Meet Anthony Curnow
Master of Teaching (Primary) graduate.
Anthony Curnow completed the Master of Teaching (Primary) in 2015. He is now teaching grade 1 at Footscray City Primary School.
What made you decide to enrol in the Master of Teaching (Primary)?
After completing a Bachelor of Horticulture at the University of Melbourne (UoM), I worked in a variety of positions that provided me with knowledge of garden centre management and production horticulture. I completed a training/work placement with the Royal Horticultural Society in the UK, and on my return worked for a number of years with the Nursery and Garden Industry of Victoria running a variety of programs.
One such program included the management, marketing and implementation of a Cadetship Program, which saw me engaging industry, the education sector and government for the purpose of meeting a labour shortage. This immersion drew me increasingly into the education sector, and which led me to begin considering further study.
At the same time, I was reflecting on my impact as an individual from a community perspective. I had an increasing intrinsic need to do something more closely aligned to my values, and ultimately this led me to primary teaching as I see schools as the lifeblood of their communities.
As a UoM graduate, I felt comfortable in the knowledge that the Melbourne Graduate School of Education (MGSE) would deliver access to a world-class educational experience, providing me with the knowledge and skills to succeed.
Were you working at the time? If so, how did you juggle work and study?
While studying, I was heavily supported by family whom I moved back in with. However I worked every Sunday to ensure balance and allow myself the opportunity to maintain my professionalism in working alongside customers and colleagues. I commend those that are able to rent, work, and undertake the study requirements in full. I am thankful for and attribute much of my success to the support of my family and friends.
What was the most challenging part of the course?
The course is demanding in many ways, and these demands can at times become personally arduous. But for me personally, I revelled in the demanding and diverse nature of the course, where your mind is constantly challenged.
It was evident that it can be challenging for some pre-service teachers to switch between placements at school, to the learning environment at MGSE. You are in a unique position where you view a school, with all its complexity and history within a community, through a single lens of achieving learning outcomes for yourself and the students you come to know over a comparatively short placement. The challenge in this is simply meeting the requirements of the course given uncertainties present in authentic and diverse school scenarios, and academic timeframes.
In many regards, the learning experience at MGSE can be paralleled to the challenge of everyday teaching. You work very hard during the school term, but then are rewarded with non-teaching time to review student needs and reflection of your practice.
What was the most valuable aspect of the course?
Without doubt, the most valuable aspect of the course was having the opportunity to bridge the gap between cutting edge educational research and how this materialises in the everyday classroom. Mentor relationships are as different as the schools themselves, each bringing with it a new learning opportunity. The placement experiences enable you to plan, experiment, and reflect on your teaching, integrating pedagogy taught at university with your developing teaching philosophy.
How did you find the clinical teaching model that the Melbourne Graduate School of Education uses?
The clinical teaching model has prepared me well for taking on a full time position within a school. Having this model and pedagogical approach as the backbone of my teaching practice enables me to effectively meet the individual needs of all children in my class.
I set individual goals based on identified need, and conduct targeted interventions to support students within a learning environment that promotes higher-order thinking skills. Throughout this process, I use my understanding of assessment to drive teaching and learning.
As such, the clinical teaching model supports a developmental notion, which is that all children have the capacity to learn if provided with the right support from their teachers.
How prepared did you feel going into your first year of teaching?
Given that a huge component of the Master of Teaching included practical placements in schools, I was able to build a suitcase of teaching strategies that would support me in taking on my very own class.
I viewed each and every placement as a two-way interview, which allowed me at times to feel like a valued member of the team and a capable educator. The placements provided me with the opportunity to see whether the school I was placed in would suit my own personal pedagogy, while the school had the opportunity to see my knowledge and skills first hand.
I feel that the two-year learning experience did not end the day that I graduated. I will continue to engage with professional opportunities offered by MGSE, such as the Dean’s Lecture Series, to further my professional capacity as an effective primary school teacher.
What would you say to something thinking about doing this course?
Without sounding too corny, the course is a journey of self-discovery. I witnessed and supported colleagues around me as they grappled with the high expectations of the course, and their ability to teach children within the classroom environment. The journey can be confronting, however once you become a member of the MGSE community, you find yourself surrounded by support. The MGSE staff are wonderful, and go above and beyond to discuss your teaching practice with you.
Everyone that enters MGSE has arrived at the same destination, but came along a different path. You will be experiencing many similar sentiments, but at the same time, you will be on a very individual journey.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Finally, nearly everyone knows someone that is a teacher, or knows a teacher. Before I applied, I contacted my network and actively questioned them on the reality of teaching. I visited a school and spent a few hours in a classroom, for the purpose of simply visualising myself in a similar role in the future. This experience, and the discussions I had with my personal support network, provided me with the confidence to apply. Since then, I’ve never looked back.