TeachCast Episode 9 - now live

We speak to Devinda, a primary school teacher in a NSW public school about his experience in changing careers and how his transferable skills have helped him to thrive in the classroom.

Ever considered a career change to teaching? If so, this episode is for you.

We speak to Devinda, a former police officer who decided to study a Master of Teaching (Primary) at Western Sydney University and become a teacher in a NSW public school.

On the couch, Devinda shares his touching story of what sparked his desire to become a teacher and how he was able to tackle the ‘unknowns’ of pursuing a teaching career.

As a career changer, it’s not back to square one. Devinda talks about the number of transferable skills that can be applied within a school environment from prior experience in a different industry or field. He shares some of the key skills he feels he has been able to bring into the classroom from his years of policing. One thing’s certain, he’s the MVP of playground duty.

We also delve into Devinda’s passion for building critical thinking skills in students that go beyond the curriculum, his most memorable school experiences so far and favourite extracurriculars. Cue beep test story to give everyone a flashback to their schooling days.

We hope you enjoy this episode.

We acknowledge that this episode of TeachCast was recorded on the homelands of the Darug 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.

View Episode 9, 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.

Opening Credits:

Welcome to TeachCast, a podcast by teachers for teachers. I'm Shannon, and I'm Siobhan.

Shannon:

Hi everyone, welcome back to this episode of TeachCast. You are back with your hosts, myself, Shannon, and Siobhan. Today, we are joined by a very special guest. We have Devinda on the couch with us. So welcome, Devinda.

Devinda:

Thank you.

Shannon:

He is a primary school teacher and teaches in a New South Wales public school on Dharug land. He has made the switch as a career changer from the NSW Police Force, and he is now teaching a Stage 3 class. So we're so excited to have him here with us today

to tell us about the switch from the Police Force to playground. Welcome.

Devinda:

Thank you. Very excited to be here.

Siobhan:

Welcome, Devinda. Something that we like to do with all our guests as a bit of a warm-up is just a game, get you used to the TeachCast vibes.

Shannon:

The flow.

Siobhan:

Yeah, the flow of TeachCast. It's a 'This or That' edition. So you pick your favourite out of the two, or you're allowed to stand the middle ground if you wish.

Devinda:

Okay, no problem.

Siobhan:

So the first question is, would you rather teach Stage 1 or Stage 3?

Devinda:

Stage 3.

Siobhan:

Stage 3.

Shannon:

No hesitation.

Devinda:

Definitely Stage 3, yeah.

Siobhan:

Is it because it's what you already know and love at the moment or?

Devinda:

Pretty much, yeah. I think I find it's easier to connect with the Stage 3 kids, I can have a bit more of a conversation. I have similar interests with them, I suppose, like card games, board games, video games, all that kind of stuff. The Stage 1 kids are adorable and they're very cute, but I feel like I connect with the older kids a bit more.

Shannon:

Fair enough.

Siobhan:

Would you rather attend a meeting or lead a meeting?

Shannon:

Oh.

Devinda:

Attend a meeting.

Siobhan:

Attend.

Devinda:

Attend a meeting, yeah.

Siobhan:

What about your drink of choice, tea or coffee?

Devinda:

Tea or coffee? I'd have to say I'd lean more towards a coffee.

Siobhan:

Yeah, yeah. I'm feeling the same.

Devinda:

Nothing crazy, not a long black or anything.

Siobhan:

Yeah.

Devinda:

Yeah, nothing crazy.

Siobhan:

No triple shot espressos over here.

Devinda:

Probably just like a mocha or something light, yeah.

Shannon:

Ooh, nice.

Siobhan:

Good to know, good to know. If you had to be banned from one thing, would you rather be banned from the photocopier or from the laminator?

Devinda:

I'd say laminator.

Siobhan:

Banned from the laminator?

Devinda:

I'd say laminator. I mean, primarily because I don't use it that much.

Siobhan:

Yeah, yeah.

Devinda:

Yeah, I feel like photocopying is definitely more useful.

Siobhan:

Yeah.

Shannon:

Yeah.

Siobhan:

What about you, Shannon?

Shannon:

Well, in my first year of teaching, I taught a Stage 1 class, Year 1, and I thought that I needed everything to be laminated. I was like, 'Well, if I'm making something, I'm for it to last, I need to laminate it.' And then as I sort of got more experience, I realised I can just sort of set the expectation around the resource rather than having to laminate and create this plastic material every time I want to use something in the classroom, so

Devinda:

I think that's a big thing as well, like sustainability, you have to be cautious about what you're using and how you're using it, so yeah.

Shannon:

Absolutely, and it's a good message to pass on to your students as well. And I think, as a young, naive, first-year teacher, I wasn't sort of thinking that outside of the box, looking at the bigger picture. But as time went on, I was like, 'No, I don't need this laminator. I don't need to be buying all these laminating pouches and laminating all my resources. I can do things like use a plastic sleeve, for example, or use whiteboards, mini whiteboards with the students.'

Siobhan:

Yeah, that's good. In high school, I don't know, laminating isn't as big of a trend as it is in primary school teaching. So yeah, ban me from the laminator any day.

Devinda:

And you can imagine, if you're laminating, say name tags, just for one year, I wouldn't say that's 100% worth it, because you're going to get rid of it at the end of the year anyway.

Shannon:

Yeah, absolutely.

Siobhan:

That's good. Well, let's kick off and get to know a little bit more about you, Devinda. Tell us a little bit about how you came to become a teacher and perhaps your career journey prior to that.

Devinda:

Yeah, sure, so I guess the transition was more so, as a police officer, I was working for a while. As you can imagine, you're working 12-hour shifts. So if I was working day shift, it would be 6:00am to 6:00pm and the night shifts, 6:00pm to 6:00am. You've got to wake up fairly early, you've got to get to the station an hour before to get ready, get dressed up, get a briefing on what's going on for the day. And it's a very stressful job. Obviously, you encounter many different people, situations. And it's one of those things where it can affect people differently. So it's just one of those things where I just felt a bit tired of it and wanted something else.

Shannon:

So you went to university and you studied a bachelor in?

Devinda:

A bachelor in policing.

Shannon:

Okay.

Devinda:

Yeah.

Shannon:

And then after you were out in the Force for a few years, how did you sort of decide to pivot to teaching? What sparked your interest in teaching as a profession?

Devinda:

That's an interesting one. For me, I feel there were a few factors. Prior to policing, I'd done several jobs related to children, working with children, but also, as a police officer, I had worked with children and I had seen situations that they were in. And that was kind of my catalyst to go and pursue teaching to help these children that were struggling or in environments that they couldn't get themselves out of.

Shannon:

I can't even imagine having to, yeah, grapple with what you would've seen working in the Police Force and making the decision then to sort of move into teaching. Did you go back to university and study?

Devinda:

Yeah, yeah, I did. So I went back to Western Sydney University, and I did a masters in teaching.

Shannon:

Okay, I did a masters at Western Sydney as well.

Siobhan:

Okay, okay. A masters in primary teaching connection there, obviously. What was that study like for you when you were retraining? How different was the study of policing versus teaching?

Shannon:

And going back to uni?

Devinda:

Yeah, it was a big change, going back to hit the books. I'd say it was

Shannon:

Again.

Devinda:

Yeah, absolutely. It was pretty good though. I was doing four subjects a semester. It was a decent workload. I think if you have decent time management skills, anyone could do it. And they're subjects that are enjoyable. You're learning practical things about the classroom, you're learning things that you actually use, like making lesson plans, all that kind of stuff. And it's not one of those things where you waste your time thinking about theoretical stuff that you might never use or the history of it. It's more stuff that's very useful in the classroom.

Siobhan:

In the now.

Devinda:

Yeah, exactly right.

Siobhan:

Current context trends that you can implement in the classroom.

Devinda:

Yeah, exactly right.

Siobhan:

What advice would you give to someone who might be in a similar position to you? Honestly, on the road, I speak to a lot of police officers, nurses, people working your typical 9-to-5 desk job, who are looking to make the switch to teaching. What sort of advice would you say to them about making the switch?

Devinda:

Honestly, if you have been thinking about it and you think it's something you would consider, absolutely, go for it. It's a fun job, it's something different every day. And raising the next generation is something that's so enjoyable to do. You leave a part of yourself, your legacy, what you want your children or your students to be like. And teaching them the right things and the right path is something so fun.

Shannon:

Yeah, and being that role model for them.

Devinda:

Exactly right.

Shannon:

Nothing beats it, we like to say.

Devinda:

Yeah, absolutely. And they look at you, they look at you and they're so amazed. They're thinking, 'Wow, my teacher's amazing, they're so cool.' And they really, really, they really get inspired by you.

Shannon:

Yeah, they look up to you. Absolutely.

Siobhan:

Did you have someone in your life when you were going through your own schooling journey that you looked up to as well? Had you had any teachers that made an impact on your life?

Devinda:

Yeah, definitely. My favourite teacher was my Year 6 teacher. And she still teaches at the school that I went to.

Siobhan:

Oh wow.

Devinda:

Yeah, yeah, and I had the opportunity to work with her, and I really enjoyed it.

Shannon:

Oh, fantastic. In what capacity did you go back and work at the school?

Devinda:

So when I went back to that school, I was an SLSO. When I did that, I think I was in her classroom for my first day actually.

Shannon:

Wow.

Devinda:

Yeah, my first day on the job.

Shannon:

Familiar face.

Devinda:

I got a, yeah, she actually put in a request for me to be on her class first.

Shannon:

Aw, wow.

Devinda:

Yeah, she was like, 'Well, that was my student, I feel like I should be able to welcome him into the world of teaching.' So she took me in and she was like, 'Yeah, come in.'

Siobhan:

That’s so lovely to have a solid mentor like that, yeah.

Shannnon:

That's incredible, and a full-circle moment for her as well.

Siobhan:

Oh, for sure. So were you doing the SLSO work whilst you were studying your Masters of Teaching?

Devinda:

Yes, that's correct.

Siobhan:

Is that when that all started?

Devinda:

Yeah, yeah.

Siobhan:

So not prior to policing, but when you sort of

Devinda:

That's right.

Siobhan:

Decided to start that teaching journey?

Devinda:

Yeah, so I made the switch to my degree. And then while I was doing my degree, I started SLSO work as well.

Siobhan:

That's wonderful.

Shannon:

Fantastic, and I was similar when I did my Masters of Teaching, I was doing SLSO work as well. So working as a Student Learning Support Officer in a school, supporting teachers in classrooms. And I think, for me, and I've spoken about this on previous episodes, you get that optimum opportunity to sort of take that theory you're learning at uni before you're Conditionally accredited and observe other teachers in practice as well. So it's a really good opportunity while you're studying.

Devinda:

Mm, absolutely, yeah.

Siobhan:

What did you sort of observe from your teacher from the other side? Typically, you'd been taught by her, probably sitting on the carpet, looking up and admiring her. But what about from the other side, where you actually can see the other perspective of the desk?

Devinda:

It's interesting when it's coming from the other side, isn't it? Normally like, you're right, you're just looking at her and listening. But as a teacher, you're coming with that mindset, you have to look after children, so you're thinking, 'How is she managing the classroom? How is she getting through content? What are the other factors she needs to consider, like marking and assessing children?' And you get a very clear feel for that when you're in the classroom, observing that kind of stuff, yeah.

Siobhan:

Oh, that's wonderful. We always recommend for students to either engage within a school context with those sort of pre-service opportunities before they start teaching. And then we also encourage students to obtain their Conditional accreditation and interim approval to teach so they can start doing casual work whilst they're still studying. If that's something that they can find the balance with in between their studies, we always recommend that as well which is great.

Devinda:

Yeah, absolutely.

Siobhan:

Did you do a little bit of casual work whilst you were still studying?

Devinda:

Yeah, absolutely, yeah. In my, I think in my second year, I did casual teaching.

Siobhan:

How'd you find that?

Devinda:

It was good, it was good, very fun. I went around to a few schools.

Siobhan:

Yeah, did you try a few different contexts, different school dynamics?

Devinda:

Yeah, yes, I did. There's a variety of schools I went to. Some low socio-economic schools, some different areas. I mean, they all have their own charm and you learn different things on the job. You have to approach each school and each area with a different style, yeah.

Shannon:

Yeah, no, that's a really good point, because every context is different. And there could be a school down the road from the public school that you're working at and it could be a totally different demographic, which is incredible in our communities. And that's why working for the department, there's such versatility across the sector with the different schools and contexts that you can work at, grow, learn from as well, which is really cool.

Devinda:

That's right, your skills are improved rapidly just going to different areas.

Shannon:

Absolutely. Speaking of your skills, did you find you had any transferable skills coming from the Police Force into the classroom?

Devinda:

Yeah, look, I'd say I had a few. I think, right off the bat, I think leadership would be a good one, because when you think about the policing world, you're going into a situation where you have to take control of something, you have to rock up to a scene, and there might be people fighting, arguing, you need to be able to take control and lead and try to solve that.

Siobhan:

You'd be great on playground duty.

Devinda:

Aw, absolutely, absolutely.

Shannon:

Give him a megaphone.

Devinda:

Come in and stop that straight away. But even in the classroom, because, ultimately, it's you, as a teacher, with 30 other students, you're in charge of 30 people. You've got to be able to manage those 30 people.

Shannon:

Yeah, and you’ve got that duty of care.

Devinda:

Exactly right. So, if you come in, you need to be able to establish that you are in charge, and you need to help these people and work with them. You're not telling them what to do, you're working with them and trying to bring out the best in them. And if you do that, they will listen to you.

Shannon:

Yeah, setting those expectations and boundaries with them as well.

Siobhan:

Did you find there were other transferable skills other than that leadership and sort of structure and management?

Devinda:

Yeah, I would say the ability to maybe be flexible and adapt to different situations. Obviously, in the policing world, when you have, say, one job and that's a priority job, and then suddenly you get a call on the radio and there is another priority job somewhere five minutes down the line, you have then got to change your mindset in a matter of two minutes. You've got to get back into your car, lights and sirens blaring. You’ve got five minutes to think about, 'What things do I need to consider? Who's at the scene? What's the area like? Is there any victims? Is anyone hurt?' And you've got a matter of minutes to adjust really quickly. Much like in the classroom, you've got to think about maybe helping a student who's struggling, and then another child might be having a bad day, getting upset. You've got to be able to adapt to situations really quickly and just manage yourself in the right way.

Siobhan:

Yeah, and I feel like this episode is shining a light on the way that people in all careers can use those transferable skills and consider a career in teaching.

Devinda:

Yeah.

Shannon:

So take us back to your first year of teaching. You'd sort of graduated, you moved into your first full time position on a Stage 3 class.

Devinda:

Yeah, that's correct. My first full time year of teaching, I'd say, you take a lot on board. Yeah, it's very quick and you're introduced to a lot of things. Obviously, new school, you've got to learn the school rules, the policies, the direction that they're going with, you know, their strategic directions. And it's just about adapting quickly and just trying to pick things up along the way. Yeah, yeah.

Shannon:

Absolutely. Did you find a mentor in your school context that you sort of could go to, that you were provided some advice, some support with in your first year of teaching?

Devinda:

Yeah, definitely, you have team leaders. Your assistant principal is always happy to help you out. And my assistant principal was wonderful. Always there to help me out. If I had any questions, she'd answer them for me. And yeah, it made teaching a lot easier, a lot more enjoyable than stressful, I'd say, yeah.

Shannon:

Yeah.

Siobhan:

What's been the biggest surprise for you in that first year of teaching? What have you found?

Devinda:

Biggest surprise?

Siobhan:

Yeah.

Devinda:

Ooh. I can't say I've had too many, to be honest. I think, when I first came into teaching, I thought I would be very stressed out, it'd be very full on, but not quite, it's been a very supportive environment. I've had the right connections, I've had that help available whenever I have needed it. And it has just been, I guess the surprise is that it wasn't stressful, it wasn't stressful. So yeah, it's been good, yeah.

Shannon:

Why do you think you were apprehensive and feeling that it would be stressful? Was it sort of the, like, 'I need to worry about duty of care of these students, I also need to worry about planning the content and what that's going to look like?’ Was it sort of the unknown, perhaps, of what it would be like when you had your own class?

Devinda:

I guess, yeah, it would be the unknowns, especially with the stories I've heard about paperwork. But it's been, it's been okay, because once you go there, you work as a team, you're not working by yourself.

Shannon:

That's a really good point.

Devinda:

And I think a lot of people, when they come into teaching, they think, 'Oh, I've got to do all this programming by myself. I've got to manage all this by myself. I've got to do all my reports and marking by myself.' It's not necessarily the case. You work as a team, you collaborate as a team, you mark things as a team. So it makes things far more easier than you think they would be.

Siobhan:

Yeah. Do you see a difference between yourself from your first year now in your second year? Have you taken away a few key learnings from that first year and changed things up a little bit?

Devinda:

A few key learnings?

Siobhan:

Yeah.

Devinda:

I'd say, I'm just a lot more relaxed.

Siobhan:

Mm, great.

Devinda:

Yeah, and just going with the flow, just see how things go.

Siobhan:

Yeah, good.

Shannon:

I can imagine you do have quite a calming energy about you. So I imagine your students would really appreciate that in the classroom.

Devinda:

I think so, I think, if you come in and you're all stressed out, they're going to look at you, and kids are very smart.

Shannon:

Oh yeah.

Devinda:

They can sense things

Siobhan:

They can smell it out.

Devinda:

So easily. If you come in and you show that you're panicked, you're not in the right mindset, they will pick that up straight away. You need to come in and show that you are calm, you are there to support them and that you have their back. And they can sense that and they'll be like, 'Okay, my teacher's good. He's good to teach me, I'm good to learn.'

Shannon:

Yeah, 'And I feel safe because my adult looking after me at the moment is, yeah.’

Devinda:

Yeah, absolutely.

Shannon:

Alright, so you're in your second year of teaching now, what do you sort of see next for yourself?

Devinda:

I guess my goal this year is my accreditation. So I'm trying to get my proficiency. And I'm going to be working throughout that throughout the year. So, yeah.

Shannon:

Fantastic. So what does that process look like for you now?

Devinda:

So for right now, it's just evidence gathering. And then I'll be writing that out throughout the year as that goes by.

Shannon:

Fantastic, are you working with a mentor while you work on that?

Devinda:

Yes, I do have a mentor. And we're just collaborating together, just deciding what needs to get done, what needs to be picked, what's the most, I guess, practical evidence you can use that covers multiple teaching Standards.

Siobhan:

I think the idea of practicality is really important when you are gathering your evidence for your Proficient Teacher accreditation. Like, for me, I was so shocked that something so simple that I was doing day in, day out, actually, was a piece of evidence that aligned to several Standards, not just one. Like off the top of my head, if I was taking my students out for a debate and we were going externally, and I created the permission note, put together a risk assessment, communicated with parents, that ticked off three Standards

Devinda:

Covers a few things.

Siobhan:

there and then, right? And so I sort of went, 'Gosh, that's a quality piece of evidence, I'll be using that.' And to me, so simple, right? I think this whole concept of achieving your Proficient Teacher accreditation can perhaps seem overwhelming to start off with, but when you break it down and talk about that practical, top-quality evidence that you can use, you'll find that you're probably gathering that day in, day out anyway.

Devinda:

Yeah, it's the littlest things, you don't even think about it. The things that you hang up in the classroom, for example, how you teach a lesson, a lesson plan, they cover several aspects.

Siobhan:

That's right, yeah.

Shannon:

Well, they're there to guide you really.

Siobhan:

Notes from parent teacher interviews or parent phone calls, really simple things that you would be doing anyway, the evidence kind of just follows you as you journey through a teaching career anyway.

Dvinda:

Exactly right, yeah. Just little things you do on a daily basis.

Siobhan:

Yeah, hop on board and get up and away

Siobhan:

And then I'll write a few things out about it. Yeah, it's really good, which is great. Well, we hope that you can get your Proficient Teacher accreditation

Devinda:

Aw, thank you.

Siobhan:

By the end of this year.

Devinda:

Hopefully, yeah, that's the goal.

Shannon:

You'll get a wonderful certificate.

Siobhan:

You get a shiny certificate and everyone will clap you as you walk to receive it, I hope.

Shannon:

Yeah, and if you've got family like mine, they insisted on framing it.

Siobhan:

Did they?

Devinda:

Aw, that's lovely.

Shannon:

Yeah, put it up in the lounge room.

Siobhan:

I love that.

Shannon:

So, very proud parents.

Devinda:

I might do that as well, might do that for myself.

Shannon:

Absolutely would recommend. You can put it in the foyer and any guests that come by, you can show them, or you could put it up in your classroom.

Devinda:

Yeah, there you go.

Shannon:

I actually did show my students mine when I was presented with it at school. And they were like, 'Miss, you've got a merit certificate.'

Devinda:

Your accreditation.

Shannon:

I was like, 'I did, it's more than a merit, boys and girls. It's my proficiency.' And they're like, 'So does that mean you're fully qualified now to teach us?' I was like, 'That happened a little while ago, but…'

Devinda:

Yeah, what was happening the last year?

Siobhan:

She's extra qualified now.

Shannon:

Oh, it was quite funny.

Siobhan:

That's funny. And where do you see yourself in the profession, 10 years from now, for example?

Devinda:

I haven't thought that far down the line. Right now

Shannon:

Nor had I.

Devinda:

Yeah, look, right now, I'm just happy being in the classroom. There's always opportunities available. And you can pick wherever you want to go, that's a great thing about teaching. You can be an assistant principal, a deputy principal. I mean, you can work with EAL/D, with the EAL/D team.

Siobhan:

Some sort of specialisation.

Devinda:

Yeah, a specialisation.

Siobhan:

Special and inclusive education, as well.

Devinda:

Exactly right, you could go anywhere you want to, and I think you just follow your passion and just see where you go, yeah.

Shannon:

Speaking of passions, do you have any extracurriculars that you run at school or any sort of areas that you've had a passion for that you've been able to bring to life with the students at your school?

Devinda:

Yeah, definitely, so I've got a number of hobbies. For example, I love sports, I love fitness. So I'm in charge of the PSSA soccer team.

Siobhan:

Nice.

Devinda:

And my kids love it because some of the training involves me jumping in. So, like, what I'll do is, I'll have races with them. And that will be our warm-up. I'll jump in with the kicking drills and the games. They love that kind of stuff. For fitness, we try to do a bit of fitness every day. So with my

Shannon:

Yep, get your 150 minutes in.

Devinda:

Yeah, exactly right. So with my background in policing, obviously, I did a lot of fitness on a daily basis.

Siobhan:

Oh yeah.

Devinda:

We had to go to the gym, we had to do running every day. So what I do with them is, because they love the idea of workouts and exercise, I take them out for 20 minutes, and we'll do squats, we'll do push-ups, we'll do wall sits. And they go, 'Yes, sir, we'll do this, we'll do that.'

Siobhan:

It's like a whole training academy over there.

Devinda:

Yeah, a whole training camp, they love it, yeah.

Siobhan:

Next up kids, beep test.

Devinda:

Yeah.

Shannon:

No, my students loved the beep test.

Devinda:

Yeah.

Shannon:

Yeah, we used to do the beep test as part of

Devinda:

We do it once a term.

Shannon:

My fitness program. Yeah, no, they loved it, and they were really driven about it.

Devinda:

Yeah, exactly right.

Shannon:

They want to get better every time.

Siobhan:

I was thinking back to my own experiences, like, 'Level 7.2.' I probably never got to Level 7. I would never have got to level 7.2. I was like, 'As long as I wasn't the first one out, then yeah, I'm good.'

Shannon:

Maybe we can do a beep test after this.

Devinda:

Maybe, maybe. I think some of my students got, I think, 8.5.

Shannon:

Oh my gosh.

Siobhan:

That's great. Well, yeah, I definitely wasn't 7.2 then.

Shannon:

Wow.

Siobhan:

I would've been like 3.5 or something, something humble like that.

Shannon:

But as long as you're enthusiastic about it, I feel like your students come on that journey with you.

Devinda:

Absolutely.

Shannon:

And when they see you enthused by it, they're like, 'Yeah, I want to give it a go,' even your apprehensive students, so.

Devinda:

You've got to show that you're interested. If you don't show you're interested, of course they're not going to respond to you. You've got to jump in, do it with them, you've got to be enthusiastic, and they will look at you and be like, 'Wow, he's really into it, I want to join as well, yeah.'

Siobhan:

That's the best part about teaching though, what other job can you say, like, 'I can just duck off outside and do a lesson of fitness with the students, and then we're back in doing some sort of creative activity, and then now we're onto our numeracy work.’ Like, I think that that's the best part about it, you're not sort of stagnant and stuck in one position all day.

Devinda:

Absolutely.

Shannon:

It's a good point.

Devinda:

Yeah.

Shannon:

Well, Devinda, we'd love to hear about a memorable teaching moment that you've had.

Devinda:

A memorable teaching moment that I've had?

Shannon:

Yeah.

Devinda:

I'd say, for me, one of the things I try to bring to my teaching is, I want to instill my students with the skills to go out into the world. So, one of the things I always teach my children is perseverance and the ability to get back up and never give up. And sometimes that can be so hard. We preach it, but is it that easy? It's not that easy.

Shannon:

Resilience.

Devinda:

Yeah, resilience is something very, very hard to come by, you have to work hard to acquire that skill. So every day, day in, day out, I always try to reinforce that idea of never giving up. The little things we do, we go out and exercise, we feel tired, we don't give up. We're struggling in the classroom, there's a problem that's really hard, we don't give up, we keep trying. And that's something I hope that they will take with them when they go into high school, when they go into university, when they're a working adult, they think, 'Well, I remember my teacher telling me to never give up.'

Shannon:

Mm, absolutely.

Devinda:

And that's something really, really important. When I do my assembly items, so we did assembly, I think, two weeks ago, and we did a video on filtering. So filtering being, think before you speak, or you act.

Shannon:

Oh.

Siobhan:

Great skill to navigate.

Devinda:

And that's something I think, that's very useful as a child and an adult, right?

Shannon:

Absolutely.

Devinda:

So, when we made that video, the students were asking me, 'So what does filtering mean?' And I told them what it means, I said, 'The ability to filter and think before you say or do something will serve you well into your life. Sometimes it's better to just think before you do something, otherwise you can end up in trouble.'

Shannon:

Absolutely.

Devinda:

'And trust me, I know, I have dealt with people that have not filtered. So learn this skill, and I will always remind you and teach you about this skill.'

Shannon:

Yeah, I love how you touched on perseverance and resilience, because I, too, can think of many, many times of having those conversations around social and emotional wellbeing for my students as well, particularly around if mathematics was challenging, that was a really big thing one year for one of my classes. And we would talk a lot about how, well, one of my students said to me, 'Well, it feels like I'm getting a sweaty brain.' And I was like, 'That's the best thing ever. If you're getting a sweaty brain, that means that it's challenging you and you're learning,' and we would celebrate that. So we talked about, you know, flipping that narrative and sort of looking at it and persevering in that sense and having that support around you. I'm here to support you if you feel like something's challenging you, but you also have your peers all around you as well. We're a little team in here,

Devinda:

Absolutely.

Shannon:

We're here to build each other up and build that resilience together.

Devinda:

Yeah, I think that's a really good idea as well. And you, as a teacher, it would be about leaving that legacy as well with your students about what you want them to bring into the world as well. So I think that's something that all beginning teachers should try to remember. Why did you become a teacher? Why did you choose this profession? Because you didn't choose it for any reason, you chose it for a specific reason, you wanted to make a change. You are in charge of leading this next generation. And that is a big role, it's a massive responsibility. It's not something you just take lightly, it's something you need to be passionate about. So every time you enter that classroom and you have children that are struggling or they can't cope with something, they're dealing with something at home, you are there for them and you bring in those skills that they need, and you equip them with those skills and you don't give up on them. You keep trying, you keep trying, and they go out there and they will be thankful to you, so yeah.

Shannon:

Absolutely. Now you're in your second year, but as the years go by, you'll start to see that come to life, when your students, they go off to high school, and they might come back and visit and

Devinda:

Aw, absolutely, it happens to me every week.

Shannon:

Oh my gosh.

Devinda:

And I'm very happy.

Shannon:

When they come and visit, I'm like, 'Aw,' I have a few tears. I'm like, 'You're so tall now, and you're doing all these subjects and you're just, you're like a real human.'

Devinda:

Yeah, exactly right.

Siobhan:

Although you're in your second year, Devinda, I feel like I'm speaking to a very experienced teacher. And I think that that comes from your career changer and life experience.

Shannon:

Absolutely.

Siobhan:

I feel like what you've seen and dealt with out in the world and brought that back into your classroom I think is so valuable and really important. Like the lessons that you're teaching about those critical social skills that students need in their lives, that sometimes, I'll be honest, we, as teachers, can forget that those need to be taught.

Devinda:

Absolutely, yeah.

Siobhan:

Those skills need to be taught. For us, a lot of the time, we've already acquired and mastered those skills, you forget that, at some stage, you did learn them. So I think reminding and refreshing people about the importance of teaching those skills and modelling them. And I love that you had a whole assembly item on it, right?

Shannon & Devinda:

Yeah

Siobhan:

Because then your whole school got to see

Shannon:

You're sharing it.

Devinda:

That's right.

Siobhan:

And learn about filtering, like that's absolutely phenomenal.

Devinda:

And last year we did one on perseverance, like I said. And that was really enjoyable because they were talking about what it means to never give up and the challenges you may face. They’ll be facing a big wall or a big barrier, how do you get over it? What are the things you need to consider? So yeah.

Siobhan:

That's really inspiring. That was a really good way to end it.

Shannon:

Yeah, no, this has really been a wonderful episode. And thank you so much, Devinda, for giving up your time and joining us here on the couch today. We're very thankful and fortunate to have met you and crossed paths.

Devinda:

It's been a pleasure.

Siobhan:

Crossed, I can't say that word,

Shannon:

Crossed paths. And now I'll hand back over to the English teacher

Siobhan:

Thanks, Shannon.

Shannon:

To finish us off today.

Siobhan:

Thank you so much, Devinda, for joining us on TeachCast today. If this episode has inspired you to change careers, I would encourage people to hop on over to the Teach NSW webpage and visit our Future Teacher Scholarship section. We have a lot available for those looking to be supported to study a career in teaching. So go back to university and complete your teacher education training, and be financially and professionally supported to do so. So please hop on over to the webpage and check it out if it's interested you. That's all for our episode today. Thanks for joining us, and we'll see you next time.

Shannon:

Bye.

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

  • Teach NSW - become a teacher in a NSW public school and find out how a career in teaching can open doors for you.

  • Get Paid to Study - explore scholarship opportunities available for future teachers (including career changers).

  • Approval to teach - follow this guide to learn how to gain your approval to teach and become a teacher in a NSW public school.

  • Interim approval to teach - read the guide to applying for interim approval to teach and teach on a casual basis in your final year of study as an initial teacher education student.

  • Proficient Teacher accreditation - find out everything you need to know about applying for your Proficient Teacher accreditation.

  • Proficient Teacher Evidence Guide - use the evidence guide to assist with selecting effective documentary evidence that demonstrates your practice at the Proficient Teacher level.


We acknowledge that this episode of TeachCast was recorded on the homelands of the Darug 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, X (Twitter) and YouTube to be the first to know when new episodes are released.

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