Amy Bywater - Primary School Teacher, Inner-West Sydney

Amy Bywater, Primary School Teacher
'I don't think there was a particular point when I decided to become a teacher; it was something that I always felt I would end up doing.'

For Amy, February means the start of a new job as a primary school teacher. After spending four years studying to be a teacher, she is looking forward to starting work teaching Year 1 students at a catholic primary school in Sydney’s Inner-West.




Why did you decide to become a teacher?

I don’t think there was a particular point when I decided to become a teacher; it was something that I always felt I would end up doing. I’ve always thought that teaching, and education in general, is one of the most important foundations of any society, so I like the idea of working in such a meaningful pursuit.

Why did you choose primary school?

There were a few reasons. Quite honestly I was concerned about the confidence and behaviour management issues I might have encountered with high school teaching. More importantly, I feel primary school teaching allows for a much greater variety of subject matter as you teach up to seven different key learning areas. Additionally, it’s very rewarding to see the great strides children make when they are just beginning their school careers.

How did you get your new job?

As I wanted to work in the Catholic system, I applied to the Early Employment Program run by the Sydney and Parramatta Catholic Education Offices (CEOs). The Program is open to fourth-year education students who apply to receive a guarantee of permanent employment in their first year out. I had to make a written application, explaining why I want to teach and why I should be selected. Once through that stage, I was invited to sit an interview. I was lucky enough to receive offers from Sydney and Parramatta. It’s definitely worth making the effort because it means that, before you have finished university, you know you definitely have a job. What’s more, they try to find you a position in an area of your choice within their diocese. Recipients are also given a $1000 cash ‘prize’!

What do you think your first day will be like?

I hope it will go smoothly. There will be a lot of work around setting up routines and jointly developing some classroom guidelines. The first day will revolve around me getting to know the children, and them getting to know me. We’ll also do some basic writing and mathematical activities so that I can gauge what stage the children are at in order to inform my programming. I will be quite nervous – not so much about the teaching and working with the kids, more about the start of the day, being ‘checked out’ by all the parents!

Have you had to spend much time planning?

Planning begins one to two weeks before school resumes. However, I also have to allow at least a couple of days for cleaning and setting up the room – very time-consuming!

What subjects do you like teaching?

I actually don’t have a favourite; I like the variety. I least like teaching dance and drama because they are areas that I don’t feel particularly good at myself!

What advice would you give to someone wanting to be a teacher?

Believe people when they say it’s a lot of work, because it really is. The usual degree to become a primary teacher is a Bachelor of Education (Primary). Getting a job depends on the system you want to work in.
If you’re interested in working in the catholic system, you should know that it is getting more and more difficult to do so if you’re not catholic. In my opinion, taking a year off before uni is always a good idea, no matter what you do with the time, because to go back and start a course shows that you’re really interested in the course – and you need a passion for teaching to be a teacher.

What do you like doing in your spare time?

I really love to travel when I can afford it, I also think it gives you a plethora of experiences that you can bring to the classroom – students love to hear about it if you have been to a country they are studying and can tell them what it’s really like. I also enjoy playing sports with my friends, and loads of live music.

What opportunities do you think teaching will offer you in the future?

Teaching is an extremely flexible job, but as I’m only just starting out now I’m really just focusing on surviving for the next few years! However, there is  certainly opportunity for international travel and career advancement in the future.

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