Cameron Thorn, is a final year student Bachelor of Education (Secondary) and the Coaches Coordinator, AHEAD in Schools Program, at Curtin University.
As a final year Bachelor of Education (Secondary) majoring in English, I signed up to complete a regional placement, as I wanted to get a better sense of schooling in rural and regional areas. Having spent all my life and formal education in the metro area, I thought it would be a good opportunity to experience life in a small country town. It was also a great opportunity to go with other students and make some friends in my course.
Why it’s different
Completing prac in a country school was very different to prac in a city school. Although there can be similar challenges and rewards, there is a lot more emphasis placed on the community and becoming a part of it. It challenges you to blend your personal and professional life. For example, you may see students and their parents in the shops. They will want to stop and chat to you about where you’ve come from and what you do. They want to get to know you. This is great when you want to embrace it but can be challenging to work out if you want to or are happy to break down those barriers.
Who’s up for it?
A rural prac is ideal for students who are passionate about teaching and want to learn about all the different types of schools and educational settings that are available in Australia. It’s great for those who want to learn a bit more about life in the country and great for students who are a bit more adventurous and seeking a challenge. It is also a great learning opportunity for students who are keen to progress their career quickly. You are able to talk to young teachers who are heads of department/faculty, often only a few years older than yourself but a lot younger than their peers in metro schools.
Some of the highlights of my prac were spending my weekends exploring the Wheatbelt and nearby towns with the other praccies. It was a great way to debrief after what was often a busy and sometimes stressful week. It was great to be able to live with the other praccies, having that support network around you at all times.
The other major highlight of my prac was feeling as though I had become a part of the local community. We were in town for the AFL finals in the local league. It was great to go out and support the community, and feel a part of it. It gave me an insight into what I could do if I lived and worked in a country town.
I think it is important that prac students commit fully to the opportunity of a country prac. Three weeks away from home and friends can be tough, don’t be tempted to leave town for the weekend. It’s important to embrace your fellow praccies, they are in the same situation that you are. Make sure you save up for a few months beforehand, extra money makes the whole experience a lot easier.
Where to next?
When I complete my degree, at the end of 2014, I hope to be working with students from a diverse range of backgrounds, supporting them in maximising their potential. I want to pursue and create initiatives that encourage students to take their education seriously and look forward to the many opportunities that are associated with it.