Graduate student Brad Cottam is currently studying a Graduate Diploma in Teaching and Learning (Secondary) at the University of Canterbury.
Find out what he had to say about higher study at UC, the benefits of a career change and how he sees his future.
Why did you decide to study the Graduate Diploma in Teaching and Learning (Secondary)?
I have always enjoyed working with people, around six years ago I first worked with children and I enjoyed the challenges and rewards that came along with it. Studying towards teaching seemed the natural progression for me. I started my undergrad at UC in 2010. It took me four years due to a knee reconstruction and taking a semester off to work with the NZ Army following the Christchurch Earthquake.
How do you think it will help you career-wise?
First off to teach in schools you need to be qualified. More specifically the course has helped me learn how to translate the knowledge I gained in my degree and the skills I gained before returning to study into useful tools that I can use to teach and build relationships in the classroom.
How has this changed you or benefited you?
The transition from student into teacher can sometimes be tricky. Without the course I think I would have felt lost at times during school placements.
What have you enjoyed the most about this year of study?
Getting to work and study with outstanding people who share the same passion and drive as you is great. During my undergrad I didn’t really get to know most of my classmates, but during postgrad there has been a camaraderie between the students, as well as several of the lecturers that has been highly valuable.
What has been the most challenging part?
It’s bound to be a little daunting the first time someone’s education is in your hands however I felt well prepared and would say it was more of a nervous excitement than a feeling of being scared.
What are you most excited about after you finish?
It has been a long road getting to the end of this course but now that there is light at the end of the tunnel the most exciting thing is definitely the prospect of being able to have a positive impact in the lives of young people. Second to that would be being part of a team again; study can sometimes be a lonely venture and I am looking forward to having colleagues again.
How are you feeling about the future?
Pumped, gaining this grad dip really does open up endless possibilities. I can’t wait to get stuck in.
Do you think you made the right choice by deciding to come back to university?
A resounding yes. I had an idea of where I wanted to be at the end of my studies and I feel like I have exceeded those expectations. My bank account hates me for it but in every other aspect of life I have grown and that is what really matters.
What would you say to other students thinking of taking up a similar course to you next year?
Don’t die wondering, if you are thinking about teaching then talk to the College of Education about your options or talk to a school about having a visit and checking out if it is for you. If it is then go for it, it’s only one year; and its a year that is very different to anything that you would have done in undergrad, which is nice. The course is full of awesome people and the possibilities both in New Zealand and abroad that open up to you upon completion are second to none.