Prof Eddie Woo – an award winning maths teacher whose YouTube tutorials have earned him global fame and a dedicated fan-base of almost 2 million followers – believes the world of teaching as we know it is about to become radically different.
Known colloquially to students as ‘Mr Woo-tube’, Eddie – who is also a Professor of Practice at the Sydney School of Education – does not believe it will be earth-shattering innovations that reshape the sector. Rather, a series of cultural shifts among the teaching workforce.
Ahead of The Sydney Morning Herald Schools Summit, Prof Woo lists some of the trends we can expect to see.
A shift in how teachers prefer to work
Owing to the pandemic, today’s early career teachers have gone through some or all of their degrees with hybrid study – and Prof Woo believes these ‘native hybrid workers’ will shake up the teaching profession.
“We are coming through an interesting period. The last few years have been an active experiment in hybrid work and study, and we are still well and truly in the thick of it. We’ve learned so much about how to deliver education through non-physical means.
“I believe many of these methods are here to stay. Teachers and students now have different expectations about the proportion of in-person tuition they expect to be involved with – none more so than those who don’t know any other type of approach.
“Personally, my whole team is remote and my 2IC [second in command] lives in Coffs Harbour. Things are changing and it’s exciting to lean into this more equitable approach to delivering education.”
A continued decline in retention rates – unless we intervene
Having started out as a teacher in 2007, Prof Woo is all too familiar with the attrition problems that afflict teaching – a profession one in five plan to abandon within their first three years on the job.
What’s especially concerning is the growing shortage of teachers in previously oversupplied disciplines.
“Maths has always struggled – that’s a twenty year old problem. But we are now experiencing it at every level. I have spoken to schools who are struggling to find English and PE teachers. These roles have historically had an excess of people wanting to apply.”
While a shift towards hybrid work might help boost the attractiveness of teaching, Prof Woo does not see it as a silver bullet.
“Remote work can’t be a substitute for learning and getting support from other teachers in the staffroom. So in my view, the future of teaching will rest in getting that balance right – enjoying the flexibility of hybrid, whilst retaining the benefits of working together.”
A shift in how teachers prefer to deliver lessons
Prof Woo believes technologies will drastically change teaching in the near future, but says it will likely be tools we have known for years that create the biggest ripples.
“I’ve been putting my tutorials on YouTube for more than twelve years now, and in that time it’s amazing to see how technology has evolved as a platform for learning. That said, a lot of the big shifts we see in education aren’t from new and exciting things, but rather existing tools that suddenly become more mainstream.
“For example, years ago, we saw billions of dollars ejected into the Digital Education Revolution, which aimed to put laptops into the hands of all year nine students.
“Nowadays, it’s common for schools to have a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy that means students have much more access to technology and teachers no longer need to book computer labs for their students.
“It’s the mainstream nature of technology access that has shifted the culture and mindset for how we use technology for learning now compared to when I first started teaching.”
Like with hybrid work, Prof Woo also believes early career teachers will drive change when it comes to embracing educational tools.
“Early careers teachers were raised in a milieu of new technologies. As someone who graduated many years ago, I knew a world before that, but for today’s younger teachers, this is the only world they know. This positions them to understand modern tools and trends, and what they mean for our young people, in ways that all of us in the profession can learn from.”
Sharing more of his views on the future of education, Eddie Woo will be part of an expert panel at The Sydney Morning Herald Schools Summit, hosted by Informa Connect.
Joining him on the panel are:
• Matthew Esterman, Director Innovation and Partnerships, Our Lady of Mercy College Parramatta; Teaching Fellow, 2023 Commonwealth Bank Teaching Awards
• Danielle Cronin, Director, Education Policy, Catholic Schools NSW
• Lubna Sayed, Principal, Australian International Academy of Education
Learn more and register here.
About Eddie Woo
Prof Eddie Woo teaches mathematics at Cherrybrook Technology HS. His YouTube channel of everyday classroom lessons has been viewed more than 160 million times by people from around the world.
Within the NSW Department of Education, he leads the Mathematics Growth Team, a statewide program of instructional leaders focused on engaging and evidence-based teaching practices.
In 2018, he was named Australia’s Local Hero in the Australian of the Year Awards and listed as one of the Top 10 teachers in the world by the Global Teacher Prize.
He is an internationally published author, TED speaker, and TV host of ABC’s Teenage Boss and Channel 10’s Ultimate Classroom.