“I’m going on an adventure” said Bilbo Baggins.
I might not have met dwarves, elves or a dragon, but heading into my first week of teaching, I could absolutely relate to the nervous excitement felt by Bilbo in J.R.R. Tolkien’s famous tale, The Hobbit.
I had just finished my two months of training with 66 other young Australians with Teach for Australia and Deakin University. I was taking with me a fresh backpack full of tools, ideas and techniques, excited, optimistic and trying to be realistic about the challenge that lay ahead.
I was excited about the opportunity to work as a teacher in a local school where I grew up. Spending six years completing my bachelor at the Australian National University part-time, while working for a Federal MP, travelling and establishing Raising Hope Education Foundation have hopefully given me some life experience to share with my students. While I know I have so much to learn, I hope that through hard work and perseverance, I will eventually become a truly great teacher.
This year I am teaching Studies of Society and the Environment (SOSE) to Year 7 and 9 students at Melrose High School in Canberra. First up, The Ancient World with Year 7 and The Industrial Revolution with Year 9. I spent the week before school studying texts, designing my first few lessons, receiving advice from many teachers, and setting up my classroom. Here is a photo of the classroom (yes there is a Yoda on my desk).
I wanted students to be in a space where they would enjoy learning. For this I decided to put up a range of movie posters and buy a few pot plants. A huge thanks to JB Hi-Fi and Hoyts in Woden for helping me out with posters for the classroom. I also put up a series of quotes that I find inspiring on one of the walls, printed in yellow to brighten up the room.
Suiting up and meeting my students for the first time is a day I will never forget. I felt like I really was supposed to be there. It is nice to be doing a job that I am passionate about and each day I have woken up excited. I’m still only beginning to learn how to be a good teacher, but I’m more ready to learn that I have ever been before.
I am really enjoying getting to know the students and attempting to find different ways to make them learn. It was also full of the usual learning for new teachers; how to mark my roll, how to manage playground duty, where the photocopier is and when I need to (am able to) eat. I also signed up to the Australian Education Union.
The week was tough and full of ups and downs. However, throughout I have been constantly surprised by the insights and hilarious comments of students both individual groups. The students are incredible and full of ideas for our future. I hope I can support them to have the confidence to chase a better future.
After reading all my students survey and questionnaire responses, I spent the weekend writing cards for my students. I did this in an attempt to show them that I really do care and want them to believe that ANYTHING is possible, if you work hard enough.
Thanks to all my teacher friends and tweeps for all the advice over the last year while I prepared for this adventure. You’ve been like Gandalf for me, always full of insightful wisdom, support and encouragement.
I’ll conclude with this response from one of my youngest students, definitely a highlight of my week. I now have it at my desk. I only hope I can help all my students to believe this statement.