Year 7: a new challenge for graduate teacher

Shannon Whitby

As a recent graduate, Shannon Whitby’s enthusiasm for teaching is visible to the whole school community. She has been teaching Year 8 students at Gladstone State High School for the past few months and is excited to join their team on a permanent basis, teaching the Year 7s, when they join the school in 2015.

Tell us about your teaching background?

I graduated last year from the University of Queensland and wanted my first job to be somewhere completely different. When I was offered a position, teaching Year 8 students at Gladstone State High School, I thought it was perfect. I’m really excited to be preparing for 2015 as a permanent teacher.

What do you most like about teaching Junior Secondary students?

I really admire the creativity of our students. For example, this year I assigned a homework task, asking students to research a key figure from the Renaissance period, which could be presented in any format they chose. I received comic strips, posters and narrative stories — it was amazing.

They all demonstrated great critical thinking skills, but the best part for me was seeing students excited about homework. They were really proud of their achievements and wanted to show off, which inspires me to try new things, and keep them engaged and excited about learning.

How have you prepared for your new role?

Teaching young adolescents is quite specialised. I’ve completed the department’s Junior Secondary Connect program, participated in another three-day development course held by the Central Queensland regional team, and have also spent time observing some of my more experienced colleagues, to help develop my own teaching style.

Now, I feel more confident in my ability to take Year 7 classes that are based on tried and tested middle-school teaching practices.

What are you most looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to working with other new teachers, especially those that will be transferring from primary schools, as I’m sure they’ll bring a lot of expertise with them.

I’m also looking forward to putting the theory I’ve learned into practice in the classroom.