French lessons designed for Gold Coast students have been named one of iTunes U’s top ten Standout Courses, with teachers from all over the world downloading the course.
The inspirational St Hilda’s School French teacher who wrote the iTunes U course, Majda Benzenati, is also paving the way for curriculum change across the state, as one of the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority (QCAA) expert writers for the redevelopment of the Languages syllabuses, specifically French. She is also an Economics teacher and one of QCAA’s District Review Panel Chairs of Economics.
Mrs Benzenati has gone from not understanding English when she arrived in Australia in 1995 to being one of the first Lead Teachers nationally certified by Independent Schools Queensland.
Her insatiable energy and passion for making a difference for her students are just some of the reasons she is a finalist in this year’s Queensland College of Teachers (QCT) Excellent Leadership in Teaching and Learning Award. English is Mrs Benzenati’s fourth language after Moroccan, Arabic and French.
“I used to record all my lectures and I would go home and listen again and try to understand them,” Mrs Benzenati said of studying in Australia while she also learnt English. “It builds resilience — to have the grit to do things – I am trying to pass that on to my students. I want them to believe in themselves — if I can do this, they can do it, there is no question.”
Mrs Benzenati has seven iTunes U courses online through the St Hilda’s School iTunes U account and another four that she is working on. Although the courses were written to help St Hilda’s students outside of class time, the lessons have become a hit worldwide. She also presented the benefits of the iTunes U platform as a presenter at the inaugural World Congress for Modern Languages in 2015.
To keep her students and St Hilda’s at the forefront of curriculum changes in Queensland Mrs Benzenati has also ensured she is heavily involved in curriculum changes, often working through her holidays to complete QCAA work. Since July 2017 she has also been the St Hilda’s Head of Year 12, offering pastoral care to almost 120 students.
“I think teaching has given me a lot. I don’t have a family here … I think that this profession has given me an extended family; my students are part of my life and I love learning,” she said. “We succeed at making the greatest impact when we become the architects of our students’ learning and they become the engineers of their learning.”
The QCT Excellence in Teaching Awards are the only state government awards which recognise registered teachers from all schooling sectors, and the early childhood sector, across all subjects state-wide. Winners will be announced on October 25, on the eve of World Teachers’ Day celebrations in Australia.
Congratulations Mrs Benzenati on being named a finalist.