Mrs Brenda Gahan is an experienced educator, skilled in STEAM, and has a passion for supporting students to reach their potential.
This year, Brenda has enjoyed coordinating the SOAR (Gifted ad Talented Programs) within the Primary School. This role provides scope to work with students who are working well above their peers on targeted projects. In particular, examining eSTEAM projects and robotics. The aim is to build depth of concepts and lean into students’ strengths and interests. During Term 2 Brenda was appointed to the role of Acting Dean of Students which provided her the opportunity to connect and create positive relationships with students from Year 4 to Year 6.
- Tell us a little bit about your background.
I have always had a passion for providing quality opportunities to amplify students’ curiosity and love of learning. STEM is a powerful way to leverage students’ love for tinkering, designing, problem-solving and creating. My love for science and mathematics led me to robotics and the NXT robots fifteen or so years ago. The value in the classroom of using a program using visual code provided depth and breadth to the curriculum.
My students love innovating with robotics by; problem-solving, building and creating code and this led me to being involved in RoboCup Qld. RoboCup is a project-oriented educational initiative that supports local, regional, and international robotic events for young students. Students can compete in OnStage (robotics dance), Rescue line, Soccer and Maze. Using robotics to leverage students’ agency and love for design thinking provided scope to learn to be systematic and efficient in their programming. In the many years involved in RoboCup, I have served as the Queensland Chair, OnStage Coordinator and technical Judge and continue to work on the National RoboCup Board; overseeing the National and State competitions. My main role is to collaborate with teachers from across the states and coordinate Robotics resources to maximize student success.
2. What is your approach to education and how do you incorporate technology?
Designing thinking and leveraging students’ empathy are key elements to implementing innovative digital technologies at Grammar. We want students to connect with their learning at a deep level where they collaborate, design, ideate, and innovate. Our aim is for students to be globally mindful, informed, and discerning users of ICT platforms and technological solutions.
3. What opportunities do you see that we can implement at Grammar?
Supporting students and personalising learning is at the core of my teaching philosophy. My previous roles at both Somerville House and Knox Grammar School provided me with the opportunity to collaborate and work with expert teachers to create quality teaching and learning resources and opportunities for students to flourish and find their passions through robotics, STEM and problem-based challenges. Using a strength-based approach, opportunities using digital technologies and access to STEAM-based industry experts created scope for my students to access purposeful opportunities where they could tap into and stretch their thinking. At Somerville House, I reignited the robotics program and created a co-curricular club that after three years, was the largest girls’ robotics program in the nation with over 120 students.
My role at Grammar is to continue that legacy of opportunities for students. Returning to the coast; it is my aim to share my range of teaching and learning experiences by supporting students, staff and the community to leverage robotics, digital technologies, experts and community initiatives within our curriculum. I want students to be inspired and see themselves as change-makers, designers, collaborators, engineers, scientists and future entrepreneurs. There is no limit to what our students can do with the opportunities provided at Grammar.
Professional development always provides the opportunity to learn more about current and future-focused best practice. A few weeks ago, Brenda attended the National STEM conference at the Brisbane Convention Centre. There were a number of takeaways from leading innovators and curriculum designers. During the past month, Brenda has also presented workshops to schools and teachers through RoboCup Australia leading up to the National competition in Adelaide. “My role is to provide feedback on state results and support teams to take their ideas and programs to the next level in OnStage.”
“Inspiration comes from my personal learning network, innovators, scientists, my colleagues and of course, my biggest inspiration comes from our students! I love their curiosity, wonder and thinking.”