Ammar studied a Bachelor of Engineering (Electrical and Computer Systems) at Monash University. After finishing his degree, he was looking for a meaningful way to pursue his passion. He hadn’t considered teaching before hearing about Teach For Australia – but was compelled to do something that would allow him to have a positive societal influence, and excited by the challenge of teaching full time while also earning a Master’s Degree. Now, he’s taking on a whole new challenge—working as an Engineer at Maths Pathway while also researching a PhD at the University of Melbourne.
Why did you apply for Teach For Australia?
After finishing my electrical engineering degree, I wanted a challenge. I wanted to do something different that would make a difference to society.
I had not considered teaching until I found out about Teach for Australia. Learning about the program galvanised my understanding of educational disadvantage, and the prospect of teaching full time while studying sounded exciting. It was the most challenging and rewarding experience I have ever had.
Why should STEM graduates consider teaching?
Teaching young people to code is an emerging priority. I am a passionate Electronic Engineer and I likely always will be – but STEM skills are in high demand in teaching too.
Many tasks consume too much precious teacher time and fortunately, some of them can be automated. When I stepped into the classroom I sought to solve many engineering challenges to streamline my workflow.
What was the most challenging aspect of the program?
All teachers care about their students, but for me, showing this care took significant effort as I had to exercise this new mental muscle called emotional labour. Caring about students was not difficult, but learning how to show that care everyday took time. This was the most challenging and rewarding learning from my time in the classroom.
How did you benefit from the coaching and support offered through the program?
There were multiple points of support and I certainly took advantage.
Early in the program, one challenge was honing my classroom management skills. Fellow Associates were at the ready with tips and tricks. Some strategies worked well, some did not work at all, which seemed to come down to each teacher’s persona.
My Teaching and Leadership Adviser was a Maths teaching master who always challenged me to consider and reflect on my teaching practice.
My in-school mentor was one of the most loved teachers in the school and I definitely repurposed a number of his classroom strategies upon observing his lessons.
My Academic Mentor would distil a lesson observation into a sentence and provide one or two skills to focus on for the fortnight.
I could continue at length describing the support I received, but perhaps the most reaffirming fact is that the friendships formed during that time continue today.
What was the most valuable skill you developed during the program?
The program provided me with such a breadth of experience that it is hard to say. Perhaps managing conflicting needs from various stakeholders.
The most important people—the students—fall into a much larger picture, involving parents, administration, leadership, government, university study, teachers, well-being, office staff, the school gardener and the school cleaner. Not to mention all of the governance and regulatory authorities.
Learning to manage multiple points of need simultaneously was essential learning as this resulted in the best outcome for students.
Why is teaching like leadership?
A teacher must engage a hundred or so individual students with entirely different personalities and needs, and motivate them to learn. You are the only adult in the room and if you are not leading the class, someone else is and probably not with the desired effect.
The meaningful and challenging work that teachers do, that cannot be replaced by technology, resembles that of a highly effective leader.