The change in the diversity of Michelle Morris’ school population has made her to look at teaching differently.
The Visual Arts Level 3 President and member at Kewdale PS said her first stumble was upon the language barrier.
“Fortunately for me, art is mostly a visual learning experience so I have learnt to ‘talk less’ and ‘show more’. With art it is easier to do than in some other Learning Areas. I profile the school populations’ culture and from there start research into what art styles are relative to our students and their backgrounds.”
Michelle, who was inspired by the teachers from her high school years to pursue the profession, says one of her biggest influences was her art teacher, whom she occasionally remains in contact with through her role in the Art Education Association of WA.
“I loved every subject and had no idea how I would manage without being engaged in all of them after I left school. What better profession to choose than primary school teaching.”
It’s Michelle’s compassion, humility, creativity and purposefulness – her philosophy behind teaching that makes her such a success with her students and in her career.
“When you hit a setback, begin with the end in mind, start again,’ she says.
“One of my biggest learning curves recently was that students of particular backgrounds and foreign school systems are always shown exactly how to create art and are expected to copy the teacher instructions verbatim. Initially, I employ this strategy at a small group level, slowly building up trust to inspire them to take risks and make mistakes in art. Alternatively, some have never had art experiences so it is wonderful to see the joy on their faces when they create art for the first time.”
Managing to involve her students in one of the state’s largest single community projects, Banners in Terrace, is an accomplishment for Michelle.
The photography project for the Visual Arts Gifted and Talented program showcases colourful collections by school children, along with community and art groups.
Honouring her commitment as an educator she managed to complete her Level 3 and was voted in as President Mid-year.
“This role is professionally and personally challenging and rewarding. I work with a group of very committed and insightful teachers and they have mentored me up and supported me in this role. I maintain the website, write the newsletter, meet with stakeholders regarding departmental initiatives and assist in the organizing of Professional Learning Opportunities for Level 3 Teachers www.l3cta.org.au.”
In the meantime she hopes to inspire and mentor others to apply for Level 3 Classroom Teacher status.
“It is invaluable to have teachers in the profession that are committed to continue working in the classroom, maintaining integrity to the professional and aspire to helping others do the same,” says Michelle.