Athena completed the Master of Teaching (Secondary) research pathway. The mix of practical classroom teaching and educational theory has enabled her to better reflect on her own teaching methods, and she hopes to one day return to complete a PhD.
The reason why I chose Secondary teaching was because we are at that transition phase in a student's life. You're there to see them progress through to adolescence and then adulthood when they exit school. It's really amazing seeing that transition of students and also being the one to guide them through that.
I teach History and Humanities, so those kind of subjects where there's a need for a lot of opinions, ideas and arguments. When students get really, really, really passionate about their opinions or their arguments, or if they want to debate with another student, that's really inspiring to see.
It's a proud moment to see that you're the one that actually achieved that.
I did my Bachelor of Arts at the University of Melbourne where I took breadth subjects in the Melbourne Graduate School of Education. This really confirmed my desire to studying teaching at postgraduate level. I was already familiar with the academic staff, the tutors, and how the faculty ran their teaching courses.
I also found that the format of the course, which was spread over two years, as well as having the opportunity to undertake three placements, was really something that appealed to me.
The core thing that the Melbourne Graduate School of Education does is that you start placement within the first four or five weeks of the course. Then you're attending both uni classes and placements at the same time.
So, three days a week you're on campus and two days a week you're teaching in schools, so you get to see the literature and research play out in the classroom.
You begin to trial and error with the things you're learning at university. It was also great to be able to check in with your tutors and academics, to discuss any questions, or seek guidance with lesson planning or class preparation.
The support systems I had at university, coupled with the other teacher candidates learnt from, made studying teaching an incredible experience.
The difference between a Master and a Bachelor's degree is that it will be more intense. Thankfully, the teacher candidates you study with are like-minded with a drive to succeed as well. So it's a good thing. They help you think in ways you previously didn't consider, so you constantly need to be on the ball.
Teaching is a very fast paced profession and in order for you to achieve in the course and in the teaching profession you need to be on the ball at all times.
I'm working next year as a teacher, but I might think about coming back in the future and doing a PhD. I had the opportunity to undertake a research component in my final semester. So that's probably where I'd like to see myself.
I guess my end goal is to see students, regardless of their background, regardless of where they come from, being able to achieve in secondary education, or trade if that's what they want to do.
Being that person they get to see every day and supporting them, not only academically but in however the student requires, and being that person that leads them into adulthood is what continues to drive me forward.