Sandra Vecchio, 8 April, 2022
After receiving the highest GPA in her cohort studying a Bachelor of Education (Secondary), Sandra went on to gain a Term 4 contract at one of Brisbane’s most prestigious girls’ schools - Brisbane Girls Grammar (BGG). She was then offered a year-long contract at the school teaching biology.
Term 1 at BGG was full of unexpected twists and turns, with a reduction in the number school days, the incorporation of remote learning due to COVID-19, and an abrupt flooding event that detrimentally impacted many families across South-East Queensland. Quite a start for a new teacher!
However, Sandra’s resilience, strong work ethic and skills gained during her degree helped her navigate these challenges. She was able to finish the term with new practical skills and a valuable insight into the workings of a successful secondary science department.
Sandra talks about working as a new teacher.
What is it like teaching at one of Brisbane’s most prestigious schools?
I feel extremely privileged to have the amazing opportunity to work with, learn from, and be supported by the quality educators in the science department during my time at this thriving secondary institution with first class facilities.
What subjects do you teach and what grades?
My first teaching area is Biology, and I am currently employed as a senior Biology teacher. I currently teach Year 11 Biology, Year 10 Biology and Year 8 Science.
What do you enjoy about it? What is rewarding about your current role?
I enjoy learning from the expert educators around me. Most of all, I enjoy teaching the girls in my science classes. Despite the disruptions that occurred during Term 1 this year, getting to instil my passion for science onto the young women I teach is extremely rewarding. Inspiring young people is at the heart of the profession, and I feel fortunate to have the ability to have a profound impact and share my love for science.
How did your degree help you in your current role?
I believe that my degree exposed me to a student-centred approach to teaching and learning that is directly transferrable to the classroom environment. My degree taught me the importance of promoting collaboration in a learning space, asking challenging questions that expand student knowledge domains and how to differentiate my teaching practice to accommodate for the diverse array of learners in my classroom; all of which are skills that I can apply readily at Girls Grammar.
During my university years I was also employed as a Sessional Academic and Learning Host for the Student Success Group. As well as providing general support for students studying STEM Education, these roles involved leading personalised and small group support for students undertaking the LANTITE Literacy and Numeracy Test for Initial Teacher Education Students.
What skills have you found you have needed to be a teacher?
Organisation, Communication (both verbal and written), hard work, determination, persistence, resilience.
What made you choose QUT?
After visiting QUT in Grade 11, I knew that I definitely wanted to complete my university degree at QUT. During my time studying secondary education and completing units at both campuses, I felt extremely lucky to be able to study at a university that subtly blends the use of technology with contemporary spaces that promote a quality learning experience.
You were awarded the highest GPA in your cohort. What strategies and skills did you use to get such high grades and what support did you utilise?
Achieving a GPA of 6.667 on a 7.0 scale would not have been possible without the continuous support of the lecturers in the Faculty of Education. I worked hard beyond the unit contact times, and I feel as though the level of support I received from lecturers and unit coordinators was a major contributor to my success at university.
Can you tell me about your professional placements while studying?
I completed professional experience at Lourdes Hill College, Marsden State High School and in an outer regional community, Innisfail State College. These experiences have enabled me to work with a diverse array of learners from a multitude of different cultural backgrounds and demographics. During my time at these schools, I have taught and become familiar with the subject matter from the Year 11 General Mathematics and Year 12 Biology senior syllabi.
What advice can you give someone thinking about studying secondary education at QUT?
QUT’s Bachelor of Education has been recognised among the nation's most outstanding teaching and learning programs. I recommend QUT to anyone considering a career as an educator. QUT Education understands that quality teachers must be given an array of opportunities to experiment with different teaching philosophies in practical situations, and that improvement of practice occurs in the presence of critical self-reflection. I believe that my success as a science educator stems directly from my tertiary study at the Queensland University of Technology.