Nathan King St John's Anglican College, Forest Lake
Named 2016 Teacher of the Year at international innovation awards, Nathan King has inspired students to set up their own classroom businesses, political parties, stock market and court rooms.
They’ve even worked on solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict via an app in the classroom. His entertaining – and highly successful – approach to teaching, along with his co-leadership of the “Future Thinkers” program at St John’s Anglican College at Forest Lake, has seen the English teacher nominated for a Queensland College of Teachers Excellence in Teaching Award.
The former Canadian political campaign worker says he finds straight teaching “a little dull”, so he strives to make his lessons entertaining and student-directed.
“You are not there to be an entertainer, but to some extent your class should be entertaining,” Nathan says.
“I just try and put myself in the mindset of a student – if I am sitting in my class, would I be waiting for this class to be over?”
When he taught Year 7 he set up a behaviour management system involving classroom fake cash, which students could use to set up their own “businesses”.
The businesses evolved into a “stock market”, which was used in maths lessons to teach probability theory and percentages.
A classroom political and court system was also created, providing students with basic knowledge about such systems.
Students could take each other to court over infringements, with court cases taking place at lunchtime.
“I’d have students in other classes outside the door and there was a student “Immigration Minister” who said ‘You can come in and watch proceedings, but you can’t work here’,” Nathan says.
This year he won the Teacher of the Year award at the US Conrad Spirit of Innovation Challenge, in which a group of his pupils won their category in the international competition.
The challenge is one of two competitions entered by St John’s Anglican College students through their Future Thinkers program, which encourages students to develop entrepreneurial, problem-solving, creative and critical thinking skills.
QCT Director John Ryan thanks Mr King for his innovative teaching and his dedication to student success.
The winners of the QCT Excellence in Teaching Awards will be announced on 27 October, on the night before Australia celebrates World Teachers' Day.