Luckily for me it’s also called work!

My son has never quite recovered from the sheer delight that was his Prep year. To be honest, it’s been an uphill battle since then. I suspect he will graduate from high school having had many great teachers, but none who will quite live up to his first. That was five grades ago now and for this weeks’ blog I caught up with our Very First Prep Teacher, Phoebe Taylor.

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What are some of the particular challenges of teaching Prep? What did you most enjoy about it?

I spent the first three years of my teaching careers as a Prep teacher and I absolutely loved it! It is the most rewarding level I have taught so far. The students make a remarkable amount of progress in just a single year and you get to play a role in that.

Most students learn to read and write for the first time right before your very eyes! They are like a sponge and soak up everything around them. Plus it’s always helpful that they think you are the best singer, dancer, actor and comedian they have ever seen!

It wasn’t until I taught other grades that I realised how challenging the Prep year is. Not only are you trying to give the students the best possible start to their schooling life but you are also trying to make it a seamless transition for families as well; you’re trying keep parents informed about what we do at school and why we do it.

Probably the hardest thing about teaching Prep is trying to listen to all the great stories, experiences and things the students want to share…….all 20 at the same time!!!

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What was your school experience and how did you end up being a teacher?

I grew up in country Victoria beginning my schooling at a state school in Castlemaine. I later went to High School in Bendigo where I experienced schooling life in the private system.
I completed my four year bachelor degree of teaching at Melbourne University. I was then lucky enough to begin my teaching career at KPS in 2006 as a graduate teacher. I always thought I’d want to be a Grade 6 teacher as I had a very influential Grade 6 teacher in Primary School. There are things about my teaching style now that I still model from her!

You’ve just returned from overseas, from teaching in the UK, in London? That must have been interesting? Challenging?

I enjoyed my time teaching in the UK and am thankful for the opportunity to do so. I began by being a casual relief teacher which came with its own challenges. Firstly, where is the school and how on earth am I meant to get there before the bell rings? Navigating the tube, buses and various maps proved difficult at the best of times.

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The next challenge was trying to learn up to 30 different names very quickly. Every school does things differently and I hated not knowing when and where things would happen. It was a steep learning curve and it made me realise how much I like routine and being organised.

I was only a relief teacher for a brief period before teaching full time at an International School. I had a Year 3 class with 20 students and a full time teaching assistant. The students were from every continent of the world, most were Japanese.

The school had a huge emphasis on its English Additional Language program as for many students this was their first experience speaking English. I learnt some basic words in many different languages during the year.

I was amazed at the experiences these worldly students would bring to class. Many of them had lived in two or three countries already, usually travelling for their parents’ work. Every day was like celebrating Cultural Diversity Day and it helped make for a very rich learning environment! I absolutely loved it!!

What are the good things for you about teaching in a school like KPS? Are there any particular challenges or rewards?

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The students of course! The students at KPS are wonderful and are very willing to learn new things and face new challenge. I was excited about coming back to KPS after my UK experience to teach the students again. They really are a joy to teach and they teach me a lot along the way too!

Since my return the Year 4s have taught me all about the new iPads and what it means to be a member of ‘Team 4’. The grade 6s explained how the new leadership teams structure works. The Year 1s taught me how to dance like a real dancer! The Year 5s have shown me how to be curious and develop strategies for investigating ideas.

I love working at KPS because it is a very supportive working environment. The staff get to work collaboratively as a team and share a collective responsibility for the students. I’m lucky to have such knowledgeable, experienced and passionate colleagues to work with.

I love the community feel of KPS. There are always parents who put their hand up to help out in classrooms, working bees, fundraisers and on excursions. It’s great to feel supported by parents in programs that we implement at school.

Thanks to the students, staff and community this is a place I enjoying coming to. Luckily for me it’s also called work!

If the school got a big windfall, how would you spend it?

I would continue to upgrade ICT equipment in the school, and hold training sessions for students, teachers and families on how to best to use this ICT equipment to support learning.

I’d install an underground car park for all the staff and parents with a ‘drop off’ section for safe and easy arrival at school. I would include a space in the underground car park for our three new 56 seater buses! These will be used to transport the students to and from sporting events, excursions, camps and other curricular activities. This would enable us to keep costs down and use the saved money for numeracy & literacy resources. And I’d buy some seriously drought tolerant grass for our oval so that it is green all year round!

Thanks, Phoebe. It’s great to have you back at KPS and I hope you enjoy this year with your new Grade 2s.

Jacqui Tomlins

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