Why we hire graduates

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23 November 2020

Graduate teachers from St Thomas More’s School, Hadfield.Principal Marcy De Nardis at St Thomas More’s School, Hadfield, has always believed in hiring graduate teachers. ‘The freshness that a graduate brings, their youthful perspective is something that I value very highly and I’ve always employed graduates for that reason. To keep us fresh, to keep us grounded, to keep us contemporary.’

This year was no different and hiring Rachel Hanna, as a Year 4 teacher, has turned out to be a profoundly beneficial investment for the children in the school.

‘I often say to parents when I do tours that I can have all the bells and whistles, but if I don’t have the best teachers in front of the children then I have nothing’, said Marcy. ‘I look for passion and intelligence when I look for teachers. I can teach them everything else, but I can’t teach them to be intelligent or passionate.’

Marcy couldn’t stress enough how impressed and proud she is of Rachel’s teaching this year. ‘In her first year of teaching, Rachel was able to pivot and take a whole new perspective on how to bring the best opportunities to her children.’

‘She drew upon the expertise of the team – because we are very much a team, no one works in isolation in our school, there’s a team mentality – together with her own innate drive to provide the best opportunities. She came up with some magnificent examples of how to personalise learning for children in a remote setting.’

‘She has earned the respect of her peers, of parents, of the children, by doing her job and doing it well and doing it with kindness.’

Rachel’s first year of teaching Q&A

For her part, Rachel has embraced every challenge thrown at her this year, drawing on her mentors and teaching team, as well as her own ingenuity to create learning opportunities for her Year 4s.

‘This year started off amazingly’, said Rachel. ‘It was everything I was expecting as a graduate teacher and then suddenly everything changed. It felt like everything that I’d learned to do on placements and at uni just kind of froze for a moment because we had to teach online.’

‘The sense that I had throughout the year was that it’s not just me facing this challenge, it’s actually all teachers in Victoria facing this challenge together and no one has ever experienced it before.’

What have you learned about teaching this year?

‘Although it was a stressful year and a difficult year being my first year out, there was some comfort in knowing that all teachers were going through this together. And I think because of that, it actually united everyone in the school to provide the best possible outcome for our students. That is our main goal as teachers – to provide the best learning opportunities for our students. Everyone was working towards a common purpose. It was like: that’s the goal we need to achieve this year.’

How has it been at St Thomas More’s School?

‘I felt very supported throughout this whole experience and it was great to see a school come together to not only provide the best for their students, but also for their staff. I think having that support really helped me to say that I’m not alone in this. Both leadership and my Year 4 team helped me enormously. As a graduate, my team have not only mentored me throughout this whole year, but they guided me, supported me and allowed me to explore, modify and challenge my current teaching practices.’

‘Now is the best time to explore and challenge yourself to modify or adapt.’

What would you say to a graduate teacher of 2021?

‘The first thing I would recommend, when they’re first in the classroom, is to get to know their students, build that positive relationship with them, because that is key in order to achieve their best learning outcomes. Get to know your students and their strengths and challenges, and plan learning opportunities according to that.’

‘Explore different learning practices, modify your teaching, extend yourself, challenge yourself. Use a whole range of different teaching practices which you may not have used during your placements or at uni. See if they work, if they don’t you can alter them. But now is the best time to get to know your students and then engage them in multiple different styles of teaching practice in order to maximise the best learning outcomes for your students.’