Name: Donna Nichol

Role (including school): Scale A Permanent, Year 2, Innovative Learning Environment (ILE)

Tertiary education/degree: Bachelor of Management, Diploma in teaching, Certificate in Reading Recovery, Certificate in ESOL

How long have you been in your current role? 4 years in an ILE, 6 years as a NE teacher at same school.

How did you come to be in this role?  Moved to ILE as I expressed an interest in teaching in this area of the school and the new Government initiative.

What or who inspired you to become a teacher? As part of my Bachelor’s degree I was doing a Recreation paper and had to organise a Kiwisport day for a school in Christchurch. Some sports people didn’t turn up so I had to step in and teach the children. I thoroughly enjoyed it, hence my attention turned to teaching as a career.

What does a normal day/week look like for you? Arrive at school at 8:00am – school starts at 8:45am, teach literacy through to 11:15am, tea break (duty), 11:30- 12:30pm is usually teaching maths, lunchtime, 1:30pm back to class for teaching other curriculum areas. 3pm tidy up. In winter I’m usually off to school sport. I have two after school meetings each week and the other three days are spent catching up with the other teacher in the ILE or getting resources etc ready for the next day or following week.

Is your job what you thought it would be when you decided to pursue a career in teaching? I always knew it was going to be busy but I have noticed I have become busier with the addition of the laptop and it now comes home every night to do school work, whereas before I never took it home. I receive emails from parents at night or very early morning, seemingly always ‘on call’. I am doing more assessment and attending more IEPs than I have ever done before. Social problems saddled with learning problems have become more prominent in my job than what it used to be.

What is the best thing about your job? The children, looking for the gold in children and encouraging them to be the best they can be. School camps and taking children through new experiences.

What is the worst thing about your job? Writing reports (has never been my favourite).

What is your career highlight to date? Teaching in an ILE

What advice would you give those considering a career in education? Be prepared for it to be a lifestyle, not just a job. It can be stressful but also incredibly rewarding at the same time.

What skills do you think are valuable in teaching? Having a good character, collaborate, good communicator, sense of humour, vision, creativity and organisation.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges facing teaching/education?  Assessment , lack of funding to do the job properly or getting children the extra help they need, increase in social problems that teachers are expected to fix although we don’t have the expertise to do this and a lack of funding for great professional development.

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