Where are they now?
Lisa graduated from the University of Melbourne with a Bachelor of Science with Honours, majoring in microbiology and immunology, in 2006. She spent two years working as a research scientist at the Burnet Institute, Australia's largest virology and communicable disease research institute, before deciding to pursue a career in teaching.
She returned to study the Master of Teaching (Secondary) in 2009, and is now working as a science teacher at Our Lady of Mercy College in Heidelberg, teaching students in Years 7, 10 and 12.
Lisa loves her new career: “Working at the Burnet Institute meant I was at the cutting edge of discovery and part of wonderful initiatives that will really make a big impact. But, in terms of the day to day work, I found it quite routine; you don’t always get instant feedback on the work you’re putting in. I felt I had really good communication skills that could be put to better use, and I had always thought about teaching as a career. So I decided to take the plunge.
“I am absolutely happy with my choice. I really enjoy the relationships I have with the kids. It’s a unique relationship, in that I am playing a part in helping them achieve their greatest potential. I also enjoy the challenge of thinking of new ways to help get them there.
“I’ve really benefitted from working in another field before becoming a teacher – particularly one that relates directly to my field of teaching. I can teach my students about techniques I used in the lab, which allows me to draw from my experiences to promote a deeper understanding of concepts. The students really appreciate that.
“I also enjoy sharing my love of science with the students. Because it’s such a discovery-based subject, it’s very satisfying to see the awe and wonder they have for the world as I reveal new concepts. The younger students who haven’t experienced much science before are always particularly excited. Making a difference to how students perceive the world and helping them move forward in their personal learning journeys is quite inspiring.
“I really enjoyed the Master of Teaching. I thought it was pitched at the right level, and struck the right balance between academic learning and practical experience. Teaching demands a good balance between theory and skills-based practice, and the Master of Teaching really supported that.
“Our Lady of Mercy College is a fantastic school to work in; I have already had the chance to participate in a range of professional development seminars, including thinking cultures in the classroom. The staff are very supportive and have made a big effort to help me integrate into the team. The science staff in particular have been great mentors for me, especially with regard to helpful teaching tools, curriculum planning and general support for a first-time teacher.
“I’d always recommend to anyone thinking about teaching to try something else first. It’ll help them prepare for teaching and allow them to draw from these experiences in the classroom. It’s a challenging job which demands a lot of time and if you experience full time work outside of teaching you can really focus on the specifics of the school environment. I’d also recommend doing the accelerated stream of the Master of Teaching; although it’s a lot of hard work, getting into your own classroom is very liberating and allows you to refine your teaching style. The sooner you figure out who you are as a teacher the easier the job gets.”