Whilst studying for the Master of Instructional Leadership, Deborah changed roles twice in areas directly related to the area of educational leadership. She reflects that the study she was doing at the time was largely responsible for her being ready for those new positions. Deborah found her studies to be flexible around her full-time leadership responsibilities and the on-campus intensives to be stimulating and engaging.
Q: Can you please briefly outline your life prior to studying this program?
After attending high school in Melbourne’s east, I undertook a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Melbourne, focused mainly in Philosophy and History. After that, I undertook the two-year Bachelor of Teaching at University of Melbourne. This was a relatively new course – I was in the second year of its intake – and it was an innovation designed to replace the old one-year Dip Ed. It included a six-month internship (four days a week) and was a great example of the University of Melbourne leading the way in developing better programs for post-graduate teacher education. So, 20 years later, when it came time to consider my Masters, the University of Melbourne felt like the ideal choice for me.
Q: Why did you choose to study at the Faculty of Education?
Well, my previous two degrees were at Melbourne. I had loved my university time and was happy to return to Melbourne – felt like home! Its location was ideal for me and the application process was very easy as I didn’t have to dig out any old transcripts but could rely on the university being able to easy access my previous academic record.
Q: Why did you choose to study your program?
It was obviously the leading course available – again it’s a new course demonstrating Melbourne’s commitment to lead in education courses. The fact that it was being headed up by Professor John Hattie was of course enormously attractive because he is someone who is at the very forefront of what’s happening in education in Australia. Additionally, the way the course was designed - around two day-intensives – was ideally structured for people in full-time leadership in schools. If it had been one night a week or a regular day-time lecture, there’s no way I could have made that work with my role at school.
Additionally, the first six months of the course was the Professional Certificate of Instructional Leadership. As I was unsure of whether I could manage the study load, I figured that I would sign up for this course and if it was all too much, at least I could manage the six months and leave with a very worthwhile qualification. If I chose another course at another institution and couldn’t complete the full two years, I would simply walk away with nothing for my efforts. Once I had completed the first six months, I realised I could keep going and swapped happily to the Masters course.
Q: Are you enjoying studying at the Faculty of Education?
Every lecturer you have is highly regarded in their field and actively involved in ongoing research and development in the field of education. And your fellow students are often diverse and fascinating leaders in their own right. It is an enormously stimulating environment and you really don’t regret a minute of it.
Q: What’s the most valuable/rewarding aspect of your program?
It was wonderful to come back to study with a wealth of experience in teaching and then take it to the next level. I said at the end of my course that I felt I had reached a new level in my skills in educational leadership. The way I would describe it is that I felt like I started the course as the school leadership equivalent of a really great home cook but left the course as someone who could run a commercial kitchen.
Q: Is there anything you wish you’d known before starting the course?
That I would enjoy the time on campus so much: unpacking issues of education with like-minded leaders was hugely valuable for me. It was never a chore to go in for our intensives and I always came away with new ideas.
Q: How did the course affect your career progression?
During the two years of the course, I changed roles twice in areas directly related to the area of educational leadership. I am confident the study I was doing at the time was largely responsible for me being ready for those new roles.
Q: What advice would you give to someone thinking about starting your course?
It is well worth the money spent. Many of the assessment tasks are of immediate practical benefit to you in your work as a school leader and so, while the course requires effort and time, it also enriches your existing work.