Impact: Emerging Leaders
Acting Leading Teacher, Roxburgh Park Primary Scool
Laura Finnigan has always wanted to be a teacher:
"I loved primary school. I loved high school. A couple of teachers had a really positive impact on me. I even did my year 10 work experience at my old primary school with my old Prep teacher Sue Deane."
Majoring in PE and student wellbeing at Latrobe University in Bendigo, Laura has been working in her dream job as a teacher for over 10 years in Melbourne's outer northern suburbs.
For the last 12 months, she has been Acting Leading Teacher at Roxburgh Park Primary School (fondly known as 'Roxy'), providing coaching, advice and support in coaching and pedagogy, digital technology, numeracy, assessment and reporting. She has also been working on a whole school approach to implementing
High Impact Teaching Strategies (HITS) including Structuring Lessons, Explicit Teaching and Questioning.
Critical to her success in applying HITS has been the implementation of a teacher focused coaching and feedback model, where teachers observe and record each-others classes on video throughout the year, providing feedback and advice on how to refine and improve their teaching practice.
Bastow's Impact: Emergin Leaders program, Laura was able to refine her approach to feedback and coaching and share these learnings with her peers back at Roxy:
"Through Bastow, I developed a greater understanding of the different ways in which people like to receive feedback... I had always assumed that people liked to receive feedback in the same way I do!" she laughs.
"When I took this knowledge back to school, and was able to have more informed conversations with my coachees and adjust my way of giving feedback to suit their individual needs and preferences."
Understanding and meeting the unique needs of the individual is something Laura practices every day, providing support and leadership to Roxy's diverse and multicultural school community. Roxy students come from a wide range of backgrounds, with more than 35 languages spoken at home. At the school entrance there are welcome signs in 27 different languages - a celebration of the school's diversity and commitment to inclusion.
For Laura, working closely with students and families from refugee and asylum seeker background has had a deeply profound impact on her approach to teaching and life. For the last three years, she has been an active member of Teachers for Refugees - a Victorian network of teachers committed to promoting the welfare of students and families from asylum seeker and refugee backgrounds.
Laura also volunteers in the school's Community Hub, which provides a range of supports to community members including English lessons, cooking lessons, gardening and walking clubs, as well as help with identifying and connecting with local services.
Laura's passion for developing her own leadership and teaching skills is also having a profound impact on her students and school community:
"One of my Grade 2 students found school very difficult. He really enjoyed Math but struggled with English and also struggled to make friends. I worked really hard to develop a differentiated program for him that addressed both his literacy and social needs. I also improved communication between myself and his family, who spoke little English. Years later, I still talk to his mother in the schoolyard and he is doing so well. He still loves Math, his writing is amazing and he has a core friendship group. It really warms the heart."