Kate Calvert is a student in the Graduate Diploma of Education (Secondary) program. She shares her perspectives on the one week rural field trip in August and her five week practicum experience in third term 2010.
"As a pre-service teacher, I found the rural field trip to an incredibly amazing and beneficial experience. Having grown up in the country I have always wanted to return there, so I went on this field trip to see what it was like from a teacher's perspective as well as to observe what ‘remote' really meant. Well, I found out. Our first stop was Mount Magnet, an old mining town of about 400 people and the school absolutely blew my mind. At the school there was an overwhelming sense of camaraderie and collegiality which was inspiring to see because all the staff got along so well, helped each other out and there was a strong element of openness and honesty. The community itself was unique and I felt privileged to be a part of it for that one day. Unfortunately not all of the other schools we saw over the week were this great, but we certainly saw our fair share of the battles schools have to face in rural and remote areas. I found that overall these battles were counterbalanced by the good things about rural and remote schools and communities, but I know not all of my peers held the same view as me. Some were put off by the whole experience and rudely shocked in some instances, leading them to swear they would never return to the country, but that is what is so great about the field trip: it gives you an insight into what country teaching is like and will either make you want to go out there and teach, or realise that it's not for you, and these are both great outcomes.
As for my practicum placement in Kalgoorlie, that was such an amazing experience and I am glad to have had the opportunity to do it. I was at a challenging school and had some of the "worst" classes, to quote the teachers, but whilst it was hard at times it was a learning curve and I have gained knowledge in areas I doubt most people would ever have the chance to. But above all, it was rewarding. Without putting all rural students under one umbrella, they are children who in most cases are less fortunate than many metropolitan students, come from a lower SES background, have awful home lives and are not usually encouraged to see education as the way forward. But when you persist as a teacher and celebrate the small wins, it becomes so worth-while and the buzz is what kept me going. The relationships I built with the students weren't superficial and didn't end when the bell went at the end of the day - they would say hello to me on the street or talk to me on the hockey field - and when I left, I was truly sad to leave them behind. Yes, it can be intimidating, daunting and exhausting, but teaching in a rural school is one of the best experiences I have ever had."