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UC graduates join cohort of 160 new teachers in ACT public education

Kelly White

19 January 2024: From lectures to leading a classroom, graduates from the University of Canberra’s teaching degrees have officially kicked off their careers in public education, during the ACT Government’s New Educator Induction week.

Th annual five-day program comprehensively inducts the newest teachers into the ACT public education system.

Bachelor of Primary Education graduate Rhiannon Steenbergen had studied in the lecture theatres and tutorial rooms at the University’s Bruce campus, but now, she returns for the final days of the induction.  Next week, she will prepare to set up the first classroom of her very own at Bonython Primary School.

Having worked as a relief teacher at Bonython Primary School for the past six months, Ms Steenbergen knew that she wanted to stay. This year, she will be teaching Year 1 and 2.

“It's been amazing to work with a team that has such a wealth of knowledge,” she said.

“I've had so much support in the classroom. They’ve really backed me in trying different techniques, finding out what works and what doesn't, and providing me with the scaffolding and common language that makes me successful.”

Ms Steenbergen notes that the first years of a new career aren’t without stressors, but with the strong support network that’s been put in place for her, and the blend of practical and theoretical knowledge and skills gained through her education, she’s been prepared for what’s to come.

“I’ve been provided with two really fantastic mentor teachers that I can turn to when things get tough,” she said.

“The practical units of our degree gave us the opportunity to see students, not just on placement, but in an everyday classroom setting.”

Eager to rack up some extra teaching experience before he started working full-time, Bachelor of Primary Education graduate Robert Watson assumed he would pick up casual work across a few schools – but he started at Gilmore Primary School in Canberra’s south and never left.

“My experience with teaching has been amazing. The team at Gilmore Primary School is great,” Mr Watson said.

“I originally started in 2023 and wanted to just do casual work with a few different schools to test the waters – instead, I essentially stopped at the first one!”

Upon starting at Gilmore Primary, Mr Watson was inundated with support from the executive and broader school staff alike. This year, he will teach a Year 1 class in collaboration with an executive staff member.

“I’ve been really fortunate in that I can continue to learn in the workplace, with an amazing team – even after completing my studies,” he said.

Mr Watson will be incorporating techniques from his lessons at the University into his own classroom at Gilmore Primary.

“I had some amazing units with theories that I have already adopted for my own classes. Classroom Climate and Organisation was a highlight and Preservice Teacher Clinics really helped me feel comfortable in a classroom.”

Equity is at the very heart of public education, as well as the chance to change a young person’s circumstances by providing an education to open doors in their future.

As the first in her family to graduate from university, Ms Steenbergen is acutely aware of the impact of high-quality education.

“I come from a lower socioeconomic family, and so I have a real passion for helping children overcome some of those hardships,” she said.

“I’m just really excited to be here; to do what I feel like I've been called to do for a really long time.”