Trainee teachers join I and O conference

Teacher trainee Ben King shares his experiences at PPTA’s Issues and Organising conference, which was opened to trainee teachers for the first time this year.

This year, for the first time, trainee teachers were invited to join the PPTA Issues and Organising conference. PPTA News speaks with Auckland University of Technology teacher trainee Ben King about his experiences.

How did you find out about the Issues and Organising conference?

I found out about the conference from my partner who is an active PPTA member. I didn't know very much about it, but thought it would be a good experience and that I would meet some new people who were dedicated to secondary education. I wasn't disappointed.

How did you find the experience?

I found the experience very rewarding and above everything, fun! Everyone was very welcoming and approachable and I felt that they valued having us student teachers there. If I felt a bit disorientated or confused, no one hesitated to kindly show me where to go. I think it is important for student teachers to understand the issues and challenges that are facing the profession so that when they enter into it they are aware that there is a large organisation that has recognised them and is working to rectify them and that you can be a part of that change.

What sessions/workshops did you find the most useful?

I found the workshop on the changing of the decile system very interesting. I didn't know an awful lot about the system beforehand, and the workshop helped to clarify how it worked and why it needed to change. It also challenged some of my previous understanding of the system. As I will be entering the profession at the same time the decile system is being changed, I think it was valuable to understand the new system and how it will affect the schools I will be working in.

What do you think we could do to make the conference more appealing for teacher trainees?

I think it could be made appealing by the same method for increasing membership among student teachers...advertise! By which I mean, I had no idea that membership was even open to student teachers until my partner told me. I think if more student teachers were aware of this, then many more would be happy to join up and come along. It is comforting as a student teacher to know that there is an organisation that is working for them and that there is this huge resource of connections and advice that is available to them.

How are you feeling about entering the profession?

Naturally I am feeling a combination of excitement and apprehension. I think to say anything else would smack of arrogance! I am under no false impressions that teaching is an easy profession, especially considering the challenges that the profession faces. However, I have known for a long time that it is the profession I want to dedicate myself to so I am excited to get into the classroom. Hopefully the challenges of Covid-19 will highlight to the community the importance of teachers and that that will have a carry-on effect in addressing the issues that teachers have had to put-up with. Perhaps the parents and community members who have undervalued teachers in the past will have a new perspective after trying to home-school for six weeks.

What are your future plans?

My future plans are to finish my qualification and to get a job!

What has it been like being in lockdown as a trainee teacher?

Being a student teacher under lockdown has been quite challenging. I had the first day of my first practicum at Rangitoto College on the day before schools closed for Level 4. It was quite a shock from having mentally prepared for two weeks of practicum only to suddenly have four weeks of holiday. The university (AUT) was a bit slow in communicating to us about how our course was going to change which led to quite a lot of frustration among my colleagues. Some assignments were changed, others postponed or pushed back. I think not having that full first practicum has knocked the confidence of my cohort as we were raring to get into the classroom only to be thrust into idleness and isolation. Every teacher I have spoken to has said that practicum is where you really learn about the job, and I think it is true; you can only learn so much from books and lectures so the practicums are essential to the course. With the return to Level 2, I think many of us are worried that our presence as student teachers in the classroom will only add to the stress of our ATs and the students so I am glad that the university has pushed back our practicum dates to allow time for schools to get back into a rhythm before we come in.

Trainee teachers can join PPTA for free! 

Teacher trainees are eligible for free PPTA membership while they are training. They can join online  - Join us (

or by contacting our membership team at


Last modified on Monday, 6 July 2020 11:58