Maree Timms - Galen College

Maree Timms counts herself lucky to have chosen teaching as her lifelong profession.

It’s a job that has taken her around the world to visit schools in Finland, Iceland, Spain and the Netherlands, where collaboration is key and students have impressive ownership over their learning.

She also had the opportunity to teach in Turkey, and to learn from a remote Aboriginal community in the Northern Territory. In Turkey, there were no science labs and very little resources in general, so Timms was forced to be innovative with activities.

Visual clues came in handy when attempting to overcome language barriers. In Arnhem Land Timms had the biggest learning experience of her career, working in a remote indigenous community. She loved it so much she stayed for 10 years. She had to let go of her idea of herself as the teacher and become the learner.

Again faced with a lack of resources and a language barrier, Timms says the trick to getting through to her students was finding science in their culture. Lessons involved collecting and making spears, digging for turtles, learning about bush tucker and bush medicine, and mixing up natural dyes for pandanus baskets.

Timms says she is ‘‘extremely lucky’’ to have had so many adventures in teaching.

‘‘I first taught in a highly multicultural school in Melbourne, where the newsletter went home in eight different languages,’’ she says. ‘‘One thing I have learnt, through all my travels and various teaching posts, is that kids are kids no matter what the country, culture or language.’’

With 30 years’ international experience as an educator, Timms has now returned home to Wangaratta, where she is teaching maths and science at Galen Catholic College.

She says the key role a teacher plays is to engage the students; the trick, particularly in science teaching, is to hook into that curiosity that is innate in children. Today Timms integrates technology into her teaching, an interest that has led to her involvement in an extracurricular robotics program.

‘‘I believe that science teachers are extremely lucky as science can be magical as well as the ‘why is it so’ and ‘how does this work’ questions imbedded into it,’’ she says. ‘‘It’s such an important subject as it is the ‘why’ behind our existence and the world as we know it.’’