Volunteer bulletin November 2021

Teaching in a mask | Satisfaction survey results | Meet Cathy, Sandra, Emma and Cemine | Seeking video editor | CST highlights | Renewals | End-of-year dinners | Farewell Robyn Youie |

What a term it’s been! Just as we thought that (with children back in school without ethics classes) we could focus on preparing for 2022, we were asked to return to teaching. As it turned out, only a small percentage of schools decided to go ahead with SRE/SEE, for the majority it proved too hard to organise so close to the end of the year. Only around 50 schools went back, but we now have some first-person accounts of teaching in masks, which you can read below.

For those of you who trained in term 2 and 3 and have had very little, if any, teaching practice, it’s essential that you enrol now in your Skills Tune-up ready for 2022.

You’ll find all your renewal info in our volunteer portal EVIE – and that reminds us that EVIE turned one last week! Congratulations to Carey Francis, our Volunteering Manager who successfully introduced and supported our EVIE (Salesforce) system through the year. She was recently joined by Ian Munro as our part-time Salesforce administrator, helping us resolve technical issues and improve processes for you.

Satisfaction survey = high satisfaction!
Firstly, big thanks to those who completed our annual satisfaction survey in September.

We use this survey to ask ‘how are we doing?’ and ‘what can we do better?’ Results showed a high level of satisfaction, which is pleasing – but of course we also listen to your comments to see what we can do better.Some of the dissatisfaction expressed was with particular schools, rather than Primary Ethics – often a lack of support or communication in the school.
In previous surveys, class management was cited as the biggest concern for volunteers, but that is now down to 7.5%. Hopefully that’s due to our efforts in this area: increased training and support from the Classroom Support Team, with EVIE facilitating easy booking of CST requests and regular post-class reports. All these activities mean volunteers are better supported earlier on in their teaching journey.

More social events was mentioned by around 5%. With our new Area and Development Managers now in place, we hope to be able to facilitate more local socials next year (fingers crossed re the pandemic of course).

We included an optional conference question in the survey and there is still great interest in holding one. Notably there is now an increased interest in this perhaps being a virtual event. We’re holding that thought for later next year.

Teaching in masks
We asked some teachers who returned to the classroom this term to let us know what teaching in a mask is like.

Gary: Teaching with a mask is not ideal, but my voice projects sufficiently to overcome any problems with the children hearing what I’m saying.

The children seemed completely at ease with it. Every other adult at the school wears one. As a prelude, we did discuss vaccination, mask wearing, etc, just to clear the air.

Melanie: It actually went better than I was expecting. Students were very well behaved considering how many there were! We didn’t have enough chairs so some students sat on the floor in front of those on chairs.

The mask wasn’t too much of an issue, I think the students are used to seeing teachers wearing them anyway. I normally use a lot of facial expressions when the students are talking, to show interest, etc, the mask prohibits that to some extent.

We’ll all be teaching in masks next year, so familiarise yourself with our tips >>

Get 2022-ready
Make sure you complete the Volunteer Renewal program by end of January 2022, so that we can include you on your school’s Authorised Volunteer List. You’ll only get access to lesson materials when you’ve finished the renewal program (in EVIE), including:

Skills Tune-Up – for teachers who completed their training in Term 2 or 3 2021
A short Child Protection refresher training course
Our 2022 Policies course – what’s new and what’s changed.

Meet our new Area Managers – and a Development Manager too
Area Managers support teachers and coordinators in their roles, assist with recruitment and support schools so they can maintain and grow Ethics programs. Our new managers would love to hear from you – you can email them at FirstName.LastName@primaryethics.com.au

Sandra Banta: I’ve volunteered with Primary Ethics since my son started kindy in 2016, as a Regional Manager and ethics teacher at several schools in the Sydney North Shore region. I continue teaching ethics at my son’s school in Lindfield.

I joined the Primary Ethics team in July as Area Manager for the Regional North and West and Rural North Directorates. I’m loving getting to know the wonderful volunteers in this beautiful part of the world. I now get the opportunity to do more of the things I enjoy, for a program I’m passionate about – winning!

I can’t wait to return to the classroom next year and once again hear the profound insights and thoughtful reasons from the children in my ethics class.

Emma Doran: I was excited to volunteer as a teacher – and subsequently coordinator – when my first son began school in 2016. Early this year I began working for Primary Ethics on the Helpdesk and mid-year moved into the Area Manager role, looking after schools in the Sutherland Shire, Chipping Norton and Western Sydney and rural areas such as Albury. My favourite part of the role is speaking to our volunteers.

My two boys are growing up very quickly and still enjoy ethics. Developing critical thinking and understanding different perspectives are going to be such important skills to help them navigate social media and confront big issues such as climate change.

Cathy Chase: I’ve been volunteering as an ethics teacher and coordinator for the past five years, starting with my daughter’s kindergarten class and never looking back! I now look after a number of schools across the north of Metro Sydney.

I work for Primary Ethics because I want people to understand themselves and to be able to understand one another, even if they don’t think the same way. I think it’s so important for people to have open, honest discussions about the things that matter. In the fast-paced world we live in, our program creates the space to pause, reflect and connect with each other and our shared humanity. I strongly believe in connecting kids with their own hearts and minds, so that they can walk into tomorrow knowing who they are and what they stand for.

Cemine Sezgin – Development Manager
I joined Primary Ethics as an ethics teacher at my children’s school in 2020. When the opportunity came up to join the organisation to launch ethics programs in new schools, I didn’t hesitate to apply. I’m working to introduce ethics at schools in northern and western NSW.

Although it has been quite a challenging time due to lockdown, I have certainly enjoyed getting to know new volunteers and supporting them through induction. Being part of an organisation which has a great future impact excites me every day.

I was born in Bulgaria and have lived in Turkey, Germany and the USA before moving to Sydney in 2011. We have two children, an 11-year-old son and seven-year-old daughter.

Farewell Robyn Youie
Robyn Youie will step down as Regional Manager North Sydney at the end of this term.

Robyn says she has been in the role for seven years, but we calculate it as actually eight. Either way she is our longest serving RM and incredibly successful, with ECs at each school and classes across all stages. She says this is because North Sydney has lots of willing volunteers compared with other regions, which might be true, but she has worked very hard to bring volunteers together into a team with regular social events (which have been heaps of fun).

Thank you and best wishes Robyn.

Seeking video editor with bite!
We’re seeking a video editor to work with us on our next series of Bites (our short videos based on Primary Ethics lessons), to help us take them to the next level.

This will be a contract role to produce 40 x 10-15 minute Bites over the next 12 months.

Each Bite contains multiple images, videos and sound recordings. This role will involve compiling those components into the final product, including producing frame by frame animations from existing illustration sets. You will need experience using Adobe products or similar.

For more information, contact Liz Rushton.

Lesson formats and curriculum
Two Macquarie University social science students recently did an internship with our Curriculum team, creating and analysing the survey that looked at the best way to present and format our lesson materials. Special thanks to the 200 teachers who took part in that study – the results were impressive. We’re now updating the lesson materials in response to your input, ready for use in Term 1 next year.

We’ve also collected 1523 pieces of your feedback on the curriculum this year, which has given us a rich insight into what is working well and the opportunities for improvement. Thank you to all those teachers who shared feedback in their post-class reports and via EVIE, plus the 7.5% of respondents who commented on the curriculum in our annual satisfaction survey. As a result we’ve made updates to 24 topics and will continue that process next year.

CST highlights
2021 has been a year to remember for our Classroom Support Team:

  • 220 ethics teachers contacted and supported
  • 60 ethics volunteers participated in the Coffee with CST zoom workshops. Lively discussions on teacher persona, classroom management, fine-tuning commonly used strategies and managing larger class sizes
  • CST members Liz and Mike joined the High school Pilot and worked alongside the 12 ethics teachers delivering brand new stage 4 lessons to year 7 students
  • Kerry and Meryl joined the team
  • Diana came onboard mid-year in the new role of Classroom Support Officer
  • The team took on the new technical skills needed to integrate EVIE into our work and can now provide targeted support for teachers who request support, new teachers and sole teachers in schools
  • The team developed new resources such as tips for wearing face-masks while teaching.

Join the Team: We’re expanding our team to 20 to meet the needs of our growing community of ethics teachers in 2022. And we want Primary Ethics teachers, coordinators and regional managers to have the opportunity to be part of this. This role will suit you if you have about 15.5 hours a school term to give and can commit for a minimum of 12 months.

Ending the year
Only two more weeks of school to go, fortunately we’re now able to hold some end-of-year events, like the Rainbow St teachers from Sydney’s inner west who had dinner together recently.

We hope you are also able to connect with your local team to mark the end of a bumpy but productive year.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, our Helpdesk is here to help – please email or call (02) 8068 7752.

Our Facebook Volunteers group is also good way to stay in touch.
Thank you so much for everything you bring to Primary Ethics.
The Primary Ethics team