From the Deputy Principal
I am fortunate to work with staff who are dynamic, highly committed educators, dedicated to exploring best teaching practices and genuinely interested in the welfare of each student entrusted to their care. Over the coming terms, I hope you enjoy learning a little more about the members of the Teaching and Learning Committee as we profile different staff each fortnight. Thank you to Frau Hickman for being our first cab off the rank!
Frau Hickman im Fokus!
Favourite Things to Do : Travelling, going out to dinner, the movies
Down Time : SBS on demand: Scandi Noir
Favourite Food : Raclette
Favourite Sport : Tennis
Favourite OS destination : Berlin, Czech countryside
Other Interests : History, cooking
Recent Movie Favourites : The Death of Stalin, Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Favourite Books : Wolf Hall, Der Medicus
Recommended Viewing : Louka Parry on Learning Languages Tedx talk:
“Words can change the world: how language learning deepens connection”
What led to your interest in German and Germany?
I loved Year 8 German. It was the first time I had the chance to learn a language and I adored Frau Witcomb. She left us in Year 9 and I continued with German through the Open Access College. My grandmother is a ‘Barossa Deutsche’ so my mother was also exerting some gentle pressure to continue. There were two great advantages of being the only language student in the College; I could procrastinate and ‘hang out’ with older students in the library, and I could receive the book prize for German every year!
After Year 11, I went on a 12 month student exchange to Germany. Looking back, it was a courageous decision, we were from a small farming community on the Southern Yorke Peninsula. and no one in my family had travelled overseas at that time. Not surprisingly, it was one of the most defining and best experiences of my life. In many ways, the connections I made and opportunities that have been available to me due to this experience have shaped my life.
Did you always want to become a teacher?
Teaching was something I had always thought about, and in the end it just seemed a natural progression. After school I completed a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies, majoring in German and then a Bachelor of Education, majoring in Languages Education and with a minor in Humanities.
When we were little we were always playing schools and as the oldest I was always the teacher. Now I can’t believe my sister and brother sat through it! I’m sure I was stricter then than I am now!
How has your career progressed?
Immediately after my Bachelor of Education I was awarded a Goethe Institut scholarship to work as a language assistant in Berlin for 10 months. This was another amazing experience, Berlin has so much depth. I worked 4 days a week and never ran out of museums, places or sights to visit.
Upon my return from Germany I was successfully appointed by Christian Brothers College. This was a great place to launch my career, languages were quite strong at that point and although challenging at times, I had a wonderful time there. I led an exchange of 20 boys to Germany one year, and with hindsight I think I must have been crazy, but it really was a rewarding experience. I also won another language course scholarship during that time and enjoyed this two month opportunity to obtain a ‘Oberstufe’ qualification at the Goethe Institut in Prien am Chiemsee.
In my spare time, I squeezed in a wedding and the birth of my two children, whilst concurrently completing a Graduate Certificate in Languages education.
While on maternity leave, I worked in the Scotch Boarding House as a ‘boarding mum’ and really enjoyed working with the girls. When the position at Pulteney was advertised it was perfect timing and I applied. The rest they say is history!
What have been the hi-lights of working at Pulteney?
I’ve had some amazing classes during my time here, both MS and senior; but my Year 11/12 classes are always very special to me. Many students I’ve known since they were only 12, many have either been on exchange or travelled with me on the German trip - so we share a lot of common experiences. Importantly, I understand what they are going through with the German grammar! There is genuine mutual respect and affection, and lots of laughter. I know most of their parents well enough that I feel very comfortable calling if I feel something isn’t right.
I also love working with the Languages Team. There is a lot of passion in our small faculty and I have been particularly proud of our work on the Languages Week, the introduction of our new primary Mandarin program and the existing language and culture trips to Japan and Germany. It is lovely in the office to often hear at least three languages at times and sometimes four when Minmin tries to teach us some Mandarin!
What are you excited about?
There are a quite few things at the moment. The new MS building is providing a lot of opportunity to do things differently and we’ve recently had the opportunity to combine a few classes together and pilot some new activities. It has also motivated our languages team to update our IT skills and we have been teaching ourselves all sorts of new tricks! I think the students always appreciate our extra effort. At the end of August, I am visiting Box Hill School in Victoria, which has a very innovative and successful languages program. I will also represent SA at the National German teachers Meeting and attend the National German teachers Conference. The Japanese Trip leaves soon which is also exciting and such a wonderful experience for our students.
What would be your best career advice to a beginning teacher?
One the smartest things I did as a beginner teacher was to join the SA German Teachers Association as a committee member. I have got to know many amazing teachers who are now friends and I am very well networked within the German teaching community. When I need advice or resources all I have to do is send out an email and I have all the help I need. For the last five year I have been the treasurer. I laugh sometimes that I have ended up with this job – I still regularly ring my Dad for advice regarding percentages at report time!
What does language learning mean to you?
For me language is about making connections. I want our students to understand that there is so much more to second language learning than the actual ability to be able to hold a conversation in another language. In essence, language and culture are ONE, intertwined and inseparable. When a student learns a language they may also be learning a new culture, but they are also learning and reflecting on their own culture: their national culture, local culture and their family’s culture. Cultural competence, empathy, sensitivity, and understanding one’s own identity, are all valued ‘knock on’ effects of language learning. As students navigate their way through a variety of workplaces with colleagues from all over the world, with vastly different life experiences, they will need impeccable people skills; a strong understanding that their world view is not unique; an understanding of diversity and a set of soft skills that will enable them to bridge the divide that technology cannot reconcile. By teaching students to communicate in another language in a culturally appropriate manner, we are developing transferable life skills to successfully negotiate and form meaningful and genuine connections across any culture, be that a workplace culture or otherwise.