Zeina Chalich is a teacher with passion.
“I want the six hours that our kids come to school to be the best six hours of their day,’ said Ms Chalich the Leader of Learning Innovation at St Finbar’s Catholic Primary School Sans Souci.
A new recipient of a Teaching Leadership Scholarship from the Australian Council for Educational Leaders, Ms Chalich said if our students aren’t excited to come to school, what are we doing wrong?
“That’s my biggest question that I’m always striving for.” Ms Chalich, a teacher for ten years, has won her scholarship through her leadership of a number of successful school programs in her specialist areas of Digital Pedagogy and Gifted Education. She is also a tutor in a program for the first transition to the profession for fourth year student teachers called the Teaching and Learning Consortium (TLC program) run by the Australian Catholic University (ACU). The university sends student teachers to schools every Tuesday for nine weeks.
The program has almost doubled since the program changed focus. Up until last year, trainee teachers had to work on Science – but now schools can place the student in an area of their choice, so Ms Chalich has integrated trainees with e-learning and digital pedagogy. The TLC program has involved making a website where trainee teachers can debrief every week on topics ranging from the school culture to the syllabus.
In her two years at St Finbar’s, Ms Chalich has led the Bring Your Own Digital Device Program (BYODD), a Digital Citizenship Program, and facilitated Blended Learning with staff across a range of subjects. She’s also Moderator of #aussieED Twitter Chat and hosts one hour chats every Sunday night to discuss teaching, learning – and digital leadership.
Ms Chalich has worked on the STEAM curriculum – Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths where technology is used to solve problems in these various disciplines. Their digital learning space is Make a Space (where students develop projects). She said STEAM teaches the students coding, digital storytelling and Lego robotics. Minecraft is used to share the students learning tasks. Another of her innovations is the “genius hour” where students get to work on pet projects of their choice for one hour.
“These are not the same students we were teaching five years ago, we need to keep adapting to suit them as opposed to getting them to fit in with our curriculum,” she said. “Teachers don’t have to know everything, you just have to know your learners.”