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Building confidence in teaching

I have worked in clinics as a nursing educator and in management roles. Before starting at this regional campus, I planned to retire but then I was offered and took on a part-time academic role. That was more than four … More...

I have worked in clinics as a nursing educator and in management roles. Before starting at this regional campus, I planned to retire but then I was offered and took on a part-time academic role. That was more than four years ago and I am still working for three and half days per week teaching four units a semester. The biggest challenges for me when I started here were in the learning technologies area, and re-learning areas in my discipline that were new, or had become so deeply embedded they were difficult to extract and articulate for students. Working away from the main campus meant that I was not offered induction either. Fortunately, two of us commenced at the same time and we leant on one another.

At the time, I also commenced a graduate certificate in tertiary teaching because I needed to learn more about how to convey what I knew. I found the course very rewarding and valued the level of sharing between participants. I learnt so much from them and I am now able to embed reflective practice into my teaching which makes things easier. I would love to harness the course outcomes here, but everyone is so busy. I am about to embark on further study because I believe to do so will enhance my credibility. For me, this is more important than gaining more recognition.

Playing a sport and being well supported by my husband has eased my stress. I have found my colleagues very helpful too. The nature of our work means sometimes we isolate ourselves, but recently, I asked a peer in education how I might do a tutorial differently and she gave me some useful tips. I think sharing with colleagues is very important.

Working in a small campus that offers fewer technological resources limits your creativity. I also teach to someone else’s course outline because the main campus develops and ‘owns’ it. We are entitled to modify it by 30 per cent to fit within our regional requirements, but we are unable to change the assessment component. At times I find this constraining.

Having embarked on this career later in life, I would suggest to other new staff that they should gain some experience in teaching beforehand. I made assumptions about the role, and I was surprised how difficult it actually was.

While I am an organised person, my personal style is more visionary and less detail oriented. A challenge is finishing jobs I start, and following through. Nevertheless, I enjoy academic work because no day is ever the same. I loved nursing and I believe part of my job is to encourage young people to become great nurses. It is a terrific job that has evolved to one that is more professional.

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