Can you give me an overview of your education career so far?
After university, I began teaching Year 1 at Carey Baptist College in Harrisdale, WA. Here I was mentored by some amazing educators who taught me a huge amount about what it really means to be a caring, eff ective teacher. I developed a particular interest in enquiry-based learning and took on a ‘science specialist’ role at the college in 2009 and I was privileged to teach science to Years 3, 4, 5, and 6. I have also spent time as an art specialist, teaching art to both primary and pre-primary students. I have als worked in the Carey Early Learning Centre with 4-year-olds in kindergarten.
Why did you decide you wanted to pursue post-grad coursework?
My teaching career was interrupted by breast cancer in 2010. Following surgery and treatment I was somewhat lost careerwise. Coincidentally, around that time Christine Howitt at UWA was looking for a PhD candidate to join her ‘Small Steps in Science’ project and contacted me to see if I was interested. Th e timing was perfect and was just what I needed at the time.
What was your PhD on and why did you choose that area?
My PhD focused on improving ways that young children can be involved in research. It focuses on upholding their rights as participants and making research participation as meaningful as possible for them. I worked with 3 and 4-year-old children and created an interactive digital story to help them understand what the research was about. The gorgeous children who participated in my research blew me away with just how much they were able to understand, and this just shows how important it is to make time to listen to young children – because they have a lot to contribute. As my research was completed as a series of papers, quite a bit has already been published and is being well received by the international early childhood research community.
How did you enjoy the course?
The four years of my PhD were absolutely wonderful. I nominated my supervisor, Christine Howitt for an award. She was amazing.
How did you balance work/study – was it difficult?
A PhD is a wonderful form of study to undertake because you can work at your own pace. It is flexible so it fitted in well with family and I was lucky enough to be awarded an APA Scholarship which enabled me to study full time. It was such a creative experience, and I love writing, which helps.
Were you able to network with other teachers during your study?
Yes, at conferences both in Australia and internationally. Very useful in terms of talking through ideas and hearing other people’s perspectives. I was also privileged to study with some amazing educators from around the world – New Zealand, Rwanda, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Serbia. The friendships we formed during our doctoral studies will last a life-time.
How have you been applying your learning, subsequent to your doctorate?
I feel that my studies have equipped me to take on any professional challenge. I have discovered that I absolutely love teaching at tertiary level and students seem to enjoy my hands-on approach. I have found my niche. I can’t help smiling and can’t wait to get to work. I enjoy the working environment at UWA very much indeed.
Would you recommend postgrad study to others? Why?
Experience as a classroom teacher combined with postgraduate study places you in a unique position to make a meaningful difference to the teaching profession. I have the privilege of playing a small part in inspiring and nurturing some very talented and passionate pre-service teachers who will undoubtedly go on to make their mark in the teaching profession. Empowering this next generation of teachers to be the very best teachers they can be, has the potential to change many children’s lives. It is a wonderful role and you can’t really get more rewarding than that.