Jo Knight

Primary School,
New South Wales

What inspired you to get into teaching?

Growing up, I went through a particularly challenging period when my parents were going through a divorce. It was a tough time filled with confusion, fear, and a sense of being lost. Amidst this turmoil, it was my primary school teacher who made a profound difference in my life and ultimately inspired me to become a teacher myself. Every day, stepping into the classroom felt like entering a sanctuary. My teacher's kindness created a happy place where I could momentarily forget about the troubles at home. They provided not just an education, but a sense of stability and normalcy that I desperately needed. The genuine care and attention they showed me helped to build my confidence and self-esteem, allowing me to navigate through my difficulties with a bit more ease.

Why do you teach?

This experience taught me the immense power a teacher holds in shaping the lives of their students, not just academically, but emotionally and psychologically. It inspired me to pursue a career in teaching, with the hope that I could provide the same positive impact and support to my own students. I strive to create a classroom environment where every student feels valued, understood, and safe, just as my teacher did for me. I love going to work every day and shaping the lives of my students. Creating a joyful and engaging learning atmosphere is at the heart of my teaching philosophy. Watching my students grow, overcome challenges, and develop a love for learning is incredibly rewarding. 

What's your stand out/most memorable teaching moment?

While teaching a Year 4 class I had a group of challenging students, particularly one student who was struggling due to family issues. One afternoon, I stopped by a local aged care facility and arranged for some students to volunteer there. Every Wednesday afternoon, I walked the students to the facility. This experience transformed their attitudes towards school. The one particular student who was struggling, his attendance improved and he began engaging with lessons, even writing poems about Walter, a 102-year-old resident. This connection brought positive change to their lives and made school a happier place for them. After Walter passed away I received a beautiful letter from his daughter thanking me and the students for spending time with him. 

What is your advice for new teachers or people considering a career in teaching?

Never underestimate your influence on a student's life. At 40 years old, I still remember the kindness of "that teacher." I believe teaching is one of the most rewarding careers. My favourite parts about it are watching my students' faces light up when they finally grasp a concept, helping them build resilience when faced with adversity, and encouraging them to dream big and strive towards their goals. The impact a teacher has can last a lifetime.

Headshot – Joanne Knight, looking at camera, smiling
Joanne Knight - Memento

Are you a teacher with an inspiring story and do you have a keepsake from a student that reminds you of a special teaching moment?

Submit your story today