An international transition

After gaining some credibility in her chosen field this Unit Coordinator emigrated from Eastern Europe. She describes her appreciation of the support provided to her on her arrival at an Australian university. More...

I was appointed to this academic position after eight years employment at an Eastern European university combined with four years as an honorary appointment to another Australian university. Prior to my academic career I worked in the community with adults with intellectual disabilities and also assisted their families. This allowed me to develop hands on experience and industry credibility. As an academic I was accustomed to preparing my own lectures and to delivering all my tutorials. On appointment here I found I was also required to locate my own tutors which was challenging because of my few local connections. The previous coordinator was helpful in assisting me to find tutors, however she needed to keep her team of strong tutors for teaching in her own unit. Her assistance helped make both my transition into the university culture easier than would otherwise have been the case and enabled me to develop some early networks. During this first year my goal is to strengthen and extend these industry networks.

Early this semester I completed the orientation offered to all new staff to gain a wider perspective of the university and appreciated hearing of the research support training provided here. I now know of incredible support for academics particularly when writing large grant applications. Currently I am involved in two research projects and I know how important it is to balance my teaching and research interests. I am determined to continue delivering both quality teaching and quality research.

Education colleagues in my school are helpful and I am fortunate to work closely with another special education expert. Because I was experienced in academic life nothing has been too difficult for me and I am learning quickly about university standards, policies and rules. Fortunately, I enjoy a challenge and love teaching and learning. My discipline knowledge is strong so I am focussing on teaching and learning by making my lectures and tutorials as practical as possible. Students can read about theory anytime so I provide examples from real life and make links to their future roles for them. Unlike the students at my previous university who were passive and very respectful of their teachers, I find the students here more diverse and outspoken so they willingly speak up during classes. In my classes I facilitate discussion and encourage group work while also supporting the quieter students. Students here regularly contact me for discussion and assistance so I know I am building respectful relationships with them.

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