Meet Grace Wong

Master of Teaching (Secondary) graduate.

What is your current role and what year level/subjects are you teaching?

I am currently three years into being a fully registered high school teacher. I am currently teaching Mathematics classes across Years 7, 9, 11 and 12.

What made you decide to enrol in the Master of Teaching (Secondary)?

Since I was young, my dream job was to be a teacher. I believe that the aim of every teacher should be to help students learn and to foster a desire to become lifelong learners. So for as long as I can remember, it’s since been my passion to help these students to meet their individual needs and to guide them as a learner in their zone of proximal development.

I can think of no better period in a student’s life for these skills and learnings to be imparted on them than during their high school years. This is the period where, as teenagers, they will begin to make very real decisions in life and I wanted to be there to help guide them through it. As Rosenthal said, a teacher’s expectations can act as self-fulfilling prophecies because a student’s achievement comes to reflect these expectations. Indeed, if we expect the best of our students and work hard with and for them, they too will work on it as well.

I wanted to equip and prepare myself with the specific skills and techniques to become a good teacher. So I did my due diligence and researched on the different universities and what they offered in their units with regards to education based in Australia. I found that MGSE Master of Teaching (Secondary) – aside from being ranked second in the world – offered units relevant to what I was looking for and covered such a wide range of topics, including both theoretical and practical applications needed in the classroom. So choosing to pursue my dream at the University of Melbourne then became a very easy choice to make.

What were your learning areas?

My learning areas were Chemistry and Mathematics.

Were you working at the time? If so, how did you juggle work and study?

I decided not to work during the first year of my course, but I did pick up part-time tutoring in the last semester of my Master of Teaching. I only worked once a week for a few hours, so I found that having to juggle both responsibilities wasn’t too stressful.

What was the most challenging part of the course?

The most challenging part of the course was managing my time. It was expected that we would always perform all pre-readings before the lectures and seminars in order to give ourselves the best opportunity to understand the concepts and be able to contribute to discussions. During my first few weeks of the first semester, I admittedly felt overwhelmed at times. However, in hindsight having to push through the workload consequently acted as good training for becoming more organised and disciplined in managing my time – a good trait to have for a teacher.

What was the most valuable aspect of the course?

There are many valuable aspects to the course, though one in particular that strikes me the most is the enthusiastic passion constantly on display from all the educators (lecturers and tutors) at the university. There is a saying that “actions speak louder than words”, and thus to be able to see such experienced educators show a passion for wanting to make a difference in our lives spoke volumes alongside the invaluable content that they were teaching us. It was an incredible feeling to learn from a group of people who held a similar passion in this field and it certainly pushed me further in striving harder towards my dream.

How did you find the Clinical Teaching model that the Melbourne Graduate School of Education uses?

In my opinion, the model was great. I still believe that differentiation is one of the most challenging issues in education. Each student has a different learning style, and the challenge of knowing how we can refine each lesson to better cater to the different learning needs of different students is ongoing. The Clinical Teaching model acted as a good standard of practice and reminder for teachers to plan their lessons and environments though. We were taught to constantly evaluate the impact of the lessons to meet the needs of each student. We were also taught to maximise the potential of each student using the evidences we collected before and after the lesson to inform their next steps.

How prepared did you feel going into your first year of teaching?

I was nervous but I felt prepared. I was nervous because I did not know what types of classes I would be given. Yet I also felt prepared, because I had the experience of sixty days of teaching placements to boost up my confidence in my ability to teach. The Master of Teaching (Secondary) equipped us with the necessary skills for classroom behaviour, how to deal with parents, as well as resources and ideas for our learning areas. These were all skills that helped me get through my first year of teaching.

What would you say to someone thinking about doing this course?

Do it! We really need more passionate educators in this industry to make a difference for the next generation. We need people that actually care about the education for the next generation of Australians and even in their home country abroad. Although the course can very challenging at times, it is very rewarding at the end of the day. There are days where I may feel frustration in this job, but when I think about it I am living out my dream job and am enjoying every moment.