Master of Teaching (Primary) student Georgia Ritchie completed her final Professional Experience placement in Weipa with help from the Geoffrey and Cynthia Taylor Remote Teaching Bursary. Georgia shares what she gained through her experience, including a sense of community, professional development – and a full-time teaching job!
Why did you choose to do your Professional Experience placement in a remote community?
I wanted to experience a tight-knit community and all it has to offer. Although Weipa is one of the more remote locations in Queensland, it didn’t feel like it at all because everyone is very social. Most afternoons we went fishing and watched the sun set over the ocean – just a short drive along the stunning bauxite (red dirt) landscape which contrasts amazingly against the bright blue waters. Every Friday we had after-school drinks with other teachers at the golf club or local pub which overlooks the ocean.
What were your expectations of Weipa before you went, and how did it change after your placement?
I didn’t know a lot about Weipa, just that it was one of the larger remote communities in Queensland and it’s known for great fishing. I know a few people who originally moved from South East Queensland on a two-year contract and they have been there for over 5 years. Although I didn’t know much about Weipa, I had a feeling I was going to have a great time. Weipa far exceeded my expectations in the best way possible. I felt like I fitted right in. The transition was easy because everyone is so welcoming and supportive.
What was the most valuable thing you learnt during your Professional Experience in Weipa?
My supervising teacher was incredible – I learnt many behaviour management techniques from her. My placement allowed me to focus on refining classroom management skills. I also had the opportunity to be profiled, which involved a professional profiler providing feedback on every aspect of my teaching practice. The feedback allowed me to set more goals for improvement during my placement.
How did the Geoffrey and Cynthia Taylor Remote Teaching Bursary help support your Professional Experience?
I applied for the Geoffrey and Cynthia Taylor Remote Teaching Bursary to help fund my flights to Weipa and living costs. I am moving permanently to Weipa to teach in 2021. Without the bursary I wouldn’t have been able to experience the town, school and community before I moved and I would have missed the opportunity to foster valuable connections and develop supportive relationships that made me feel very prepared and excited for next year.
Why is rural and remote teaching so important to you?
I believe everyone should experience what rural/remote teaching has to offer. I have met so many beautiful students, staff and parents/carers and felt so supported by the whole community. Teaching in Weipa has also helped me to learn how to better support my EAL/D students and their unique learning needs and ultimately help them to become confident and successful learners.
Most of all, I believe it’s important to continue learning, questioning, testing and evaluating your personal capabilities in order to grow as a teacher – rural and remote teaching is the perfect opportunity to practise that.
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