After finishing his undergraduate degree in the UK, Ian moved to Australia to travel. In Melbourne, Ian teaches as a swimming coach for a school - here, the principal suggested he enrolled on a Master of Teaching (Primary), recommending MGSE.
Q: Can you please briefly outline your life prior to studying this program?
I completed my undergraduate studies in 2010 before getting a job for a couple of years in my hometown, Carlisle in the UK. I came to travel Australia in 2012 as I had always wanted to experience life on this side of the world. Within a few weeks of arriving I was offered sponsorship as a Swimming Coach at a school in Bayside Melbourne and I have worked there ever since.
Q: Why did you choose to study at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education?
I chose to study Primary teaching at Melbourne on the recommendation of our Junior School Principal. I had heard many great things about the course and the opportunities to get real teaching experience within weeks of course commencement. After reading various testimonials online I decided to apply not knowing whether I would be accepted after taking a decade away from study. The best thing I like about the course is the fact that, when you are on placement, university classes still run at the end of the week during interim placements. This allows for students to debrief and put our own learning from university into practice straight away.
Q: Why did you choose to study your program?
I chose to study teaching because I wanted to create a better work-life balance for myself after having 10 years of full time work. Aligning that with my passion for working with children and young people, it seemed the natural step to move from swim coaching to teaching given I already worked in a school. I have had a lot of support in my decision to study from my school which I am incredibly grateful for. Whilst financially it has been difficult at times having little to no income, particularly during placements, I have taken the mindset that this course is a step on my career pathway and I can pick up work during semester breaks.
Q: Are you enjoying studying at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education? If so, what do you like about it?
I really enjoy the variety of subjects on offer in the MTeach Primary course. Whilst some subjects take a while to understand, as the year progressed last year I saw huge benefit in having these subjects included that provoke deeper discussions surrounding teaching. The balance between placement and study is great and I feel very well supported by the academic staff. During placements, working with a Mentor Teacher helps widen your thinking when teaching and has really helped me develop my own style of teaching. Getting these rewarding opportunities to enter the placement schools has been a privilege and has opened my eyes to seeing teaching having a collaborative approach between staff to provide the best opportunities for their students.
Q: What’s the most valuable/rewarding aspect of your program?
The most rewarding part of the course is most definitely placement. The anticipation everyone felt prior to the first placement was something you have to experience to understand. Finding out which school you have been placed in and which grade level is a mix of excitement and anxiety. Having worked in a school for 8 years I have always worked with older students so when I was placed in Grade 1 I was very nervous but I had the best time in the classroom seeing the students progress. Placement really is the best experience.
Q: Is there anything you wish you’d known before starting the course?
I wish I had known how hard it would be to adjust very quickly to try and find balance between the demands of the course, fitting in as much paid work as I could and balancing a social life as well. During semester and placement this can be incredibly tricky but when you have a semester break or the big break at the end of the year, make the most of that to fit other things in. In saying this, I am in awe of the people on our course that are parents. They have to be even more organised and resilient to the course demands.
Q: How do you hope your course will help your career progression?
I value how professional this course is and I feel justified and confident in my teaching because of what we have been taught at uni. From conversations at placement schools and at my own work, this course is highly regarded because of the Clinical Teaching model, and I do think that at the end of this course I will be absolutely prepared in the best possible way to be employed as a teacher. I am developing my pedagogy and I hope that the professionalism of the course is able to shine through at an interview and lead to employment.
Q: What do you hope is the next step in your life/career?
I do hope to secure a job in Melbourne after completion of this course. If that doesn’t work out I am not against moving interstate or overseas if employment opportunities are hard to come by. Most importantly though, after securing employment I look forward to the structure of life as a teacher and being able to plan life around that. I definitely look forward to the work-life balance.
Q: What advice would you give to someone thinking about starting your course?
If you have a passion for working with children, can work independently and collaboratively, and are prepared to work hard with the foresight that it is for 2 years before being in full time employment again, then absolutely choose the Melbourne Graduate School of Education to study an MTeach. This course will extend your thinking beyond what you think a teaching career will entail, it will challenge you, build your confidence, make you more resilient, and you will meet some great people along the way. Most importantly, I would say do it for yourself and because you want to do it.