Meet Kylie Nissen

What is your background?

My first teaching position was in Adelaide in 1990 as a primary school teacher in a suburb of Adelaide. I taught in South Australia, both in city and country schools, until 2000. I moved to Victoria in 2001 with my husband and two small children and studied to complete my Bachelor of Education. I was fortunate enough to secure position at a local primary school and continued to pursue opportunities for learning with encouragement and support from my Principal and Assistant Principal. I relished the opportunity to join the leadership team and be involved in many BASTOW modules during the development of our high performing leadership team at the school. After enjoying 15 years at this school, it was time to consider a change – a daunting, yet exciting venture. Once I had committed to seeking a change in schools, I also considered a more significant challenge in my learning. I enrolled in the Master of Instructional Leadership at the University of Melbourne, and applied for a scholarship through BASTOW. I was accepted into the course and received a scholarship, while at the same time applying for a position as a classroom teacher and team leader at a primary school situated in a growth corridor on the outskirts of Ballarat.

Where are you currently working? What is your role?

I am currently the Curriculum, Teaching and Learning Coach at Miners Rest Primary School.

Did you work while you studied? If so, how did you juggle work and study?

I worked full-time while I studied. I was concerned about how I would manage the workload of study and work initially. My concerns were around my ability to perform well in all areas of my life including family, work and study. My family were a great support to me throughout the entire course. In addition to this though, my Principal was incredibly supportive; encouraging and supporting my professional and scholarly needs and allowing me time if and when I needed it. I found however, the coursework allowed me to tailor the learning specifically to my school context, so all the research and tasks could be applied to the work in my school. This allowed me to gain a greater sense of purpose and relevance in what I was doing both at the University and at my school. My work throughout the course and my role at school aligned effectively. The support during each of the subjects also allowed the workload to be manageable. Course coordinators and lecturers were extremely supportive and available to provide advice. They were considerate of workload and provided extensive resources and exemplars to guide my work. The growth that I have experienced in myself as a leader, far outweighed the demands and sacrifices of studying.

What inspired you to enrol in the Master of Instructional Leadership?

I have always experienced great benefits from the courses offered through BASTOW. It was through BASTOW that I read about the Master of Instructional Leadership. I had not considered further study at a tertiary level, but when I explored the content of the course and the professors leading this work – I was excited about the opportunity to participate.

What was the most valuable aspect of the course?

There were several aspects of the course that I found valuable. First and foremost, the confidence, knowledge, skills and understanding that I have developed as a leader have been invaluable. The coursework definitely inspired me to actively pursue leadership roles. The friendships and collegiality developed throughout the course with other participants was also a very valuable aspect.

What did you find most challenging about doing the course?

Definitely the most challenging part of the course for me was starting! It was quite confronting returning to University learning and being faced with assessment tasks and timelines. I very quickly learnt that I was not the only one feeling this way. I enjoyed attending subject intensives and applying learning to my own school context. At times when I did feel overwhelmed with workload, support was there from the course coordinators and fellow participants, as well as my family and school.

How has the course benefited your career?

Since beginning the course, I have been able to share my learning and my growing leadership expertise within my school to influence improvement in curriculum, teaching and learning, backed by proven research. My role at the school since beginning my study has changed from full-time classroom teacher and team leader in 2016, to full-time Curriculum, Teaching and Learning Coach in 2017. And this term, I was successful in attaining the role of Assistant Principal at my school, beginning in 2018. I believe that this movement through the ranks of leadership has been supported by my participation in the Master of Instructional Leadership course.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about doing this course?

I would strongly encourage aspirant leaders, and educators currently in leadership positions, to consider the Master of Instructional Leadership. If I had my time over again, I would not hesitate to be involved in this course. The benefits and opportunities that I have experienced far outweigh any challenges faced. In fact, the challenges that I have faced and overcome, have also influenced my strengths and capacity as a leader.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Participating in this course, and completing each subject working towards achieving my Master of Instructional Leadership, has been one of the most personally fulfilling and professionally rewarding opportunities that I have experienced in my career so far.