Ms Laura Wimsett is the Head of Languages at Wesley College.
Why did you become a teacher?
I wanted to become fluent in another language from very early in life. I found the idea of being able to understand someone else who is not speaking English magical, and the idea of being able to speak a ‘secret language’ myself with other people motivated me to achieve that goal. I then worked out that I love helping other people have that ‘lightbulb’ moment where they realise they can make themselves understood or understand other people using a new language, so I decided to become a language teacher.
What’s your favourite teaching memory?
Too hard to pick one! It is mostly the times where students have made me laugh, or almost made me cry through their kindness or insight that stick in my memory. Students who cheer on a struggler, or help out a classmate, or achieve a goal they didn’t think they could. A Year 12 who had tears in his eyes on the last day of school when I congratulated him on his over 70% mark, who said he’d been told he shouldn’t consider doing ATAR. A Year 7 student who created ‘Anti-racism medication’ for his Magic Medicine project. Watching a group of students come together over a year as a team of brothers through the ability to speak two common languages rather than just one… or passing a group of Year 8s the other day, one of them (who I hadn’t taught) said ‘she is SUCH a great teacher’. I was curious as to what pearl of wisdom or amazing teaching tactic of mine had impressed him so much, so I stopped to ask. I was promptly brought down to earth by his response: ‘you let me put my hand up a monkey’s bottom’ he said (it was an orang-utan puppet).
I’ve always liked working with boys for their humour and matter-of-factness, so that made Wesley one of my choices. I love cooking so the Language Centre kitchen was a big draw-card, and Year 10 Term 1 Indonesian Cooking is one of everyone’s favourite units. What really inspired me to come to Wesley in particular was the new vision for Languages, the Languages Centre and the team of people working here. What I didn’t anticipate was what a close-knit, caring and vibrant community it is throughout the whole school. So far it has exceeded all expectations!
‘You live a new life for every language you speak. If you know only one language, you live only once’ – Czech proverb.
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