Pre-Service Teachers at BGGS

Pre-Service Teachers, Ms Ruby Andrews and Ms Claudia Finney, have spent the past three months at Girls Grammar, as part of a very unique final practical placement for their teaching degree.

Ruby and Claudia are completing Bachelor of Health, Sport and Physical Education (Honours) degrees at The University of Queensland. Having visited the School in 2019 as part of an earlier practical placement, they felt confident that they understood what to expect during this placement—before the COVID-19 Pandemic threw them a curve ball.

Ruby and Claudia have both carried a full teaching load as part of their placement, teaching 4-5 junior classes in the Health and Physical Education Faculty and Science Faculty, and co-teaching some senior classes. Both arrived in Week 8 of Term 1—luckily, allowing them to meet their classes and complete one week of observation before moving to remote learning.

‘We had to try to build a bit of rapport with our students through Zoom!’ Claudia said.

‘I think we are fortunate, because our university already delivers some teaching through Zoom, so we were familiar with the platform.

‘It was great that the girls are already competent with technology as well. They were quite active and engaged because generally, they all like technology,’ Claudia said.

Claudia and Ruby quickly adapted the plans they had made for their classes, re-planning lessons—and sometimes entire units—to cater to online teaching.

‘We created our unit plans and lesson plans for our classes, but they had to change to provide for remote learning,’ Claudia said.

‘For example, Year 7 Science practicals had to be moved to the end of the term, and we adjusted learning plans to ensure students still learned all the content in time.’

‘By contrast, in Year 9, the whole Biology unit had to change because we could no longer do practical experiments. We had started that unit in Term 1, however it had to become an Earth Sciences and Rocks unit, because students couldn’t complete the Biology practicals from home,’ Ruby said.

‘We did a few practicals from home, which kept students engaged, and then students uploaded their photos, which was a nice way to touch base with them and check for understanding.’

Health and PE lessons progressed well, with some minor adaptations to teaching sport aerobics via Zoom.

‘Seeing the girls doing their sport aerobics, mirroring you, was really exciting—it was good that we could still facilitate PE lessons,’ Ruby said.

‘I think the girls enjoyed those practical lessons particularly—some girls had five or six Zoom lessons a day, so being able to get up and do something physical was nice.’

When it came to team teaching senior subjects, both teachers found it easy to adapt to working with their co-teachers. During Term 2, as the majority of teachers returned to provide remote learning from the campus, Claudia and Ruby shared their lessons with their Lead Teachers in person.

‘If there was something we were unsure of, we could just mute our microphone, ask questions, and then come back to the class, so it worked really well!’ Claudia said.

Both teachers said the experience was extremely positive overall, and taught them a range of new skills in adapting their practice to suit unusual requirements.

Ruby said she felt fortunate to still be able to teach lessons at all, as some universities cancelled their practical placements entirely.

‘We learned to adjust. The interactive nature of Zoom allowed us to still be engaged and feel like we were part of the classroom, rather than just setting work and letting students complete it in their own time.’

Claudia agreed, saying ‘if, in the future, something similar might happen, we know we will still be able to deliver content in a way that is exciting and engaging for students, which is a good skill to have.’

‘Everyone was so excited to come back to School and see their friends—which was great—and we all had a period of readjusting, re-setting expectations, putting names to faces and building those relationships in a new way,’ Ruby said.

‘I have really enjoyed my time here. We feel really lucky to have been at BGGS during remote learning, with all of the resources and facilities that have been available to support us.’

Claudia particularly enjoyed teaching in an girls’ school, and Ruby also hopes to work in a school like Girls Grammar—if not the School itself—in the future.

‘I feel like my experience at Girls Grammar has really prepared me for my future teaching career,’ Ruby said.

‘We were also really lucky that the girls wanted to learn and do well—which was a big aspect of remote learning. They were self-motivated, which made our job so much easier.’