ELEMENT: West Moreton Anglican College head of senior school Paul Alcorn.
ELEMENT: West Moreton Anglican College head of senior school Paul Alcorn. Rob Williams

What teachers are doing differently to give kids best start

EVEN as he enters his 23rd year of school, the excitement and nerves that accompany the first week back don't go away for Paul Alcorn.

He completed a double degree in economics and law but always yearned to be involved in education and he said it was a "no-brainer" his life would lead that way.

"I truly believe that I'm meant to be there and this is my vocation," Mr Alcorn said.

"We wouldn't have doctors, lawyers or journalists if it wasn't for teachers. It's very much an underrated and under appreciated career."

Now approaching his 13th year at West Moreton Anglican College, Mr Alcorn is head of its senior school and teaches a single senior economics class.

Students are no longer using pen and paper, instead they are equipped with a tablet at their desk.

Pupils can access vast amounts of information on any subject with a few taps of a screen.

"Over the years, I've seen a really strong shift in developing more of a skill set... the ability to be able to analyse, process and evaluate information," he said.

"It's more important in education that we teach them how to use that information and process it and be critical in their thinking.

"There has been the move towards higher level thinking skills."

The past 10 years had also featured a focus on ensuring students' mental health and well-being was looked after.

"There's been a real growth in understanding that if a child's head is not in the right space, it doesn't matter what you present them," he said.

He had witnessed a shift in recent years in recognising tertiary studies, particularly straight out of school.

Understanding and recognising the individual needs of students and the best path for them to take was crucial.

Although social media played a large part in students' lives, Mr Alcorn said pupils still had much to learn about the use of such technology.

"We just assume that young people are tech-savvy, they're actually social-media savvy," he said.

"I wouldn't even say they're social-media savvy in the sense that they tend to be blind to some of the dangers of social media.

"We need to educate students in how to use their technology; we cant assume they know how to use it. They're exposed to so much more today as a result of social media. They're forced to grow up quicker."