Members Speak Out

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20 May 2020

Dr Kerry Trabinger (Hospitality, Culinary and Tourism), Canberra Institute of Technology, ACT

I wanted to be a teacher ever since I was in year one and had an amazing engaging teacher. At the age of 15 I was homeless, however the President of the Parents & Friends Association of my high school took me in and instilled the importance of education so I was able to complete Year 12.

As I could not afford to go to University to complete teaching qualifications I commenced an Internship with Tourism Queensland. When I moved into International Travel I was required to undertake a Fares course at Canberra Institute of Technology. The teacher, Paula Thompson was inspirational and I decided I wanted to be a travel teacher like her.

After being in the industry for 10 years I commenced as a casual travel teacher. I then moved to contract then permanent then Head of Department. I have now been at CIT for 27 years and during this time I have continually upgraded my qualifications starting with the Cert IV in TAE up to a Doctor of Education. Over the last 15 years I have trained CIT teachers from many disciplines in improving their teaching delivery both face to face and online to be engaging and innovative. 20 May 2020

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Jarryd McAllen TAFE Teacher, Bendigo Kangan Institute, Automotive Centre of Excellence, VIC

I became a TAFE Teacher because I was excited about passing on the skills and knowledge of my trade to others and I really enjoy working with and supporting young people to achieve their goals.

Being a TAFE teacher enabled me to combine all my skills, both from my automotive background as well as my youth work background. I also saw becoming a TAFE teacher as a good career path.

Through the later part of my own apprenticeship I started mentoring and training the newer apprentices which was really rewarding. I continued to train and support apprentices during my 12 years in the automotive industry as a motorcycle mechanic.

My passion for training apprentices led to taking a role as an apprentice training advisor going out into industry to meet with employers and encourage them to sign up apprentices to their training. This work inspired me to get my education qualification so that I could teach and I began teaching shortly afterwards and have been a TAFE teacher now for three and a half years.

I especially enjoy the satisfaction of seeing older apprentices -some up to 65 years old -build their confidence and gain their trade, as well as young refugee students gaining employment and independence.

Richard Meyers Heavy Vehicle teacher from Wetherill Park TAFE College, NSW

I have always had an interest in motor vehicles of all shapes and sizes and a keen interest in motor sport. When I left high school this lead me to pursue an apprenticeship in the motor trade. I was fortunate to get an apprenticeship as a heavy vehicle mechanic. One of things I enjoyed the most was the day release from work to go to “tech” as it was called back then. The classes covered a wider range of work than I did on the job and the teacher’s knowledge and understanding of the industry was amazing. I still remember thinking at the time what a great job being a tech teacher would be.

I completed my apprenticeship and stayed on the tools for 18 years, the trade was great but I was looking for something to improve myself. I saw a job add for the TAFE at Wetherill Park in Western Sydney and applied. It provided me with an opportunity to further my education and gain a teaching qualification and further hone my trade skills. I really enjoy the interaction with students it’s the best part of the job and I get to pass on the knowledge and skills that were passed on to me.

Dan Foster, Claremont College, Tasmania

I somewhat stumbled into teaching – after returning to Tasmania around 5 years ago after running a workshop in Darwin and travelling, I was offered a part-time role at Mackillop High School as a technical aide. My father, a cabinetmaker (who had by this time passed away as a result of long-term exposure to timber dust), had also started a teaching career late in life, after working as a technical aide at this very same school. It seemed like fate had decided the same career change was in order for me – I was finding it increasingly difficult to work in the industry with some health problems associated with dust exposure and the mental stress of running a small business. The teaching environment suited me, and the next year I was employed on a full-time basis as a trades teacher.

The following year I moved to Claremont College to teach Certificate II in Construction, and I stayed in this role for around 18 months. From the first time I had entered the classroom as an adult however, I had known that TAFE was where I would really like to be. Teaching apprentices the skills I had learnt over my trade career was my ultimate goal, and when a role came up in 2019 in Construction and Allied Trades, I jumped at the opportunity.

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Chris Edmondson, Denmark TAFE Campus, WA

I returned to teaching in the vocational sector in 2016 after a stint in broadcasting media and many years working and touring as an independent musician around regional WA.

Having initially trained as secondary Media Studies teacher and a period teaching in country schools, I jumped at the opportunity to teach as a part of a music industry skills team at the Denmark campus of South Regional TAFE.

We are a small regional campus and the music courses we deliver courses focus on music performance, music business and sound recording, but in many ways that’s just the tip of the outcome iceberg.

Vocational training in the arts delivers a raft of positive social outcomes which in many ways are impossible to measure, but hugely beneficial to our students and in turn the broader community.

I also work a couple of days a week in a CAVSS role (Certificate in Applied Vocational Study Skills), building the foundation skills of our students while operating within a sphere of social advocacy.

CAVSS is a great opportunity to work across the campus in a pastoral role and a firm reminder that teaching above all else, is about people.

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Jennifer Trevino, TAFE QLD

I started as an English language teacher at TAFE in February 1990, 30 years ago. I had taught for three years in a public secondary school in Ipswich, where I grew up, in the late ‘80s under the Bjelke Petersen government, where I felt like the kids and I were boxed in and limited by rules and restrictions that destroyed creativity, spontaneity and enthusiasm. So the most wonderful thing about TAFE when I first began there was the autonomy I was afforded in the classroom. I felt respected and trusted as a professional.

I have taught in various language programs but particularly in the Adult Migrant English Program which TAFE Qld has been delivering since 1990. It is incredibly rewarding teaching new arrival refugees and migrants and then watching them progress into employment or further education, often continuing in TAFE, which provides many pathways and outcomes.

Over the years I have overheard many students, young people and second-chancers, talk about what they value about TAFE, and invariably it is how practical and applicable to the real world their studies are, and how supportive and available their teachers are.

Truly public education in a democratic society generates progress, creativity, and equality within diversity. And that’s why, despite the funding crises that have been weighing us down in recent years, I have no plans to retire from teaching at TAFE.

This article was originally published in The Australian TAFE Teacher, Autumn 2020