The Advertiser’s ‘Meet the Teacher’ with Mrs Ali Thacker

Meet Mrs Ali Thacker, Tatachilla’s Assistant Head of Junior School: Teaching and Learning.

Number of years in the education sector:

Having taught for several years in the public education sector, including as a Teaching and Learning Consultant in Curriculum Division, I have subsequently been an educator for nearly 20 years in Lutheran schools.  

How do you spend your weekends?

I love gardening, attending Poetry evenings, reading and watching my daughters play basketball live-streamed from the USA where they are both studying and playing basketball on scholarships in the NCAA College system. I try and keep Saturdays free for many of these, with Sunday devoted to my church and school preparation.  

Describe a hobby you like to do?

I love writing poetry. It has been a recent endeavour in the last 12 months or so, and has opened up new ways of expressing my thoughts, beliefs, feelings, narratives etc. I challenged myself this year to compete in the SA Summer Poetry Slam and actually did so a few weeks ago. I found it very rewarding and it has opened up a whole world of new friends and experiences.

What was the teaching role you had prior to the leadership role?

I have always worked in the interconnected areas of curriculum and inclusive education. I studied a Bachelor of Special Education and a Masters of Gifted Education so that I could find pathways for all students to engage with a curriculum that is rigorous and challenging, whatever their abilities and interests. So, my previous roles have included Literacy Specialist in Learning Enhancement for Years 4-7 and Curriculum Coordinator at Tatachilla Lutheran College, and Primary Years Program Co-ordinator prior to joining Tatachilla Lutheran College in a previous South Australian International Baccalaureate School.

How do you engage with students in this role? 

I am lucky to be able to engage with students in many capacities. My role enables me to collaboratively plan and support innovative approaches to teaching and learning across the school with regular student contact in four year levels. Other connections include as a basketball coach for a Year 8 student as well as coach for the Years 6/7 Girls’ SAPSASA Basketball Team, and being visible and connected with students on yard duties. But the most important engagement with students is watching and listening to their reflections on their own learning and adjusting the learning program to meet their needs and interests. Being a part of students’ learning journeys is a real privilege.

What is something in the job that you really enjoy?

 I love the opportunity to connect with students all along their learning journey from Reception (with our three classes as of this year) throughout their years at Tatachilla Lutheran College, as well as the growth of the teaching and learning program over that time. There is great joy in assisting our students to develop as learners as they engage with innovative approaches such as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), Digital Technologies, and our exceptional outdoor learning and play spaces, all designed to equip our students with the resilience, flexible thinking, reasoning and problem-solving skills they need to make sense of, and flourish in their world. 

Describe some of the things an Assistant Head has to do.

My role as Assistant Head of Junior School: Teaching and Learning at Tatachilla is best described in our new College strategic focus, “Seek Fresh Horizons”, as inspiring, skilling and assisting students to explore the world of learning to equip themselves for the present and future. To enable this, I support teachers to provide a personalised, innovative and challenging curriculum that is contemporary, well planned, creatively and effectively taught and acknowledges students’ achievements and challenges through careful assessment and feedback. Forming partnerships with parents and the wider community is also an important aspect of this role. I am blessed to work with students and educators across the College to find successful learning pathways for all.

Finish off the sentence: When students go home…

I reflect on the joys and successes of the day and challenges for the next day. Teaching is a calling and I feel privileged to be a part of the teaching team at Tatachilla Lutheran College.

PICTURED: Mrs Ali Thacker with students, Jasper and Mia. 

Download the full article from The Advertiser via the link below. 


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