Rotorua education specialist Joanne Hayes is on the hunt for excellence and leadership in the teaching sector.
The education group manager at Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology is one of a panel judging the New Zealand section of the Australian Scholarships Group National Excellence in Teaching Awards (ASG NEiTA). Winners are set to be announced on Friday.
In its 25th year, the awards are held to recognise exceptional teachers in early learning centres, primary and secondary schools, and special schools across Australia and New Zealand.
Joanne says she applied to be part of the judging panel because her overarching goal is to grow excellent leaders in the teaching sector.
“These awards are important for showing value for our teaching because teaching is a greatly rewarding career but it’s not always seen positively in the current climate. Sometimes teachers aren’t appreciated like they should be and the remuneration is not always equal to the efforts that are put in. But despite those things, it’s a rewarding profession and we want more people to think about becoming and appreciating teachers, so these awards are one way for people to know the value of great educators.”
The process for the awards involves people nominating teachers they think are doing something special. The nominees then answer a round of questions about what they think it takes to be a teacher and how they’re innovating in that space. After that, a shortlist is announced and those people must submit a video about how they’re showing excellence in the teaching field. Regional and category winners are then announced.
Joanne says anyone can be nominated for the awards but she is looking for candidates who stand out from the crowd.
“Best practice is important and candidates must be able to show how they include that in their day-to-day teaching but the person I am looking for is going above and beyond good practice and that is something else.
“There are lots of teachers doing a fabulous job but to be considered for this award you will need to be doing a little bit more. I like to see they’re thinking about how to improve the sector, whether it’s in leadership or working with the community to partner their schools for the best outcomes for our children.”
Joanne has had a long career in teaching that includes teaching in the early childhood, primary and tertiary sectors and is currently completing a PhD focussing on the transition to school. She joined Toi Ohomai ten years ago to teach on the Bachelor of Teaching ECE before becoming the manager for education and says while she now spends much of her time with administrative and reporting duties, she still enjoys teaching.
“The thing I really like is when I see a light-bulb moment, whether it’s a child or an adult, I love it when I can see that they understand a new concept and the pride they feel in learning it.
“I really love at Toi Ohomai that we get to work with students who have had to overcome some barriers just to be here. It’s great when you see someone who didn’t always think they would get there and they have. I absolutely love seeing our students at graduation and how proud they are of their achievements.”