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Student story

Thomas Straker

20 July 2023

"It’s such a rewarding job. I love not knowing what to expect..."


Bachelor of Teaching and Learning (Primary)

Primary Teacher, Casebrook Intermediate School

Tom relishes having the responsibility of helping children experience success at school, and "making learning as fun as possible" for the children in his class.

"It’s such a rewarding job. I love not knowing what to expect from the kids! You never know what they are going to say or do, and it can completely change your day. They truly do say the funniest things, sometimes without even knowing what they have said."

Tom says that when he was at school himself, he didn’t think of himself as being particularly academic.

"I was told by my teachers that I had all this ‘potential’, but I didn’t know where that could take me. Once I reached [Marlborough Boys’] College, however, I worked hard, and I realised that I had a point to prove.”

"I had thought about going into teaching, firstly teaching physical education, but after a school work day at my old primary school I knew for certain that this was where I belonged."

Tom chose to study at UC because "it had a reputation for producing quality teachers and a great programme of study". He says that the solid training he received was the perfect preparation for the realities of starting his teaching career.

"The degree gave me the theoretical knowledge I needed to get through my three years of study, but also the practical experience. I found that the placements we went on were the most valuable part of my study – they gave me the chance to practise the theory I had learned, and the increasing amount of time in a classroom allowed me to build the necessary skills and confidence I needed to have my own class."

Another plus was the quality of the teaching from the lecturers and tutors. "The big thing for me was that most of them had actually been teachers and they knew what they were talking about. They were able to provide me support when it came to assignments and gave helpful feedback."

He adds: "I also really enjoyed my year at the halls of residence – in my case University Hall. The people I met were all great. It is a great way to make friends when you’ve moved to a new town."

Tom spent two years qualifying as a primary teacher at Levin Intermediate, before spending a further two years teaching over in London.

He is currently working at Casebrook Intermediate back in New Zealand, where he is deciding on the "next adventure" teaching overseas.

"Kiwi teachers are sought after and valued highly so I have the flexibility to travel to other countries and use my degree to find my travels," he says.

Tom is putting a lot of effort into planning his classes – "everything from maths and literacy through to physical education and singing, delivering content to students, and assessing their learning."

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