Ashley Rutter

Ashley Rutter

Graduate Diploma in Secondary Teaching student

Te Whakatōhea, Ngāti Kurī

As a teacher, she hopes to inspire her students’ passion for subjects that she herself is passionate about, says Ashley Rutter who is about to complete her Graduate Diploma in Secondary Teaching.

“I chose to undertake the Graduate Diploma in Secondary Teaching because I had already completed an undergraduate degree, and wanted to pursue my ambition to become a teacher and role model for rangatahi. My late great-grandmother, positive teacher role models and challenging school experiences inspired me to join the teaching profession.

“I want to encourage and empower students to overcome learning obstacles, realise their potential, and achieve their academic and personal endeavours to the best of their ability.”

Thanks to the teaching placements that are at the heart of her programme, she has already had plenty of opportunities to experience what her future as a teacher could look like.

“During my teaching practicum, I loved witnessing students’ ‘aha’ moments; where a concept they had been struggling with finally clicked and made sense. I’ve also enjoyed watching students' faces light up with joy when they achieve a task or goal. Being able to help students learn new content, grapple with differences in opinions, grow confidence, expand their worldview, achieve their goals, and develop as individuals is a privilege that I cherish.”

Forming tight connections
She would 100% recommend the Graduate Diploma in Secondary Teaching to others, says Ashley who was awarded a 2021 Teach NZ Kupe Scholarship to support her studies.

“Due to the smaller size of my cohort, I was able to create really meaningful relationships with my lecturers and close friendships with my peers. While the programme only lasts one year, the relationships you form within your cohort are tight and without a doubt long lasting. Studying teaching at AUT is an incredibly supportive, collaborative, rewarding and fun experience, where you feel safe to make mistakes, learn and grow.”

Her cohort’s noho marae experience made a particularly strong impression on Ashley.

“After talking with two other trainee teachers with backgrounds in Māori studies, we realised we had the potential to add value to our cohort's understanding of marae tikanga and kawa. With the support of our lecturers, we worked collaboratively to create and deliver a presentation which, through use of Māori oral traditions, explained why Māori follow strict tikanga and kawa on the marae. The support and encouragement of our lecturers and realisation that teaching and learning is an ongoing, reciprocal process fuelled my passion to become a kaiako.”

Advice for other students
Ashley has some great advice for other students considering taking on the Graduate Diploma in Secondary Teaching.

“Pay attention in your lectures, engage in class discussions, and soak up every bit of information you can. The learning curve is steep and your time studying educational theory goes quickly. The two practicum placements mean that before you know it, you'll be standing nervously in front of a group of teenagers and fumbling through your first ever lesson, yet loving every minute, so be prepared!”

Enjoy the unknown and the uncomfortable, she adds.

“Don't be afraid to challenge yourself, step outside of your comfort zone, give everything a go, make mistakes and ask for help. Your lecturers, fellow trainee teachers, support staff, associate teachers and students are all there to push you to become the best teacher and professional individual you possibly can be.”

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