An internationally accomplished scientist from Germany, Dr Susanne Sprungala is now using her real-world expertise to teach students at Kirwan State High School.
Seeing a need to get students more engaged in a Year 7 class, she undertook a project with the North Queensland Beginning Leaders Program (run by QELi) to create consistent communication strategies and cross-departmental classroom management. Following implementation, the number of behavioural incidences in this class halved and the number of positive acknowledgements doubled.
“She also inspires her colleagues to share her belief that all students can achieve at a high level when supported by capable and caring teachers, creating a shared goal to improve student achievement,” Principal Stephen Baskerville says.
Susanne developed a colour-coded, interactive, notetaking strategy across her junior classes and this, along with other strategies, has led to some impressive results. In 2018, 48 per cent of her Year 7 Science class achieved Very High Achievement (VHA) grades and this past semester 43 per cent of her Year 8 Science class achieved VHAs. In the first semester of 2019, 26 per cent of her Year 12 Biology students achieved VHAs. In all but two of her classes since the start of her career four years ago, 100 per cent of students have received A-C assessments.
Susanne’s leadership project was quickly recognised by her peers as having value to be applied across all Year 7 classes in the school. Furthermore Colin Cutler, Regional Coordinator for Positive Behaviour for Learning and State Schooling, selected it as a model of good practice and presents the study in his school consultations.
“In her classes students develop their scientific inquiry skills, directly drawing on her science and research expertise. She engages students in real-world research and empowers all of her students to become scientists in her classroom,” Stephen says.
She leads the Year 7 Science team consisting of 14 classes, has mentored teachers and led a team of four teachers to help implement Senior curriculum for Biology. She was also central to the integration of the Inquiry for Indigenous Science Students (I2S2) across Junior Science.
The former postdoctoral researcher continues her professional learning too, having attended several workshops on teaching approaches, the psychology of learning and the Indigenous Science Education Program.
She was elected to participate in the Australia-India BRIDGE School Partnerships program with their partner school Shiv Nadar in Gurgaon (in northern India), to develop long-lasting projects with students focussing on sustainability.
She is involved in community events supported by her school, like Colour Run and The Cure Starts Now. Susanne also organises astronomy nights as another learning opportunity for students and a chance to involve parents, with whom she communicates regularly.
Congratulations Susanne on your nomination.