My life as a first year teacher
- Reflections by Brooke Garland (Wellington HS) -
My name is Brooke Garland and I have completed my first six months as a graduate teacher out in Wellington NSW. I always knew that I was going to spend my first few years as a teacher out in a regional town, but I never expected it to be so challenging but yet so fulfilling at the same time. When I got the phone call finding out that Wellington was going to become my new home, I was filled with mixed emotions but was ready to take on the next step in my career.
Stepping into the classroom on the first day was difficult, I had put so much pressure on myself to be great and to be honest it all fell apart in period four. I left that day feeling completely exhausted and a few tears were shed at home. Despite day one being somewhat of a disaster I picked myself up and continued to fully immerse myself in the school community. I learnt very early that relationship building with students was a top priority. If I wanted them to trust me and learn I needed to gain their trust and be interested in them as an individual. I have learnt that these students have been used to teachers coming in and out of their lives and how much they value stability and a sense of familiarity. Constantly developing relationships with my students is something I now strive to do on a daily basis. A major challenge as a first-year teacher has been overcoming the constant desire to work on content and ensure I am ticking all the outcome boxes. I have learnt that it is more important to have the students in the classroom trying their absolute best, rather than skimming across content just to get it done. As a PE teacher, one of my greatest challenges has been inspiring students to move their bodies and this is something that challenges me on a daily basis. I have learnt not to put pressure on myself to be the best teacher every lesson and that mistakes are constantly going to be made. I aim to reflect after every lesson on the good and the bad, hoping to continuously improve my practice. Overall, I take making it to 3:08 everyday as an achievement.
Working in a small school is great, I love being able to walk down the hallway seeing familiar faces or have meaningful conversation on duty. On the weekends I head down to the local footy field to watch the students play sport or wake up early to train with the Clontarf crew. These are the experiences that I truly value and I know are making a significant impact on the relationship I have with these students. It is the sense of community that has captured me and made me feel welcomed and that in itself is one of the best things about living rural as a first-year teacher.
The move to Wellington has been incredible and it has been made easier by the support of other new teachers and experienced staff members. I find that I always have someone to ask for help, vent about those awful lessons and share my wins. It would be very difficult if I did not have these people to share my experiences with and this has truly helped me navigate the crazy teaching life.
The admin side of teaching is probably the most overwhelming aspect of the job and I do not think this side of the job was conveyed to us at university. To me this is an area that I believe new teachers need more support in to avoid burnout and constant exhaustion.
I truly hope that more teachers take the plunge to move out west. All schools have their challenges, but I have never come across such loyal students who constantly inspire me to be a better teacher. Despite the challenges and a few tears I would not change it and I honestly see myself working in rural and regional schools for a significant time to come.
ACHPER NSW support for Early Career Teachers of PDHPE
ACHPER NSW are currently planning a professional learning and mentoring program for early career teachers of PDHPE in 2022. This program will be targeted specifically to support teachers in the PDHPE learning area and will include a one day conference and follow up support and mentoring from experienced PDHPE teachers and Head Teachers. If you are an early career teacher and are interested in being involved in the conference and/or mentoring program you can register your interest through the link below: