Master of Teaching (Primary) student Harliegh Stanton has been interning at Flagstaff Hill Primary School for most of 2021 and was recently awarded one of Educators SA’s Outstanding Graduate of the Year awards. During her internship, she taught in a year 3 classroom and implemented a wellbeing program for a small group of students as her special project, which was part of her degree. She’s listed three key tips she’d give to teaching students going into placements.
You are not perfect, and no one is expecting you to be
“As a pre-service teacher, those around you are expecting you to be imperfect so that they can mentor you and provide feedback”, says Harleigh. “Therefore, you should not be expecting yourself to be perfect either. Give yourself space and grace to make mistakes and have fun learning and perfecting your teaching practice. It is a journey, so be reflective and constantly work to improve areas you may not be strong in. But don’t forget to celebrate your successes too, no matter how small”.
It is not a competition
“If there are other pre-service teachers at your school do not compare yourself to them”, says Harleigh. “They are in different year levels, have different values to you, have different mentor teachers, different strengths and different areas for improvement. There are so many differing factors and it’s important to be supportive of each other. So rather than comparing your sign in or out time to others or comparing your feedback to others, focus on yourself and look after yourself”.
Look after your own wellbeing
“Anyone undertaking studies in teaching or psychology will know that Maslow’s hierarchy of needs articulates that we cannot be successful learners when our basic needs are not met”, says Harleigh. “I applied this in practice for my students but didn’t apply it to myself. You cannot be the best teacher you can be if you’re not looking after your physical and psychological wellbeing. Don’t let the workload replace any of your basic self-care such as cooking and preparing good food as fuel for your body, exercising, hygiene, sleep, staying hydrated, and relationships with your friends and family. You will need these things in order to sustain yourself long term. I learnt that for me, it was easier to schedule time for these things and a drink bottle with a straw was my best friend. Find what works for you and don’t spend too many extra hours working before and after school because you will find yourself getting burnt out”.