Do you enjoy teaching?
Jason: Absolutely. The main reason is that every day is different. I turn up at the same office, work with same people and teach the same students, but each day is a new experience. Last week, for example, I assisted at our school athletics carnival; next week I’ll be organising tryouts for the Junior AFL team and refereeing a Year 8 versus Year 9 volleyball match. It’s never boring and always challenging.
Sara: I absolutely love it. I was that annoying person who knew exactly what she wanted to be back when I was in high school. I love being able to walk into a classroom with 25 pairs of eyes on me, all (hopefully) eagerly waiting to learn, and I enjoy the challenge of having a whole lesson organised from start to end only to find that, for whatever reason, I have to adapt and make up new activities on the spot!
What are some of the roles you’ve performed and what have they involved?
Jason: I’m Year 8 Level Coordinator, which involves collaborating with teachers, students and parents to ensure the girls are being supported to achieve their best. I run the Responsibility program which consists of two live performances focusing on themes such as friendship, belonging and cyber safety; particularly at Year 8, there is a large focus on 'responsibility'.
There is also a Year 8 camp and an outdoor adventure activity aimed at challenging students to step out of their comfort zone and to reach personal goals.
Sara: One of my main roles is Community Liaison Coordinator, and my team’s first major task this year was organising the International Women’s Day Breakfast. The students worked tirelessly on it and the event just kept growing; there were over 100 guests, an internationally-renowned speaker and a delicious hot breakfast. What truly amazed me was the girls’ dedication, some staying late the night before to set up and others arriving by 6:00 the next morning, before the sun rose!
What do you think has been your greatest achievement in your role as a teacher?
Jason: With support from teachers, I’ve been able to start a Volleyball program. I sought advice from other schools and in 2013 started training two Year 7 teams on a weekly basis, the aim being to enter them into major tournaments such as the Victorian Volleyball Schools Cup and the Australian Volleyball Schools Cup. The program now has 3 teams participating in this year’s events – including one in Year 8 - and my aim is to continue to add another team each year until every year level is represented.
Sara: It would have to be introducing Dress a Girl around the World to CGSC. It’s a fantastic global initiative whereby students are taught during their lunchtimes to make simple ‘pillow case’ dresses for disadvantaged girls in developing countries. Last year we nearly met our quota of 100 dresses; this year we’re hoping to step it up! I’m personally very excited knowing that the students will be able to finally pack their dresses and ship them off towards the end of the year.
You’ve both gone above and beyond what’s expected of a young teacher starting out. Why do you do it?
Jason: I remember my schooling as a very positive period in my life, especially the camps, excursions and sporting accomplishments. The friendships made and the experiences had are invaluable. Therefore, I try and give my students similar opportunities which may or may not shape their lives. Furthermore, it is the extraordinary people that I currently work with and have worked with in the past that inspire and motivate me to work hard and always try my best. These people have definitely shaped my life.
Sara: I don’t know that I’m going above and beyond, however, I’d have say that I truly do it for my students. I do it for their laughter and joy at finally being able to sew a straight line or flip an omelette! I do it to provide my students the very best that I can give to them. Also, admittedly I sometimes do things for myself – things that are fulfilling on a personal level.
Do you think there’s a lot of pressure on young teachers (or teachers generally) these days and if so, how do you handle it?
Jason: I’ve been lucky enough to have supportive mentors and close support from peers. Trying to balance school life with social life, friends and family is important.
Sara: Personally, I try not to get overwhelmed by it all. My wonderful, supportive family is the main reason why the pressure doesn’t seem to get to me too much, and relationships that I’ve made in the workplace have meant that concerns are halved. It’s important to try and have fun and not take things so seriously all the time.
What do you think Gen Y has to offer the teaching profession?
Jason: Enthusiasm and a fresh outlook on teaching. But we also need to be supported by the experienced teachers who know the ins and outs.
Sara: I think we are quite resilient and dedicated, and tend to take constructive criticism well. We know that our profession is constantly changing and can be very quick to adapt.