Beginning teacher's passion for science inspires the next generation
Bianca Battoraro was recently announced as a finalist in the 2017 Queensland College of Teachers Excellence in Beginning to Teach Award but Bianca says succeeding as an early career teacher isn’t about having it all figured out.
“I think beginning teachers can be wary of asking for help for fear they will look inadequate. Teaching is a very demanding job and has the potential to consume your life if you allow it so I think it’s important to reach out to your peers when you’re struggling,” she says.
Bianca says teaching was a relatively late career choice, unlike others who imagined themselves as teachers from a young age.
“For me the prospect only became a desire post- schooling. I always knew I wanted a career that would allow me to help people and give me a sense of purpose.”
A Science and Information Technology Teacher at Townsville Grammar School, Bianca is passionate about inspiring students’ interest in chemistry, physics and biology.
“I believe that all students should have a basic understanding of these subjects. Science will not be every student’s forte or interest; however, the inescapable truth is that science is intrinsic to every element of human development, wellbeing and life.
“I want to ensure students have a positive and meaningful experience with science to provide them sufficient skills to navigate and be science-literate in the world. When learners are engaged and interested in the subject it leads to a lifelong passion for the sciences.”
Bianca has also been involved in the school’s robotics-based education after developing her self-taught skills.
“I was fortunate that my Head of Technology was already very passionate about robotics when I arrived at the school. TGS had approximately 10 of the original Lego Mindstorm® robots and throughout the last three years has been making investments in new technology and initiatives.
“I have always found the idea of building and designing things such an interesting and unrestrained process. Whilst all of my robotics skills have been self-taught, I believe this to have been a very valuable exercise as I gained the perspective of students learning for the first time.”
In reflecting on the most rewarding and most challenging aspects of her job, Bianca says that teaching is often, and paradoxically, both.
“The most rewarding part of the job is when you can help a student realise their potential and have them achieve success in your subject, or in any subject. But this can also be challenging and hard to manage.
“As teachers we can be guilty of giving too much to the profession. It is easy to spend nights, weekends and early mornings creating resources for struggling students, excelling students or IEP students and this can sometimes take hold of your life outside of school.
“One thing I’ve learnt is that you need to make time for a life away from school or it can slowly take over, and then you lose your drive and passion.
Bianca says teachers cannot undervalue the importance of joining their union when they enter the profession.
“As teachers we have very specific responsibilities, including a duty of care unmatched by any other profession. It makes sense to have a network such as our union that supports my involvement with students and in the wider world of education politics.”
Outside of her teaching work, Bianca is also juggling study towards a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Pedagogical Leadership.
“It does seem crazy to be taking on extra study and sometimes I also wonder how I balance it all. I have a great support network which gives me the motivation to continue or a shoulder to lean on when it all feels too much.
“I usually devote my weekends to reading journal articles and writing assessments, whilst nights are spent marking/monitoring student work and preparing lessons,” she says.
Bianca hopes the degree will assist in better understanding how students learn and how to craft more meaningful lessons.
“Providing students a well-rounded and meaningful education is such a huge responsibility that ultimately I wanted to be sure that I was doing the best that I could.
"I am also very passionate about travelling and other cultures. I’ve managed to tie the two quite nicely by examining globalisation and education as an element of my Master’s.”
Reflecting her interest in global education, Bianca will take a year of leave in 2018 to venture over to the UK and experience teaching in the GCSE system.
“I would like to continue learning as much as I can about teaching and experiencing as many contexts as possible.”
As for what the future will hold beyond 2018, Bianca says she may be drawn out of the classroom and towards administration.
“Whilst I would love to move into an administrative-based role, I absolutely love being in the classroom and interacting with students in this context. Hopefully in the future I will find a balance between the two.”
The winners of the QCT Excellence in Teaching Awards will be announced on World Teachers’ Day, 27 October 2017.