Spotlight On: Declan Hanley

Posted January 27, 2021 in Opinion, Teacher Spotlights By Lachlan Fitzgerald

Mr Declan Hanley is a Humanities and Social Sciences (HASS) teacher at Wesley College and the Dickson House Coordinator. A student-favourite in our Senior School, Declan tells us about his extensive involvement in the College community in our latest Spotlight.


How do you build relationships with your students?

By being relaxed and having a sense of humour. Especially with those students that are not as confident, you have got to make them feel included and involved. The one-on-one element is paramount. I also think that it is really important to step back and give students time to complete work on their own to give them a chance to develop their own style and work ethic. Teachers must have a range of strings to their bow.

What is it like to be in Mr Hanley’s classroom?

My classroom is a positive and safe environment, where everyone is equally valued and encouraged to participate in learning. Variety is so important to my teaching and I try to begin lessons with different activities which shifts them into learning mode.

What characteristics have you taken from your own teachers into your classrooms?

As a 15-year-old kid, I lived and breathed cricket. One day I remember asking my Year 10 HASS teacher about the logo on his shirt. He said it was for the cricket club that he played for and for the following years I often spoke ‘cricket’ with him. Upon reflection this ability to develop rapport is invaluable.

In my classes, the first thing that I do on a Monday morning is ask the students how they played on the weekend. It all comes back to that shared connection through sport which is one really great way to build those relationships.

You’re the Dickson House Co-ordinator. What have you learned from being involved as a House leader?

All the students have different strengths. For example, in my Year 10 Mentor Group, one group are gun rowers so when it comes to the ergo rowing competition they’re in their element. However, a different group are champion chess players, and their strength is the Inter-House chess competition.

Inter-House swimming is another highlight, where you can encourage students to achieve things that they didn’t think that they were capable of achieving. I enjoy my role, and you take more ownership of the overall House in my position.

What’s one thing you wish you had known before starting a career as a teacher?

There are various ways to respond to different situations and people. If a student steps over the line, you could either jump up-and-down or respond in another way that is much more effective. There is variety in teaching and everyday has surprises! So, expect the unexpected and understand that teaching is so much more than the curriculum.

What was your background before Wesley?

I worked in regional WA at schools in Kambalda then Geraldton for over five years in total. Before Wesley, I was at Newman College for 12 years and was involved in managing their 1st XI Cricket Team. I played cricket when I worked in Geraldton and was involved in a couple of country week carnivals – where regional teams come together from all over the State to play like six games in seven days. I met people from all over the State and do find it a bit easier to connect with the boarders given this experience in my background.

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