Ayla Thompson

Bachelor of Teaching (Primary)

Key Info

  • Bachelor of Teaching (Primary)
New Zealand

Tell me about you (in your own words. What makes you you? What you do for fun? Where you are from? etc.)

I grew up in a small town called Kaitaia. It is a close-knit community where everyone knows each other and that is what I love about it. However, towards the end of High School I was ready for a change. Somewhere bigger, with a little more opportunities for me. Once I had finished school, I decided to move to Hamilton, where I began studying a Bachelor of Teaching in 2014. In my spare time, I enjoy being out in the fresh air and exploring this beautiful country, so you will often find me riding my bike down a cycle trail or on a bush walk. I also enjoy hanging out with friends and family any chance I get. Being a Northland girl through and through, the beach is one of my favourite places to be. I love fishing and four wheel driving. Camping, swimming and sunbathing too!

What inspired you to teach?

I have always been interested in professions that make a difference to the lives of the people around me. I like to think I am a nurturing and caring person so a nurse, vet or teacher have always been my top three career choices. Growing up during my intermediate school years, I used to catch the bus to Kaitaia Primary school – a local school my nana used to teach at. I always looked forward to these afternoons spent with my nana. She would tell me about her day, I would help her mark students work, plan her lessons and experiment with her art supplies. I often seen students my nana taught on the playground after school too and they always spoke so highly of her. This was when I knew Mrs. Taylor was the teacher I aspired to be.

How long have you been at Woodstock school?

I am in my third year of teaching and I have been fortunate enough to have started my teaching journey here at Woodstock School. So I have been here for three years at the end of the year.

Tell me about your experience at the University of Waikato…

I spent three years studying at the University of Waikato. It definitely had its highs and lows. My first year was the toughest. I found juggling a social life and assignments hard. Getting the hang of how to study was also something I struggled with at the beginning, but got better at as time went on. Thankfully, the support network at the University of Waikato, and my friends and family are what pushed me through. I still remember one of my tutors at university, Donella Cobb, who believed in me and pushed me to be my very best.

How did Waikato help you get to where you are today?

Waikato has been my home for six years now. I moved here fresh out of high school and I was lucky enough to make a good group of friends and attend a university that is ranked high amongst the rest.
How did the University of Waikato prepare you for the practical elements of teaching full time?
The University of Waikato prepared me for the practical elements of teaching through regular exposure in classrooms. In our first year, we spent every Thursday in a classroom and every year we also had to complete a practicum that were several weeks long. We had lessons to plan for and teach during this time, which helped my confidence when working alongside children grow. These practical experiences were definitely the most beneficial learning I had throughout the three years I studied, as we learnt what teaching is really like.

How do you apply the knowledge you learnt at the University in the classroom?

I was able to apply the knowledge I learnt at university during my placement and practicums. This was a good time because we had the support from our associate teachers. They were able to observe and give us advice on where/how to improve if needed. However, I definitely found it easier and more comfortable to trial things I had learnt once I had a classroom of my own.
What would you say to others considering studying teaching at the University of Waikato? Why should they choose Waikato?
I would encourage others to study at the University of Waikato, especially if they were thinking of doing a Bachelor of Teaching, because I know they have a great teaching course. As I have previously mentioned, many of the staff are amazing and the course provided us with knowledge and practical experiences to prepare us our career.

What was/is the biggest challenge you face/d as a teacher and how did Waikato help you prepare for this?

The biggest challenge I face as a teacher is managing children’s behaviors and needs. Not one class or group of students I have taught have been the same. I have had to adapt my teaching style and experiment with many strategies to suit the needs of each child and this has been hard. Waikato University offered us experiences such as our practicums, and this exposed me to various behaviors and needs that some children have. I have learnt many skills and strategies from associate teachers that I could then trial myself. However, in my experience I know that every child responds differently and there is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach. One thing that was always encouraged was to try positive reinforcement. This is definitely one strategy that every child seems to respond positively too. Students need to feel respected and treated fairly and this is what I endeavor to do every time a child walks through my classroom door.

What is the most rewarding thing about your job?

There are many rewarding things about teaching, but the most rewarding part of my job is to see the difference I can make in one child’s life. I enjoy building relationships with each of my students and making my classroom a safe place for to be themselves and take risks. When a child is happy to come to school and has a smile on their face when they walk into my classroom, I know I have made a positive impact on their life.

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