Name: Andre Jay

Age: 37

Current role: Team Leader Year 1 and 2 at Tahatai Coast School, Papamoa Beach.

Tertiary education/degree: Bachelor of Education (Primary) English as a Second Language Certificate.

How long have you been in your current role? 2.5 years, prior to this I spent six years in the Middle East teaching at an international school as a Year level coordinator and head of school culture and climate.

How did you come to be in this role?

Our new principal recognised my passion and commitment to leadership and was keen to use this motivation to assist the school in moving to new direction we were taking forward.  He saw my potential to assist in developing more consistency in teaching and learning across two year levels within Level 1 of the NZ curriculum.  He also believed that it would build more leadership opportunities for me within the school so then take a further step in my path to be a visionary leader further up the education ladder.

What or who inspired you to become a teacher?

My late mother, who use to work with students with special needs. Her enthusiasm for supporting students and her caring nature instilled a value that made me want to make a difference in people’s lives.  What better way than to impact this through education.

What does a normal day/week look like for you?

My day starts with a either a session of Crossfit at 6am or coaching people to become a better version of themselves. Then a quick ride to school to begin a journey of contextual discovery with 6 and 7 year olds. It involves lots of face to face time with colleagues and parents, sport and coaching teams with a huge dedication to being passionate, motivating and funny in front of my students. It ends with a walk on the beach with my wife and dog then a family meal with Netflix.

I feel that having a very clear balance of working as a teacher and life with a family is key to not turning stale in a profession that is continuing to get harder by the year.  There is a greater expectation placed on an already busy workload and it is up to us to ensure we maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Is your job what you thought it would be when you decided to pursue a career in teaching?

It is exactly what I hoped it would be. I think that as teachers we need to stay true to being there for our tamariki and truly caring for them. Although the job involves us being fathers, mothers, caregivers, coaches, listeners, cleaners, comedians, event organisers and many many more, we need to sometimes stop and reflect on the reasons why we are here in this job and remember that our students turn up everyday to be inspired, motivated, cared for, loved and allowed time for them to be who they are and who they want to be.

What is the best thing about your job?

Everything; it’s challenging, rewarding, always changing and each day is never the same.

What is the worst thing about your job?

If anything the paperwork side of the job sometimes gets busy and can impede the time and energy that could otherwise be used to further develop learning opportunities for our classrooms, schools and community.

What is your career highlight to date?

My highlight would be getting the chance to work in the Middle East for six years and experience an international curriculum as well as travel the world.

What advice would you give those considering a career in education?

Be a teacher for the right reasons and know it is a hard job.  It is draining but keeping kids at the forefront of every decision you make and knowing you are there to make them smile everyday and enjoy EVERY moment in your classroom is why you should become a teacher.

What skills do you think are valuable in teaching?

Be caring and be there for kids. Whether they need to tell you about their new pet or that they miss their mum, it’s our job to look after every need they have from the moment they step into our classes to the moment they leave our school, not just after that year you taught.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges facing teaching/education?

Maintaining the passion and commitment to making a difference in a child’s life. Over the past 16 years of being in the education sector it is very evident that many New Zealand teachers are somewhat losing their passion for their jobs. I believe teacher workload is somewhat hindering their enthusiasm and passion for the fun things that I remember from my childhood, such as pitching a tent on the field, gala days, bring your pet to school, bear hunts, making bubbles and just good old fashioned fun that was related to contextual learning.  In my opinion with all the extra demands placed on teachers some are allowing these demands to take over and impact their ability to teach and do what they once loved. I think it is key to find a balance in life and work and to know our job is never done, but to never let this impact a child’s life. We have such a huge role to play in our young students lives and we can either make a difference to who they become or choose teaching to become just another job that leaves students wanting and needing more. In conclusion, it is our choice as teachers to be the legacy in a child’s life or be that teacher that a child can’t wait to forget.

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