Jenna Clark-Hannah is a recently graduated primary teacher who is working in a full-time, permanent role at a Wellington school. Her journey to finding her current teaching position mirrors a lot of new graduate teachers and illustrates the need to persevere if you don’t find a permanent teaching job straight after graduating.
I started out studying for a BA/BTeach, with maths as my teaching subject. However, I soon realised this course was not for me. I took six months off to work in the private sector in an education related role and reassess what I wanted to be doing. Working closely with schools in my job helped me realise that my passion was in primary teaching. I returned to university to complete a BA and a graduate diploma in primary teaching, finishing in 2010.
Teacher’s college was really hard work and I had to really consider whether I actually wanted to be a teacher once I graduated. I applied for a few teaching positions but my heart wasn’t in it at that time. I was offered a three month contract at my private sector job and took it, and it soon became permanent.
Midway through 2011 a principal approached me to teach a year one class in a job share position for two days a week. I negotiated with my other employer to work part time to fit in this job. I was really lucky to have a supportive employer. Once I started teaching I realised that I was passionate about it after all, and it strengthened my resolve to continue being a teacher.
My contract at the school finished at the end of 2011, and I left my job in the private sector to focus on teaching. I decided to give relieving a go so I could get a foot in the door with a variety of schools in Wellington and see what kind of school and class I liked teaching. At the beginning it was tough, due to relief being so quiet in February, however work picked up and I ended up really enjoying this time. I put in several applications for long term jobs. I had really enjoyed teaching new entrants classes in the past and decided that I really wanted to teach this age group.
I applied for a fixed-term position in new entrant’s class in Wellington for term two 2012. I really wanted to get this role, so I worked really hard on my application. I think that having had some previous teaching experience is helped me win the role, as well as the fact that I had been focused on applying for junior roles. I could say with complete honesty, "I really want this role. This is my niche."
I won the role which I was over the moon about, especially as it is really rare that a new graduate wins a new entrants role. I loved teaching the class and felt really sure that I had made the right decision. At the end of 2012, my role was made permanent. I am doing what I love and am on my way to getting full registration. I am so glad that I didn’t give up and stuck with teaching.
Jenna’s advice to new graduate teachers is to go out relieving to get your foot in the door in schools and find out what kind of teaching role suits you best. She also advises working hard on your CV to make it the best it can possibly be, as it makes more of an impression with principals than most teachers think. Her last piece of advice is give yourself a break, and don’t give up!
Also read about Job seeking for Māori and Pasifika