I got my first job as Physical Education (PE) teacher at the Hillmorton High School in Christchurch in 2007. It has 750 students but a lovely family feel about it.
My goal is to get all kids loving PE, which is a challenge at times. There is a bit of banter and humour in my classes, and we have a lot of fun. I treat my class like we are all a sports team. When someone on our team is disruptive or their behaviour does not play by the rules, they are sin-binned - removed from the class or spoken to by me. Lately, Zumba, a Latin dance used in exercise classes, has become a craze here. Let's say the kids thought my hip movements were not very "trendy".
When I was at school, I gave most sports a go. I played hockey, cricket, basketball and rugby at representative level, and also played soccer, softball and netball at school. I believe sport is a good vehicle for teaching and developing values and life skills like self-discipline, respect, fair play, integrity and competition. Of course, the subject is fun.
In New Zealand you have to train for four years to become a PE teacher. I am also a qualified Health and Outdoor Education teacher. I studied while playing cricket from 2003 to 2006. The qualification I came away with at the end was a Bachelor of Education specialising in Physical Education, and a graduate diploma in teaching and learning. During those four years, I had six teaching placements and spent five to seven weeks at a school training to be a teacher by planning lessons and getting involved in the school life.
The kids were certainly interested in seeing me succeed in my cricket career. I got lovely cards from them when I quit. There are a lot of cricketers that I teach, and they were full of advice.
Giving up the game to take up teaching full time was a hard decision. As the playing programme increased, I needed more time off work. This was without pay, so I had to weigh my options. The principal at the school, Ann Brokenshire, was very supportive of my goal to play for New Zealand. Also, we have Melissa Ruscoe, the New Zealand women's rugby captain, in our department. When I was playing, between us we worked out our time off. Ann is supportive and we continue to try and be good role models for our students.
Teaching is a rewarding job. You see the students develop into wonderful young people through the five years at school. It is nice seeing them succeed.