Career changers relish new roles

Issue: Volume 102, Number 16

Posted: 7 December 2023
Reference #: 1HAeLw

Teacher education that suits individual circumstances has opened this rewarding career to a wider range of people. Along with on-campus initial teacher education (ITE), other options include a mix of remote learning,
in-school experience and even schools ‘growing their own’.

There are now more choices for people who are keen to teach but have commitments requiring them to stay in their community – and that can only be beneficial for schools and for ākonga.       

We spoke to a few career changers who are thrilled to be underway with what ‘they always wanted to do’. 

Positive impacts  

Thomas Schaare.

Thomas Schaare.

For Thomas Schaare, a recipient of Te Huawhiti Career Changer Scholarship, making a positive impact in the lives of tamariki is the main reason he always wanted to teach. But when he left school, he trained in engineering due to an over-supply of principals.  

A hockey coach for New Plymouth Boys’ High School, Thomas was shoulder-tapped by headmaster Sam Moore for a Limited Authority to Teach (LAT) position in the hard technology department.    

Sam suggested Thomas apply for a Te Huawhiti Career Changer Scholarship, which assists financially with studies. 

It took some research to find an ITE pathway as Thomas does not have the usual Level 7 qualification requirement, but the new OpenPoly GradDip Teaching (Secondary Technology) recognises his trade experience.

Continuing as a LAT allows him to earn an income while studying.  

“This change has been great for me. I absolutely love teaching, especially seeing students’ ability and confidence grow,”
says Thomas.  

Community-grown experience

Ashlea Mudd.

Ashlea Mudd.

Mudd always wanted to teach but whānau encouraged her into nursing training. She soon switched to beauty therapy.   

Twelve years and four children later, Ashlea is doing Te Rito Maioha BEd (Primary) programme which involves online study and two school-based days per week at her children’s rural school near Wairoa.  

With whānau commitments, Ashlea thought teacher education was not an option until discovering Te Rito Maioha, with a hub in nearby Gisborne, offered primary training.  

“It’s fantastic, because I can stay in my community while gaining teaching experience.”  

Ashlea has a mentor teacher at Frasertown School and a four-to-five-week practicum each year at other local schools. Noho Marae provides important insight of the world through a Māori lens.   

“Attending Noho Marae has boosted my confidence in my personal practice and also my understanding of the needs of learners in our community,” says Ashlea.  

From museums to classrooms

Rosie Grant.

Rosie Grant.

Rosie Grant comes from a family of teachers. Rosie did a BA in anthropology and criminology at the University of Auckland and worked at museums before turning to teaching this year.  

“I wanted to bring some life experience to teaching but it was quickly clear when I interacted with students at the museums that I was so eager for them to learn.”   

Rosie chose the University of Auckland’s Graduate Diploma in Teaching (Secondary) Online where participants may be eligible for the Teacher in Education Schools Programme. This involves being at a partner school three days a week, supervised by an associate teacher. The programme pays students’ fees and a stipend, which Rosie says made it easier to do further study.   

University of Waikato offers a similar programme. Rosie was placed at Saint Kentigern College, where she progressed from observing the classroom to leading some classes.  

“The programme afforded me valuable insight into classroom nuances,” says Rosie.  

“Both my placements at Saint Kentigern and One Tree Hill College gave me fantastic classroom experience and I am going into my first year of teaching excited and confident.”  

A networking event as part of the UoA programme gave Auckland principals the chance to meet the 2023 cohort.   

This led to multiple job leads, with Rosie starting at Whangaparāoa College in January. 

Working at own pace

Stephen Fowler

Stephen Fowler

Stephen Fowler is a father and itinerant music teacher. He works in the music department at St Margaret’s College in Christchurch. Without a teaching qualification, he is supervised by the head of department.  

Wanting more steady hours and income after 20 years in the music industry, Stephen started exploring teaching qualifications.   

He had already spent six years at university studying zoology and plant and microbial sciences and wanted a course he could manage alongside his job.   

The OpenPoly GradDip Teaching enables him to teach five days a week while completing theory/practice online. He will finish mid next year, after a second placement of eight weeks.  

“The online teaching diploma has been a great challenge that has taught me a lot about my teaching practice,” says Stephen. “I couldn’t complete my diploma without the flexibility of this course.” 

A powerful voice

Emma Smith.

Emma Smith.

Emma Smith, an occupational therapist for 13 years, was a counsellor in a rural school in Milton, Otago. Discussions with the school led her to the OpenPoly GradDip Teaching (Primary).   

Emma says applying her occupational therapy experience to her newly developing teaching career has been a perfect combination for learning.  

Open Polytechnic enables her to work at her own pace, while maintaining family commitments.  

Significant life changes were needed to move from an established career, which were easier with support from partner school Tokoiti teaching staff.  

Halfway through, Emma says school-based learning two days per week at Tokoiti School has been the most beneficial part of the course to date.  

Principal Shannon McDougall says being a partner school is a win-win as the small rural school has challenges with staffing and Emma brings a powerful voice to the table.

For people wanting to study to be a teacher, there are a range of Initial Teacher Education (ITE) programmes available. A new ITE course finder tool will help them find a course that best suits them.

ITE programme finder tool at (external link)

Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand(external link).

TeachNZ(external link).

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 7:51 am, 7 December 2023

Get new listings like these in your email
Set up email alerts