Deciding to study the CHC30213 Certificate III in Education Support was a big life decision for Sarah. The ability to continue her everyday living, the flexibility of studying online and a real-world match with a career she suspected would be perfect for her led to a light-bulb moment for this stay-at-home mum when she realised that she really could do it.
Having been away from the workforce for so long, she thought her options for a career path were now quite limited. She also wanted to play a very active part in the lives of her children and be there for them before and after school hours.
Whilst Sarah had participated in parent-help at her children’s school, she had noticed that the children that had aides to assist with their learning seemed to really benefit from that extra help. But it wasn’t until a friend openly suggested that perhaps Sarah become a teacher’s aide that she took the idea seriously.
It was then that Sarah started her research in to what exactly needed to occur for her to achieve that goal.
“I did some research and found that Open Colleges allowed me to be able to work at my own pace while still being able to do my everyday living.”
Open Colleges students are mostly adults who have already had a fair bit of life and work experience behind them, so the flexibility of choosing their own study time and working that in with family, work and other commitments is an important part of the experience for them.
Before the study began, Sarah had to question her own passion for the career path she was choosing to make sure that this option really was for her.
“I honestly believe that teachers can only do so much. And when they’ve got a class full of children that includes one or two that need a little extra help, I think it’s really important that teacher’s aides are available.”
It was this idea that no child should be forgotten that gave rise to a passion in Sarah to be part of the solution to help teachers get better results for their students. That passion led not only to Sarah seeking study options, but also to learning more about the system that supports the concept of teacher’s aides.
“The availability of teacher’s aides is very much dependent upon funding and the needs of those children who require assistance. Sometimes the funding only allows for an aide for one child for a few hours a day, for a few days a week. For others, it is more or less depending upon the level of funding that has been given for that support.”
Sarah is hoping that once her practical placements are completed that she can be of assistance to a range of children at different levels and needs.
“I’m hoping that I can work in a school that will be able to provide me with enough hours to be able to be both helpful and to make it a viable career. If it means being an aide to numerous students in different classes over different levels, then I’m happy to do that. And that includes different kinds of assistance, whether it’s a learning difficulty or physical disability that’s contributed to the child’s need for assistance.”
The decision to study the CHC30213 Certificate III in Education Support was only the beginning. When you’ve been out of school since the 1990s and have a house full of kids, there’s bound to be challenges.
“I found trying to study a little stressful at times because there is so much happening around you at home. The best time to study was when my daughter was at school and my son was at kinder. Those quiet times when I was alone in the house became my designated study-time as the kids are very distracting when they’re around.”
This designated study time really helped Sarah focus. In fact, Sarah, at the time of writing, had just completed her second elective subject area and was about to start on her two remaining electives. Together with the 120 hours or practical placement that she has left to do, Sarah has virtually completed the course in less than 18 months.
One of the benefits of study is that there is information that is made available to a student that they normally wouldn’t encounter by simply observing others working at their chosen field. And this is where study has made all the difference for Sarah.
“There are a lot of rules and regulations to know when you go in to the classroom as a parent-helper like I did. But when you’re a teacher’s aide, those rules and regulations go to a whole other level.”
There are behavioural aspects of the child you are assisting that are confidential. There are a lot of things you can and can’t do with a student in that context. And there’s things you can and can’t do with the teacher as well. It’s very different when you go in as teacher’s aide to someone else’s class than it is when you go in to your own child’s class in a parent-help capacity.”
Sarah started to mentally prepare herself for the work of a teacher’s aide by applying the skills and information she had learned through study. Whilst she had physically stepped in to her daughter’s class as parent-help, in her mind, she was stepping in as a teacher’s aide and started to act as one, applying the skills and information she had learned through study to her work with that class.
This voluntary work in parent-help enabled her to bridge the gap between words on a screen whilst studying, and the practical application of that information as a teacher’s aide. All that before Sarah had even started to work at her 120 hours of practical placement.
With all her goals now within reach and a few challenges now mostly behind her, Sarah is within grasp of the next chapter of life as a working Mum. And all long after she had last studied in the 1990s. With all going well, Sarah hopes to be a teacher’s aide by March this year. It’s her attitude towards study and life in general has been vital in getting her this far.
“You can’t be hard on yourself. You can achieve anything you want to achieve if you allow yourself to do it at your own pace. Then when you do achieve something, be proud of it. Celebrate it, no matter how big or small it is.”
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