrible, but then you go on and, and you listen to the students, anything our next time I know what they need and I know what to do.

Madonna: So what would you say to a teacher who might be feeling a self-doubt like that?

Donna: Well preparation really, really helps. So if the lesson is not going as well as you want, there's always an activity that you can direct the students to. There's always some reading they could do. It's really okay to just throw it back onto the students, get them into groups and get them doing an activity, which gives you time to think and you time to catch your breath and to go, okay. If I get them working on something, get them doing the writing, the reading, the actual thinking work. I take the pressure off me.

Madonna: From your time as a school teacher, from all the research you've done, as an educational leader now, what do you think teachers need to know that perhaps they don't?

Donna: They need to know that they are making a difference every day. They walk into a classroom to students of the future, that their job is so valuable for society and that they are going to be the difference between a student, some students having a great life and not having a great life. Most teachers do know that already, but I think sometimes they need to be reminded of that.

Madonna: Dr. Donna King. Thank you.

Donna: And Madonna, it's been a joy. Thank you.


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