It’s been branded all across the news: ‘teacher education degrees are inadequate’. But at RMIT, we're different.
RMIT's approach to teaching and learning means students are actively preparing for life in the classroom right from their first year of study. Bachelor of Education students graduate armed with portfolios showing evidence that they have achieved the graduate standards.
No stone is left unturned in preparing graduates to enter the teaching profession. In addition to theory, practical learning and teaching placements, RMIT also offers students the opportunity to take part in the Beginning Teachers Conference.
We speak with Senior Lecture in the School of Education Dr Richard Johnson to myth-bust some of the misconceptions students have about their first year in the classroom.
Myth 1: You’re expected to know everything about running a classroom
One of the biggest concerns students have before graduating is that once they take up a position in a classroom, they are in it alone. But that’s not the case.
When you enter a school for the first time, you will be given a mentor to be there for you and help answer any questions about your profession.
For all those tricky decisions when they need to be made, you will have reference points in team leaders, colleagues and teachers next door or in the same team.
You will also have a supportive network of peers and teachers you can draw on to ask for help with the tough questions.
Myth 2: Principals are looking for grads with the highest GPA
What matters to principals is how you operate and the energy you bring to a classroom, and not your GPA.
By the time you graduate, you’ve learnt about the theory behind education and had some supervised experience in the classroom.
You’ve had feedback on your lessons from academic staff on how you taught concepts to students. Once you move into the workforce, principals want to see you putting that knowledge into practice.
Myth 3: Demonstrating understanding of graduate competencies is only important when applying for jobs
The path of a teacher is one of continual improvement, and you don’t stop learning once you graduate from university. Let the competencies create a pathway for you to build your professional practice.
Once you arrive in the classroom, you can start putting the AITSL Standards you’ve been discussing into practice. You haven’t got the position for a week or a term, so you have time to perfect your craft. Take your time, try new things, and reflect on what has worked.
Myth 4: You have to fit the mould of the stereotypical ‘good teacher’
Believe it or not, there is no one way to be a good teacher.
When you’re in the classroom, your personality and interests will help immensely as you build relationships with staff and students.
Be yourself in an interview and don't be afraid to show your personality.
Who you are as a person will be encouraged in the school community, so it’s important to express yourself as a professional teacher and learner.
The school is not a mould, but an environment for growth. That is its most important feature – growth. Be a part of it.
Myth 5: Teaching is a very demanding job with no downtime
Teaching is a profession where you are invited to commit. Enter the profession with the generosity to commit and you’ll find you have a healthy balance of professional and personal commitments.
The work is often continuoul as you learn on the job, and your days may sometimes have no clear beginning or end, but refrain from measuring commitment only in terms of hours.
A job is particularly demanding when it is not enjoyed. If you’re passionate about making an impact in students’ lives, you won’t feel that your career is too demanding.
Myth 6: Teaching is a lonely profession
As a teacher, you are surrounded by a network of peers and support. You are not alone – the community of teaching starts with you and goes in all directions.
In your first week at a school you may be preoccupied with the narrow constraints of your job, but then it gradually unfolds.
There are no limits, and you will always have colleagues, friends, leaders, models, students, parents, partners …
You will not be alone. Teaching is not an individual pursuit; it is teamwork.
Story: Courtney Johnson