Kawana Waters State College
A former physiotherapist who team teaches up to 57 Sunshine Coast students at a time and has developed a Perceptual Motor Program which helps Prep to Year 2 pupils learn more efficiently has been named a finalist in state teaching awards.
Tania Cowley’s switch from physiotherapy to teaching has benefited Kawana Waters State College students and staff enormously, with other schools also now enquiring about the successful Perceptual Motor Program (PMP) she has written.
Ms Cowley’s team teaching has also attracted international and national attention with educators from across the world visiting her, and her teaching partner Kathy Hicks’, classroom.
The Year 6 teacher’s outstanding work on the PMP and her teamwork are just some of the reasons she is a finalist for this year’s Queensland College of Teachers (QCT) Excellence in Beginning to Teach Award.
The winner will be announced on 27 October, on Queensland’s World Teachers’ Day.
Ms Cowley said the idea for the PMP was initiated after staff raised concerns about students starting school and showing difficulty with classroom demands, like needing to sit still or visually follow words on a page or even use climbing equipment with sufficient gross motor skills.
“It's important not to forget that the body is the foundation that needs to be accurately working before learning begins – unless students have that control of motor and neurological processes you may as well not teach at all,” Ms Cowley said.
She said she believed there were a variety of reasons students were struggling in these areas, including a societal tendency to “cotton wool” children more than previously, urbanisation and technology.
“We have tweaked it (the PMP) over the last couple of years and more recently during the last couple of weeks, in order to meet the needs of teaching staff and students, but it is working, and the proof is beginning to show in Year 1, Year 2 and Year 3,” Ms Cowley said.
She said she was extremely fortunate to work with her exceptional teamteaching partner.
The two Year 6 classes spend a lot of time in group work and students are encouraged to use collaborative strategies, such as peer justification and peer tutoring, to help cement their understanding of concepts by explaining and justifying these to their peers.
Ms Cowley said she had never regretted the switch from physiotherapy and loves teaching.
“Despite the fact that it is more demanding than any other profession I have worked in, it’s the really challenging times that actually make it so valuable and worthwhile,” she said. "There are not many jobs where you can get such satisfaction, knowing that every day you actually have a positive impact of the lives of young people."
Congratulations Tania on being a finalist.