3rd-year student, Bachelor of Education (Primary Teaching)
Bradley White has done it all – he is an award-winning photographer, has travelled all over the world for his work and even looked inside a few different volcanoes. Now he is getting ready for the next challenge; teaching primary school students.
“As a press photographer, news cameraman and videographer, I’ve filmed inside active volcanoes around the world, chased tornadoes, covered typhoons, cyclones, tsunamis and earthquakes, and experienced minus 50 degrees in Siberia and plus 50 degrees in Ethiopia. I’ve also filmed science stories throughout Aotearoa New Zealand for a Crown Research Institute.
“Teaching was one of the three career choices I thought of after I left school. I’ve ticked the other two off over the last 25 years. With everything appearing to align itself at the right time, and with the support of my wife, I felt like now was the perfect time to retrain and become a teacher.”
What he loves most about teaching are students’ aha moments, Bradley says.
“There’s a deep satisfaction knowing that the students want to learn and that they’re excited to be there and see a connection with what they’re learning to their world. There’s a whakataukī I like: Tā te tamariki tana mahi wāwāhi tahā. In short, this proverb reminds us that children make mistakes and that it’s a normal part of their growth and learning. Seeing ākonga acknowledge their mistakes and work out solutions to get to that ‘aha’ moment is a highlight for me.”
The right choice
Once Bradley had decided that it was time to retrain, choosing where to study was an easy decision.
“I chose AUT because I wanted a tertiary provider that fits with who I am, not just a student, but as an adult studying at this level for the first time. I wanted a course that felt student friendly, had a modern learning environment that was close to home, was inclusive, had excellent student support and provided graduate teachers with the best start to their career.
“As a ‘mature’ student, I wasn’t sure if I was up to the challenge of study at this level. Managing to do better than I thought has improved my confidence and excitement at what is in the future. Of course, this wouldn’t have been possible without support from lecturers and the support services at AUT, including the peer mentors, Studiosity and the resources available through the libraries.”
He wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the Bachelor of Education to other students thinking of becoming a teacher.
“It’s a well thought out degree that prepares you for the classroom and has been adaptive to the pandemic. The programme is designed to encourage students to take a deep look at themselves, their milieu and privilege, and how that fits within their students’ world. The academic staff are not only passionate and instrumental in the direction of education within Aotearoa, they’re also supportive and sympathetic to us as future teachers.”
Advice for other students
Now in the final year of his studies, Bradley has some great advice for other students.
“During your readings you will find research that supports or challenges an educational position but it may not be suitable for what you’re working on at that time. Copy and use these to build a dossier of citations for future use. It’ll save you time searching for it and you’ll add another reference. Oh, and start your assignments early and note the due date!”
Your wellbeing is one of the most important aspects of studying (and life), he adds.
“Balance the time you spend on study, friends, whānau, work and play, and ensure you leave time just for you. Appreciate those that are around you and the ones that have made it possible, especially for those of you who are ‘mature’ students that may have a partner or children. They also experience the challenges that you face, so it’s important that you make time just for them.
“There will be challenges throughout your degree so remember that there are different support services available to help you to maintain your ‘balance’.”