Brooke: How to bounce back from a not-so-great prac
Brooke is currently in her second year at USQ studying a Bachelor of Education. Brooke looks forward to graduating and teaching in a small rural school like the one she went to when she was a school student. Brooke enjoys playing music and can’t wait to begin travelling.
Most people will tell you that your placement experience is going to be great, you’ll learn so much and you won’t want to leave. Well, my first prac was quite the opposite and I honestly could not wait for the two weeks to be over.
I originally expected to go to my school to observe how a qualified teacher runs a classroom and put what I have learnt into practice by teaching a few lessons myself. Well, to say the least that was far from what actually happened. I was put in four different classrooms in nine days and only taught one lesson, and to put the cherry on top of my prac disaster, I fell sick.
After this off-putting experience, I seriously contemplated dropping out of my degree, or changing at the very least. I talked with my family members that just so happened to have recently graduated as teachers, and they encouraged me to give it another shot, saying that I had the ‘teacher spark’. The best advice definitely came from my mum who suggested I stay for another semester and complete another placement to compare, and encouraged and supported me while I did. From my first placement experience, I realised that my current specialisation was not the one I wanted to pursue and discussed with the Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts (BELA) department my options for study and how I could change my degree. I changed my specialisation to Primary Education, and am glad that I stuck it out from that point on.
Since then, I have completed two other placements, which I have thoroughly enjoyed. These two placements have allowed me to discover what it’s like to be an effective primary school teacher and cemented the enjoyment I get from being a teacher. Both of these experiences were very hands on and allowed me to understand so many aspects of a teacher’s working life. I formed great relationships with the students and made great connections for future teaching endeavours. From these experiences, I have learned and grown as a practicing teacher and am extremely glad that I had the support and encouragement from my family to stick it out.
I can definitely say that my first placement was a learning experience, even though it did not pan out how I expected it to. I learned to speak up and seek assistance when I needed it. I also learned that you should go into each prac expecting the unexpected.
Each student, classroom, and teacher is different, and therefore you need to take each experience as it comes. It also taught me that I can make it through the worst and to expect that, sometimes, the worst may unfortunately happen.
However, the key learning experience from this placement was that I realised the type of teacher I did not want to be, which is helping shape the teacher I want to become.
I eventually learned that my story is not so uncommon, and many other students have had a similar experience and contemplated, or have, dropped out of university. The best advice I can give someone is to speak up while you are on placement. Make sure to talk to your Liaison Officer; after all, that is what they are there for. Your Liaison Officer is there to make sure that you are getting the most out of your placement experience. I would also recommend that you make the most of the support from your family and friends, as their support and encouragement might be just what you need to nudge you forward. After all, your family and friends are the ones who know you the best and can help you work through those tough decisions.
Just remember to make the most of your placement and learn as much as you can. You may come across some not-so-pleasant times here and there but remember, you will learn something from every experience, good or bad.
Tricky study situations aren’t uncommon, however it is important to have mental resilience when you hit tough times. If you are experiencing difficulties during your studies and are in need of some #HELP, make sure to check out what student support is available to you.