Virtual training made me a better teacher

Emma Fieldwick, 24, Primary Teaching + Inclusive Education

A little bit about me

I lived in the Mandurah area for most of my life but I got my teaching degree in Perth. I’m now a qualified teacher working close to where I grew up.

Because I completed my minor in inclusive education, I was able to land a full-time job teaching students with disabilities. I have a class of eight students, and I manage three education assistants. I only graduated in February 2020 so I think it’s a pretty incredible achievement for someone straight out of uni to be managing a team of adults and teaching students with a diverse range of needs.

Who am I outside of work? I like musicals and the arts, and I love travelling. I’ve been to 32 countries and my goal is to make it to 40 countries before I’m 30. My favourite trip was a solo six-week trek through South America.

Why I chose Murdoch

I’d always wanted to be a teacher – it’s in my DNA – but I needed to go somewhere where I felt I belonged. I was studying education at another uni but found the environment to be too competitive and I wasn’t enjoying my time there. When I visited the Murdoch campus, it just felt right. I transferred my teaching degree in 2016 and it was the best decision ever.

What I loved about Murdoch Uni

I could write a novel about all the things I got from my time at Murdoch! I’ll keep it brief:

  • Taking interesting electives outside my field of study.
  • Using the SimLab virtual classroom.
  • My student ambassador role. This was an opportunity to talk to future students about my life and time at uni, whilst mixing with like-minded students.
  • The opportunity to volunteer for AIME. I worked with local Aboriginal students to inspire them to go for gold.
  • A part-time job at RAC Arena, thanks to Murdoch’s partnership with them.
  • Another part-time job at the Student Centre.
  • Market Daze Thursdays. Eating lunch with live music in the background.
  • The counselling service is amazing, and you get six free sessions a year.
  • A sense of belonging.
My degree from Murdoch gave me the ticket to do what I was destined for. And that’s teach.

I felt so ready by the time I graduated

Practice is everything in teaching. Throughout the course we had over 18 weeks of practical experience in schools, working with real students in real classrooms.

I also got to use SimLab. The avatars are voiced by actors and isn’t scripted so you can have natural conversations with them. It made me more career-ready because it gave me opportunities to make mistakes and learn in a safe environment with my tutors nearby ready to assist. I became more confident that I could be a good teacher – online and in real life – and I was able to use what I had learned to produce engaging content for my students.

Now, looking back, I can’t express how much it prepared me for COVID-19 and the things we, as teachers, had to do under the circumstances.

My advice for future students

Take every opportunity that presents itself to you, especially volunteering. That’s where I made the best memories and the most useful connections and networks. Also, keep an open mind and embrace the diversity that surrounds you. You will meet people from all walks of life in your classes or even when waiting to get a coffee at the café. Murdoch is special like that.