Why did you choose to study education and training?
I wanted a challenge. I wanted to be able tocombine my love of drama, humour, learning, children, reading and research. Iwanted to study and work in a field that benefited others as much as it did me.I wanted to work with parents and carers for the good of their child and help achild to discover, navigate, connect and grow.
What was the bestthing about your course?
The balance! I had lecturers who were absoluteguns in their field but were still completely connected with the realities ofthe profession and the classroom through their own research and work. I wasexposed to research-based practice and honest critique of the state of educationand current practice, as well as a practicum program that had us in a classroomin our first month.
What was the worstthing about your course?
It is a shame that the special education courseisn’t the ‘general’ education course because it provided the rigorous and broadpreparation needed for the diverse range of students in all of today’sclassrooms. We were well prepared in areas such as behaviour management, directinstruction, welfare and teaching students with literacy and numeracy difficulties— areas commonly cited as posing the greatest challenges for new teachers.
Have you found work inyour field?
I was offered a job before I even graduated andwas rapidly targeted into a permanent position at a school in south-west Sydney(my first preference). When looking to transfer to a new school I had manyoffers given the demand for teachers with special education qualifications orexperience. My course had a high graduate employment rate — all of thegraduates that I know of from my year were able to gain employment in theirfirst year out.
What advice would yougive to students considering studying education and training?
Make the most of your practicumas this is where you get to test the theoretical stuff out, find your teachinglegs and experiment with teaching styles and strategies. Talk to teachers, immerseyourself in the school dynamic and observe other teaching styles. Teaching isnot for the faint hearted — it is hard work but beautiful work. Don’t expect tohave it all under control when you first start out, and remember to seeksupport where necessary.
It may not be as easy as youmight think to get a job. Though there is a looming teacher shortage, thecurrent shortage is in specific areas such as maths teaching. Be prepared to acceptshort-term positions to get yourself known, and be flexible about where youwant to teach. Your teaching will be enriched if you are willing to take onpositions in remote and rural areas or in disadvantaged schools.
I urge you to give teaching a go.Even when you’re exhausted, there is sure to be something you said or didduring the work day that made a student’s life just that bit better.