Passionate about science, Charli completed a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology and Immunology. She knew she wanted to be a teacher, so up next was a Master of Teaching (Secondary), including a rural placement in Marlo, a coastal village in eastern Victoria.
“I’ve always wanted to become a teacher, but I knew I had an interest in science as well,” Charli said. “The Master of Teaching seemed like the best program for me, as it allowed me to complete an undergraduate degree in science before doing a teaching degree.”
She chose biology, general science and mathematics as her learning areas, even though she initially couldn’t picture herself teaching maths. “I definitely never saw myself as a maths teacher when I was younger,” she admitted, “but since having a go at teaching maths on placement, I’ve come to like it, and I find that it complements science quite nicely.” After completing her first placement at a local high school, she was hired there as a part-time maths tutor, a job she continues to do while studying full time at the Faculty of Education.
Alongside her love of science, Charli also has a soft spot for team sports – in her spare time, she's the vice-captain of a community football team. “Playing sport myself, I know how valuable it is to be a member of a team and have a way to let off steam, so I’d love to get involved with female sport in schools,” she said, adding that if the opportunity arose to coach a team, she “would jump at the chance”.
After completing her previous teaching placements at urban schools, Charli was feeling ready to expand her horizons and “experience something completely different”. She opted for a rural placement, and ended up teaching at the School for Student Leadership (Snowy River Campus) in Marlo, a coastal village in the Gippsland region of Victoria. “It’s quite different to any school I had been placed at before,” said Charli. “Students are placed in small groups of 10 to 12 for the term. They live on campus and participate in outdoor activities as well as learning concepts regarding collaboration, emotional management, wellbeing and empathy.
“There was also a lot more focus on learning about and from the outdoor environment. A big emphasis was placed on experiential learning, goal setting and reflecting. Kids were allowed to make mistakes and try things out, as long as they later demonstrated learning from these mistakes and were able to reflect on what went well and what they could do better.”
Charli described a three-day camping expedition as a highlight of the placement. It was “wonderful to connect with the students” as they took part in activities such as hiking, canoeing, and surfing. Charli was heartened to see the students handle new situations and face the unfamiliar. “Surfing was a big highlight, not only for me, but also to watch students conquer fears of water and the ocean, embrace the challenge and eventually get to stand up on a surfboard.”
The most rewarding aspect of her placement was watching students “come out of their shells and work together to reach a common goal.” Charli explained further, “On the expedition, each student had a different role each day and the entire trip was student-navigated, with student timekeepers, caterers, cleaners and so on. The students all gained so much confidence through this process. It was great to watch them collaborate and praise each other.”
Charli, who calls herself a “very hands-on learner”, found all her placements incredibly rewarding. “I want to get into a classroom as soon as I can!” she enthused. “I can’t wait to continue learning on the job next year.”
She concluded with encouraging words for other pre-service teachers in the program: “Just have a go and say yes to every opportunity that comes your way, be it a rural or Northern Territory placement, volunteer opportunities or community involvement. You never know what connections you can form, and I have met some of the most amazing teachers on my placements, whom I know I can rely on to be a bank of resources and knowledge in the years to come.”