My motivations to pursue a path in teaching
We all recall that childhood question asked by many adults and teachers: ‘Who do you want to be when you grow up?’ and the countless ‘my ambition’ essays written in primary school. To all of these, from a very young age, my response was ‘a teacher’. There were indeed many reasons for this choice: I come from a family of generational teachers – my grandparents from both my maternal and paternal sides were teachers and principals, and my mother is both a teacher and a principal. So, I journeyed through my childhood and teenage years surrounded by passionate educators.
At the age of 18, I started the quest to find my ideal university, the place that will be my second home. The choices were USA, UK and Australia. Australia stood out as my number one choice and upon extensive research I chose Deakin University, as it ticked off all the requirements I needed to achieve my goals. In 2015, I left Sri Lanka – my beautiful homeland – and travelled overseas for the first time to start a brand new chapter of my life.
Undergraduate studies at Deakin
Being an international student, everything about Australia – the way of life and the system of education – took me by surprise. I found it quite difficult to cope with these differences initially, but Deakin had many support systems in place to help students through these hard times. The highlight of my first few days at Deakin was the Orientation event for international students, widely known as ‘O-week’. These orientation programs equipped me with everything I needed to know about the Australian way of life and university life. I had the opportunity to meet other students and build longstanding friendships. I found the first few months of study to be greatly overwhelming but the Faculty of Arts and Education’s Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS), thoroughly helped me navigate my first year of university education. Like any other international student, I experienced a sense of culture shock, had to learn the Australian lingo, and adapt to many new ways of life.
The Bachelor of Arts/Master of Teaching (Secondary) degree, which I pursued at Deakin, opened up many avenues for me. Apart from the high-quality education, it also allowed me to build a teaching network. Deakin’s teaching placement office was well equipped to help international students, like me (as well as domestic students), find placements. Throughout my four years at Deakin, I was placed in a variety of schools which exposed me to and helped me build strong connections in the industry of teaching. These placement rounds also allowed me to work closely with schools and teachers, providing me with realistic experiences of teaching and learning. From the perspective of an international student, these placement rounds were initially challenging because the Australian schooling system was a completely novel experience to me. However, throughout the degree, the units undertaken provided me with everything I needed to become a successful educator.
Life after graduating and my postgraduate studies
I completed my Bachelor of Arts/Master Teaching (Secondary) in 2018 and received my first job in 2019 as an English teacher in a co-educational high school in Melbourne. Whilst teaching for the first time, I also enrolled in a Master of Education at Deakin with the hope of gaining more specific expertise and knowledge about teaching and learning. There were many reasons behind the decision to continue my studies at Deakin. Personally, I have always felt that Deakin provided me the flexibility I needed to pursue my education. I was a first-year teacher who had just embarked on the profession of teaching, and on top of that decided to take on a full-time postgraduate degree – thankfully, Deakin fit seamlessly around all of my commitments and needs.
Currently in 2020, I am in my final year of completing my masters whilst continuing to do what I love – teaching. I am working at an all-girls school in Melbourne where I have the benefit of applying the content and knowledge from my studies into a realistic setting. It is indeed difficult to balance a career in teaching and postgraduate study, but Deakin’s approach to education and flexibility has enabled me to reach my goals.
Where I see myself in the future
Looking at my future, it lies in my homeland of Sri Lanka. It is my hope and wish to give back to my country and help develop and uplift the system of education. I aspire to become a pioneer in the field of education, and it is my hope to share my experiences as an educator to help other potential students who wish to embark in a career of teaching. There is much for me to do to reach these career goals and I will continue to look to Deakin University to help me get there.
The decision I made to move to Australia has completely transformed my life and built my identity as an individual as well as an educator. Without a doubt, Deakin has played a major role in helping me gain a ‘worldly’ education.