Who Am I?
I have over twenty years of experience in education, with almost half of this time dedicated to online education curriculum creation and execution. I began teaching while earning my dual undergraduate degrees – Physics (Honours) with a minor in Mathematics, and English (Creative Writing) with a minor in Classical Civilisations and Religions. As a graduate student in physics, I worked as a teaching assistant for Astronomy and Undergraduate Physics Laboratory courses. I loved the position so much I volunteered to mentor three high school students over a summer with the Young Scholars Program, where I guided them through a nuclear physics research project. This was such an inspiring experience for me that upon graduation I went directly into secondary school teaching and tutoring. I then had the opportunity to teach Physics, Statistics, and Mathematics at Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida – at first as an Associate and then full Course Director. At that time, the University was beginning their transition from on-campus courses to a more hybrid environment, and I jumped at the opportunity, designing and teaching both online and face-to-face classes across many disciplines, as well as privately tutoring and coaching students in time management, study skills, essay writing, and more.
After four and a half years at Full Sail, I decided I could implement more positive change by returning to secondary school teaching, while also following my dream to move to Australia. To that end, I applied and was accepted into The University of Queensland’s Graduate Diploma in Education – Secondary program and was trained in the Australian National Curriculum, focusing on physics and mathematics education.
Once I moved to Victoria and earned my VIT registration, I began working in Melbourne high schools, teaching both VCE and IB curricula. As my high school in the states was an IB magnet school, and my mother taught IB for over 15 years, I was already very familiar with and appreciative of the philosophy and ethos behind the IB – I continue to find the IB framework inspiring and motivating.
I have experience teaching and tutoring VCE and IB (SL and HL) Physics, all levels of Mathematics, Literature, Language & Literature, TOK, the Extended Essay, and more.
I am a published poet and amateur short story writer, tall-tale teller, astrophotographer, and amateur dancer who still enjoys playing piano (as well as video games) when I can find the time.
The Physics Cat's Educational Philosophy
I have always been in love with learning. As a daughter of a (now retired) Lt Colonel in the US Army, I went to primary school on an Air Force base in West Germany – where my mother, who’d been teaching me since I was in her womb, became my classroom teacher. I’ve always been very close to the educational process due to the work of my mother.
I am a seasoned educator in both secondary and tertiary education, and am trained and experienced in VCE, IB, and the Australian National Curriculum. My multicultural background provides me with a range of knowledge and world exposure to pull from, allowing me to approach topics and ideas from various angles to ensure student understanding. I have a zeal for exploration and discovery. My passion for learning is infectious and I hold a firm belief in the potential of others.
My commitment to student wellbeing is evident in my daily approach to teaching and learning. I interact with students in such a way as to promote a space without judgement, and instead a space with multidirectional discussions where everyone feels safe to express themselves while understanding they do so with consideration and respect for others in mind. I am a strong proponent of building respectful relationships and fostering positive/growth mindsets. I consistently take steps to foster a safe environment in all aspects – physical, social, mental, and emotional. It is important for every individual to feel acknowledged and respected.
It is vital for students to develop the ability to reflect and regulate thoughts and behaviours and to take responsibility for and evaluate their own progress. Thus, my professional practice includes techniques to assist in the development of these vital skills for success. I believe in always improving – by researching and discussing new and innovative ways of approaching material – through brainstorming meetings, lectures and round table discussions, staying abreast of current events in both education and in specific disciplines. More recent learning strategies that I embrace include project-based instruction and learning-centred curriculum.
I am constantly updating my professional practice and I strive to include new and innovative ways to utilise technology in the educational processes. I note where there is a gap in understanding/knowledge and find the most effective way of interacting with the material to maximise understanding, engagement, and comprehension.
I believe in the importance of allowing students to research, practice, strategise and apply ideas to situations relatable to them and assist in providing them with context. Collaborations form a sense of belonging amongst their peers, while teaching communication skills and encouraging questioning and exploration. I strive to create an environment where students feel safe expressing ideas and participating, and am told I’m quite captivating due to my passion for helping others gain knowledge and understanding. I believe in keeping lines of communication open while gently requiring accountability from everyone, especially myself!
Learning is not a one-way street – a dialogue between educators and students is vital in achieving mastery and community. The only way we grow is through conversation and education.