We spoke with Master of Teaching (Primary) graduate Bianca Matthews about her teaching journey at UWA and reaching her dream career.
On finding her path
Teaching was not my first career. In 2014, I graduated from UWA with a Bachelor of Commerce but I quickly realised this career was not orientated around my greatest passion – helping people in ways that have a lasting, positive and uplifting impact on their lives.
It was then that my mother’s favourite saying “be the change you wish to see in the world” took shape and helped me make the greatest decision of my life: choosing teaching as a career.
While my bachelor’s degree did not align with my true passion, the learning environment provided by UWA did ignite my love of learning. As a consequence, I decided to complete my master’s at UWA.
I wanted to learn how to provide a holistic education to students that not only fed their minds but enhanced their character through positive relationships, values and communication. Promoting student-centred learning through authentic, collaborative and inquiry-based learning experiences that allow for student choice was also a priority. The sooner you can plant the seeds of lifelong learning, the better, hence my decision to pursue a career in primary teaching.
On studying at UWA
As a primary teacher, I know the importance and power of quality education. The education provided to me by UWA when completing my Master of Teaching was no exception.
Through the teaching and mentorship of my lecturers, I became inspired to empower future generations to become informed global citizens and lifelong learners who view learning as an active process that they can drive.
When learning with my fellow peers at UWA, a collaborative environment was created, which helped us feel personally connected to one another and be committed to the growth and learning of our peers. The positive outlook we readily adopted and the willingness to help the learning journey of others was a key highlight of my master’s. The facilities, specifically the education section in the EDFAA Library, provided excellent resources that helped me successfully complete my studies at UWA.
On her career
My career at East Victoria Park Primary School (EVPPS), a small, inner-city primary school, was made possible by UWA. As a result of UWA placing me at EVPPS for my final practicum, I was able to secure a full-time position the following year. Over the course of my teaching career at EVPPS, I have assumed key leadership roles in school development processes and initiatives.
In 2018, my efforts in creating sustainable change were recognised with my appointment as Sustainability Coordinator. Since then, I have continued to develop and implement policies and programs that promote sustainable patterns of living within our staff, students and key stakeholders.
I also play a key role in my school literacy team and continually enhance the technological capacity of staff through my involvement in the technology team. My studies of literacy, ICT and cross-curriculum priorities at UWA provided me with the necessary knowledge and skills to pursue these tremendous teaching and leadership opportunities, thereby accelerating my professional career.
Since starting my teaching career, I have been provided with several opportunities to pursue and fulfil leadership roles within my school community. To help progress my career further while also being recognised for the leadership practices I display, I have applied to become a Level Three Classroom Teacher. This position will allow me to share my skills and experience more effectively with other teachers and pre-service teachers, thus contributing to improvements in student learning.
Jeike-Maree Coulter-Nile, a fellow UWA Master of Teaching graduate and teacher colleague, and I have created a private tutoring company, which has helped us progress our careers in other areas. In the future, we hope to create curriculum-aligned picture books that can be effectively used across a range of learning areas by teachers.
On inspiring others
Teaching is a lifelong process that relies on continual learning, critical reflection and growth. At times, your teaching journey will be extraordinarily challenging. Yet through these obstacles, if you adopt a growth mindset, you will continue to learn and, through this learning, you will continue to teach.
My greatest advice would be to be an engaged learner who has initiative and to make the most of every learning opportunity presented to you.
I participated in a special program in my final year of master’s that allowed me to work alongside a mentor in a primary classroom every day for a whole school year. This experience was invaluable and really refined my teaching skills while strengthening my confidence.
If in doubt, seek out help or guidance from your lecturers or mentors. They possess a wealth of knowledge and experience and are more than happy to share this with you. Above all, remember to take care of yourself and to set clear boundaries that you can enjoy your work while maintaining balance.