Education Support – learning during COVID-19

Term 1 2020 saw the Lilydale group of students come together as learners to undertake Certificate IV in Education Support at Cire. During the term, we developed positive relationships by learning about each other, taking part in team activities and working together to build our skills ready for Term 2 placements.

However, early in Term 2, we had to adapt to the challenges of COVID-19 restrictions which involved changing our approach and continue with our studies virtually rather than face-to-face.

We were unable to undertake our planned placements and could not meet in person in our Lilydale training room – the space that had become so familiar to us each Thursday and Friday.

The transition to online learning has been a steep learning curve! We now get together via Google Meet to work through our units, covering the requirements of our course.  This has enabled class members to show the qualities they will need to be effective and capable education support workers.

Many of the students have astounded themselves with their vastly improved abilities with technology. Back in February, several students had no knowledge at all of the programs they are now accessing and using. Have there been high levels of anxiety? Yes. However, to their credit, all students are still in the course, using the online resources and completing their assessments online. They have also all presented a project using our online platform. The class has demonstrated excellent perseverance, communication skills and great examples of overcoming fears and rising to the challenge when overwhelmed.

We could dwell on the frustrations and the many adaptations we have had to make to ensure we keep on track, but we have focused on the positives, supporting each other and working to complete the units. Because we had developed a supportive team relationship before COVID-19, we have been able to reach out and support each other. We have shared a laugh about the lags in video production, the sending of multiple meeting links, and the talking over each other as we try to ‘read’ the best moment to make a contribution.

Teaching online requires a different preparation, different resources and is exhausting but the participation and interest of the group make it all worthwhile. I am so proud of the students for their adaptability, flexibility, perseverance and resourcefulness and know they will take these skills into the next part of their course and to the workplace when they move into their new careers.

Julie Legione

Cire trainer

Together we can build a brighter future

In July this year, Karen Armstrong, UYCH Community College Team leader – Innovation and Development travelled with a group of 14 women to Siem Reap in Cambodia. The trip was a culmination of months of hard work raising funds to help the people of Siem Reap by supporting Husk Cambodialearning about the Cambodian culture and how we can all benefit from helping each other.

Karen was eager to come up with innovative ideas, one of those being a healthy eating recipe e-book, which saw community members get involved by contributing recipes for the venture. The group discussed a variety of ways to raise funds from organising a 60’s dance night to providing massages. This determination paid off resulting in over $10,000 being raised. This was a huge achievement as it exceeded the amount required to fund the community work that was planned for the trip. Originally they were asked to raise $2,400, so this allowed them to change the scope of the project and distribute the money between three charities that the group visited during their trip.

The largest project they funded was building a home for a young family. This was truly a team effort, the carpenter built the frame and the group helped the family members construct the walls and lay the floor. They also helped make wheelchairs for children and adults who are still being injured as the result of landmines left by the Pol Pot regime in the 1970s.

“I found this to be a very rewarding experience, which was made more so because their previous hut would have been deemed unsafe for them to live in during the monsoon flood season.” Karen Armstrong – Team Leader Innovation and Development

Karen also had the opportunity to visit two local schools. During her visit she was able to get creative by participating in an art project with the children, making paper birds and observing classroom delivery in order for her to gain knowledge from an educational perspective.

While the trip was organised by a local yoga and pilates instructor and had elements of relaxation and meditation, the lasting memories from Karen’s trip came from the charity work that she and the other women had the privilege to partake in.

Not only did this project help the Siem Reap community, Karen was able to utilise what she had learnt from the experience and take it into her own classroom back home. Her Certificate IV in Education Support students were able to use the information in their assessment tasks. This showcased how important these projects are to our local community and abroad. Sharing cultural experiences and making a difference to people’s lives is what serving the community is all about, together we can build a brighter future.

“Spending time getting to know the local community is an experience I will never forget; it has also given me further insight into the needs of our close neighbours.” Karen Armstrong – Team Leader Innovation and Development

If you are interested in building a career in community services the first step is gain a qualification. UYCH Community College offers nationally accredited courses that can help you achieve just that, click here for further information or call 1300 835 235.

To find out more about education volunteer work visit Ponheary Ly Foundation.