Teacher in profile: Keith Fennell

Hello, my name is Keith Fennell and I have recently moved to the Gold Coast from Wollongong. I’ve been joined by my wife, Colleen, and children, Sian and Reyne who are genuinely enthused, albeit a little overwhelmed, at the opportunity of a new adventure. I’ve been most fortunate to have had the opportunity to live an adventurous life—my wife and mother probably didn’t always share this enthusiasm—where I was previously employed as an Australian SAS soldier. Leaving this lifestyle was difficult and, to be honest, I didn’t expect to find a career that would ever fill this void. But I was wrong. My journey into teaching has unlocked a wealth of rewards and I now consider the privilege of shaping lives to be one of the most rewarding periods of my life.

I currently teach Year 11 and 12 English and it has been fun getting to know the boys. There are some characters amongst them and I look forward to supporting the boys on not only their academic journey, but in their transition towards becoming well-rounded men.

My other responsibilities include the role of Acting Turnock Housemaster in addition to helping out with Leadership and Cadets. It has been a whirlwind start and I would like to thank Mr Mark Wilkins, Mr Conan Bland and Ms Rachael Fennell for their relentless support thus far. Rachael is actually my cousin and I’ve enjoyed telling quite a few of the boys that she is my Aunt.

I’ve previously taught English, History, Geography and Indonesian at Airds High School across a range of year groups and abilities, from Gifted and Talented to extreme levels of social disadvantage.

Units I am currently teaching: Our Year 11 and 12 boys are both studying poetry and I’m sure the majority of the boys are really excited about this. I’ll share some of my poetry with our boys—I’m sure they hate it when teachers share their own work—as a means to teach them how poetry connects with our senses and can be a great medium for connecting with the self, with others and the world around us. I don’t write a lot of poetry but when I do it is usually to help me analyse a gritty element of my life. I lost five mates in a short period of time so I wrote a poem, ‘Warrior Brothers’, to convey what my brothers meant to me.

Recent Professional Learning: I am proud to say that I am a staunch advocate of life-long learning. My most recent Professional Learning has taken place in the classroom when I have asked a number of boys to critique my delivery, presentation and communication skills. The feedback that I received is that I sometimes speak ‘too quickly’. Thanks boys, you know who you are.

I’ve been at TSS since … well … Week 1, Term 1 2018. I’m loving the school and the best part of the school is the boys. I’m student focused and my students will always, within an educational context, be my number one priority.
I came to TSS from Airds High School is south-western Sydney. It was an amazing environment and I thank the wonderful and tough students of Airds for helping me to grow as an educator and a man.

This year I’m involved in co-curricular at TSS: As soon as I find my feet I’ll be helping out Mr Jackson Elliott with the Cross Country and at some stage will discuss the feasibility of developing a Special Forces Platoon within or adjacent to the Cadet’s Program.

An area of expertise/passion in education is: I am passionate about higher-order thinking, leadership, communication and resilience. I’ve probably left something out … oh yes, and teamwork and values. I guess it is fair to say that I am passionate about education being holistic in that it engages across all modes of learning with a primary focus of support and high expectations. I’ll apologise to Year 11 and 12 in advance for high expectations.

A leader I respect is Will Timoney, the Turnock House Captain, for his inspirational speech about why he identified his mother as one of the most important people in his life.

A quote that resonates with me is ‘they who say they can and those who say they can’t are both usually right’.

I’m grateful for chocolate and diet coke when I’m tired. And, for my mother who taught me that it is cool to be a masculine man who loves his mum.

I go about maintaining balance and wellbeing by training hard. Physical training has been a huge part of my life and I attempt to maintain this as a priority for my health and wellbeing. I have also completed 48 hours of performance testing with KPMG in relation to wearing a heartrate variability monitor to measure periods of fight and life. I found out that my sleep patterns are excellent and this assists me to remain resilient during times of challenge.

Something students might not know about me is that I love hitting the surf on my racing mal—Surf Life Saving Paddle Board—and one of the most special, and scary, days in my life was getting amongst a monster swell with my daughter. On this particular day she got out the back and I didn’t. I’ll leave it at that.

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