Being a tertiary student assistant in VCE Viscom classes

This semester (semester 1, 2018), I took a subject called School Experience as Breadth offered by Melbourne Graduate School of Education as my last breadth subject (from next semester onward I only have core subjects for double majors in Architecture and Landscape Architecture…).

This subject is an introduction to the various pedagogical approaches and the teaching profession. As a part of the hurdle requirements, I was required to complete 20 hours of the school placement. I decided to take this subject because I was interested in teaching arts and design since high school and wanted to gain a new perspective on how to motivate and guide students in developing folios as a tertiary student assistant in the classroom.

I picked this subject at the end of 2017 as I organised my study plan and the weekly schedule. I quickly got in touch with my art teacher from high school to ask him whether he knew anyone who may be interested in having me in the classroom. I was really fortunate to receive responses from Jacinta, who teaches VCE Visual Communication Design at Ivanhoe Grammar School, that she’s happy to have me in the classroom.

Although my timetable for tutorials and lectures did not make it easy to have the placement (I had at least two contact hours every weekday – no day offs – and often those classes overlapped with Jacinta’s Viscom classes), I tried to squeeze as much time as possible in having placement. For the first three weeks, the train line was disrupted so I was spending two hours on the trains and buses each day, sometimes only to attend one 1-hour class. While I was on trains/buses, I had a sketchbook to keep drawing and writing down ideas for design studio projects, so after all the time wasn’t completely wasted.

Jacinta had two Year 12 Viscom classes and I got to know students in both classes. During my placement, students mainly focused on their briefs, research and generation of ideas. Having experience in undertaking Viscom two years ago and studying architecture made me feel more comfortable as I had an idea of what students can do to make their folios unique. I was so grateful to students for patiently listening to my explanations that may not always have been clear or engaging. Furthermore, I’m thankful that Jacinta encouraged me to run a session with students who intended to do environmental design. I hope that introducing students to what I’ve been learning at university – such as circulation, threshold, light and shadow, functionality and consideration for context – was useful for students.

Undertaking this placement reaffirmed my view that design teachers need to be able to help students think outside of the box by providing the wealth of knowledge in regards to designers and their works, techniques, methods and design thinking approaches, in addition to keeping students on the right track and motivating them to do their best. Due to its nature of subjective assessment, providing feedback that can take students’ works to the next level is extremely difficult. During the placement, Jacinta demonstrated to me how she can bring exciting ideas out of students’ minds and make them feel confident in their works.

It was such a pleasure to be able to have the placement with Jacinta and her students, and I’ll look forward to seeing their final presentations and folios!

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