So Matthew, when did you decide that you wanted to be a primary school teacher?
I suppose it was after I had a couple of work experiences at primary schools, one in Year 10, and one in Year 12.
When it was time for choosing a degree at university, I had some other options, but I couldn’t really see myself doing anything else so, those work experiences definitely shaped where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do.
What was the study pathway that you took?
So I finished Year 10 and then I went to a Year 11 and 12 college. I then went to the University of Canberra. It was a four year bachelor of education, primary teaching degree. I just did those four years and then on my last prac (work placement) I got offered a job.
What would a typical day at work involve for you at the moment?
So you get in, in the morning and you prepare for the day. If you need to print some things out or copy some things or make some resources then you do that.
Then the kids arrive and you have a couple of hours in the morning where you normally do a literacy block with them, so writing, reading and spelling.
Then they have a recess and after recess, you do, it depends each day, normally maths or PE or something else like that.
Then they have an hour for lunch and then at the end of the day, we do a whole variety of things, they do like a little circle time, which is talking about emotions and feelings and things like that.
Are there many after school commitments?
So we have a staff meeting every Tuesday ... and then Thursday afternoon we have some kind of professional learning or it might be a chat with your team at school.
Other than that, you have to have a certain amount of professional learning hours done outside of school, so I have to get 20 hours of professional learning, so that’s going to courses and workshops and things like that.
So what do you enjoy most about teaching?
I suppose just those moments where you’re in the classroom, you’ve been teaching something then you can see the look of, you know, ‘I get this’, on the kids’ faces.
It might sound corny, but it does happen.
When you’re trying to teach them something and sometimes it’s difficult, you feel like they’re not taking it in, but then you can see that they’ve actually taken it in, they understand and you know they learned something, then that’s a really really good feeling.
And what would be the hardest part of the job?
I’d probably say just getting time management right.
When I first started, you know, every job was super important.
I had to get them all done and I was doing this and doing that and I was busy, busy, busy.
But now, you kind of realise you’ve got to be on top of things and just keeping yourself on the right track and make sure you give yourself time for yourself.
What sort of skills or attributes you think are essential to being a good teacher?
Patience, I think is definitely one.
You’ve got to be quite patient sometimes, like I said, if you feel like the kids aren’t getting it, it would be easy to give up and move on. But if you stick with it and you’re patient, you can see some good results.
I guess as well, just being quite a good people person, because you do have to talk to the parents and then other teachers at school. There are lots of other people that you communicate with and have a good rapport with. So just having those people skills as well...
Do you have any advice for those wanting to go into teaching?
I would just say, just to stick with.
I had mixed experiences on my pracs, sometimes I felt like ‘oh yeah this is definitely for me’, and sometimes I was like, ‘oh, what am I doing with myself?’
But just stick with it and it pays dividends in the end. Now I’m doing it and now I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.
What would a typical starting salary be for a primary school teacher?
So for me, I’m straight out of university and I’m on just over $60,000. And that rises every year for certain number of years.
I guess that might vary between different states and territories?
I think it does. I think the ACT, where I am, just got a big increase so I think it’s one of the higher ones now.