Teacher Spotlight: Di Austin

17/05/20233 minute read
Teacher Spotlight: Di Austin

Di obtained a BA degree in  Psychology and English at Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa and started teaching over 30 years ago. Her experience has been enriched by teaching at schools in South Africa and New Zealand. She has had a variety of roles and responsibilities including Head of Department and Dean in various New Zealand schools for the last 20-plus years, as well as a check marker for external examinations. Di’s been involved in online learning for the past 10 years and her aim is to support, encourage and push students towards academic excellence.

At a glance:

  • Psychology Teacher, Pre-International GCSE and International GCSE Dean
  • Born in South Africa
  • Based in New Zealand since 1996

Why I joined CGA

I joined CGA in May 2020 and taught the first CGA A Level Psychology class. When I came across CGA, I was immediately drawn to its unique emphasis on providing high-quality education to students from all walks of life. The idea of being a part of an online school that prioritises the needs of its students and creates a supportive learning environment motivated me to apply for a job.

Q & A with Ms Austin

Q: What is your philosophy or approach to education?

A: Getting to know my students is an integral part of my educational philosophy. My favourite part of being a teacher is being in the classroom with students. I love my subject and I love exploring the content with my students. It is a privilege to share a part of our students’ learning journey with them.

Q: How do you get your students to engage?

A:  I have high expectations for myself and my students. I try to make sure there is a balance between teacher- talk, student interaction and time for individual reflection.  Fortunately, breakout rooms, kahoots and other technological supports help break up the lessons into these categories.  I also make a deliberate point to speak to each student in a breakout room regularly so that they can discuss their learning in a private setting.

Q: What are the main differences between CGA and a brick-and-mortar school and what are some of the benefits to students learning online?

A: At CGA the classes are small and everyone is sitting in the front row. Teachers get to know their students and can adapt their lessons more effectively to meet the needs of each student. A lot of the stressors students face are removed by being in a safe environment and meeting with like-minded students who have similar goals.

Q: What is your most memorable moment at CGA?

A:  It is hard to pinpoint one moment, but hearing from excited students when they have reached or surpassed their academic goals is always rewarding. Contrary to preconceived ideas, online learning does not reduce engagement or connections. Some of my most memorable classroom moments have been at CGA. The diversity of each classroom enriches so many lessons as each student brings unique experiences to our discussions.

Q: How does the technology CGA uses, impact your teaching?

A: Teaching online forces teachers to engage with technology in innovative ways that are more reflective of students' everyday experiences with technology. There are so many technological tools available that make online classes more interactive and they help deep learning occur.

Q: Do you have any advice for your students?

A: As Taylor Swift says, " Be yourself, chase your dreams, and just never say never.”

Top Tip for Exam Preparation

Do not give up. As various sportsmen have said, the harder they work the luckier they get.

In my free time…

My favourite two books are  Scott Fitzgerald's " The Great Gatsby" and Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird".  I also love being outdoors so I spend time tramping, camping, fishing and walking in the hills around Blenheim. I am also known to play the odd game or two of tennis.