Post from The Archives. 2017.38.
In 2012 I was blogging in a number of different fields and one was education based. On this occasion I wrote a lengthy post about how I became a teacher in the late 1960s. So much has changed since then, in many cases ‘not for the good.’ Whilst teachers now have to complete at least a Bachelor’s Degree and add a Masters in some cases, there is far less emphasis in the subjects that will be taught and how to teach them. We had to study every one of the subjects and areas of knowledge we would be using in teaching. The first kids I ever taught would now be in their mid-late 50s. How scary is that!
If you read on, and through the details, I would love to know what your experiences of teachers may have been when you were in primary school.
Joining here with Kylie Purtell and friends for I Blog On Tuesdays.
DENYSE becomes A TEACHER.
I was the first cohort of students to complete the Higher School Certificate in 1967. Once passed, I was then offered a Commonwealth scholarship to the new Macquarie University to do secondary teaching. However, my passion was with the younger children, and I waited my time & received a NSW Education Department Scholarship to study Primary School teaching at Balmain Teachers’ College.
This was the beginning of the biggest population explosion in outer Sydney, and there were a number of teachers’ colleges set up rather quickly after the 1960s to cater for a huge rise in kids who needed teachers! The first year of training was general primary school, and then in second year we could choose – Infants (mine) Primary or Small Schools (an option only for men, and my husband chose this one when he was at Armidale Teachers’ College)
The scholarship paid me $22 a fortnight, and I signed a bond to teach anywhere in NSW for a period of 3 years after fulfilling training. I attended the full-time training program for 2 years, completing 18 subjects.
We were taught how to teach & these subjects:
english, mathematics, social studies,natural science, writing, reading, physical education, music, drama, speech, spelling, art, craft, listening, library, child behaviour, handwriting, psychology of child development.
We had practical assessments which included:
telling the class of other teacher trainees a ‘story’, showing them a picture & eliciting responses from questions we had carefully planned, demonstrated dancing and gymnastic techniques, made craft objects step by step,
We had 18 examination subjects over 2 weeks at the conclusion of the two years. There had been a series of exams in first year too.
We were placed in four different teaching practice schools where we were supervised by the class teacher, and we were supervised by personnel from the Teachers College. We needed to teach in different class types and schools. I taught Year 3 and Year 2 back at the Primary School I attended. I was also a teacher on Kindergarten in the northern beaches, and a Year 1 in Neutral Bay.
We needed to write full lesson plans, and then teach to them, and evaluate them. We needed to mark the work of the students, keep the children under control, and do the other duties expected of the classroom teachers. We were able to write a shorter version of our day book once we were deemed as a pass for practice teaching. The lesson plan books were huge, and each night would involved writing out the entire day, and then getting the lessons ready, and arriving at school in time to let the teacher run an eye over it. There were no stencils as such.
There was a requirement for me, a left-hander, to learn how to write on the blackboard with chalk using only my right hand. Without practice (and I had to do lots) and then passing the practical examination I would not have been allowed to teach. Each teacher-to-be in New South Wales had to score 100% on a spelling test based on Year 5-6 words. We all had to pass a musical ability test of playing an instrument (recorders were very popular) and singing a solo in front of the group and teacher. We had to pass a practical mathematics test with the ‘new and revolutionary’ Cuisenaire Rods as they would form the practical teaching tools in Maths in the Infants Classroom.
After the exams were finished, our results were posted on a board. In the grounds of the teachers’ college. Then another list went up, the schools we had been appointed to. Beforehand I recall a talk given by the NSW Department of Education officers who advised us about superannuation. We were all appointed by the Department of Education anyway, but there was a tiny detail on the super forms. Women got to tick age 55 or age 60 for retirement benefits. I ticked 55. It turned out four years later, as a married woman to another teacher that I was able to “opt out” of super, and to my regret I did.
I was given a teaching post to Barraba. Not in Sydney. Not in the newly formed outer suburbs called as a collective Green Valley. I was going to a Central School – K-12 and it was a good 6 hours from my parents’ home in Sydney, and I was pleased. I was going to a new place, close to where the current BF was working (not the hub) and my parents drove me to Barraba at the end of January 1970, for Miss Simpson to start her teaching career. Firstly we needed to suss out a place for me to live, and on hearing from the school’s deputy that there was a vacancy in a teachers’ share house nearby, I was in! The next day, 27 January 1970 I began paid work as a teacher on a K/1 in the Infants Department.
That is how I became qualified to teach in New South Wales schools run by the Department of Education.