Eliza Gordon’s work with her students at Townsville Community Learning Centre – A State Special School (TCLC) is setting them up for future successes.
The 2023 Excellence in Beginning to Teach recipient came to the profession after working as a teacher aide which led Eliza to completing her Bachelor’s Degrees in Special Education (Primary) and Disability Studies part-time over six years while working full time and raising her two children.
“I really enjoyed the (teacher aide) work that I was doing, and I felt like that I was helping to make a positive change in the child's life. I then wanted to have my own class.”
At TCLC, Eliza teaches Years 7-10 students, all of whom have intellectual disabilities. Many of her students also have additional disabilities including physical impairments, autism, with the majority being non-verbal communicators. Eliza’s commitment to making learning engaging for all capabilities, in addition to her strong relationships with parents and carers, has contributed to a rise in student attendance.
“The best thing about teaching is knowing that you were a part of the student’s progress and seeing how far they have come throughout the year. Sometimes they might have not progressed academically, but they have learnt a new self-care skill or are now communicating their wants and needs.”
Eliza has been instrumental in supporting parents and carers in their interactions with the NDIS and other supports, including occupational and physiotherapists. The impacts on one such student has seen them increase their attendance at school and saw them engaging with other students in the playground for the first time.
“Connection with a student is key: making an effort to find out who they are and what is going on their lives is important. The student needs to see that you are a cheerleader for their success.”
In the spirit of professional collaboration, Eliza is always willing to seek advice and guidance from her more experienced colleagues, teacher aides, and other support staff to upskill herself.
“It is nice to have a teacher bestie to debrief with when the day has not turned out too well. Having an amazing and supportive teacher aide, who works with you as a team, makes the worst day bearable.”