TAFE teachers share their successes on World Teachers’ Day

This year's World Teachers' Day aptly recognises the hard work and dedication of our educators during coronavirus (COVID-19), with the theme 'teachers: leading in crisis, reimagining the future'.

The move to remote and flexible learning throughout the year has highlighted the outstanding efforts of teachers adapting and supporting students in the new environment.

Sarah Eldridge, of Box Hill Institute, and Syndi Grambau, of Chisholm Institute of TAFE, share their experiences teaching remotely, as we celebrate them on World Teachers' Day.

Sarah Eldridge, Box Hill Institute

What courses do you teach?

Predominantly mental health, but I also help in the Diploma of Community Services.

What has been the most significant memory of teaching during COVID-19?

It is the first time we did online roleplays.

I thought it was going to be a disaster, but I watched my students excel and show empathy and see the knowledge and insight they picked up through the computer screen.

I remember sitting there almost crying with pride knowing that despite the pandemic, they were still going to be incredible mental health workers. I didn't think this unit could be taught online, but in that moment, all my fears just went away and all I saw was empathy, kindness, compassion and wisdom from my students.

What are the most important lessons we can take into the future of teaching?

To always trust my students. Trust that they are resilient, that they are here for the right reasons and they've got this. It's our job as teachers to help them succeed.

As teachers, I think that the coronavirus (COVID-19) forced us to be creative, collaborative and up to date in our knowledge of technology and how our sectors are changing.

I think what I'll take from this is to remember to think outside the box and how to collaborate and continue to give our students a quality education. 

What has kept you motivated and resilient throughout the disruptions of COVID-19?

My students. They're a joy to get up to so it's hard not to be excited to log on.

Also, my coordinator, who has constantly had a 'yes' approach and a motto of 'leave no student behind'.

Syndi Grambau, Chisholm TAFE

What courses do you teach?

Certificate IV Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drugs and I'm very excited to be developing and delivering the new Certificate IV Mental Health Peer Work course with Chisholm in 2021.

Can you tell me about your experience teaching throughout COVID-19?

It has been very challenging.

Transitioning to online teaching has been a big learning curve, particularly as it happened so quickly. It was also challenging for our students, but they also adjusted.

While we had some teething problems at first, we managed well and adapted to the new style of teaching. Unpacking the situation and using positive reframing was helpful in getting through it.

Can you describe one of the most standout moments from your students?

A student sharing her story of grief, pain and sorrow at not being able to be with her beautiful mother when she passed. What was so incredibly moving about the moment was the way the students supported her.

Everything we taught the students about how we support clients was genuinely and authentically displayed. Empathy, validation and support despite the screens and distance dividing us.

It was just beautiful. I remember that I was full of tears and so incredibly moved.

What has been your biggest surprise teaching during COVID-19?

It has been the reinforcement that we can do hard things.

As teachers, students and as a community, it's amazing how we have come together to get through the pandemic and support each other.

What has been the most significant memory of teaching during COVID-19?

It was the very first weeks of teaching during the pandemic, and these are things that come to my mind: Dreaming about the doorbell sound of a student entering our Zoom classroom. Black screens with no faces and only a name (where are the students?) and the number of times I have heard or said, 'You're on mute' or 'Can you see my screen?'.