Educational specialists evaluate and provide recommendations to improve curriculum planning, individual lessons and teaching methods at one or more grade levels.
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What’s It Like To Be an Education Specialist?
What does your role involve?
Leading projects and a team of writers to create real-world educational content. It might sound a bit boring, but actually it’s really creative. Every project I work on is really interesting and I get to work with a lot of documentary film-makers which is fun.
What does a typical day look like?
In the morning I’ll check my emails and Slack messages before checking out my calendar or list of to-dos. A daily job could be something as simple as calling some writers, having a meeting with a partner or coming up with ideas for interesting lessons. I might even spend some days writing the lessons myself. Each week we have some team meetings and it’s great sharing ideas with the other awesome humans I work with, especially because my role is quite autonomous; meaning I’m working independently a lot of the time.
What road did you take to get to your current role?
I started out doing a performing arts degree before taking a year off and working in call centres. I didn’t enjoy that very much so I went back to uni to qualify as a teacher. Afterwards, I taught for three years and continued some post-graduate studies, then I took a break from full-time work to finish my thesis. While I was studying I worked a few hours a week teaching drama after school. I found teaching pretty hard at first, so I was lucky to get into the corporate world with an internship where I assisted ex-school principals to create leadership training programs for school leaders (principals, business managers and leading teachers). After that I worked for AITSL which is the group that sets the teaching standards. I helped write some educational policy while I was there as well as creating some digital learning resources for school leaders. After that I went back into teaching for a couple of years and found it much better as I was older and wiser. When my teaching contract finally ran out, I took a year off to travel. It took me a few months to find permanent work when I got back so I did some casual relief teaching and exam supervision with an agency before starting at Cool Australia. I’ve been here now for over two years.
What hurdles did you overcome?
The biggest challenge in my career in the early days was my mental health. I suffered from chronic depression and I felt that I had a target on my back sometimes when I was working with teenagers. I had a really tough time in my first few years of teaching and cried almost every day. I knew that continuing my studies would help me find a path out of school teaching, which it did. I’m really proud that I was able to finish my Masters degree while I was struggling just to get out of bed everyday. I still might go back to teaching now and then to change things up, but I don’t think I’ll ever be a ‘career’ teacher.
What’s one thing you love about your job and one thing you would leave behind if you could?
I love the people I work with and the freedom I get. I get to live in my truth and learn something new every single day and make myself a better person too. One thing I haven’t loved is working full-time hours, so I’ve cut back to four days a week. I’d also probably give up having to work in the mornings if I could. I’ve always told my bosses that I don’t love project management, but it’s an essential part of what I do and it breaks up the intensity of dealing with complex ideas all the time, so maybe I’d keep it after all.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Sometimes I still struggle to get out of bed, but I know that when I do, I have exciting projects to work on. Sometimes that’s enough of a motivator. I really love that what I do has the potential to change the world for the better. I love making lessons that challenge racism, homophobia and sexism and teach us to better care for our planet. It’s something I’m really proud of.
What is your superpower??
Cutting through the bullshit (can I say that?). People sometimes find my ‘honesty’ confronting and sometimes I do need to put a lid on it, but I think it’s really important that we don’t lie to ourselves or others. If you don’t like something, how can you change it if it’s never spoken about? Just because something has ‘always been done that way’, doesn’t make it right. That said, I’m also quite good at listening and admitting when I’ve made a mistake or hurt someone. I can take on new ideas and integrate them and try to keep an open mind, even though I do have a lot of opinions. I think that’s really important.
What advice would you give your 16-year-old self?
Always stay true to yourself, no matter what other people might say or think. Ultimately, you’re the only person you’ll have to live with every minute of every day for the rest of your life. Be brave and keep fighting for what you believe in.
Tell us your fave quote…
“You can choose courage or you can choose comfort, but you cannot choose both.” – Dr Bréne Brown