Getting to Know Esther Claessens

Found in: SCEA News

 

My faith journey

I grew up in a Christian family and was baptised at the age of seventeen.  It was at this time that I felt that God was calling me to make a public commitment. Throughout my childhood I always knew God was with me and that comfort has never left me. As a teenager I attended youth group and then became a leader for a number of years. In that time I learnt many things about God. It was also the time of my life that my faith had really been challenged.

As a Sunday school teacher and then as a youth leader, I knew I enjoyed working with children and teenagers.  However it was not until I took part in a mission trip to Southern China to teach English at summer school that I knew God was calling me to be a teacher.

The SCEA Aspiring Christian Educator Program

The Aspiring Christian Educator Scholarship helped me to become a better Christian teacher as it gave me an opportunity to see firsthand how to teach through a Christian worldview and it provided me with the opportunity to test my thoughts and ideas with a mentor to guide me. I was very blessed with my mentors and I learnt far more than just how to be an efficient teacher from them. Having the additional support of the school community and being so warmly welcomed also made a big difference for my confidence and was a great resource for ideas and alternate teaching styles to learn from.

My first impressions of teaching at a SCEA school

While the difference between university and teaching is vast, its great teaching with other Christian people and having a community of people that surrounds and offers support. Having a time when we all come together as Christians and can share such a foundational life belief together, before going out and teaching gives such a different focus in the day and changes the outlook from meeting just the curriculum to showing the students the greater message and the reason that we are teaching here at a Christian school.

A big highlight for me is having students, at the start of term, who shared a low-view of themselves and their cooking abilities, listening to me when I said that I wouldn’t accept that and that I knew that they would be able to do well.  Then having these same students coming up to me at the end of class and saying that they enjoyed the class and that their recipe turned out really well. Watching my students realising that they made something and it’s “Just like the picture Miss!” is a great highlight for me.

An idea I would love to see implemented

I would love to implement the flipped classroom effectively into my teaching and learning. A flipped classroom is a reversal of traditional teaching, where students gain first exposure to new material outside of class, usually via reading, an online lecture or through videos.  The class time is then used as time to elaborate, clarify, discuss and critique the concepts and ideas.  Homework becomes an important part of the learning process rather than the time where students are trying to consolidate their learning alone.

By using software such as Canvas with the Expert Collaborative eLearning (EXCEL), teachers are able to upload content, share links, videos or assign readings. Quizzes, assessments and collaborations can be assigned to students or groups. The teacher is able to track student progress throughout the journey and check student understanding prior to them coming to class. A flipped classroom also changes how the students participate in learning, moving them from being passive learners to being active learners.

 

Esther can be contacted via esther.claessens@southernhills.wa.edu.au