A life I have reason to value
July 20, 2016 4:44 pm
Meet Associate Jono Chow, teaching at Taminmin College, NT.
When I applied to Teach For Australia I was aching to do something rewarding with my life. My parents grew up in fairly tough circumstances in Malaysia and had worked incredibly hard to provide me with a great education and abundant resources.
With all the opportunities I had I always assumed I would go down a high intensity corporate career. At university, I was progressing along that path and undertaking several internships – although I couldn’t shake the feeling that what I was doing during the week wasn’t worthwhile.
In contrast, I was also volunteering as a youth mentor at my old high school in my spare time and it actually felt like I as making a difference in people’s lives that way.
It made sense to me to pursue teaching and apply for Teach For Australia. I felt that TFA was the best graduate program for teaching on so many levels. Now, three-quarters of the way through the program, I can safely say that I think TFA provides the best support you can get as a new teacher.
There’s a saying among TFA Associates and Alumni, that we hope to provide all students with the opportunity to choose a life they have reason to value. I think that choosing to become a teacher has provided that opportunity to me as much as it has for my students.
The thing I love most about teaching is engaging with the kids. Whether it’s joining in with a bit of lighthearted banter with my students or pushing them beyond their comfort zones to reach their potential, that’s definitely what I love best.
I chose to be placed in the Northern Territory because I wanted to go on an adventure to somewhere exciting and to get out of my comfort zone. I’d grown up in a ‘comfort bubble’ my whole life and I started to feel complacent with all the niceties and conveniences of a big city.
Jono and his Cohort 2015 NT colleagues at Tennant Creek.
TFA was a great chance to shake things up a little and push myself in ways that I wouldn’t if I had stayed at home.
Having grown up across Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, I’d have to say that Territorians are some of the most welcoming and supportive people I’ve ever met. I sometimes feel a bit guilty that I’ve had so much support and such great opportunities at my placement school, Taminmin College.
I’ve had really challenging situations but I honestly feel as if I’ve been given all the support I could have asked for from the other staff and on top of that I’ve had opportunities to teach rigorous and academic classes that suit who I am.
Growing as a teacher is a marathon, not a sprint. Whilst I have learnt bucket-loads since I’ve started and would hope my students have learnt a thing or two as well, I know that I still have a lot of room to grow as a teacher.
No one is their best self on day 1 (or even year 1) and the failures you experience early on are part of the growing pains of being a new teacher.
If you’re considering applying to Teach For Australia, I’d tell you to stretch yourself outside your comfort zone so you can get the most out of your 2 years. Venturing out into a new community may seem daunting at first but doing it with awesome people, who may very well become life-long friends, can be a lot of fun too!
There’ll be times when teaching feels like a relentless job but when you’ve got a like-minded group who will be with you through all the ups and downs, adventures and heartaches it can be such a rewarding experience. If your life circumstances allow it definitely go somewhere new and exciting!