Julia Boland our Head of Senior Secondary
Working alongside students on the Brisbane Street Campus as Head of Senior Secondary and as part of our whole School team, Julia Boland might be a fresh face when it comes to working at Calrossy but she brings with her a longstanding drive and commitment to students.
Julia finds joy and energy from working alongside people, so when she was looking for a career change from professional golf, Julia knew that she needed to be connected with people and work in an environment that sought continual growth. Teaching was a natural fit for Julia's passion and skillset.
We sat down with Julia and asked the questions that count, finding out what drives her to teach and how to motivate our students daily.
So Julia, how many years have you been at Calrossy and working in teaching?
This is my first year at Calrossy. I have been working within this industry for six years.
I have a Bachelors Degree in Exercise Physiology (Applied) from Sydney University. I then continued in this field and received my Masters in Science (Clinical Exercise Physiology) from Texas A&M University. I have a Graduate Diploma in Education (University of Southern Queensland) and a Graduate Certificate in Theology (Brisbane School of Theology).
Tell us what initially attracted you to teaching?
I think I was drawn to the idea of being able to work alongside young people in a team environment.
Tell us about your classroom setup and teaching environment.
There are two principles that underpin my teaching environment. Firstly, employing a growth mindset and secondly applying reflective practice. These principles are both implicit and explicit in my classroom. I seek to model this in my own practice as well as invite students to reflect on previous growth to provide meaningful examples of their capacity to learn.
I like to be engaged and enjoy my teaching. I know that seems like an obvious statement, but I think if I am actively thinking and improving and looking for ways to engage my students my classes will enjoy learning. This is probably why I love teaching Maths - I want students to be excited about coming to Maths.
Lesson Plans! We know it's part of the profession but what is your favourite type to create?
Finding the perfect amount of stretch. When you walk into a classroom like this you might find students working independently, or in small groups, problem solving. Students might be out of their chairs talking to a colleague (fellow student) they might be at the board working out a long problem. Students are achieving the right amount of success to motivate them, and the right amount of challenge to stay stimulated.
What excites you about doing what you do?
"Students - we have amazing young people. I am constantly amazed at our young adults capacity for curiosity and desire for social justice. I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity to speak into their lives."
Everyone needs mentors and supports, who has guided you in being an effective teacher?
To identify a singular person would be impossible. I have learnt from my own teachers, my colleagues - maybe my biggest teachers have been my students. Very early in my career I started to receive feedback on my teaching through student surveys. The positive and "negative" feedback has shaped my practice and (I hope) demonstrated a willingness to seek and apply feedback.
And inspiration? Is there someone that inspires you to grow?
This is a hard question for me. I really enjoy reading autobiographies so I am heavily influenced by a number of athletes and theologians/missionaries in particular. However, if I turn my teacher brain on, I love the work of Carol Dweck who is a professor at Stanford University who has developed our understanding of 'growth mindsets' based on the science of neuro-plasticity. Her research and book (Mindsets) has informed my understanding on our brain’s capacity to learn and grow and the concept of "raw talent".
Looking at the wider community, do you like to encourage the involvement of Parents with Student learning?
My experience tells me that schools work best in partnership. Partnership with home and school, and students and their teachers.
If you could encourage just one trait in your students, what would you hope to inspire?
Great question. Ultimately my prayer is that all students would evaluate the teaching of Jesus in the Bible and what it means for their life. Beyond this (and because of these truths) I would hope that all Calrossy students have the graduate attributes of empathy, curiosity and resilience.
Looking at challenges. What has been the most difficult challenge of your career?
Challenging questions - and consequently an ambiguous answer. There are some decisions that educators make that are black and white - but due to the inherently human nature of education, most decisions that I make are grey. I seek to mitigate this by being a value-based decision maker - but it's rare that there is a " 100% right decision" made.
As the new Head of Calrossy Senior Secondary, what do you see as the strengths of Calrossy and its unique structure of learning?
Obviously, I was aware of the Diamond model before starting at Calrossy and I was excited to have distinct age and stage appropriate learning and increased formal student leadership opportunities throughout the school.
Having been here almost three terms there is one thing that absolutely stands out at Senior Secondary. Having Year 10-12 on a dedicated campus near in proximity to the TAFE, community and a range of industries means that we can really target our approach specifically for young adults. Practically this permeates everything that we do on Brisbane Street. Our students run our assemblies; they speak into the activities we do as a school, and they work alongside their teachers to pursue their interest. Students have more autonomy over their subject choices leading to increased ownerships. This approach means our Senior Secondary campus is a pathway for young people to better understand themselves, develop their interest and ultimately prepare them for their next step and beyond.