'I love that my research directly impacts on my job...'
Studying towards a PhD in Music
Intermediate and Junior Secondary Teacher
As both PhD student and near full-time teacher, Nicolette says that anyone in the teaching profession can benefit from pursuing further studies.
‘Even though it is challenging, it is empowering to study while working actively in a classroom as you have the ability to immediately apply what you are learning,’ she says.
By choosing to do a PhD part-time, Nicolette is certainly in for a long haul, but she is already seeing the benefits to her teaching career.
‘When you are teaching, it is really difficult to find time to stay aware of research in your subject area – especially in primary school where you teach so many subjects. But my studies have allowed me to stay more up-to-date and be more reflective in my own practice. I have also found that the teachers and students in my case studies have inspired me to try new things in the classroom.’
Nicolette’s research is centred on how school music programmes influence students’ attitudes to music, and how schools engage students with a range of abilities in music.
‘I teach at an area school covering years 1–13 and what I love about my job is that I get to make music with students of all ages and I get to play my instruments – flute, piano, recorder and ukulele – and sing with others every day. I love that my research directly impacts on my job and I’m definitely a better educator as a result.
‘I think we are all products of the teaching we experienced as children and there is a tendency to teach as you were taught. My studies at UC have really challenged my thinking and I have changed a lot of my teaching philosophy as a result.’
Nicolette’s goal is to be actively involved in advancing music education, and she is developing a proposal to extend music as an NCEA subject at her school.
‘It’s quite exciting to build a department from successful small beginnings. I would love to be able to continue to foster a love of music in students and find the music in each one. Sometimes I can’t believe that this is what I get to spend my life doing.’
She would also like to make the learning experience for school students similarly holistic to the one she has had at UC.
‘I decided to do my postgraduate study at Canterbury because the music education staff here are passionate about making courses relevant to the realities of the teaching profession. I also value their approachability and their willingness to take an interest in me as a musician and person, not just as a music educator and graduate student. I’ve had so many great opportunities I would not have had otherwise, and I know I can always rely on the staff to be there when I need them.’