Sam's advice for starting out as a teacher


Sam Gleeson and her partner have embraced the challenges and adventures of their new life in Weipa on the Gulf of Carpentaria. 

It's a dramatic change of scenery and lifestyle for the couple, who moved from the Sunshine Coast to the Gulf in September 2016 when Sam took up her first teaching position at Western Cape College. But teaching remote has been an experience Sam would recommend to all new graduates.

As a first-year teacher, Sam used focused instruction techniques to enhance her students' performance and meet the challenges of her new composite class of students in Years 2, 3 and 4.

Drawn from her own experiences, here are Sam's 3 top tips for beginning teachers starting their careers in remote schools.

1. Build relationships with your students, teachers and other school staff

Building relationships with students and other teachers makes everything much easier.

Sam and her partner live in teacher apartment accommodation and have quickly developed close bonds with Sam's teaching colleagues.

'Everyone here is in the same boat. Cairns is a 9 hour drive away, so we're all living away from our families. We're a very social bunch and living and socialising together has helped get me through the year,' Sam said.

Sam's students are mostly Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and many of them are learning English as an additional language. She builds relationships by learning more about her students' lives—like where they live, who they live with and what they like to do. She also has lists of common words in the local Indigenous language and uses them whenever she can.

'I give students opportunities to hear and use their own languages in the classroom. It's a great way to build relationships so every student wants to come to school and engage in learning,' she said.

2. Be well organised

Sam emphasised the importance of planning and being well-organised in the classroom. She makes sure she prints out documents to ensure her day plans, lesson plans and overviews on individual units are all on hand.

"If you're tired and stressed and you can't find that one resource, it's really going to throw you." 

To overcome this she has designated areas for every subject and every year level, resources, lesson plans and so on. Work out a system that best suits you.

3. Have balance in your life

'You've got to have some balance in your life or you won't cope.'

'In Weipa, we enjoy an amazing lifestyle. We're always fishing, camping, four-wheel driving, and I've experienced many things I wouldn't have had the opportunity to do otherwise,' she said.

If you're looking for a classroom to call your own, Queensland state schools can offer you a varied and rewarding career that provides unique benefits and experiences. Take the first step today by submitting your application to teach.

Apply now

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Last updated 17 January 2020