Dr Sandy commenced her career in 1993 as a Targeted Graduate for the N.S.W. Department of Education (DoE). She currently works across the University and primary school sectors. For the N.S.W.DoE Dr Sandy has worked in various positions in primary teaching including modelling pedagogy to classroom teachers, a classroom teacher, Learning Support (Literacy & Maths), Gifted & Talented, Creative Arts & Relieving Assistant Principal. In the University sector she is employed as a generalist primary lecturer for her expertise in pedagogy, engagement and inclusion.
Albert Einstein's quote, "It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression & knowledge" resonates in Dr Sandy's daily practice. Her core philosophy is based upon communities of practice (Wenger, 2000).
Her Masters and PhD inspired Sandy to move into the field of pre-service teachers (PST) education and her area of interests are engagement, pedagogy and inclusion. Her Masters explored teacher burnout and she developed a model for professional development (PD). Her PhD explored how primary PSTs learn to engage students K-6 in the primary classroom during professional experience.
Dr Sandy believes teaching is a complex & sophisticated process underpinned by key notions like theory to practice disconnections/connections, relationships and the role of reflection with identity formation. Her recent research interests include continuing to research PhD participants as they progress through their career and pedagogy of teacher educators, pre-service teachers and teachers.
Dr Sandy’s core values are to support pre-service teachers to become profession ready and aligns with "Inquiry as Stance" (Cochran-Smith, 2018). Her ideas align with researchers such as Nel Noddings calls "ethics of care". Dr Sandy believes in Maslow before Blooms forms the basis of an inclusive classroom. This includes supporting an educational view with inclusive practices (Woodcock, 2018) rather than a medical view. This also encompasses notions like human rights in a democracy.
Access and equity for all is a core belief for Dr Sandy. She believes all community members including those from Indigenous communities, from the wealthier communities in Sydney and those from low socio-economic communities and for those in remote regions, non-English speaking backgrounds, with disabilities and learning difficulties to the gifted and talented. She is of the view quality education for all regardless of, where you are born- what Rawls describes as the ‘lottery of life’.
Facebook: Kids at home with Dr Sandy https://www.facebook.com/groups/1010119409382890/
Business name: Nicoll-Education to connect
ACN: 625 637 023
Hashtags: #diveinmentality #givinggettingback #kidsathome
Pre-service Teachers & Teachers
Communities of practice
Woodcock, S. & Nicoll, S. (2020). Do teachers’ beliefs in inclusive education relate to their responses and expectations towards students with specific learning disabilities? (Under review- International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health)
Nicoll, S. (2019). How do pre-service teachers engage students in learning during professional experience?
Rawling, S. (2012). Making a difference to professional experience: Giving and getting back. Full referred paper for AARE/WERA Annual Conference at Sydney University Dec 4-6th 2012
Rawling, S. (2007). Pre-service and early career primary teachers' understandings of their work and role as a teacher in the twenty-first century. Paper presented at the Annual International ANZCIES Conference. Auckland, New Zealand, 5th Dec
Rawling, S. (2005, July). Using technology in a visual arts program for stage 3 students. Australian Quality Teachers Program (AQTP), 1
TITLE: HOW DO PRE-SERVICE TEACHERS ENGAGE STUDENTS IN LEARNING DURING PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE?
Across the initial teacher education (ITE) literature, professional experience programs (PEP) are recognised as a key component of pre-service teachers’ education (Le Cornu, 2016; Zeichner, 2010). There is limited research on pre-service teachers’ (PSTs) experiences of participating in professional experience programs and an area that is least understood is how they engage primary school students in learning. Set against these gaps in the literature this narrative inquiry explored the experiences of PSTs during their professional experience placements in primary schools. I was interested in how PSTs were engaging their students in learning.
The research focused on a small group of PSTs who completed their professional experience placements in primary schools within New South Wales in Australia. The study is a narrative inquiry into the experiences of these pre-service teachers and how they inquired into the way they engaged their students in learning during their day-to-day teaching. In the study I was positioned as a researcher and a teacher educator who worked with the pre-service teachers through their coursework.
Field texts (data) for this study included focus groups, one-on-one conversations and questionnaires. Narrative accounts presented as portraits were composed from the data for each of the six PSTs. These portraits were then analysed further and I identified four emergent threads across the portraits: the connection/disconnection between theory and practice; the importance of relationships with key people who taught the pre-service teachers about engagement; the power of reflection on experience in the context of classroom practice; and how the pre-service teachers’ professional identities were shaped through each of these threads.
My research revealed that, for these pre-service teachers, Dewey’s (1938) concept of experience, engendered through narratives of critical events during professional experience, was a powerful influence on learning. The thesis highlights that an approach to pre-service teachers’ professional experience that is inquiry focused and grounded in the day-to-day practices of teaching may contribute to valuable opportunities for learning how to engage primary school students. These findings have implications for the design of professional experience programs in ITE.
PhD conferred September 18th, 2019
ONE: Principal from the N.S.W. DoE (2018)
After a 6 month contract (1 day a week)
CONTRACT VISION: Support teachers K-6 with pedagogy with teaching Visual Art. This position involved modelling and working with a staff of 25 teachers. The staff consisted of early career teachers to teachers with 25 years experience. Total score 28/28
Dr Nicoll was engaged to support teacher’s professional learning in the area of Visual Arts and provided demonstration lessons to classes, while teachers observed and supported the learning within the classroom. Dr Nicoll subsequently modelled excellent practice to other teachers. She was Interested in school directions and current foci, and applied many of the strategies and philosophies within the classroom e.g.: visible learning and formative assessment. Dr Nicoll also reflected on her learning through capturing the essence of her work and reflections using the Twitter platform. Through her postgraduate studies and subsequent work at the school, she demonstrated a superior understanding of research and its practical applications and how to support teachers.
Score: Overall Ranking: 1 2 3 4 TOTAL RANKING: 28/28
Pre-Service Teachers anonymous survey comments 2016-2020:
-Teacher communicate well with the class. SCORE: 4.8/5.00
-Teacher explained concepts clearly. SCORE: 4.8/5.00
-Teacher showed commitment to providing valuable learning experiences. SCORE: 5.00/5.00
"Sandy is an excellent lecturer and ensures her students understand the content" (PST, 3rd Year, Subject: Creative Arts)
"Sandy has fantastic communication skills."
(PST, 2nd Year Subject: Mathematics K-10)
“Maths was hard for me but now I have a better understanding + want to learn more, thanks to Sandy”
(PST, 2nd Year. Subject: Mathematics K-10)
“Sandy provided an environment free of judgement, where students feel free to express opinions”
(PST, 1st year. Subject: Inclusion)
Semester 1 2020: Ranking 4.65?5.00 (mean) by 201 PSTs
"The support given before and during Covid-19 was amazing. I felt Sandy had our backs every step of the way and were always available. She went above and beyond to reconsider the Assignment planned during Covid and made sure each student received clear instructions. I thoroughly enjoyed this course."
(PST, Secondary Semester 1, Classroom
Behaviour Theory 2020)
THREE: Staff in University sector
Feed-back from colleagues across units:
“Sandy, as always, I rely heavily on your amazing and very comforting support! Thank you for sharing so generously”
(Experienced casual tutor, 6 years’ experience)
“Thanks Sandy. This week has been wonderful. Students really enjoyed learning about intelligence and IQ tests. The group question at the end worked really well too.”
(Experienced casual tutor with a PhD)
Email correspondence from first time casual tutor in response to comparing how to mark an essay:
-“Hi Sandy, Thanks! I've had a look at the students you've listed and I think they pretty much align with how I've marked mine as well.”
(First time casual tutor and PhD candidate)
Dr Sandy's mission is to support PSTs and teachers to offer classrooms which are inclusive and which she coins in her PhD "profession ready" (Nicoll, 2019, p.156).
Her four point plan as informed by my research findings targets:
1. Theory-Practice connections/disconnections
2. Relationships with others (colleagues, parents and students)
3. Reflection upon practice
4. Identity formation
PROJECT ONE: UNIVERSITY SECTOR
Dr Sandy is working on her PhD recommendations as she designs and writes course work for University programs.
Her PhD concluding comments:
Professional experience programs are integral to the construction of teacher knowledge. Therefore, understanding theoretical ideas, building relationships, reflecting upon practice and developing a professional identity may contribute to the development of a deep knowledge of how to engage students in learning. There are frailties in Initial Teacher Education, especially in a context where the preparation of pre-service teachers is shaped by globalisation, and technology. Regardless, teacher quality must be a core feature of an initial Initial Teacher Education program and this journey is complex and multi-faceted particularly, when notions like student engagement in diverse communities is considered. Transitions to practice in an authentic, genuine two-way relationship between schools and universities as part of an ‘inquiry stance’ (Cochran-Smith, 2005) process may help to generate reliable ‘forms of knowledge’ and knowing in the preparation of teachers. Focusing on “culture building” (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 2001) rather than being transmissionist or “skills training” oriented ( Lieberman & Miller, 1994) should help us to gain a better understanding of the daily lives of schools (Darling-Hammond, 2006) when supporting pre-service teachers to offer each child they teach rich opportunities to be engaged learners.
PROJECT TWO: FREE COMMUNITY PROGRAM
Dr Sandy is the founder of the Public Facebook Page: KIDS AT HOME WITH DR SANDY
All are welcome to join her every WEDNESDAYS and FRIDAYS at 5:30 P.M. (EST, Gosford time, N.S.W. Australia)
To support parents and pre-service teachers during Covid2019 at the "witching hour" or cooking dinner time. Dr Sandy will read to kids targeting the age group 5 to 10 years. Then explore simple ideas like Art with connections with Maths, Science, Geography, History and Literacy.
Facebook welcome message:
JUST A REMINDER from the team:
As a primary teacher with a PhD on engagement Dr Sandy has started a FB page to support parents, students and pre-service teachers on the Central Coast of N.S.W. and across Australia in response to COVID19. Please feel free to invite/recommend family and friends. Our target group is residents of Australia but we welcome others.
The page is called Kids at home with Dr Sandy- and started as ideas/activities for the April school holidays.
Dr Sandy 👩🎓🇦🇺 reads 5:30 p.m. (EST, Gosford time-on Wednesdays and Fridays) to support:
1.) Parents! It is hard teaching-working from home. We feel for parents so we are trying to do our little bit.
2.) Pre-service Teachers(PSTs): Ideas on teaching
3.) Anyone who likes learning
Dr Sandy knows as a mum and teacher this time to cook dinner is what calls the "witching hour" as kids can be quite restless.
OUR VISION IS TO USE EASY TO FIND RESOURCES AT HOME. WE AIM FOR A LOW COST APPROACH.
At times Dr Sandy posts sheets to make tasks easier and will ask you bring scissors, glue and rulers.
It is a G rated page and is our way of supporting the community. Dr Sandy has a support crew of educators and a parent on admin.
Please do not advertise on this page.
We wish to keep this as a free community service for all 👩🎓🎨📘📊.
The admin team will only ACCEPT NEW members if they complete the entry questions because this is a safe space for adults to share their FB page with their children. Under 13 cannot have an account. This is one area WE will not compromise on.
Dr Sandy👩🎓🇦🇺 will talk on Central Coast oriented topics like sea creatures, days out at places like Spencer, Woy Woy, Rileys Island, fauna, interesting buildings and other fascinating topics like shipwrecks on the Central Coast.
She tends to focus on easy at home no fuss art/craft ideas so kids can do this with no extra work (to give parents a break).
For example, patterns in nature like Fibonacci's Golden Ratio and Fractals.
Target group ages 5-10 years.
We love recycling and Aussie made products.
We support live local, buy local.
We are aware many kids cannot pursue the usual activities, travel. plans and outings. This inspired the opening of this page on Sunday April 12th as a free community service to support families parents, carers and kids) on the Central Coast of N.S.W. (and for Australian residents).
Prof David, Ronnie and Dr Sandy (PhD on engagement)
PROJECT THREE: WRITING
Dr Sandy is currently writing books and journal articles from her research findings.
The books include:
1. Innovations in Education- A new way forward for Education (Proposed release date December 2020);
2. Series of children's books (similar to Dr Seuss) (Proposed release date September 2020- Books 1-3);
3. Messages of encouragement based upon her creative designs (Proposed release date September 2020).
Journal articles: TBA
PROJECT FOUR: CONSULTANCY (available)
Dr Sandy is available to consult with schools and other corporations looking at Professional Development (PD) in areas including:
1. Engagement in areas such as looking at Flexible Learning Spaces in classrooms and workplaces;
2. Pedagogy/How to teach- Dr Sandy can teach schools and corporations areas on pedagogy such as Visual Arts and training and development;
3. Inclusive practices in the workplace