Teaching lessons of life

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A Sydney teacher wins a prestigious award for her contributions to education

Kimberley Fitzgerald, Blacktown Principal Peter Flowers, Supreet Kaur

Critical thinking, creativity and clear communication are the three Cs that make a successful teacher, according to 2014 World Teachers Day Award recipient Supreet Kaur.

A teacher for the past 14 years at Blacktown Girls High School, Kaur was recently felicitated with the prestigious 2014 World Teachers’ Day Recognition Award from the Australian College of Educators for her outstanding contribution to education through technology and e-learning. Alongside Kaur, Kimberley Fitzgerald was honoured for her focus on embedding literacy across the curriculum at the school.

Supreet Kaur’s passion for teaching was nurtured by her wonderful teachers who taught her in India. “I used to observe my own teachers and decided that one day I too would teach and play a role in bringing a positive impact on the lives and minds of young people,” Kaur said.

Originally from Jalander in Punjab, Kaur migrated to Australia 22 years ago with her husband and a four-month-old son. Initially, she was discouraged from teaching in Australia and decided to work in the IT industry. “I was advised not to be a teacher in Australia,” Kaur recalled. “I changed my career path and worked as a computer programmer for a few years. However, after some time, I decided to become a teacher again and joined the Department of Education.”

Blacktown Girls High School is a very multicultural school and her Indian descent was never a barrier.

“My cultural difference has never been an issue during my teaching career,” Kaur stressed. “At this school we celebrate cultural diversity and this is important amongst both the staff and students.”

Today, Kaur has two grown up sons at university and a very supportive husband. She teaches Information Processes and Technology to Years 11 and 12, and Information Software and Technology to Years 9 and 10. She shares a great rapport with her students who in turn have a great deal of respect for her.

“I like to create an environment of open communication in my classroom so that my students feel comfortable to share their views, thoughts and ideas,” Kaur explained. “I love to share my knowledge of education and life with my students.”

Kaur is also very passionate when it comes to the quality of teaching. “All my lessons involve project-based learning where students collaboratively work in small groups on a meaningful project that requires critical thinking, creativity and clear communication in order to solve a complex problem,” she said. “This gives students the chance to explore real world problems and challenges. This is what I believe is required for success in today’s world.”

The staff and her colleagues at Blacktown Girls High School are like family to her. “It is a privilege to work with a team of hard working staff under the leadership of Mr Flowers (Principal), Mr Lumb (Deputy Principal) and Mrs Trimmis. We all work together relentlessly to support all the students to achieve their full potential and empower them to successfully engage in 21st century employment and life,” Kaur told Indian Link.

Blacktown Girls High School has recently been recognised for making a difference and providing quality education to young women in Western Sydney. Within two years, school results in national tests have improved and the average scores in the national literacy and numeracy tests have risen from significantly below to reach the national average.

Some of Supreet Kaur’s most cherished moments have been when her accomplished ex-students come back to acknowledge her contribution to their life. “Occasionally I have met my ex-students who have come to me and said ‘Thank you for teaching me.’ This happened just the other day.”

Encouraging people to enter the teaching profession, Kaur strongly feels teaching is a rewarding profession. “You watch your students grow, you learn from your students and you keep developing your own skills with the students,” she said. “Personally I love being a teacher and I would encourage our young generation to join the profession to give it a new direction.”