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Advice for Securing Your Placement

The school bell rings and an entire class full of eager faces look to you to lead them through their lessons. You’ve just started your school placement – an integral part of any education course that provides the on-the-job practical skills necessary to become a great teacher.

Many people find the process of sourcing a placement the most overwhelming part. Swinburne Online Education student Jade Brunswick successfully completed her placement last Teaching Period and she’s offered her advice to anyone looking to secure one in the future.

“Arranging your placements can seem a little daunting at first, but being organised certainly makes it a lot easier,” she said.  

Jade started with the Australian Schools Directory website, and listed all the schools within her suburb and surrounding areas.  After putting together a list, Jade was able to narrow down her search by researching each school’s website to figure out which to approach. 

“I wanted to get a feel for the school and learn about their philosophies and history to see if I would fit in comfortably,” she said.

Once Jade picked a school to approach, she wrote a script to help prompt her conversation when she made that first important phone call. This ensured she provided all the information to the school they would need to accept her as a pre-service teacher. 

“Writing a verbatim script before calling the school helped me stay on track and made sure I covered all the information the school would need to consider me. This shows the prospective school you are motivated and organised, which will help you stand out from the crowd.”  

Jade booked the appointment to meet with the school and sent a follow up email to her contact person. This not only confirmed her face-to-face interview, but demonstrated her enthusiasm for the role and her ability to follow things through.

Jade brought a plastic envelope along to her interview, containing all the placement-specific documents the school needed, including the Swinburne Online Thank You letter, Mentor Information sheet, Acceptance of Placement form and In Case of Emergency form. 

“At the interview, be sure to answer all their questions truthfully and give valid, honest reasons for wanting to complete your placement at their school - this is where your website research comes in handy.

“Remember: They don’t want to hear the same thing from every student teacher so try to make your answers more individual. Smile, be honest and enthusiastic and don’t forget the importance of eye contact! It’s ok to show you are excited about your placement – they like to see someone who is passionate about what they do.

“And make sure you dress appropriately. If the school’s dress code is casual, dress semi-casual, if it’s semi-casual, dress slightly more formal,” she said.

Jade is currently studying a Graduate Diploma of Teaching with Swinburne Online, which she balances with her work as an admin support officer and mother of two young children aged five and three.