Getting out of the comfort zones with Trinity InternshipsJohn Blois
Starting at Trinity in 2012 and spending nearly a decade as a peripatetic Voice Teacher, Mr Spencer Darby credits this time and the Trinity community as pivotal in his decision to begin training as a classroom teacher.
“I was balancing life as a performer in music as well as a tutor and teacher but I felt this shift in how I approached both of these,” he reflects. “In teaching, I feel valued and like I can support and value others. In performing, I often felt disposable and not particularly valued. That shift into teaching felt so natural … the Trinity community has made it feel very safe.”
While he retrained, he took the chance to become an Intern at Trinity in 2022, an experience that he says opened his eyes to the realities of the rhythms and timings of how a School really operates when you’re in the thick of it all.
“I felt that there was a bit of a disconnect at university between the academic language and environment and the reality of being in a school, around kids, the realities of behaviour management, the realities of implementing a programme, the realities of the day-to-day pastoral care needs you have with students and the internship programme was this bridge between that academic environment of a university saying ‘this is what education is’, and then the realities, which are sometimes quite different.”
Mr Darby found the mentorship component of the Internship programme to be extremely valuable, finding that it wasn’t just his ‘assigned’ mentor that took an interest in his development and growth, but the entire Music Department at the Summer Hill campus and their support was paramount.
“It allowed me to feel I had the freedom to fail in an environment where I was supported by people who said ‘don’t worry, your failure is not a problem, it’s a learning experience’ so that was really important for me.
Still, his assigned mentor, Ms Geraldine Campbell – Director of Music at the Preparatory School at the time of his Internship – shared her extensive experience, helping Mr Darby to find his feet early on. And it was this mentorship that ultimately opened the door to his next opportunity – stepping into the role of Director of Music after Ms Campbell moved onto a new role elsewhere during his first year as an in-service teacher.
“I was really lucky, being in the right place at the right time,” he says. “It was a really intimidating thing as a new teacher. But I was so thankful, and still am, to the management at both the main campus and at Prep, for believing in me and taking a little bit of a risk with someone who is relatively new to certain aspects of the role.”
But despite the new challenges and taking on such a huge role at this point in his career, he says that it has been extremely rewarding.
“I’m having a brilliant time and it’s actually given me a chance to spend more time with kids in various ways, which is why I got into this job. I’m so lucky to have been somewhat fast-tracked in the development sense and I’m really enjoying it.”
After spending many years as a member of a team, rather than a leader, he’s enjoying stretching the leadership muscles and is excited to grow into a strong and reliable leader for both the staff he leads and the students he teaches.
He also credits Trinity’s Co-curricular programme as an aspect of School life that has pushed him in ways he doesn’t expect, allowing him to set a good example for students.
“Co-curricular life at Trinity is extremely broad and I think it challenges teachers to come out of their own comfort zone. I’m thrown into new challenges all the time,” he says. “I want to be able to demonstrate to students that when I ask them to take risks and be risk takers in their approach to learning, that I’m not just saying that, that they can see me doing that. I think watching me occasionally fail and fall over on the piano in the classroom, that’s okay, it shows them that I am learning as well, I am taking risks in the educational sense. It can be humbling and I’m sure they enjoy me falling over musically but I think it’s really important for them to see.”
As for what’s next, Mr Darby is just looking forward to seeing which challenges come his way, recognising that many aspects of his role are new to him and he’s learning as he goes, putting compassion and kindness at the forefront of everything he’s doing.
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