We caught up with In2science mentor alumnus, Anthony Gonzales, now a teacher at Epping Secondary College. Anthony recognises the value of having an In2science mentor in his classroom and is now hosting his second mentor, Alex Dellios, in his year 8 maths class. We asked Anthony to reflect on his time volunteering with In2science and how it helped him get to where he is today.
Anthony, what year/s did you volunteer for In2science and what were you studying at the time? I volunteered in 2004 to 2005. I was completing a Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Science Education degree at La Trobe University at the time.
What inspired you to pursue teaching as a career, and what did you learn from your mentoring experience? I decided to pursue teaching simply because I love being around young people and that I always felt I was able to explain pretty hard maths topics using everyday language. There is also that ’emotional factor’ when it comes to maths for most students to which I could identify with and address. My mentoring experience confirmed that teaching was what I wanted to do. I also learnt that students are always welcome to having visitors in their classroom.
Tell us about your In2science placement. I completed about 3 placements for the In2science program. My first placement was at Eltham High School in a Year 7 Science class. One week I was given the opportunity to take a class and I decided to give a ‘Playground Physics’ lesson. We walked to the local playground and the students conducted experiments on the slides and the playground equipment. The students had an enjoyable time as it was a lesson that was different to what they were used to.
What was the best thing about mentoring? The best thing about mentoring was simply being in a classroom full of kids. Students are always great fun and it was a great stepping stone for me before I got into my teaching placements.
What was one of the biggest challenges about mentoring? It was the nerves of being in a new environment. However that quickly became a non-issue after a couple of sessions with the class.
What has been the biggest change in your approach to education since you were at uni? It has been ensuring that the class values a positive learning environment and that the best classroom environment is when a strong relationship between the teacher and the students has been established. Relationships are everything.
Why did you decide to host In2science mentors and what do you hope your students will gain from them? I decided to host In2science mentors simply so that I could give back to the program which helped me along the way to becoming a teacher. I hope my students can see that there are people out there who are simply giving of their time and wanting to engage with them both as people and as students.
What advice would you give other university students looking to get involved in In2science? I would say simply give it a go! It’s an experience not every uni student has the opportunity to have. It’s not every day that you are able to come into a classroom to experience what it’s like to be on the other side of the table.