Over the past year, educators across Australia and the world have had to adapt to new ways of working while continuing to engage students with learning. To celebrate and thank teachers and school leaders for their tireless efforts, 2020 World Teachers’ Day focuses on how educators have led in crisis and reimagined the future.

Following Australia’s unprecendented bushfires and the global coronavirus pandemic, Commonwealth Bank and Australian Schools Plus surveyed all of the previous Commonwealth Bank Teaching Award Fellows to understand their insights, learnings, challenges and opportunities over the last 12 months.

From the surveyed respondents, it was revealed the majority of educators (88 per cent) felt the sudden transition to increased online learning and collaboration had reshaped communication and interaction with their students. Many educators said they had to re-evaluate the design of the curriculums in order to be more agile in their teaching, and underlined the benefits of blended learning for students.

2019 Fellow and Principal of Ulladulla High School in NSW, Denise Lofts, said: “This year we’ve focussed on keeping hope and joy for all students following the bushfires, the pandemic, and the tragic loss of a student outside the school. It’s important to focus on what joys we have during this time.

"2020 has seen us transform the way we structure our day, understanding ways to learn in a more cognitively friendly way. When our students returned to school after lockdown, the Student Representative Council created focus groups and interviewed students from across the school, gathering their feedback on what they wanted to take forward. As COVID-19 has shown, schools hold the community together. We are the cultural fabric of a community.”

Nathan Barker, Head of Community Investment at Commonwealth Bank, said: “While this year has brought a lot of uncertainty to the classroom, our Fellows have been able to swiftly reimagine their learning environment and adapt to online and remote learning. It’s remarkable to see the level of care and time they put in to educating our young people. Now more than ever, it’s important to thank and celebrate our great educators and the essential role they play in our lives.”  

Leading up to its fifth year, the Commonwealth Bank Teaching Awards provide an opportunity to recognise and reward inspirational educators across all Australian schools through a partnership between the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Australian Schools Plus.

As part of the Awards, each winning educator will receive a $45,000 teaching fellowship. Of this, $25,000 will fund a high-impact project to be implemented at their school, with the remaining to be used on continuing professional development for these leading educators.

Applications are open until 16 October, with winners to be announced in March 2021.

For more information or to nominate for the 2021 Commonwealth Bank Teaching Awards visit www.teachingawards.com.au