“I am a great believer in developing students’ own capacity as learners, by harnessing their personal interests and strengths, and developing curriculum around these.”
– Angela Vaughan
Introducing Angela Vaughan: Reading and literacy teacher, advocate for women, and passionate champion for education equality.
Angela Vaughan has always had a diverse set of interests. Her fascination with science led her to start her studies with a degree in Science at the University of Adelaide, many years ago.
“I’ve always had an interest in science and science teaching and the never-ending curiosities that science evokes in people, but at the same time I love language and the power of stories. Even when I studied my first degree I combined science electives with units in children’s literature.”
Before she had finished her degree, she realised that the field of science wasn’t for her. Instead, she switched over to primary teaching at a different college.
She had found her calling, and she hasn’t looked back since.
“I’ve now worked as a teacher in a broad range of schools across South Australia; including a rural and remote area school, and a small, inner-city school in the leafy suburbs of Adelaide.”
After working as a primary teacher for a number of years, she decided she wanted to focus on reading and literacy. She recently completed her Masters of Education (Reading and Literacy) at Torrens University, with the help of a scholarship from the State Government.
Further education is a big investment, particularly if you’re a teacher already in the workforce.
It can be hard to balance work and study, and it’s difficult for any teacher to spend time away from their students. For Angela, when she looks back on her decision, she feels that it was definitely the right one, for two main reasons.
Firstly, she’s now able to implement her teaching programs based on the latest research.
“Up-skilling has been an important part of my teaching development. There have been great advances in the teaching of reading skills, for example, as researchers discover more about the way the human brain works, and the way technologies can interface with learning.
Diagnosing learning difficulties in reading, and then providing interventions that explicitly teach the student skills to overcome that difficulty; these are skill sets that are now based on research that was unavailable when I first began teaching.
My Masters has provided me with learning based on the latest research. It’s provided me with action research skills in order to conduct my own classroom-based research, that is responsive to the ‘here and now’ of the students I am working with.”
Secondly, her further education has enabled her to develop programs specifically for the kids in her school who speak English as a second language.
“The school I am working in presently has children from all over the world. I have gravitated towards working with students from non-English speaking backgrounds, because of the stories they bring and the love of learning they possess.
Language and technical language act as the ‘gatekeepers’, in understanding the specialized learning areas, found in science and other subjects. A Masters in Language specialising in Reading and Literacy means that I can support non-English speaking students in all areas of their learning.”
Angela is also a passionate advocate for education equality, particularly when it comes to having access to technology.
To her, new technologies present exciting opportunities for innovation, engagement and individualised learning in literacy.
“Schools have many challenges as classrooms become more global and technological and students present with greater social issues.
One of the greatest issues I can see in education is the great divide between the social classes in Australia, in having equal access to learning technologies. This is why the Federal Government must fund education on a needs-based model.
Technologies that engage students can reinforce and provide students with extra motivation for reading. At home, students are creating their own YouTube stations and accessing texts from many platforms.
Questioning and negotiating with students as they engage with technology helps them to recognize their own capabilities, and to build upon these.”
Find more information on the Masters of Education (Reading and Literacy) at Torrens University.
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