Anna Ritzema is a passionate STEM educator, working in rural and regional Western Australia. In 2020 she was named WA Science and Engineering Teacher, having led her school to the finals of the Governor’s STEM awards and becoming a Teacher Development program for STEM and Science. She was awarded the School Plus 2021 Teaching Fellowship. Anna currently works at the Polly Farmer foundation and is an advocate for young girls and Women in STEM. She was a finalist for the Director General’s Women of the Year 2020.
In our conversation, we talk about inquiry-based learning, and how we can guide students through their curiosity, and help them to succeed.
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[00:01:00] Anna’s attraction to education.
[00:02:14] The relationships that we build as teachers and the impact that it has.
[00:03:51] Encouraging and cultivating engagement and instilling self-believe and confidence.
[00:05:17] Balancing passion for STEM subjects and the fear of getting it wrong.
[00:08:42] Making teaching STEM about the journey and not just hitting the objectives.
[00:10:52] Peer learning and learning to teach is important at all ages.
[00:14:08] Incorporate mindfulness in the teaching and learning experience.
[00:14:56] Education systems, modes of learning, and developmental stages.
[00:18:14] Empowering teachers to be flexible within the system and in the context of individual development.
[00:20:06] KPIs of the teachers don’t always correspond to the intrinsic value of the experiences and learning development of the students.
[00:22:58] Anna’s journey and initial reluctance to enter STEM.
[00:23:54] Discovering a love for the analytical side of linguistics.
[00:24:38] Teaching at Dragon School and having the opportunity to hone her craft.
[00:26:17] Taking a position as a science teacher and finding she actually enjoyed this.
[00:27:17] Science is magic.
[00:32:23] Teachers provide direction and can help keep dreams alive even when there isn’t an obvious path.
[00:34:03] The privilege of being able to see your potential right in front of you.
[00:34:55] Providing opportunities to connect with possible industries and futures.
[00:37:37] Virtual STEM academies and the technology to bring the wider world closer to home.
[00:43:46] Enquiry-based learning.
[00:47:49] Polly Farmer Foundation and their programs empowering indigenous students and incorporating the knowledge of the First Scientists into what we do now.
[00:51:15] On problem solving and learning about failure.
[00:54:59] Crafting learning narrative, connecting to the emotion and being able to reflect on the process.
[00:56:30] Building that relationship so the rest will follow.
[00:58:24] Learning that indirect routes can be fun and just as rewarding.
[01:00:09] Not being “the sage on the stage, but being the guide from the side”.
[01:01:17] Anna’s key observations teaching in such a wide variety of environments.
[01:01:48] “Every child will make progress in my care… and every child has impacted my journey.”
[01:06:18] Always looking for what a child can do.
[01:07:40] Believing in yourself and each other is powerful.
[01:09:53] Bonus Question 1: What hobby or interest do you have that is most unrelated to your field of work?
[01:12:21] Bonus Question 2: Which childhood book holds the strongest memories for you?
[01:14:35] Perspective on others’ experiences.
[01:17:59] Bonus Question 3: What advice you would give someone who wants to do what you do? Or what advice should they ignore?
[01:18:07] It’s about passion.
[01:19:03] Do not doubt your power as an educator.
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