As a mum with three kids, Toni Mason always knew she wanted to be a teacher. With the support of her loved ones, Toni graduated in December 2013 with a Bachelor of Education – Primary (Early Childhood Education) and was awarded the Education Medal. Prior to graduation, Toni was in the middle of her prac at Calamvale Community College when she was offered a job teaching Year 1 students.
The Careers team sat down with Toni to find out she’s finding life after uni, juggling a family and teaching commitments and how her career may have taken a different direction if she had accepted her first Griffith University offer.
What made you decide to study teaching?
It was always something I wanted to study but I never got around to it until I was older. I was a parent with kids and being home with kids and knowing you are working school hours allows you to arrange a flexible schedule. I knew I would be able to come and work from home on the things I needed to do. And kids – that’s the other thing. I love teaching kids, they are fun and it’s always a challenge. It’s exciting and never boring. You never go through the same day twice.
How did you end up at Griffith?
It was the name. You remember it from when you went to high school. Griffith University has been around for a long time and it’s just one of those names that you remember. I actually got into Griffith when I finished high school and I deferred. It was also the local university. As a mum with a couple of kids, the university was actually halfway between my house and my mum’s house. It was just really convenient to drop the kids off to Mum and go to uni and pick them up.
What did you enjoy most about studying at university?
I really liked being on campus. The Logan campus was great because you got to know the lecturers and tutors really well. The support you got was incredible and the cohort I went through uni with were fantastic. There were a lot of mums in the same situation as me in which we were juggling study and kids. We would all get together to study and bring the kids so they could play together.
Did you get a job offer prior to graduation? How did it eventuate?
Yes. It was nice to graduate knowing I had a job. It’s a contract and it’s renewed each term but when you are graduating that’s what you expect. This is my first year teaching at Calamvale Community College. It was nice to be one of those people who got a job during prac.
How were your other pracs?
I had really good supervising teachers and some really good classes. It varies as one of my pracs was with the Gifted and Talented Grade 6 class where all the students had laptops so that was a different experience.
What are the Year 1s like?
They’re great. They’re fun and you see so much development from when they start. A lot of the kids are learning to write and they can just spell their names. By the end of Grade 1, they have made huge gains so it’s really fulfilling and such a good feeling when you see that change and development happen while you’ve got those kids.
Do you get attached to the kids?
You talk about them like they are your own. You learn what they like and what they don’t like. You treat them all differently and understand them in different ways and you try to teach them to make good decisions for themselves. Probably one of the most fun things about it is when they are looking at you blankly and don’t know what you are talking about and all of a sudden one of the kid’s eyes light up, they perk up and shoot their hands up and they get the concept you want to teach them. You get really excited when that happens.
At 18 did you have any idea this is what you would be doing now?
No I didn’t. I was working for an accountant when I was 18 and I was doing tax returns so it’s a very different job. When I finished high school, I wanted to do teaching and strangely enough I didn’t get into it.
What did you get into instead?
I got into Human Movement. I had no idea what it was. I think I applied for it because it had a really low entry score and I thought if I don’t get into anything else, I will get into that. And I did. I thought what the hell am I going to do with that? I just deferred and deferred and got a job. I gave up on the idea of uni as I was earning money. As I got older and started having a family and looking for work, it got harder and harder to get a job so I decided to go to uni.
What is your advice for Griffith graduates?
Don’t listen to the hype. That would be the big one. When people say there are no jobs for teachers, don’t listen to them. Sometimes you have to work for it but it’s out there. It may not be want you want but if you are persistent and keep trying, keep going back, or try something you think you wouldn’t like, it might be what you actually want or it might work out to be something good.
Top Tips from Toni:
- Get lots of sleep before you start work.
- Keep the textbooks. Don’t sell all your textbooks especially for teaching.
- Studying together for support really helps