Jacqui is a recently graduated Māori Medium teacher who is now working full time in a Māori Medium school. This is her account of her journey to full time teaching work.
“I finished my studies at the end of 2012. I expected it would be quite easy to find a job, because I thought that the field that I had trained in was an area that demanded teachers.
Applying for the jobs wasn’t that bad, it was actually getting my foot in the door to the interview that was the hard part. I had narrowed my search to the area that I live in, and soon found that there weren’t a great deal of the positions that I was after available. I decided to broaden my horizons, as I was only applying for te reo or bilingual roles, and they were few and far between. I decided that the mainstream would be a good place for me to start, so then I started applying for schools outside of Māori immersion and had my first interview to a school local to where I live. I didn’t get the job, but also while I was there I didn’t feel a connection with the school or that it was where I was meant to be. That was the only interview that I had secured.
I kept applying for schools, but the problem was that with mainstream schools they were getting hundreds of applications all over the country. Thinking that I was only competing with teachers from my area was wrong. I was competing with teachers from the tip of North Island to Bluff, both BTs and experienced teachers. It was these experienced teachers who were securing the positions.
So what I did was I got back in touch with the schools where I did my practicum. I had already gone through an application process with one of these schools, which had planned a bilingual class but did not enough students, so the role was canceled. I left my name with these schools as a reliever, and got a couple of days a week relieving at one of the schools, while volunteering at another.
I came to the school where I currently work by word of mouth. It got out that I was still looking, then different people within the university were contacting me with different roles. One of these people was a principal from my university who had contacts with a number of schools. One of the roles was with a tutoring agency, but the one at my current school caught my eye. It was a Year 5 role at a Māori Medium school.
What helped me win the role? I think my CV made a great impact, as well as the fact that I had affiliations with the local iwi. My age was another positive thing, being an older mature student, as well as the fact that I was immediately available. I also think that my academic record from university were one of the key things that won me the role.
This role has been an eye opener, it’s been hard. I started in 2013 on a year-long contract, so at the end of the year I had to reapply for a vacancy that came up here and go through another interview process. I was unemployed over the Christmas break - I found out I’d won the role on the last day of school. I was lucky because in that time, one of my previous schools I’d done my practicum at offered me a six month position, so I had a backup option. I said I was going through an application process with my current school and they were happy with that.
My advice to new graduate teachers is to use your contacts, use everybody that you know, including your practicum schools. There’s nothing wrong with relieving. Keep at it because it is worthwhile. It is a difficult job, it’s not easy, but it is worth it. And make sure that you do get the mentor support, that’s very important.”
Jacqui was a participant in Education Personnel’s Job Find Assistance Programme for Māori, Te Reo speaking and Pasifika teachers. To find out more, click here.