Science teacher Janet Elliot was recently recognised by the BHP Foundation Science and Engineering Awards for her commitment to teaching.

When Janet Elliot first stepped into the classroom to teach, the Vietnam War raged on and humans had just set foot on the Moon. It was 1969 and a TV set was likely the most technology Janet could use to engage her students.

More than half a century later and these days, Janet is a Kindergarten science teacher at Farrer Primary School in the ACT. She’s taught pre-school through to Year 6, as well as lecturing at university. Janet has also developed science resources and delivered professional learning programs for primary school teachers. And now she’s been recognised as a finalist in the BHP Foundation Science and Engineering Awards.

Science teacher Janet Elliot.

Science teacher Janet Elliot.

Making the grade

“I have always loved teaching, discovering ways to engage students and observing their learning development,” Janet explained.

Janet said that in any classroom there are students with wide-ranging abilities, interests and experiences.

“If we are going to move them all forward in skill and conceptual development, we need to cater for these varying factors and their preferred learning styles – whether that is visual, auditory, kinaesthetic or physical,” Janet said.

“It is through integrating teaching, learning and ways of thinking across subjects that a deeper understanding of concepts develops.”

Passion project

Janet’s passion for teaching has also seen her engage with colleagues. This has been to develop improved content, resources and approaches.

“It opens up new ideas, methods, resources and network opportunities with colleagues. It enriches our teaching and extends the learning opportunities for students.”

Janet believes it is vital to showcase the work that teachers do. Mainly, because it helps inspire and encourage all teachers to do amazing things.

Pro tips

When asked what her advice for her peers might be, Janet said it’s about collaboration.

“Collaborate with colleagues, always listen to your students to discover their strengths, weaknesses, fears, and interests. Take every opportunity you can to view the work of successful teachers and students. Talk to them about what motivates and leads them to their amazing ideas!”

Janet is a remarkable teacher. Through her holistic teaching approach, she continues to break barriers teaching in STEM. Our congratulations to Janet, and all the teachers recognised through the BHP Foundation Science and Engineering Awards.

The BHP Foundation Science and Engineering Awards recognise and support the outstanding contributions made by classroom teachers in science education. Proudly supported by CSIRO and the Australian Science Teachers Association (ASTA), we are sharing the stories of the 2021 Teacher Finalists.

Here at CSIRO, we’ve always been avid supporters of STEM teaching in schools.