Janneke Koenen | Student | Master of Teaching (Primary)

After having children herself, Janneke's interest in a child's development was reignited. She is now enrolled onto the Master of Teaching (Primary), after being drawn to the faculty because of the clinical model of teaching offered. Janneke was awarded the Olive Battersby Scholarship.

Q: Can you please briefly outline your life prior to studying this program?

I completed my first Master’s (in International Relations) when my kids were babies/toddlers. I then worked in the not-for-profit sector as a program coordinator for a research program for several years, before resigning to study a Master of Teaching (Primary) at the University of Melbourne full time.

Q: Why did you choose to study at the Faculty of Education?

I chose to study at the Faculty of Education because I was drawn to the clinical model of teaching that they offered. Additionally, I completed my previous degrees at the University of Melbourne, so it was a familiar and comfortable space.

Q: Why did you choose to study your program?

As a child, I had always wanted to be a teacher, but as I grew up other interests drew my attention (i.e. politics, feminism, and international relations). However, when my kids were born, and I was watching and guiding their development, that wonder around how children learn and their sense of curiosity and experimentation was reignited. This, in combination with my previous knowledge around social justice issues, led me to become really passionate about the equity/inequity of quality education and the opportunities that it affords. This led me to feel a really strong desire to enter the education system.

Q: Do you mind sharing which Scholarship you were awarded?

I was awarded the Olive Battersby Scholarship. This Scholarship has been crucial in enabling me, as a single parent, to continue my studies this year, as without it, I almost definitely would have had to work to cover our living and school expenses (for both myself and my kids) and therefore I would have had to reduce my study load significantly. Perhaps most importantly, however, this Scholarship has given me peace of mind, lessening the burden of worry, and thus enabling me to fully commit to (and enjoy!) both my studies and my kids (especially significant in this incredibly uncertain period brought by the COVID-19 pandemic). Without this Scholarship I would not have been able to fully reap the rewards of studying this course.

Q: Are you enjoying studying at the Faculty of Education?

I have really enjoyed studying at the Faculty of Education. There is a wonderful sense of community and collegiality, both amongst the students and between students and staff. The subjects have been really stimulating and I feel that they have prepared us well for the start of our teaching careers and our ongoing professional development. Particularly during this time of restrictions and uncertainty due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Faculty has been really supportive, flexible and committed to our success.

Q: What’s the most valuable/rewarding aspect of your program?

Being on placement has been the most valuable and rewarding. My first placement in particular was an incredibly steep, but incredibly rich, learning curve, and I learnt so much, including about myself. This learning has continued throughout all the placements. Being in the classroom, working directly with the learners, is incredibly rewarding. It has been a privilege to be able to develop relationships with each and every student that I have taught, and I very much look forward to continuing to do that throughout my teaching career.

Q: Is there anything you wish you’d known before starting the course?

I was very nervous about the first time I would be in front of students to teach. I wish I had known/remembered that children are incredibly forgiving and accepting of mistakes and imperfections!

Q: Are you involved in any extra-curricular activities?

Not sure if this is considered an extra-curricular activity, but I am currently a mentor in the Peer Mentorship Program, and was a mentee of the Program last year.

Q: How do you hope your course will help your career progression?

I am hoping that this course will have prepared me well for the start of my teaching career, as well as laid the foundations for further professional development. This course, in combination with the other courses I have done, combines two of my greatest motivations, education and social justice, which will keep driving my career progression.

Q: What do you hope is the next step in your life/career?

The (much anticipated!) next step in my life/career is to start a teaching role at a primary school!

Q: What advice would you give to someone thinking about applying for your scholarship?

My advice would be that if this scholarship speaks to your particular circumstances, then just give it a go. Do not be inhibited to advocate for yourself. This scholarship is available because of the wonderful generosity of Olive Battersby’s family, who want to see you be successful in your teaching studies, so let yourself be known!

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