My first week at the Australian Science and Mathematics School was very confronting, exhausting and eye-opening. Having attended an Anglican school for 13 years and done my previous placement at another school, ASMS was a very different scene and for this week I was in sensory and cognitive overload. I spent most of my first week taking in as much information as I could about the school’s operations and getting to know the students I will be working with over the next 8 weeks. As I spent more time at ASMS, I became more comfortable with the operations and discovered that all the staff are very supportive. It felt like I had many more than two mentor teachers!

ASMS has a very interdisciplinary approach to education and learning, especially in Year 10 and Year 11 where students are combined into three central studies (CS). I am taking the Earth and Cosmos (EAC) central study which I am very excited about because Astrophysics is my area of expertise and I’m generally very passionate about anything to do with Space Science. During my first week at ASMS, I am began to teach the Maths portion of EAC because my mentor, Marcus, has expertise in English and Media and is comfortable for me to start taking Maths straight away. Throughout EAC in term 3, I will also be required to teach some Space Science related to exoplanets and a novel study for English. I am more than comfortable teaching Science, however, I believe the English lessons will be an opportunity to challenge myself and come away with some very good resources and experiences.

At ASMS, I am also taking Student Inquiry Project (SIP)/Research Project (RP). I am quite excited about this since I just came out of two years of research from my Masters in Astrophysics with a thesis to show. I believe that my experience and knowledge in research, and also having been the second year to complete a Stage 2 Research Project in 2011/2012, will be valuable for my students. Since I did RP very early on, I am excited to see how it has changed and developed and the new capabilities and performance standards for current students. At ASMS, the Year 10’s are required to complete a SIP which is a great way to prepare them for RP in Year 11.

There are weekly meetings for each central study that all teachers in that study participate in. I believe this is really valuable because teachers are given a set time to be able to plan, collaborate and moderate with each other’s support. These meetings are really useful for learning new techniques and pedagogies for a range of subjects and accessing many valuable resources for future planning. This is also a great opportunity to create really diverse and rich lesson and unit plans with the help of so many professionals. Collaboratively creating assessment tasks ensures that all teachers are on the same page when presenting the task to their students and also know exactly what to look for when marking. Since the central studies are interdisciplinary, a close working team of experts from a variety of fields is valuable when marking and moderating summative assessment. Instant support and feedback is available from experts across English, Science and Mathematics.

Written by Tash Atkins