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Spotlight on Tilly Waite – life-long learner and Wodonga TAFE’s ‘Teacher of the Year’ 2019

Wednesday, 22 July 2020

Congratulations to Tilly Waite, who has been nominated for the 2020 Victorian Training Awards for ‘Teacher/Trainer of the Year’.

Tilly would be the first to tell you that she is a ‘life-long learner’, and that is just one of the many reasons she enjoys her work as a teacher at Wodonga TAFE so much.

“I always learn new things, from changes or updates in unit content to ways of delivery; from each student’s background and experiences they share, to new opportunities in industry. Life as a teacher is always challenging and interesting and no two years, weeks or even days are ever the same.”

Tilly mainly teaches in both the Certificates III and IV in Allied Health Assistance, a role that she finds rewarding and forever developing, and says that the contribution Allied Health Assistants bring to the holistic care of clients is second to none.

“Over the past few years my focus has broadened from coordinating and teaching a qualification that prepares students as best as possible for the day they step into the health industry, to advocating for a clinically expanding role of allied health assistants. I have been fortunate enough to do this through participation in many roundtable and steering committee discussions, and have had the opportunity to deliver state-wide (industry) workshops associated with the ‘Supervision and delegation framework for allied health assistants’ for the Department of Health and Human Services.”

Beside the personal story each student brings, Tilly said the most exciting aspect of coordinating and teaching in the Allied Health Assistance courses is trying to find new ways to engage the students and better assist them during their course as well as prepare them for industry.

“Preparing for each delivery session is exciting; I am always looking at how I can do things better (however slightly) than the last time, ways to make the lessons engaging, and packaging assessment criteria together to be more reflective of real workplace experiences and build workplace readiness.”

Our current situation with COVID-19 has highlighted the aspect of ensuring student ongoing engagement and interest, in what is normally a face-to-face and hands-on course, to a whole new level. Although it is challenging, Tilly said she is in her element.

“Our format of blended delivery, classroom based supported by online resources on Moodle, our learner management system, has provided a great platform for supporting all students. With an adjustment to fully online during the COVID-19 crisis, it was not difficult to expand the use of Moodle and add other engaging and innovative activities to ensure ongoing involvement by students. Recorded Zoom meetings, flashcards, Kahoot quizzes or polls, interactive memory games, talking power-point presentations are a few of the learning activities I have initiated.”

Last year, Tilly introduced a new initiative at the beginning of the year, to manage student welfare and build resilience. Topics such as self-limiting beliefs, failure and opportunity, fixed versus growth mindset, as well as gratitude and empathy were discussed. Each class was started with the questions ‘what is there to celebrate, what have you achieved, what are you grateful for’, allowing students to focus of the positives (no matter how small) instead of the overbearing negatives. This initiative reaped rewards for students in the Allied Health Assistance classes, with 2019 the most successful year yet in relation to student retention and course completion.

90% of health organisations who provide placement to our Allied Health Assistance students have at least one (if not more) AHA with a Wodonga TAFE qualification working for them, demonstrating that Wodonga TAFE graduates are keenly sought after. Tilly said she is often approached with questions related to the AHA profession. This reflects the respect and reputation that Tilly has within the health sector, and that the AHA qualifications she teaches are highly valued in industry.

We are very proud of Tilly’s achievements and wish her all the best with her VTA nomination!


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