TeachCast Episode 4 - now live

Our co-hosts, Shannon and Siobhan, go head-to-head in the great debate of primary versus secondary teaching and cover the difference in teaching and leadership roles in primary and high school contexts.

In this episode, all gloves are off as Shannon, a primary-trained teacher, and Siobhan, a secondary-trained teacher, go head-to-head in the great debate of primary versus secondary teaching.

For listeners who are yet to enter the classroom, Shannon takes you through a day in the life of a primary teacher (and in her case, impromptu dance teacher) and Siobhan will let you jump into the shoes of a secondary English/society and culture teacher.

For those with leadership in their sights, they also cover the difference in leadership roles in primary and high school contexts.

Finally, Shannon and Siobhan share their closing arguments for primary versus secondary teaching. From making Shakespeare relevant to teenagers today, to helping little ones make connections in the classroom to the real world (and, as a side perk, feeling like Angelina Jolie on the red carpet everytime you walk into your Kindergarten classroom), this is one showdown you’re not going to want to miss.

We hope you enjoy this episode.

View Episode 4, Season 1

Siobhan:

I'd like to acknowledge that this episode of TeachCast was recorded on the Homelands of the Dharug People. I'd like to pay respect to Elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples listening to TeachCast today. Welcome to TeachCast, a podcast by teachers, for teachers.

Shannon:

I'm Shannon

Siobhan:

And I'm Siobhan. Welcome back to another episode of TeachCast. We're so happy that you have joined us today. Today it's a bit of a battle between Shannon and myself because we're going to be talking about the difference between primary and secondary teaching, and maybe help guide you about which one you can choose to better suit your career path.

Shannon:

And what your options are.

Siohan:

What your options are, certainly. So, a bit of context if you haven't listened in before. My name's Siobhan and I'm a secondary English and society and culture teacher. I studied a Bachelor of Arts and Education at the University of New South Wales.

Shannon:

And my name is Shannon. I am the better half of the TeachCast podcast, and also a

Siobhan:

So she thinks

Shannon:

Also a primary school teacher. I studied a Bachelor of Arts with Psychology, and I also did a Masters of Teaching in primary school teaching at Western Sydney University. So, looking forward to deep diving into what your options are. I'd like to start off, how do I get my approval to teach or how do I now transform myself? I've got my degree or I'm almost finished my degree. How do I get out into classrooms into New South Wales public schools?

Siobhan:

Yeah. So if you're studying an undergraduate degree, you can apply for approval to teach in your final 18 months of study. If you're studying a Masters of Teaching degree, you can actually start applying for your NESA accreditation and approval to teach after the first six months. But NESA is its own separate institution. They're an accreditation authority.

Shannon:

Yeah.

Siobhan:

And they provide accreditation advice to all teachers. So, essentially they match what you've studied.

Shannon:

Yeah.

Siobhan:

And we can circle back to this in terms of choosing primary or secondary, but I think that if you, for example, you studied primary education, so you would get given a primary code.

Shannon:

Yeah.

Siobhan:

I studied secondary education. I would be coded in the specialties that I had. So if I went, obviously, I went and did English and society and culture, those are the two codes that I now hold and that's what NESA will assess them against. Once you've got your NESA accreditation, you can hop on over to the Department of Education and apply through our Graduate Recruitment Programme that will give you approval to teach. And you also get to select location preferences of where you might be interested in teaching for a potential appointment to a permanent position as well.

Shannon:

Yeah, fantastic. And permanent position means ongoing work.

Siobhan:

Correct.

Shannon:

So I'm not just working for a 12 month contract, that means that I'm with the department for as long as my career span in teaching ends up to be.

Siobhan:

But certainly once you've applied for your approval to teach, even as someone who's still studying, you can start working on a casual or temporary basis at that time. It's a really good way to balance or compliment your study.

Shannon:

Absolutely.

Siobhan:

Casual especially. I would recommend anyone casual teaching, even if it's just a day a week.

Shannon:

Yeah, absolutely.

Siobhan:

Or a day a fortnight. Just starting somewhere is really good to complement your university study with your practise.

Shannon:

Put your theory into practise in a sense. And that's how I started basically towards the end of my masters, I'd finished my final prac. I went out and got my Conditional Accreditation and I was out in the big wide world teaching. I was lucky enough to get some casual days at the school I completed my professional experience at, so

Siobhan:

And that's often what happens.

Shannon:

Absolutely. Yeah. And if you form those relationships while you're on your professional experience, you get to go back to that school in a different capacity. You're no longer being the supervised teacher, but you're there, able to support and help with student learning. For sure. And, having the experience of being a casual teacher, for myself, I think that taught me so much in the sense of behaviour management. Because you are with those students for one day potentially out of that week. You have to get to know them really quickly. So, you really develop your skills to be able to manage the students, manage the expectation of the day, but also build relationships quite quickly with students. Which is a really good skill to have under your belt.

Siobhan:

Yeah.

Shannon:

And then, from my casual teaching, I was lucky enough to be offered a temporary contract for the following year. So that meant that I was offered 12 months as a classroom teacher. And that was such an exciting experience for me. And then down the line, after you have some time as a temporary teacher and you might have more experience under your belt, you start to build your resume and your CV and build up that experience. You can look towards permanent employment if that's what you so wish to do. But the good thing I suppose about teaching across primary and secondary with the department is that you have the flexibility to move through the different

Siobhan:

Yep.

Shannon:

The different phases. Sometimes in your life, it may work out better to be casual teaching. Sometimes you may want more security at that point in your life and you may want to go for permanent employment, and that's the good thing.

Siobhan:

Well, another thing that I was thinking, you sort of sparked in my mind, I am secondary-trained. If I wanted to teach in a primary school as a casual or have a temporary contract, could I?

Shannon:

You absolutely could. I could.

Siobhan:

Yes. It's important to note, if permanent employment is the end goal for you, you must be accredited, coded and approved to teach in that area. However, if you are looking to try out a different area, so if I wanted to have a day in a primary school as a casual, I certainly could.

Shannon:

Yeah.

Siobhan:

If I wanted to apply for a permanent role in a primary school, I would need to retrain in primary education.

Shannon:

Absolutely.

Siobhan:

But yeah, that's just something important to note I think for our listeners is that you can actually try out both settings. However, if you're looking for permanent employment, you need to have the correct code.

Shannon:

Yeah.

Siobhan:

And have studied the correct modules, I suppose, in order to gain permanent employment in that area.

Shannon:

Because more often than not you do end up in a primary or a secondary school. However, we do have schools within the Department of Education known as central schools. So they are K - 12 schools. So sometimes you can be lucky enough or you can seek out the opportunity to go and work at a central school, and you can see how the transition from Year Six to Year Seven pans out and get experience that way. Which is another really good opportunity.

Siobhan:

There's also degrees which allow you to become accredited in primary and secondary teaching as well.

Shannon:

Yes.

Siobhan:

So, if you really can't make up your mind, the option is actually there for you to study a degree that runs all the way from Kindergarten to Year 12 as well. So, another option there.

Shannon:

Well, I'd love to dive in now and talk a little bit about what a day as a high school English slash society and culture teacher looks like.

Siobhan:

Yeah.

Shannon:

Run us through your day, Siobhan.

Siobhan:

Okay. I would say that I think I plan out my day in terms of how organised I was the day before or just yeah, general, whatever happened as part of my morning routine.

Shannon:

Yeah. Life happens sometimes.

Siobhan:

That's right. Yeah. So often, I'll arrive and go straight into my classroom and set up the technology that I need for the day. Because sometimes my computer can sense my fear. So I like to get it on as early as possible.

Shannon:

Or sometimes those laptops that you plugged in the night before

Siobhan:

That's right.

Shannon:

They didn't actually charge when you plugged them in.

Siobhan:

I didn't actually turn the power on, yeah. Things like that. So, I always like to set up my day going to my classroom first thing. Often in high school, there'll be roll call. Lots of schools have roll call or like a morning assembly.

Shannon:

Yeah.

Siobhan:

So, take attendance in roll call, share daily messages or attend morning assemblies. Sometimes you go up and speak on the morning assemblies.

Shannon:

Oh, that's always fun when you have the microphone.

Siobhan:

Yeah, that's fun. So I run the debating team. So if my debating team won, I would always go up there and absolutely brag about them, and make the whole school clap and cheer and celebrate for them. So that's always exciting. And then obviously high school is split into periods throughout the day. So I've worked at a school with a four period day. So four 80 minute periods.

Shannon:

Yeah.

Siobhan:

And I've worked at a school with five 60 minute periods per day. So yeah, I think for me, however your timetable at the start of the year, oftentimes I would just teach a full load of English. But sometimes I've taught out of faculty and out of subject area. Obviously, the school has asked my permission if I'd like to take on that experience. So, one year I

Shannon:

It's also a great opportunity as well.

Siobhan:

100%, yeah. One year I taught year nine geography, so that was fun. Yes, yes. That was fun. So yeah, essentially, high school you're following your timetable, following the bell times. You do get a significant amount of free periods. So planning periods as part of the allocation that you're given.

Shannon:

Yeah.

Siobhan:

And playground duty is always fun. Put on your high-vis vest. My personal favourite is bus duty because although it's chaotic, it's over in about five minutes, because all the kids just want to get home. So, I think that in terms of my every day, that's what a normal day looks like. But I think the beauty of high school is that something's always going on and the kids are always somewhere. So the students always have somewhere to go or something to do. And oftentimes, you as the teacher have something to run to support the students. So, like I said, I took debating a lot and I've had some years of students who just kept winning and winning and winning because they were great at arguing. And so, it meant that a lot of the time I was taking in

Shannon:

Really channel that passion.

Siobhan:

That's right. That's right. So yeah, it could be anything from the athletics carnivals, swimming carnivals, there could be multicultural days or SRC barbecues, fundraising days, things like open days where parents and future students come in and

Shannon:

Yeah.

Siobhan:

Yeah, I think it's just such an exciting and dynamic community and a really cool place to be. So I would think that that's your every day as a high school teacher.

Shannon:

Well, if she hasn't won you over, what does a primary school day look like?

Siobhan:

Yes.

Shannon:

You've probably heard it before from a teacher you may know, but every day is absolutely so different. And I think that's what I love about primary school teaching. Typically, you will have a class of up to 30 students. Stage 3, you'll have maybe a little bit more than 30, but in the younger years, no more than 22 in Kindergarten and I think about 24 in Stage 1. So, you have that smaller number because obviously they're just coming to their first little year at school and they might need a lot more hands-on one-to-one teaching. So, typically you are trained from Kindergarten all the way through to Year Six as a primary school teacher. So, you'll get exposure to teach students from anywhere who are four to five years old to about the 11 to 12 mark. What a day looked like for me. So, I'll take myself back to last year. I was teaching Year Five. They were an opportunity class, which means a class that academically identified as gifted students, and they were in a class of 60. So we had a Year Five and a Year Six. And we were in a team teaching space, which meant that I was lucky enough to collaborate with my team teaching partner and we would run the classroom together. So it was a really wonderful experience. I am very much a morning person. If you catch me after 3:15pm when the bell has rung, I just want to have a little bit of a chin wag.

Siobhan:

Yeah.

Shannon:

It was not the time that I was going to get my programming done or my marking done. For me, my best work was done in the morning and I really liked coming to work when it was nice and quiet and calm. So I used that time to be able to decompress, reflect on the day before, look at the 'where to next?' for what we were doing with the students that day and where we were taking their learning. So, you typically have a morning session. So, I would do English in the morning because I found that my students were the most receptive at that time. Then at the primary school that I worked at, we had lunchtime at 11am, which let me tell you, in the beginning was very strange to have my big meal per se at 11am. When I have school holidays, I would have to eat at 11am still, like my body clock was still

Siobhan:

Yeah, you get into a routine.

Shannon:

Yeah, still on that routine. So, we found that the playground having their bigger break or their lunchtime, the playground, it was a happier place to be because it wasn't as hot for the students. For example, the Stage 3 boys in Year Five and Six who loved to go up and play football or soccer on the field, we found there were less issues behaviourally because they weren't as hot and sweaty at that time of the morning and they were able to get out all their energy.

Siobhan:

Yeah.

Shannon:

And have that conversation mingle time that they could just run and let loose. And then the students would come back in at around 11:55am and we'd have the middle session. So that looked like your maths or you do another key curriculum area like science or geography or history, for example. And then you would have recess around two and then you would have your last session of the day, and the school bell rang at 3:15pm. So, similar to what you were speaking about, we have playground duty as well. You can have a playground duty every single day. There's no right or wrong answer to that. It just depends on what the staff at the school, what the numbers are like, and how many areas are open in the playground. I would say number one tip, don't forget your hat. Because there's no way you can go and tell a Year Six student on the field, they don't have a hat on, 'off you go back into the shaded area', if you're not standing there with a hat. So, my biggest piece of advice would be get yourself a nice teacher hat. But look, I always liked playground duty because you get out in the sunshine, have a walk around. Have a chat to the students that you don't get to see, that aren't in your class. And I feel like you get to know them on a bit of a different level as well. And contrary to what you say about bus duty, I used to do bus duty on a Tuesday afternoon. And there'd always be a bus that was late or something had happened. So I feel like I just had bad luck on a Tuesday. So, maybe it's something to do with the day or the buses.

Siobhan:

I love it. When you said bring a hat, my tip is for high school teachers, bring a whistle.

Shannon:

Oh, yeah.

Siobhan:

Yeah. I bother saying like, 'Bell's gone, time to wrap up your basketball', when you could just blow a whistle and they'll be like, 'Ugh.'

Shannon:

Absolutely.

Siobhan:

You know?

Shannon:

Yeah. And off they go on their merry way. So, similar to your experience with taking on extracurriculars, I got an opportunity that came my way in my first year of teaching. And my deputy at the time, he came up to me and he was like, 'We have this really passionate Stage Three dance group and they're looking for a really passionate dance teacher.'

Siobhan:

You're like, 'Where?'

Shannon:

And I was like, 'Is the passionate dance teacher in the room with us?' 'Because I can't see her.' Me, hadn't danced since I was probably a Stage Three student myself. He said, 'Well, I think you could give it a go with the right attitude.' And I was like, 'Okay, I'll give it a go.' And I think, at the end of the day, I'll joke and laugh about it. I loved being that dance teacher. Let me tell you.

Siobhan:

Yeah, you become a dance mum.

Shannon:

I did it for two years. And I don't think I've ever been so proud to see them perform at the end of the year assembly.

Siobhan:

It is rewarding.

Shannon:

When the creative and performing arts coordinator came to us, the creative teachers who took on groups and said, 'We have this spot at one of the end of year assemblies, is anyone interested?' Oh, whose hand went up? Straight up.

Siobhan:

Stage Three dance group. My group all brought something prepared.

Shannon:

And look, I was so proud. Yes, I spent my own time learning dances at lunchtime and then teaching it to the students. But the sheer joy I had and the laughs and relationships that I built with those students. I had Year One at the time so I didn't, and I was in a really big school of over 1,000 students, so I really didn't get to know the Stage Three students. There wasn't really an opportunity for that.

Siobhan:

Yeah, it's a lot.

Shannon:

But I found that me having the dance group, and they'd come up to me at lunch when they'd see me on duty, I was able to build that whole school connection as well, which was really, a really nice part of being a primary school teacher and having that opportunity. But extracurriculars are a great way, if you do have a passion for dance, or if you don't, to be able to fulfil that passion.

Siobhan:

Give it a go.

Shannon:

Yeah, give it a crack. Give it a crack. I mean, I openly told the girls, 'I haven't danced in many, many years. You're going to have to take me easy.' But they were so supportive and just so grateful that the dance group could run. And I think they really saw that as well. And you bet you, any opportunity that came across my emails where I could enter my little dance group into

Siobhan:

They were in.

Shannon:

They were in.

Siobhan:

I love it. Yeah, it reminds me that in high school, I think one of the benefits is there's lots going on and it's sometimes more of a diverse level. So I feel like sport in primary school, you've got your PSSA is really common. You go and verse schools, usually on a Friday, depending on the area that you're in. I feel like high school, I've never seen so many sports and when it comes time to sports selection as the teacher, you're like, 'Ah, okay.' We've got bowling, surfing, rock climbing.

Shannon:

European handball.

Siobhan:

European handball, table tennis. Yeah. But yeah, Oztag, netball, all your usual suspects, and I think that it gives you a lot of diversity and room to move around. So, some years I was doing school sport, which, fine, whatever, didn't give me much passion. One year I thought at the start, stuck on Oztag. Turns out I ended up absolutely loving taking Year Nine boys for Oztag. Who would've thought? Yeah, girls netball. So I think it's really fun because you get out of your comfort zone with a lot of things and you end up learning. And I feel like if you have an open mind, you end up loving in the end.

Shannon:

Yeah. And you grow so much professionally. It's insane.

Siobhan:

That's right.

Shannon:

I will definitely say from taking on an extracurricular and jumping at something that pushes you out of your comfort zone, it not only shows the students that you're human and you're having a crack and

Siobhan:

Willing to take risks.

Shannon:

Take risks and take on challenge. But it really helps you and puts you outside of your comfort zone as well. I'd love to talk a little bit now about the difference between leadership roles in primary schools versus high schools.

Siobhan:

Yeah, that's a good point.

Shannon:

Because that can be quite different with what that looks like. Would you like to tell us a bit about

Siobhan:

Yeah, I feel like leadership in high school, there's almost a pretty clear pathway, I suppose. For me, I had never considered leadership in the first two years of my career. I was more concerned with just finding my feet in the classroom. But, obviously I was doing something right around the place or looked like I had a bit of leadership potential and was offered to be an assistant year advisor to learn from an experienced mentor. And from there I really valued that leadership role and was looking for other opportunities. And so, I think that it really starts out at that whole school level.

Shannon:

Yeah, definitely.

Siobhan:

Leadership qualities can come out even in your extracurriculars.

Shannon:

Oh, 100%.

Siobhan:

So I feel like, yeah, leadership starts there. And from there, there are other positions in terms of executives. So you've got head teacher positions. So you can lead a subject, but I think what's really cool is you can also lead an overall area.

Shannon:

Yeah.

Siobhan:

So there's head teacher administration roles, head teacher teaching and learning roles, which is a lot of support for staff and students with curriculum and accreditation. You've got head teacher wellbeing roles, some schools have secondary studies roles. There's head teacher mentor roles in a lot of rural schools. So, I think that that diversity is really amazing. And then from there, you've got your deputy principal and principal roles as well. And depending on the school, there are executive principal roles too. So I think the progression is quite clear. But also, you can match it to your personality and what you thrive in. So, let's just say I was a really organised person and loved early morning phone calls, then yeah, I would like to be the head teacher of admin

Shannon:

Yeah.

Siobhan:

At a school. But let's say I'm really passionate about my subject, then yes, I would like to be the head teacher of English, for example. I feel like you can go in a lot of different pathways.

Shannon:

Yeah.

Siobhan:

And that's one of the benefits about high school.

Shannon:

And also to add onto that, lots of schools do things differently as well. So, for example, at some schools you may have the opportunity to lead a professional learning area, for example.

Siobhan:

Yes.

Shannon:

Or you may take

Siobhan:

Indeed, I did actually.

Shannon:

Oh, there you go.

Siobhan:

I forgot about that one. Yeah, at a lot of schools, principals like to build leadership capacity by dividing up the strategic improvement plan and the areas for improvement to different groups. So everyone focuses on a priority area. So strategic direction one could be implementing literacy and numeracy within the school. And so, I know certainly at a school that I've worked at, we had SALT groups, Student Action Learning Teams, or Staff Action Learning Teams.

Shannon:

Love that.

Siobhan:

And we got to pick a SALT group that we were in at the start of each year. So I picked high potential and gifted education because I had selective school teaching experience, and that just felt like a bit my niche.

Shannon:

Yeah.

Siobhan:

So I joined.

Shannon:

Aligned well to your values and your experience.

Siobhan:

That's right. That's right. So I ended up joining that SALT team just as simply a staff member. And then eventually I ended up leading the team because I found a passion for it and wanted to expand my leadership experience. So, certainly there's opportunities there within schools.

Shannon:

Fantastic. It's quite similar in a primary school setting in the way that it's pretty clear cut. So there's classroom teacher roles and then part of the executive team. So we have assistant principals, and what that might look like is they might be the assistant principal of a grade, so maybe all of Year One, or they might be a stage assistant principal. They can also be multistage.

Siobhan:

Yes.

Shannon:

Kind of depends on the enrolment numbers and the size of the school, for example. So there's a lot of factors with that one. So, sometimes you might have a deputy principal who looks after, it could even be divided again. There might be a wellbeing deputy principal, depends on the school makeup. And then typically you have a school principal as well. And at some points you do have an executive principal, depending again on the makeup of the school. So, like we spoke about before, there's also opportunity to lead curriculum areas, for example. So, I was really passionate about creative and performing arts. So I led the creative and performing arts curriculum area at school, which meant that I got to support teachers who took on all the extracurricular groups. I had a budget that I managed. I managed the whole school creative and performing arts showcase. Which unfortunately for the two years that I was in the role, it was COVID. So I never got to see my show.

Siobhan:

Virtual showcase.

Shannon:

Honestly. And then I just didn't have the heart to take it on for a third year, to be honest. I'd been knocked down twice. I was like, I have to move on to something else. And then the next year I took on the key learning area of mathematics and I also led the science and technology curriculum area as well. So, I had a real passion for curriculum. I then supported leading the high potential and gifted education rollout of that policy. And that was obviously really linked closely to my work with high potential students in the opportunity class.

Siobhan:

And across both primary and secondary, there's also opportunities for informal mentorship and leadership.

Shannon

Yes.

Siobhan:

So, informal leadership by mentoring other people. So mentoring beginning teachers. You can always ask your principal if you can volunteer to do that. But all accredited Proficient teachers can take a pre-service teacher and mentor them as well. So that's really important to know.

Shannon:

And you learn so much about your own methods and your own pedagogy. I've been in a beginning teacher mentor role and it really made me reflect on my pedagogy.

Siobhan:

Agreed.

Shannon:

What I do and why I do it. And to explain that to another colleague or to have them come in and observe me teaching, it was so valuable for me even to listen to the things that they picked up in my lesson, and things that they highlighted that I did well. It makes you stop and pause and really value your own experience and what you bring to the profession.

Siobhan:

That's right.

Shannon:

So it's quite a fulfilling role. I would say, if you're interested in it, go and talk to your

Siobhan:

Go for it, yeah, put your hand up.

Shannon:

Leadership and see if it's something you can take on because it's such a good opportunity.

Siobhan:

Certainly. I think we should end the episode by doing a one minute spiel each of why people should choose to become a primary teacher or why people should choose to become a secondary teacher.

Shannon:

No pressure. Okay, you go first.

Siobhan:

I'll go first. All right. Okay. If you are interested in becoming a secondary teacher, I think the types of people that suit secondary teaching are those who are passionate about a specific subject area. And I think that's the greatest difference. Primary school teachers often are the jacks of all trade, whereas secondary teachers, you do have the opportunity to hone in on your specialty and do it well and do it at a high level.

Shannon:

Yeah.

Siobhan:

So I think for me, I really enjoyed the academic rigour and the integrity of my subject, and being able to teach it all the way from the fundamentals in Year Seven to the advanced English level. And, there's somewhat a bit of a thrill in seeing through a HSC class.

Shannon

Yeah.

Siobhan:

So I think that in terms of the relationships that you form with students, they are young adults by that time. And so, you're supporting them throughout this adolescent journey. Which is very unique and can be challenging, but they often look to you as a role model and a mentor. And to me, I think that's really special. In fact, I think one of the most rewarding aspects is seeing them post-school in their lives in the real world.

Shannon:

Yes.

Siobhan:

And I am always so proud to see students and ask them what they're doing and they say, 'Oh, you know, I'm a chemical engineer.' And I'm like, 'Wow. Well, I taught you, so remember who your Year 12 English teacher was.'

Shannon:

Shout out to

Siobhan:

'And yeah, pay me my royalties when you're famous.' Yeah. I do actually have a student who is a Netflix star.

Shannon:

Wow.

Siobhan:

So I'm always like, yeah, 'Remember who helped you get there.'

Shannon:

'Remember where you came from.'

Siobhan:

So I think that secondary teaching is incredibly rewarding, incredibly rigorous in terms of the challenge that you get each day and adapting your subject to different learners. I've certainly had to make Shakespeare accessible to everybody. And let me tell you, it's my favourite challenge. Because by the end, you've got a Year Seven class, like, 'Ooh, Shakespeare, boring. Why does he still matter?' And in the end they're like, 'Whoa. He was living this many years ago and the same things are still happening in our world today. Isn't that cool and insightful and wow?' So I feel like

Shannon:

You're like, 'Tick, job done.'

Siobhan:

Yep. Mission complete. So, to me, I would say that is the main reason why secondary teaching is amazing and why people should consider becoming secondary teachers.

Shannon:

Well, tough act to follow. However.

Siobhan:

Yes. Bring it on.

Shannon:

Oh, gosh. Look, I think what you said is really true about being a jack of all trades as a primary school teacher. For me, I loved the point of difference that I was teaching English in the morning and then I was teaching maths after lunch, and then I was finding ways to weave maths into art, for example. And I struggled a lot with visual arts at the beginning. Because I felt like I wasn't a very creative person personally.

Siobhan:

Well, that's what I was gonna say. Often people might not pick primary school teaching because they're bad at a certain subject. And I think that we need to dispel that myth that you don't have to be an expert in every subject to be a primary teacher.

Shannon:

Absolutely. And that's the thing. And I had a wonderful mentor in my early years and she was so passionate about visual arts, and she was talking me through this lesson she did about how she linked, she did like an angles artwork. So to assess them on what angles they knew and could identify, this is Stage Three I'm speaking about, they created an artwork.

Siobhan:

Yeah, amazing.

Shannon:

And it was a very open ended task. So I loved it. It was low floor, high ceiling kind of task. And I did it. I built up the courage, wrote the lesson plan with my mentor and went in and smashed it out with my students. And I was blown away at the artworks that these students created. The way they could take the mathematical understanding of angles and how they looked in the real world and created an artwork with that

Siobhan:

Applied it to artwork, yeah.

Shannon:

It was phenomenal. So, for me, I got such a kick out of that crosscurricular opportunity and I was obsessed with any sort of crosscurricular that I could provide. And especially dealing with high potential students, they needed that crosscurricular. They needed to make those connections in the world, because it's how they saw the world.

Siobhan

Yeah.

Shannon:

So that was a real challenge and something that I pushed myself to do and something I loved to engage in and bring that real world knowledge in and facilitate that. So, that was a huge draw for me with primary school. I also just loved the age of the students.

Siobhan:

Yeah.

Shannon:

So if you ever wanna feel like Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, on the red carpet, you just need to walk through the Kindergarten turf.

Siobhan:

They'll hype you up every day.

Shannon:

You walk through the kindergarten playground or, they notice everything and they're so hilarious. But they bring such joy and they see the world in such an unfiltered way and they just accept everyone at face value and

Siobhan

It's amazing.

Shannon:

You know, you could be having a day, an absolute day of it. So many things could have gone wrong in the morning, X, Y and Z. You've spilt your coffee, you crashed your car, your dog's sick. But you go in

Siobhan:

Relatable content.

Shannon:

Pause for dramatic effect. But you go to work and once you walk in that classroom door and you see your little best mates, you see your little team for the year, and nothing beats it, honestly. So, if that didn't sell it to you, I don't know what will.

Siobhan:

That's pretty good. In summary, just be a teacher.

Shannon:

Yeah. Amen. We'll be happy with that.

Siobhan:

We'll take it. But yeah, if you need some tips and tricks, I certainly hope that the episode has helped you.

Shannon:

Yes.

Siobhan:

And yeah, we really look forward to supporting you on your journey. So if you do have any questions, you can always reach out to Teach NSW.

Shannon:

Yes, we have all the social channels you can imagine. @TeachNSW on Instagram and Facebook. Send us a DM if you've got a question.

Siobhan:

Yeah, we'll answer it.

Shannon:

We will, absolutely.

Siobhan:

We will. No hesitation.

Shannon:

Thanks for joining us and we'll see you next time.

Siobhan:

Bye.

Shannon:

Thank you for tuning into TeachCast, where we explore the dynamic world of education. Don't forget to follow, like and subscribe to be notified when new episodes become available. You can find us on social media via our handle, @TeachNSW. Until next time, keep learning, keep teaching and keep making a difference. TeachCast is a podcast by the Teach NSW team from the NSW Department of Education.


Resources and useful links

  • Secondary teachers - learn more about the types of secondary teachers, roles and responsibilities and qualifications required.

  • Primary teachers - learn more about the roles and responsibilities and qualifications required.

  • Teaching service rates of pay - find out the rates of pay for teaching service employees in classroom and leadership positions.

  • Teacher allowances - find out the current rates for allowances payable to eligible teaching service employees including year advisor and supervisor of female students allowances.


We acknowledge that this episode of TeachCast was recorded on the homelands of the Dharug people. We pay respect to Elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples listening to TeachCast today.

Connect with us

If you would like to provide feedback or suggestions for future episodes, please contact teachcast@det.nsw.edu.au to get in touch with the TeachCast team. Follow the Teach NSW team on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube to be the first to know when new episodes are released.

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