Monday, 26 Apr 2021

In our new Meet the Team story, we introduce former teacher and school leader Marc Kralj, our Adelaide-based Education Consultant and valued member of the PAT team.

ACER Education Consultant Marc KraljWho are you and what do you do?

I’m Marc Kralj and I’m the Education Consultant at ACER. My roles are varied. I work closely with ACER’s School Engagement Team supporting enquiries concerning assessments and surveys that ACER provides to schools, universities and psychologists. I work with ACER expert test developers on our ‘In the Classroom’ webinar series, online sessions in which teachers and leaders get to ask questions and learn more about what assessments can do to support improved learning outcomes. I also work closely with schools. Much of my time is spent working alongside leadership teams and their staff to analyse, interrogate and interpret data from assessments to understand what those next steps in teaching and learning might be. My greatest reward, both as an educator and in my work with schools, is seeing teachers and leaders get excited about the evidence and data they collect, then use it effectively and watch the growth and development of the students in their care.

Tell us about yourself

As a teacher and leader in schools in South Australia for over 30 years before joining ACER, I think I have probably seen it all. But no matter how much experience you may have, it is the team and people around us that ensure we continue to grow and develop.

I’ve been a runner, a long-time gym-goer – now in a home gym I built myself – and now an avid cyclist, a hobby I share with my Adelaide-based co-workers. Exercise gives me a great sense of personal wellbeing and valuable thinking time to ponder those day-to-day personal and professional challenges. And I really love my rose garden! But my family is the glue that keeps me together, and levelled. I was so excited to hear recently that my partner and I are going to be grandparents!

I’m looking forward to being able to travel again, and hope to revisit my roots, in Slovenia, where I spent a year as a child being educated in Ljubljana.

What’s the best thing about your job?

That’s easy: the people. I am fortunate to be able to work with colleagues who are world-class in what they do. Some of my favourite parts of the day are when we hear the coffee machine grinding away and I make the time to sit with colleagues and discuss education; with researchers, educators, test developers, psychometricians… the list goes on. These conversations challenge us and our thinking and encourage me to ask questions of my peers, and to learn and understand more about the incredible work we do as researchers and educators. 

But the most important people are our clients. The challenges of 2020, and into 2021, forced us to think, work and communicate differently. No secret there. But a recent visit to reconnect face-to-face with a school I have been working with online was most inspiring. Being greeted by staff and having the principal offer me a piece of the cheesecake he had whipped up for his staff reminded me of the importance of, and need for, us to be able to work alongside each other. It also reminded me that while we can meet, discuss, plan and make decisions remotely, the incidental corridor chats are crucial. Another coffee, please!

Who’s your favourite fictional character, and why? What are you reading or watching now?

Since watching a B-grade film called Raise the Titanic 30 years ago, I have been hooked on Clive Cussler books. I never take a holiday or a plane trip without one. Why him? Action, adventure, deep sea diving, the sea, and mystery. More importantly, the way in which the author researchers every detail of his books and is able to connect them effortlessly together from story to story. And visualising the characters and wishing I was one of them. Books are about escape, after all!

What am I watching? Riviera on SBS and re-runs of Boston Legal on 7Plus. I’m belatedly realising I should have bought shares in Netflix. 

Biggest challenge of 2020? What are you looking forward to in 2021?

2020 saw momentous change: good, bad, even ugly. The good was that we were forced to learn and get out of our comfort zone, take up challenges. This came with a greater sense of collaboration and a sense of identifying and acknowledging collegial wellbeing. The bad was the challenge of the change, moving from knowing what we did each day as routine towards ‘unlearning’, where we had to move rapidly to something quite alien.

In 2021, I look forward to supporting and connecting with my colleagues and my schools, at the same table. I look forward to the new work we are doing at ACER, including new assessments like PAT Science and PAT Spelling and computer adaptive versions of PAT Reading and PAT Maths, and to your feedback on the relaunched PAT Teaching Resources Centre. Early users were wildly impressed...

Tell us your favourite tip, fact or insider secret…

As teachers and leaders in schools, you are not alone. Yes, different schools and communities have their own stories, challenges and successes, and time is always an issue; but endeavour to find an opportunity to talk to other schools about their experiences of using data, or how they use the Progressive Achievement approach, and PAT, in their schools. Check out the amazing testimonials for the PAT Teaching Resources Centre. Keep asking questions of each other and endeavouring to be on the same page when discussing student data and other evidence you collect. There is real power through understanding terminology and knowing what misconceptions there are when referring and interrogating data. The secret ingredient is PAT Essentials Kit 2nd Edition – powerful, and highly recommended!

I hope to meet you – on the phone, online or in person – in 2021. Especially if you have a challenging question to ask!