This year is Jay’s first year at the School. It follows four years at Sydney Grammar School where he taught Year 6. Prior to that, Jay spent four years in Tokyo, Japan, where he was developing the curriculum for the Japanese International Education Centre. He was also teaching and mentoring other teachers.
Jay, who is a Christ Church old boy, said his Year 6 classroom was very much an interactive space where opinions were invited. “It’s important for the boys to express themselves, and develop the skills to express these opinions intelligently,” Jay explained. “This is partly through the tone of the room and partly through the learning process.”
He described the tone of his classroom as respectful and supportive. “The boys are extremely considerate and encouraging of each other,” he said. “They’re eager to share ideas and listen to other ideas. Upper primary really offers the setting for that to occur.”
Jay said he set a lot of challenges for the boys, where they had to think and report on their findings. “Year 6 is a lot about developing problem solving skills and being able to apply them across the board,” he explained. “It’s about establishing the skills to set them up for high school, with a big focus on responsibility and initiative. I hope that those lessons resonate with them not just throughout high school, but throughout their lives.
“I really enjoy taking the boys from the known into the unknown and watching how they respond. I love seeing their surprise when they’ve managed to achieve something on their own that they thought they couldn’t. You can really see that growth in confidence and the ability to take risks. I want them to hit high school with confidence, not be overwhelmed with the mystique of it all.”
As a teacher of boys, Jay’s greatest enjoyment comes from the classroom banter. “That’s the element that changes with each group of boys,” he said. “Each individual brings a different element and you get to experience those golden moments when the class is ‘gasbagging’ and those funny comments come out.”
He said he particularly enjoyed teaching upper primary. “The honesty is still there. They’re older and are able to have really great dialogue about all manner of subjects and they haven’t yet lost their focus to girls. I just really feel they are at their peak. Their potential is there and they have a genuine interest in so many things.”
In terms of teaching, Jay said it was more about the process rather than the content of the curriculum. “I don’t think it is too difficult to teach. It’s about doing it in a way that gives the kids something – and this is often the skills and the process rather than the content. I think you’re succeeding at teaching when the kids don’t even realise they’re learning – they’re too busy enjoying themselves.”