It's more than just a job
From as young as I can remember I wanted to teach primary-school. There was short time as a 3 year old that according to my mum I wanted to be hair dresser. This is probably due to my amazing hair dresser that still cuts my hair today (hair blog can wait for another day) but my hairdressing dream was quickly taken over when I entered the school system as a young 4 year old.
My first encounter with teachers was my prep teacher. It was her first year teaching and I still have the most vivid memories of her. She taught me far more than just reading and writing. She taught me how to tie up my shoes. She taught me how to make friends. She taught me that teachers play a much bigger role than people give them credit for. That the role of a teacher far extends the curriculum. I wanted to be that person for my own students one day. We still keep in touch today. I can’t thank her enough for the impact she has had on me. I wanted to nurture and help kids become their very best selves because of her. Through out all of primary school I was lucky to have excellent teachers, ones whose teacher styles would still stick with me today.
I would take every moment I could to work with young kids. At the wise old age of 12, my high school holidays would overlap with my primary schools term, and I would spend every morning at my primary school helping out in my brother’s prep class. Reading with kids individually, signing their readers and helping with the morning literacy rotation. Whilst this barely scrapes the surface of what a teacher does, it was just enough to get me hooked. The looks on their faces when they saw me enter the classroom to help made me feel like I was already making a difference. This early time in the classroom as helper solidified my passion for teaching before I had even left school. I continued volunteering throughout all of high school when I could.
Year 12 came and the pressure was on to choose our futures. An unnecessary decision to make at 17/18 years of age if you ask me. An unwanted push from the careers advisors had my peers in a head spin. They were struggling with what careers they wanted to do for the rest of their lives and what pathways to take, fast track 8 years and some still haven’t figured it out and that’s okay. I was lucky though. I knew. I was certain I was going to teach. The desire to teach never wavered. However as an impressionable 17 year old, some of my teachers planted doubt in my mind. You could do something better than teaching...you’re to clever to be a teacher...why don’t you be a lawyer...there’s no money in teaching...are you sure this is what you want to do? You could do anything. I was confused, the ones that I aspired to be, the ones that I had dreamed of becoming, were now the ones telling me not to follow my dream. To choose a different career. Why wouldn’t they want me to teach like them? What wasn’t I seeing? I doubted my plan. So I made a new one. Psychology at school was enjoyable so that’s what I’ll do. Perhaps I’ll go into child, developmental or educational psychology. If I don’t like it, I’ll transfer to teaching. So I took the advice of my teachers and changed my plan. They were pleased as I was keeping my options open... I felt like I’d made a good decision...
Long story short. That 3 year Psychology degree resulted with me seeing a psychologist. I learnt some valuable things through certain units but overall...I hated it. This was not what I was meant to be doing and I didn’t know how to deal with it. I got the advice I needed. I decided to stay in the course. I stuck it out till the end for one reason. It was the fastest path to getting into the classroom. If I finished it then I could complete the Diploma of Education in a year, hence only study for 4, the equivalent of a teaching degree. I was determined to get into a classroom. My psychology degree has now become beneficial for both personal growth and in my current role of Wellbeing Leader at my school. But as a teacher now and looking back, the lack of support that some teachers showed me was unacceptable. They down played the most important role you could ever have. Educating the kids of future. We need clever teachers. We need passionate teachers. We need teachers who support their students dreams, no matter how wild they might be.
Moving on and finally the psych degree was over and I was accepted into the Dip Ed. Placement rounds were a joy. They students were amazing to work with and I was blessed with excellent mentor teachers. I continued to volunteer and spend as much time as I could learning how to be a better teacher before the time came that I was in my own classroom. The year went by so quickly and there really is a lot said for doing something you love. I loved learning all I could about education.
It came to applying for a jobs. A few stressful months that I would rather forget. Many applications sent and a handful of nerve racking interviews later and I landed a job teaching Year 5 students. It was a small school with less than 200 students. Little did I know how amazing this job would be and how important it would become to me. Small things come in good packages, and I think people received the message loud and clear because we are far from the small school we once were. This was not surprising though considering the excellent teachers that I get to work with every day. I was nervous about teaching Year 5, I had always imagined working in the junior school but after day one I don’t know what I was worried about. They were an incredible class to call my first. Every student I teach plays an important role in my teaching journey and I thoroughly love teaching all grades but my first class will always be close to my heart. They will never know how special they were and still are. They taught me more about teaching than I could have ever imagined. I knew I would be teaching students but I didn’t expect that they would be teaching me. It was a small class - 18 students, 18 very different people and 18 little hearts that will always be a part of mine. I like to think I played an important role to them too, but my gosh did they show me what teaching was all about. I am forever grateful to them and their families for making my first year of teaching all that it was.
Every teacher I’ve had played a crucial role in the the type of teacher I have become. From the nurturing, to the strict, to the fun and the serious. I like to think I have some balance in my classroom. But I also learnt a lot from the teachers that I didn’t want to be like as well. I will always support my students, planting seeds of growth not doubt. Ensuring they feel like they can achieve anything they put their minds too. So thank you to every teacher I’ve ever encountered - every decision I make in the classroom is inspired by you!
I’m now in my 5th year of teaching and I’ve never looked back. Two things in life I was meant to be; a teacher and a mother. I think they go hand in hand pretty well. After all, mothers teach their kids, and it’s impossible not to care for your students the way a mother would.