Goodbye Mrs Bloore and Mr Steele
With 80 years of teaching between them, we asked Yoko and Mark to reflect on their careers at CCGS, the teaching profession and share some of the lessons they have learnt along the way!
Yoko you’ve been at CCGS since 1995, and teaching since 1982, and Mark you’ve been at CCGS since 1996 and teaching since 1980. In your opinion what has changed the most in teaching and what remains the same?
Yoko: My first job was in Syria in the Middle East. I joined a Japanese volunteer team. I taught Track and Field in a women’s sports college. Things are very different teaching in Japan, Australia and Syria but the biggest difference for me now is how much technology is integrated into what we do. When I first started at CCGS we used to share one computer that was held in the staff room. Now we all have a laptop and can access technology whenever and wherever we go!
Mark: I could write a book about how much things have changed or haven't changed. Technology has made a big impact on education, just like the biro or the fountain pen did. It has transformed how we do things. What really underpins good teaching is the relationships you have students. That will never change. Students must feel that you are linked with them in a positive way for their benefit. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got great technique or pedagogy. If you don’t have a great relationship with a student they won’t progress.
Yoko: I agree. I always want to talk to our students and understand them so that hasn't changed. Building connections and discovering what gets young people excited and motivated is so important.
What has been the highlight of your CCGS days?
Yoko: I have two big highlights. Firstly, the connection with our sister school in Japan and the strength of that relationship. Second is hearing how past students are now using Japanese in their jobs. Some of our students have also gone and lived in Japan post CCGS. It’s always great to see students use what they have learnt here and extend their knowledge and experience.
Mark: For me, it's been our HSC successes and working closely with Mr Blake Berczelly and our entire PDHPE department. We’re a team that truly works together. It’s been inspiring seeing the growth of the team and cementing PDHPE in the HSC. We now have two classes, sometimes three for the HSC – lots of students love taking the subject.
What’s one lesson you’ve learnt from your students?
Yoko: There are many many things my students have taught me. They ask many questions about Japanese Literature, Geography, History so it made me dig deeper into my own culture and learn more my home country. The students have really encouraged that. It's helped me see my home country from a different point of view.
Mark: They’ve taught me to continually adapt in my ways and my processes. First and foremost, you have to be a learner yourself. When I was packing up my desk I read a few of the cards that students and parents have given me over the years. When the students say something meaningful and from the heart, it’s a very humbling moment.
What do you think is the most important subject students learn today and why?
Yoko: I don’t think there is one. To be a global citizen you need to have a broad range of skills and knowledge.
Mark: I’m going to say PDHPE of course! Health is everything, particularly these days. PDHPE has so much to contribute to mental health. It’s not just about learning, it’s about physically doing. Giving children fundamental movement skills like running, skipping, catching throwing gives them so much self-esteem and confidence. They can play in games in the playground and connect with others.
What advice do you have for new teachers?
Yoko: Really get to know the students. Build connections and trust. Find out what they are thinking, how are they feeling. It is much easier to teach them when you know them. When you take the time to understand your students, you’ll be able to teach them better and they’ll accept you more.
Mark: Get in on the cocurricular side of the school. Students will value your impact and the time you commit to them. Build relationships with students, find those sparks that can help you connect with them. Be genuine – they can tell whether you are fair dinkum or not. They sense your sincerity really quickly and they’ll reward you back by being respectful and saying positive things about you.
What will you miss most about CCGS?
Yoko: Our amazing team of staff and all our students. Staff at CCGS are very supportive. Everyone has a smile, people genuinely care, and it feels like a family of friends. I have always felt accepted and welcomed. And of course, we are lucky to have such great students.
Mark: The people! The students are wonderful, the teaching staff, the operations team, everyone. This school is a rich environment in terms of people. It’s not just a place of 2000 people - staff and students. It’s a place of 2000 outstanding people!
What does the ‘next chapter’ hold for you?
Yoko: I am planning to go back to Japan in 2020 for a bit longer than our normal three week school holiday. I would like to do some bike riding through the Japanese countryside and would like to see the Tokyo Olympics. I’d love to visit my older relatives that I haven’t seen for a while as well.
Mark: It will unfold. I’ll travel, spend time with my family and maybe do the occasional bit of teaching here and there.
Yoko: From the bottom of my heart I really appreciate the Australian people. I have now lived in Australia longer than in Japan! It is my second home. I love everyone’s smile, the easy-going attitude, I love it! This is a big reason why I am still here, and I really appreciate that so thank you!