Teacher’s inspirational journey to return to classroom
AN IPSWICH teacher who overcame a difficult health battle which forced her to give up the work she loved has been recognised for helping students with learning difficulties find success.
Silkstone State School teacher Jodi Audoss has spent her 30-year career in early childhood, Prep and lower primary and firmly believes “no aspirations are unreachable.”
She works as an inclusion teacher, looking after about 25 Year 1 kids at Silkstone.
“I’m supporting children with learning difficulties predominantly in literacy but also socially, physically and mentally,” she said.
“My role is to support the classroom teacher with students who are perhaps falling behind their peers a little bit.
“It’s just so rewarding to see when things finally click for the children or (when they understand) something they were really struggling with.
“There’s a lot to do with reading. There’s the oral side of it, there’s comprehension, there’s the fluency and there’s knowing their letters and sounds.
“When all that clicks together for them and they finally see themselves as readers and having success, that’s very, very rewarding.”
Despite technology providing new ways to tackle challenges in the classroom, Mrs Audoss said an “old school” hands-on approach is still crucial to getting results.
“The speech pathologist at our school runs an iPad program where one of my students in particularl, who is non-verbal, is able to talk through the iPad,” she said.
“When he can’t say a word, he can find it on his iPad.
“I enrolled in an online Auslan course. I’m following that course to use basic Auslan because that was one of the skills his mum wanted him to learn during his school journey.
“We are still using a lot of hands-on materials in our day to day lessons.”
While working at Churchill State School in 2009, Mrs Audoss only expected to be off work for a year while taking maternity leave.
But 10 days after the birth of her daughter, she suffered a brain bleed.
After a long time spent in hospital, she was deemed permanently disabled.
“My recovery was probably about two years and I had short term memory loss,” she said.
“I didn’t have any physical side effects apart from really bad fatigue.
“I thought ‘what am I going to do now’ … I was off work for four years in total.”
With the help of her doctor and introducing life style changes such as yoga and natural therapies, Mrs Audoss felt ready to return to the classroom.
She remembers she would have happily “sleep for a week” after her first day back but she built from there.
When her daughter started Prep in 2013 at Peak Crossing State School, Mrs Audoss secured a six month contract to teach Year 1.
The next year she did relief teaching across schools in Ipswich for half a year before taking a contract at Silkstone State School.
In 2015 she was asked to stay on as a permanent employee.
Mrs Audoss has been named a finalist for the Queensland College of Teachers TEACHX Excellence in Teaching Award.
“When I was sick, I didn’t look like there was anything wrong with me but the people talking to me didn’t realise how much thought, in the early days, went into every single sentence that I said back to them, and I think that about children,” she said.
“It’s so important, the first five years of a child’s life. We see that from day one, when they come into the classroom with their little backpacks of knowledge.
“We get them at extreme levels of never being exposed to a book to being a confident reader.
“Growth in all the children that I work with across the four Year 1 classes has been phenomenal.
“It is nice to see them sharing in their successes and seeing themselves as learners. No child should be left behind, no one’s unteachable, no aspirations are unreachable.”
The winners of the TEACHX Awards will be announced on October 29.
Read more stories by Lachlan McIvor here.