Matthew Clark

MOTIVATE

Matthew Primary Teaching

What inspired you to study teaching?

I struggled a bit at high school but I had some male teachers who were great role models. Having them inspire me to achieve made me want to do that for others.

How have you enjoyed the UC programme so far?

It’s been great. My favourite thing has been having a close community of lecturers and fellow students around me. Everyone I’ve connected with is really supportive and engages in open discussions about ideas. We all want to make a difference.

UC Education is in a new building now, Rehua. How’s that?

I love it because it feels like home for us teaching students. Sometimes I’ll be studying there with friends and a lecturer will walk past, stop and sit down to chat with us about what we’re up to and how we’re doing. The lecturers really value what we have to say. It feels like a very reciprocal relationship.

Tell me about the placements?

Our placements are fantastic. I love interacting with the kids and joining them in their own learning journey. Being a part of that is an amazing opportunity.

Any particular moments that stand out for you?

In my first placement I built relationships with three students who were struggling with their learning and behaviour. At the end of the placement the school hired me as a teacher aide. Being able to continue working with them in a professional role was incredible. One of the students came up to me after his graduation ceremony and said, “You’re the best Mr Clark, there’s no one as good as you. I really appreciate you”. I burst into tears! That’s been my pinnacle so far.

"UC offers a very welcoming community within a compact university area. Nothing is too far away which I think is really important for building a sense of community."

What would you say are UC’s strengths?

UC offers a very welcoming community within a compact university area. Nothing is too far away which I think is really important for building a sense of community – and just for getting wherever you need to go! There’s good engagement with te reo Māori and tangata whenua which is hugely important, especially in teaching.

What advice would you give to a high school student deciding what to do with their life?

Find people who want to help you become the best version of yourself. Support networks are so important when you have a dream you want to achieve. University is an amazing place to continually grow and challenge yourself.