Getting through exam block- in 8 simple steps

Today everybody, I would like to talk to you about a serious problem I once suffered from. I know there are many out there who too suffer from this problem, and I would like to take this time to tell you my story about an addiction I had to a serious substance:

procrastination

But I don’t just want to tell you my story; I want to help all of my fellow procrastinators out there who struggle with this affliction, too. And so I have put together the eight steps of over-coming procrastination, and getting through exam block.

But first, my story.

It usually started with a thought process similar to this:

“Ok. Here we go. Exam block is here. And this time it’s going to be different! I’m going to be organized, prepared and disciplined! There will be order and feng shui coming out the ying-yang, and everything will be colour coded, EVERYTHING!! I will NOT get distracted this time! I am in control! I shall turn off my wifi and open my text book…right after I finish this episode of Ghost Whisperer.”

Aaaaaand so exam block begins for another semester. Now, I know what you’re all thinking; how could someone as wise, as studious, and as perfect as me succumb to the enticing grip of procrastination? Surely by my third year of university study I would have become a professional exam-blocker and would be able to resist such peasantry temptations.

If anything, over time I became a professional procrastinator.

I once procrastinated so hard that I ended up singing karaoke with my mates at an empty tavern instead of doing my assignments.

It was about the time I reached the second verse of Don’t Stop Believing that I realized I had a problem. And while I looked out at my mates, belting that final “wooaaaooOOHHHHHH!!!” instead of typing up my self-evaluation essay, I knew it was time for a change.

Procrastination is difficult, and overcoming it was hard, but looking back I could see how much better and brighter my future is without it in my life.

And so here are my eight steps to over come procrastination, and to get though exam block.

Step one: Admitting you have a problem.

Although it may not take a wild night of karaoke to come to this realization, everyone has to take the leap and admit that their exams really ARE close, and that procrastination has taken over.

If you find yourself cleaning every corner of your house, or baking every kind of cake you can possible imagine, or have suddenly decided that THIS week is the week to start learning how to be a rodeo clown- then yes, you probably have a problem with procrastination, and it’s time to move on to step two.

Step two: Looking at the bigger picture.

What you want to do is try to re-ignite your passion for study. Just like a relationship that’s going a little stale, you need to zap your attitude towards study in the passion microwave and re-freshen your love for your degree. (And yes, I did paraphrase from a “re-kindle your love life” book for that one.)

Remember that very first moment when you found out that you’d made it into your degree? How awesome did that feel!?!?! The butterflies in the stomach just before the QTAC page FINALLY loaded, and then the squeals of celebration after reading the first line. (Don’t even try to deny that you reacted that way because I know you all did!!)

Remember thinking that your whole future had just started? Those fantasies that ran through your mind of how this degree had brought you one step closer to owning your own company, or building your own buildings, or directing your own films.

Remember that day? That was a great day.
And although today, as you stress-eat your way through an entire packet of Tim-Tams and click over to the next episode of One Tree Hill, mightn’t be as great- remember what you’re aiming for.

Step three: Making the decision to dedicate the next few weeks to study.

Funniest_Memes_one-does-not-simply-study-at-home-without_9966

What you need to do at this point is get into full-on hibernation mode. That means making no new social plans until all of your exams are over and your assignments are in, and trying to cut back on other work, too.

Another thing you could do is turn off your internet for 30 minutes at a time, study hard-out for that half an hour and then have a break for social media time, because we all know how important it is to catch up on how our mates are coping with exam block, to compare their stress to yours, and to read up on some funny exam/study memes.

Step four: Telling people you have a problem.

When it comes to getting through exams and dealing with procrastination, the more people you tell, the more they’ll understand and be able to get you through it.

It may seem unbelievable, but you don’t have to go through exams alone. You can either get together with other students and study together, or get a family member to help you out, or anyone willing to help out. For example, one of my friends studies in trimesters so we always have exams on at different times. So what we do to help each other out is supervise each other’s studying. Whenever one of us gets distracted, the other one creeps up and yells out “KEEP STUDYING!!” and we have no choice but to get back to it.

Step five: Taking things slow and steady.

Studying for exams is more like a marathon than a sprint…I think…to be honest I was never very good at sport. Anyway, I know from experience that it’s better to pace yourself rather than cram.

Step six: Adjusting your lifestyle (for the next few weeks).

Let’s be honest right now, during exam block, you’re not out to look good- you’re not even aiming to look human. Because you’re not socializing, you’re not working as much, and you’re only really leaving your room to get food. So as I list off the perfect food and exercise régime for exam block, keep in mind that you should only stick to this during exams- not forever. Let me show you why:

When it comes exam block food, you want stuff that’s easily accessible and simple to make. This includes Oreos, two-minute noodles, baked beans, any form of potato chips- pretty much anything that comes in a packet, box or can. However if you’re feeling a little bit more adventurous, you could even smash out a frozen meal- but be warned, the point of sticking to easy-to-make foods is to avoid any possible procrastination sneaking back into your routine. You may say to yourself “I’ll just cook a simple steak and veggies” and the next thing you know you’ve bought your own cow, slaughtered and prepared it, and have now started your own butchers business- simply so you don’t have to study for your Social Communications exam.

Also, you want to be as comfortable as possible; if you can attach pillows to your entire body- do it. As I said, exam time is not a beauty contest (and in my opinion, if you’ve ever listened to a lot of what the people who enter beauty contests actually say, then you’d understand why a person should prioritize studying over spending time trying to look as good as possible.)

study-noun

Step seven: Getting creative.

One of the reasons why people procrastinate (in my experience-so, according to…me) is due to the fear of facing the dreaded flash-cards and boring textbooks. Now, first of all textbooks and flash-cards can be fun…for some people. But if that’s not really your thing, then you could try sticking colourful post-it notes with study notes on them on the outside of a glass shower, or the back of your toilet door. That way you’ll be looking at your notes at least three times a day.

You could also send your friends your study notes, and get them to randomly text you with pop quizzes. Annoying? Yes. Helpful? Mostly.

Step eight: Sticking to it.

This is the hardest step, because in the end it’s really up to you. Kicking the procrastination habit is tough, but once you’ve done it, and you’ve got yourself into the exam-hibernation mode with your pillow suit and your Oreos, you might as well go all the way and study hard!

481535

Studying is not always easy, but I promise you that it’s always worth it in the end. Now stop reading my blog and get to it!

The A-Z of surviving a teaching prac

 Blog 1

So it’s your first teaching prac and you want to ace it but not quite sure how to pull it off?  Never fear because with these simple yet effective tips you’ll be cartwheeling all the way to the classroom!

Do your homework!

Make sure you know how to get to your new school, what time to arrive, where to park and what to wear.  You don’t want to be stressing over these things an hour before you’re expected in the classroom.

Be excited (but nurture that scaredy cat inside of you too!)

Enthusiasm will have you off to a great start – you’ll energise your students and they will think you’ve been teaching for years.  A few nerves are normal so don’t worry about those – they’ll keep you on your toes!

Be ready to learn and open to new ideas

You might feel out of your depth at times but that’s perfectly normal – you’re there to learn.  So don’t beat yourself up or think you’re doomed if your first (second and third!) lesson doesn’t go to plan.  That happens to the most experienced teachers as well and it’s a great learning opportunity.

Raise your hand

Ask for help or advice if you need it.  You aren’t expected to know everything so don’t be afraid to seek guidance and feedback from your mentor and other teachers at your prac school.  They are there to help us succeed and will most likely be thrilled that you’re open to learning from their wealth of experience.

Blog 3

Clear your in-tray

Chances are you’ll be exhausted after your first days of prac so try to have your assignments and other important things completed beforehand.  That way you’ll be able to devote whatever energy you have left each evening to preparing for the following day of prac.

Reflect, reflect, reflect!

We hear that word all the time but there’s good reason for that – reflection is a fantastic learning tool so it’s a good habit to get into.  Written reflections will also provide evidence of your personal learning journey which will not only be satisfying for you to read at a later time but also relevant to future employers.

And finally, give yourself a well-deserved high five!!

Juggling the demands of prac, uni and personal life all at once certainly isn’t easy so don’t forget to reward yourself along the way.  It could be as simple as grabbing a (large!) mocha on your way to school in the morning or spending a few hours at the beach.  Whatever works for you.

blog 2

Until next time,

Jodie

Top 10 Stress Busters

Studying at university can be stressful particularly when assignments are due, or when we are about to undertake our exams. It is so easy to believe that you are alone and that all those around you are not feeling the same pressure as you, but this is not true. Everyone is stressed at these times. So when you are feeling the urge to pull out your hair, bang your head on the wall, or just sit in a corner and cry, just remember that there are many ways to relieve the pressure on yourself.

So here is my top 10 list of STRESS BUSTERS

# 1 – Have coffee with a friend!

This is the best thing to do! Meet up with some of your friends and have a nice cuppa and just talk. You don’t have to talk about study, assignments or anything serious in fact simply talking about every day run of the mill things will take your mind off your troubles and  calm you down. There are some great meeting spots on-campus to have a cuppa and chat.

# 2 – The Japanese Gardens!

If you haven’t seen them, you are missing out. They are at the Toowoomba campus and they are amazing. Just sit back, relax and take it all in.

# 3 – Listen to music!

Find a quiet, dark spot, put on your headphones and listen to your favourite music. Blocking out the whole world, even if it’s only for half an hour or an hour, is very soothing.

# 4 – Walk!

If you have a dog, then take Rover for a walk.  Everything around you will appear to slow down. If you don’t have a dog, then take yourself for a walk. Don’t always walk the same route, walk a new route each day. It is amazing what you see on foot. Early mornings are a great time to walk!

Blog 1

# 5 – Laugh! Laugh! Laugh!

They say that laughter is the key to happiness! If you are feeling really out of sorts with stress then watch some comedy on YouTube or join a laughter club. They are all the rage and the experts are praising the healing benefits of having a good laugh. There are clubs in Toowoomba:

http://laughter-club.meetup.com/cities/au/toowoomba

# 6 – Exercise!

I know it can be hard to get going, but a good workout will provide immediate relief from tension. Even if you can’t bring yourself to break into a sweat, any form of exercise that gets the blood circulating will release the endorphins. Swimming, skipping, stretching or Tai Chi, are fantastic and fun ways to exercise.

# 7 – Be prepared!

This sounds boring and dull but it really does help to relieve the pressure from stressful situations. If you are going into exams, get yourself organised the day before. Pack all the items that you will need, plan the route that you are taking to your examination venue, have some healthy snacks packed to get the brain cells working and leave in plenty of time to get there with time to spare. And of course get plenty of sleep the night before.

# 8 – Chocolate!

It doesn’t matter who you are, this really works and needs no explanation.

# 9 – The unusual Options!

  • Wear a rubber band on your wrist – flick it when you’re stressed
  • Drink orange juice – it is believed to make you feel less anxious
  • Chew gum – studies have shown that it reduces anxiety, stress and enhances multitasking
  • Paint – get out the brushes and paint, it is said to promote relaxation
  • Blow up balloons – It forces you to breathe deeply, this will relieve stress

# 10 – Read the little book of calm by Paul Wilson!

No, seriously this is a real book, I actually own a copy and it has the most incredibly amusing tips for keeping calm and relaxed. It will definitely put a smile on your face and provide some really obscure tips like:  ‘Wear Donald Duck underpants’ & ‘Add a dab of lavender to milk; leave town with an orange, and pretend you’re laughing at it’.

Here’s a funny clip that may help to relieve stress:

If you have any useful Stress Buster tips please share with all of us, we would love to hear from you!

Until next time,

- Lisa

Scoring that dream job… one question at a time

Another blog, another list. This time, I’m tackling the do’s and don’ts of job interviews. Having gone for a ridiculous amount myself over the last few months, this is generally consistent over almost all of the interrogations interviews I have had.

Firstly, you had to know this was coming…

Yeah, don’t do this.

DO YOUR RESEARCH

This might help with the Pan/Pam situation. Know the job you are going for inside out. Know your potential future boss, managers, and supervisors. Most importantly, you have to know the company/business you work for.

I know for a fact that the ABC tests your knowledge on the different station locations in Queensland, so don’t look like a chump in front of the boss.

CHOOSE YOUR REFERENCES CAREFULLY

Think of your references the same way your employer thinks about you. They are the people who represent you, so it’s important when you come to choosing, you pick the right ones. Previous employers are the obvious choice, given you are still on good terms. Other options include teachers/lecturers, trustworthy co-workers, but try to avoid friends. Sure they might be happy to talk you up, but a lack of professionalism could be the difference between employment and a decline.

HONESTY

Employers will sometimes know the answer before they ask the question, so there’s really no point lying. Whether it’s thanks to social media, background checks, or those poor reference choices, you can bet your potential future salary they will have done their research on you.

SMILE, RELAX, BREATHE

It’s a job interview, not the end of the world. Remember you are there to present yourself as the best applicant, so set a good example. Go get something to eat and relax before going to any interviews.

Also, being cool and mysterious may work for attracting attention on-campus, but employers aren’t going to be fooled. Sure, natural charisma is a great asset, but don’t push the point. Employers want to see who they will be working with, so don’t fake it or you’ll have to keep that facade up if you get the job.

THINK BEFORE ANSWERING!

Word vomit – it’s a thing.

Blog 1

It doesn’t take much to make a good impression, so be sure to take every opportunity possible.

Til next time

Tom

Play that funky music!

So, it’s getting up to that time of semester again. Yeah, you know. Yes, I see you nodding. Study time. And not just regular study time. This is study-because-exams-are-only-a-few-weeks-away-study-time. So, it’s pretty hectic. Yeah, I’m not really happy about it either. What with the work, and the social life, and the assignments that are still to be handed in. It’s not really too fun, right?

BUT. We gotta do it. Like, we just kind of have to, yeah? So, we might as well make it fun. At least that’s the point of view that I have. And let’s be reasonable with one another for a little bit here. No one really enjoys studying.
Sometimes, I get into the habit of doing this:

blog 1

Because you know, walls can be interesting.
Ahem.
Yeah, moving on.
You caught me. I don’t like studying.
However (cue drum roll!), there are definitely a few ways to make study more enjoyable.

Take regular breaks

I always try to have consistent breaks that I work towards. They’re normally around 10 minutes in length, and I take them maybe every 45 minutes or so. They’re like a bright light in the miasma of study. It’s a good thing. It’s something that you really look forward to, because looking forward to things while studying is important.

I enjoy getting up to all sorts of crazy shenanigans in those 10 minutes. Often I try to fit as many objectives into that break as possible. I’m basically Tom Cruise on a Mission Impossible mission. I may play with my cat (which somehow ends up in a fight and cat claw marks down my arm), play some funky music (white boy), watch TV (Adventure Time, anyone?) or just sit in the corner of the room slowly rocking back and forth wondering if it will ever be over (don’t stress, that’s a joke. No seriously, it is).

That’s always a good place to start. Just some nice and easy study breaks to get you through it all, but how are you meant to make study fun while studying?
Well, this is my desk right now:

blog 2

HIGHLIGHTERS!

Not only highlighters, but 5 highlighters. I know; impressive, right?
While looking over old notes and lecture slides, I often just look over it and try and see if I remember all of the information there (hopefully I remember most). The information that I don’t remember, I will simply just highlight with a particular colour.
I’ll then go over the highlighted areas and re-read, re-write and re-learn this information. I’ll give it a few days, and then go through these same notes with a different coloured highlighter and highlight once again.

Hopefully, there is less information highlighted. Hopefully. The important part is to be impartial. Sometimes I even highlight things that I didn’t highlight the first time. I’ll try and do this (realistically) about 3 times, however this really does matter on the work load I have at that point of time, sometimes I only get around to it about once.

Afterwards, you can look over your old notes and lecture slides and use the visual stimulus that the coloured highlighters have given you. In an exam, you may even specifically remember the colour of highlighter you’ve used (which always makes me super happy) for that particular piece of information.
I suppose I do get a kick out of all the bright colours as well. You may find this unappealing and not worthwhile, and I think everybody needs to devise their own ways of studying, but this is my way (and you’re welcome to use it too!)

The greatest thing that I’ve found about it is that I only look at information that I can’t remember in large detail. The stuff that is securely locked in my memory is quickly brushed over. So it gives me more time on the things I can’t remember but I still trigger that other information too when I re-read it!

This is just a handy idea that you are all more than welcome to use to try and make study seem that little bit less tedious, and a little bit more fun!

I’d love to hear how you make study more fun!

Until next time…

Nick

My overseas study space and routine

blog 3

Study study study! That’s all my day seems to entail sometimes. As a full-time student it would be unreasonable not to expect these type of days (or weeks!), but that doesn’t mean that you can’t mix a little sunshine in as well. The trick is to study smarter, not harder. I’m sure you’ve heard that line a million times by now, but perhaps you’re not too sure what everyone is on about. Well for me, it means you need to know yourself and how and when you learn best and slot the study in to suit.

blog 1

I’m usually the most focused in the morning, as soon as I get out of bed, so I plan to use that time for reading study modules or textbook chapters, which require me to stay in one place, sit still, read, and absorb the learning. I have a comfy chair by the living room window that catches the morning sun which works well for this purpose. I stumble out of bed, make a cup (or usually pot) of tea, and prop myself up in the chair by the window. I can’t potter about doing anything else first as it throws my routine and I miss my mind’s ‘zone’ for study. It’s pretty much a case of ‘Do not pass go, do not collect $200’!

I usually need to stretch my legs after this and I’m a bit hungry so I get dressed for the day and then go into the kitchen and throw together something for brekky. Most mornings I eat breakfast while checking my emails and study forums – this works well for me as my mind gets a break and I can catch up on what has been happening since shutting down the computer the night before. It also helps to direct the days study if a lecturer has posted some extra info on an assignment etc.

Next it’s time to listen to lecture modules or get assignments done. I make sure my desk is clear and put only what will be needed on it – I do my best to avoid distractions! If the weather is good and I don’t need a lot of materials for whatever it is that I’m doing, I like to take my work outside. There’s a lovely rooftop terrace and shady garden in my apartment building that inspire me, so that’s where you’ll usually find me before lunch.

blog 2

Unfortunately by lunch time my attention span has dwindled and I have trouble focusing on anything important so that’s usually when I take my longest break. I will watch something on tv, or do some house chores if I have the energy. It’s then time for a little more study (but nothing requiring me to be too switched on) before preparing dinner. Most evening I do some assignment work before bed too as my mind switches back on again at this time and I make good progress.

blog 4

All of that said though, not every day will be the same. It will depend if I’m on a trip overseas and have other things I’d like to do during the day or if I’ve just returned from a trip and am jetlagged – I’ll switch things up to match my most alert times. Remember, it’s all about working smarter, not harder. Sequence your work to match your individual style. If it’s fresh air and sunshine that pick you up and get the study brain whirling, take your materials outside and study away. You’ll achieve more in less time and who wouldn’t want that!

Uni-style: What to wear to uni

“My closet is full of clothes but I have nothing to wear!”

Sound familiar? I am a huge suspect for this. The night before is spent studying till late and the last thing in mind is what to wear to uni the next day. The time comes to get changed and there is a fast approaching freak-out on clothing for that day. Here are 5 handy hints about uni-style apparel that works well for all USQ students.

  1. Your uni wardrobe doesn’t need to cost a fortune.

If you are wanting to add to your already overflowing wardrobe, but feel the $$$ won’t allow for it, head down to your local op shop. I’m yet to do so myself, but many of my friends pick up goodies for next to nothing and strongly recommend it!

  1. It’s nearly winter; comfort dominates style.

With winter just under a week away, it’s time to pull out the comfy attire in exchange for shorts and singlets, that will no longer suffice the cooler weather, especially in Toowoomba. For us girls, waving goodbye to pretty dresses to avoid disturbed concentration from shivering away in a class, is probably one of our biggest fashion dilemmas. I admire those who are completely opposite to me – brave and don’t feel the cold! (Sometimes I believe I was a frog in another life). Comfort becomes my number one priority; however it doesn’t have to be completely daggy. Another advantage to this is that there’s no need to change into “house clothes” to get comfy when you get home from uni and need to study!  Here are type of items I go for (no one at uni has laughed at me yet!)

  • Warm and cozy jumpers

Girls and guys, whether it be a hoodie, jumper or sweater, this is a winter must-have. My favourite at the moment is the knit look because it doesn’t just look comfy, it IS comfy!

blog 1Blog 2

  • Dressy t-shirts

Sometimes a jumper is too heavy for the classroom and a nice t-shirt is able to alleviate this. And again, we have comfort!

  • Denim

One of my beloved winter items is a pair or two of good old jeans. I usually have at least a blue and a black pair in my wardrobe. I find they are the perfect match for any top and are handy to have on those mornings when your uni outfit is a last minute decision!

  • Dresses and leggings/stockings

We love our dresses and it’s such a pity to have to store them away in winter. Depending on the dress itself, sometimes a pair of leggings or stockings can solve this problem. I have also seen many girls in pretty knit dresses and leggings which really pulls off the comfortable winter look.

  • A cover-up coat, cardigan or jacket

My closet currently consists of a few different types: leather, cotton/poly-cotton and a long trench coat. These are great when you want to wear a summer top yet need a little extra warmth. One of these is always packed in my uni bag in winter!

  1. Uni goers are adventurous shoe wearers.

There’s one thing that has stood out to me when considering Toowoomba campus students’ fashion and that is the diversity of footwear. This ranges from Havaianas, to sandals, to ballet flats, to sneakers, and then to a more wintery boot. Perhaps it’s safe to say that there almost isn’t a uni-style as far as shoes go, although it’s probably preferred that they are in one piece and of reasonable standard!

Blog 3

  1. Don’t be afraid to accessorise.

After putting on jeans and a plain shirt, sometimes you may feel as though your outfit needs an extra element. A scarf may be all it takes to fix this problem and it helps keep warm in winter, a win-win situation really. For the girls, a long necklace or chunky bracelet is also seen as a common accessory around campus. All of us also like a pair of sunnies when walking to and from classes, and these are a great addition to any uni outfit!

  1. Dress to suit you.

All of the above are just suggestions and aren’t exactly the “uni dress code”. Dress accordingly to your interests, as long as you look like a respectable member of the USQ community and your clothing choice isn’t completely outrageous. After all, it’s all about comfort! Life would be boring if we were all the same!

I’d love to hear about everyone’s uni attire. Perhaps I could add some of your suggestions to my uni wardrobe wishlist!
- Kristie :)

Following my Passion –pathways to USQ

I always had an overwhelming desire to attend university, but I was also uncertain that I had the ‘Right Stuff’ as they say to actually do it successfully. Year in year out I went to Open Days to get as much information about what is required and how much was involved so that I could make an educated decision about actually doing it. I did receive all the important information about enrolment and course detail and the amount of positive vibes from staff, students and lecturers at the open days was amazing. But I was still unsure; after all it has been a few years to say the least since I have been to high school and I did not finish year 12. Did I have the writing and mathematical skills, could I complete assignments to the level required I wondered, all of this raced through my mind every time I considered University life as a student, but the ‘USQ fulfilling lives’ logo always inspired me along.

But then I discovered the Tertiary Preparation Program (TPP) on offer at the USQ. ‘This could be my chance of a lifetime’ I thought and i’ts only one semester to find out if I did have the ‘Right Stuff’. It gets better and better because I could study it while still working and I could do it externally or on campus and after successfully completing the TPP I was guaranteed entry into my course and wait… it’s FREE!!!!!!!

Wow it’s free! That is my kind of price! This was definitely for me; I had nothing to lose, after all this was a win – win situation. So without giving it even a moment’s thought I took the plunge and went ahead and enrolled. It was so easy I could apply online directly to the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) in the comfort of my own home. My first day came and I was bursting with apprehension, excitement and awe. Here I was I thought, I have gone ahead and finally made the commitment to my future dream…. I am finally a studying student! How cool is that?

They tutored, instructed and supported me to develop my writing, mathematical, computing and general study skills and along the way they built upon my self-esteem and self-confidence. The lecturers were incredible they were always available to explain the little intricacies that I did not quite understand in a friendly atmosphere. It helped me to get a real feel for university life because those other students that studied TPP with me were in the same boat as I was, they too were unsure if they could do it. We all paddled our boat together to achieve the same result, to get into our chosen courses at the USQ, all the while wondering if we would sink or swim and we are still good friends to this day. The program flew past so quickly and before I knew, it was over.

The TPP was instrumental in fulfilling my dream of attending university, because just as the slogan says; ‘Fulfilling Lives’…..It certainly did! It really was my pathway to success. USQ prepared me for what was to come and without any question of doubt in my mind they had convinced me that I had made the right decision, that I could do it and that I deserve it. So I urge you all, stop thinking about it ……do it! Don’t dream it, be it! Click on the link below and make the right decision for you, if you are doing it for your future you won’t regret it.

http://www.usq.edu.au/degrees/tertiary-preparation-program/apply

- Lisa

Back to School

Recently, I hopped back on the school bus by completing my second professional experience of my degree at a local school. There are two words that perfectly explain experienced feelings leading up to any situation similar to this one – excitement and nervousness.

Your first day of prac at a new and unfamiliar school is almost like your first day of school all over again. It’s back to packing your lunches (tiny teddies included), putting everything needed for the day in your bag and setting off to the Administration block to sign in and begin your journey. A constant reminder is needed that you are in fact a pre-service teacher, and no longer a student. Seeing the school under a different light really puts things into perspective, and answers all those questions you had as a child that started with “why does the teacher ______?”

The most overwhelming yet exciting part has to be meeting the class of students you will be working with for the first time. It always plays on the back of your mind – “will they take me seriously?” and “can I even do this?” Lucky enough for me, I had a very supportive mentor who had confidence in me and this gave me the boost I needed. Not to mention the 25 welcoming and smiling little faces that greeted me and put me at ease.

The beginning of my professional experience kicked off in authentic busy-teacher style, with 4 meetings to sit in on in the first three days. This was a real eye-opener to the different issues teachers deal with on a day-to-day basis and the lengths they go to, to ensure each child is catered for. One of the biggest things I really came to understand was that all students learn very differently, and at different rates, and seeing this in action was unlike writing any assignment and referencing it. There were lessons that went better than expected, and others that occurred oppositely to how I had planned, but this just meant it was time to reflect on what I had done and a new idea was to be put in place for next lesson. At times when I felt as though I was doubting myself, I quickly tried to turn it around, as any uni student who is still learning should. My mentor and I even had a little fun by attempting to teach the students the difference between “Miss” and “Mrs”, however this error still constantly occurred when addressing me!

The following announcement was that the class were going on school camp in my second week of prac, with me in tow! We set off to a dam on the coast which would accommodate us for a few days. For most students, it was their first time away from home and it was our job to keep this far from their minds. A benefit to this camp for me was having the opportunity to work with students from other classes who were in the group that my mentor and I were to supervise throughout all outdoor activities. It was awesome getting to know other children and their stories.

Blog - campsite

First off the rank for our group was mid-ropes, then archery. It was great to see everyone have a go, especially in mid-ropes with those students who were absolutely terrified of heights and being off the ground. For me, this projected that everyone can have a go at anything they desire if they put their mind to it. I loved the fact that by the time archery came around, I had familiarised myself with most of the students, so much so that I was automatically promoted to the “championship round” (yet to have my go) by one of the students who was the only one to have targeted and popped a balloon thus far :P

The two days to follow were much the same, all children participated in activities such as canoeing, climbing a giant ladder, team activities, bush craft and many more. They had a blast, which made my job there so much easier. On the last day, my group encouraged me to have a go at an activity that flung me into the air with the support of a harness, only more so making my prac experience end with a bang. Hopping off the school bus was sad but I can’t wait to do my next prac, and more importantly – graduate and begin my career!

There are 3 outstanding things that I took away from prac:

  1. Each child has a story – get to know them and their interests. This will enhance your teaching tremendously!
  2. Teaching isn’t just about the content. It stretches as far as educating children about every day social skills to the extreme of being a stand-in nurse/counsellor. After all, these children are why we are involved in this profession and they require our care at all times.
  3. Lastly and more generally for everyone (even those who aren’t studying Education), you won’t know unless you try! Never doubt your abilities, have confidence and you will do well.

Don't be afraid to fail. Be afraid not to try.

Until next time,

Kristie