From kitchen to classroom, reflections of a grad teacher

After 10 years as a commercial chef, James Hardie has traded his kitchen for the classroom and shares his advice to other first-year graduate teachers

James reflected on his first year as a graduate teacher at Fitzroy High School, where he teaches year 7 to 10 students food technology.

'My favourite thing about being a chef was the challenge of training new cooks, getting to know their strengths and weaknesses and adjusting my instructions to help them learn,' he said.

'In fact, I started to enjoy that part of the job more than the cooking. From here, professional teaching was a natural progression. I just had to get my head around working with teenagers.

'One of the most rewarding things about teaching is when a student or parent reaches out and says thank you.'

'A parent contacted me earlier this year and thanked me for being a positive male influence in her son's life. That's a pretty big deal to me.'

Getting ready for Term 1

James said he would take his learnings from his first year of teaching into 2020.

'I've learned that when it comes to lesson planning, one size doesn't fit all. So I am looking at ways to adapt my classes to help my students connect with the material. 

'I also want to give students more opportunities to check in with me one-on-one. Together, we can identify how their skills are progressing and what their next steps should be.' 

Advice for new teachers

James' advice for graduate teachers starting in 2020 is to set reasonable expectations of yourself and take advantage of the support available.

'As a recent graduate, you've just been through two years of intense study and placement. Your head is full of ideas and strategies,' he said.  

'It feels like you have to put it all together on your first day, but you don't. There are mentor teachers, professional learning communities, school psychologists, department heads and your principal who are there to help you.'

Induction resources for graduate teachers

Starting your new career as a teacher can be daunting. These resources can help you get the skills and knowledge you need to succeed in your new career: