A highly anticipated part of the second year programme for teaching students in Tauranga is a Q&A session with recently graduated teachers.
Faculty of Education senior lecturer Barb Whyte says the session is a very important one for her students. “All of the graduates have had different experiences in their teaching journeys but they are invariably enthusiastic about their chosen career path,” she says. “The session helps the students really start to grasp the responsibility they will be taking on for the learning of a class of children.”
One of the teachers sharing their experiences was Morgan Pearson who teaches Year 5 and 6 pupils at Ellerslie School in Auckland. Morgan offered practical advice to students around finding a job. “It’s all down to the work you put in beforehand,” she says. “Also, make sure the schools you apply to are a good fit for you. Fresh out of uni, you’ll take any job, but you want a job that you’ll be happy in for at least two years.” Morgan describes her teaching style as inquisitive, diverse and fun. “I always make the learning fun for the kids so that they are enjoying their time at school and learning without realising it,” she says. “They are more likely to take in the information if there is a memory behind the learning.”
A Year 1 and 2 class teacher at Arataki School, Emma Frost wanted the students to understand that it's OK not to know everything during their first year. “Your mentor and other teachers are there to guide and help you on your teaching journey,” she says. Emma also sounded a warning about not spreading yourself too thin. “Look after yourself – as a beginning teacher you will want to do it all at once and then do some more. It’s going to be busy with lots of firsts and you must remember time for yourself, whānau and interests outside teaching.” Engaging, positive and flexible are three words that Emma believes encapsulate her teaching style, and she says she always gets a buzz when she can see that her pupils have understood the learning. “I have found a key indicator to be when they refer to the learning after the lesson and apply it in other areas,” she says.
Kath Fielden’s advice to the students that there is no set path when starting your career, was borne of her own experience. Now a full-time teacher at Omanu School, she started out as finance officer. “I decided that I needed to take some time before jumping right into a full-time teaching job,” she says. “Doing the finance job and relieving gave me time to consider where I wanted my career to begin and what year level I prefer teaching.” In her classroom, Kath says she is positive, creative and purposeful and she encourages her pupils to discuss the purpose of their learning at every opportunity, thereby helping them to retain and value the knowledge.
Barb Whyte says all the teachers who participated in the Q&A session recalled how valuable it had been to them when they were second year students. “It serves to reignite their goal to be teachers and they come to appreciate there are various pathways and careers that can be taken with a Bachelor of Teaching degree,” she says. “They also come to recognise that while there are ups and downs as beginning teachers, the rewards are enormous and most satisfying.”