Challenge yourself - go remote

I’m very much an opportunist, so when Griffith University offered me a chance to undertake a rural practicum, I seized the opportunity with both hands.

After previously completing three practicums in large Brisbane-based schools, I chose to try a rural posting to give me a different and broader experience to add to my learning.

When I received my placement on the Discovery Coast, I was both nervous and excited to find that my school was a one-teacher school with eight students, from prep to grade six.

When I arrived in the small town of Winfield, approximately 60 kilometres north of Bundaberg and surrounded by macadamia nut farms, admittedly, I was a little bit overwhelmed, as this was such a huge change compared to anything I had experienced before.

However, the students, staff and entire community at Winfield welcomed me with open arms and made the whole experience so much easier for me to adapt to. Everyone I met on my practical experience in Winfield was always willing to share their experiences and knowledge with me and encouraged and supported me in this very challenging role.

Teaching in a small school with a multi-aged classroom was a very different experience and challenged me to expand my ability to differentiate and cater for the different students within my classroom. This was particularly difficult as the students within my classroom were at significantly different development levels and I needed to develop strategies to effectively cater for all of them.

This rural practicum allowed me to explore and expand my knowledge of education while in an extremely supportive environment. The whole experience has changed my view of education and has expanded my educational “tool kit”, and it has also adapted the way I will conduct myself as a beginning teacher. I was given opportunities to push the boundaries of traditional teaching and explore creative ways to present information to my students. I learned to use my individual strengths and teach students in relation to who I am.

I was able to thoroughly explore my values and beliefs as an educator and be guided and mentored by an experienced teaching principal, who was a wealth of knowledge and endless support. Without a doubt, this practicum has taught me more about education and being an effective educator than any of my previous experiences.

This opportunity has left me feeling more confident, capable and knowledgeable about who I am as an educator, by allowing me to have the freedom to teach students in my own way and through being allowed to try different teaching strategies in a comfortable and supportive environment.

If any of you are considering teaching in a rural or remote school, I encourage you to challenge yourself and step out of your comfort zone, because it will be the most challenging but rewarding learning experience you will ever have.

To everyone at Winfield, thank you endlessly. Your kindness and the impact you have had on me is much appreciated.

Loren McLean
Associate member

Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 120 No 6, 21 August 2015, p21