Emily McDonald | Student | Master of Teaching (Early Childhood & Primary)

After previously studying abroad, Emily is looking forward to seeing where her Master of Teaching (Early Childhood & Primary) will take her. From no experience working with children at all, she feels confidence in going into the classroom, particularly from doing her teacher placement during her studies.

Q: Can you please briefly outline your life prior to studying this program?

I completed the International Baccalaureate at Wesley College in Melbourne in 2012. At the time of my year 12 exams, I was hospitalised due to illness but was still able to achieve my goal of receiving entry to the Bachelor of Arts at Melbourne University via a special access scheme. I commenced studies in 2012, initially hoping to major in Psychology but tried a variety of subjects which allowed me to discover new passions in Sociology, Media Communications and Marketing. My studies also allowed me to achieve another dream - to study overseas at the University of Bristol for a semester.

At the end of my studies I decided to work before pursuing a masters degree; I had always been interested in teaching but was curious to see what it was like to work in the corporate sector. I gained employment in Real Estate where I was promoted to a Marketing & Management Assistant role, before working as an Advertising Campaign Manager for a magazine publisher where I worked with iconic Australian and global brands. After two years of work, I realised that the things I loved most about my jobs - creativity, communication and working with people - were all key elements of teaching. Although it was daunting to leave a full time job and return to study, I’m glad I took the leap.

Q: Why did you choose to study at the Faculty of Education?

As a previous student of the University, I had confidence in the quality of teaching that the University offers and knew my qualification would be respected globally.  The location of the campus was also a factor - I knew I wouldn’t have to worry about where I lived and would be able to access the university via a range of public transport options. Overall, the option to study a dual qualification in Early Childhood and Primary teaching was what made my decision for me.

Q: Why did you choose to study your program?

Although I always imagined myself working in secondary schools,  I realised that the breadth of the studies in the Arts had equipped me with a lot of skills and knowledge that was more suited to generalist teaching.  I had some prior knowledge of child development from studying Psychology in high school and knew that understanding children's development and learning more broadly would benefit my teaching ability and job opportunities. In the end, I reflected on why I was interested in becoming a secondary teacher and realised that I could bring the same intention to challenge and build the capacity of students to the teaching of young children.

Q: Are you enjoying studying at the Faculty of Education?

Attending the Faculty of Education is a highly social experience. The teaching staff are passionate and engaging and cultivate a real community. Due to the relatively small size of each cohort,  it’s easy to get to know other people in the course. The facilities also provide a variety of spaces for independent or group study and you’re always bound to spot a familiar face whether it be teaching staff or someone from class.

Q: What’s the most valuable/rewarding aspect of your program?

The most rewarding aspect of the MTeach program is, without a doubt, going on placement. Whilst it seems daunting to begin with, it becomes something to look forward to every week. The opportunity to put theory into practice is invaluable and makes lectures and seminar content more engaging too. Getting to know children, families and staff in real world professional settings is a whole other context for learning. Developing your practice on placement is an amazing opportunity to build confidence and prepare for employment.

Q: Is there anything you wish you’d known before starting the course?

There are a range of scholarships available to all students who attend the University of Melbourne including several scholarships for the Faculty of Education. There are also Government Scholarships available for eligible courses working towards Early Childhood qualifications. I would highly recommend researching and applying for any scholarships - you never know what you might be eligible for.

Q: How do you hope your course will help your career progression?

I know that my qualification will enable me to work in a variety of settings across early childhood and primary education but also globally. The prospect of being able to seek employment in regional areas of Australia and in other countries is exciting. Also, whilst it wasn’t something I had considered initially, I feel the course has developed my skills in research and prepared me to return to study in the future to undertake a PhD.

Q: What do you hope is the next step in your life/career?

I am really looking forward to gaining employment as a graduate teacher and continuing to develop my practice. Ideally I would love to work in a setting that has opportunities for me to work across early childhood and primary levels, however, I am open to where teaching might take me. It’s exciting to think of all the different places my career can take me - regional areas, the UK - anywhere really!

Q: What advice would you give to someone thinking about starting your course?

Be a blank canvas - no matter what your previous experience is with children. I came into the course with no experience working with children - which turned out to be a great benefit because I had to ask lots of questions and mirror the actions of my lecturers, tutors and mentor teachers - which significantly improved my practice. Don’t forget that the people around you at the Faculty are incredible resources.

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