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Elizabeth Steers Students to Success

As an adult learner herself, Elizabeth Watson describes her teaching role in the Skills for Education and Employment (SEE) program as an opportunity to support students through their own learning challenges.

After deferring her tertiary studies and entering the workforce, Elizabeth shared that she began to feel it was too late to return to the classroom.

“It wasn’t until I had my children that I realised I wanted to make a change, challenge myself and pursue a teaching career,” she said.

“I was worried about how I would balance work, study, and raising a family. The balancing act wasn’t always easy, but I realised how much I wanted to support students to achieve their goals.”

As fate would have it, Elizabeth’s practical assessments for her teaching qualification took place in the SEE classroom at TAFE Queensland’s Bowen campus.

“I loved meeting and supporting the SEE students,” Elizabeth said, “and I hoped that one day I would have the opportunity to provide a safe and positive environment for students to gain more confidence, independence, and readiness for the workforce.”

The SEE program delivers fee-free foundational training to support job seekers in their pursuit of work or higher study.

The program is funded by the Australian Government Department of Employment and Workplace Relations and delivered by TAFE Queensland across 47 locations.

“The great thing about the SEE program is that it’s centred around the students’ goals and needs. It makes it a bit of a juggling act, but the benefit is I can support students towards so many pathways,” said Elizabeth.

For Elizabeth, one of the greatest elements of teaching in the SEE classroom is the ability to approach learning goals creatively.

During NAIDOC Week, for instance, Elizabeth organised a class excursion to Mullers Lagoon, which features a sculpture of Gubulla Munda, the Aboriginal totem and protective spirit for the Birri Gubba people.

Last term, Elizabeth’s students engaged in weekly ‘Workplace Wednesday’ activities.

“Every Wednesday we discussed different topics such as preparing cover letters and resumes, attire, body language, practiced interview questions, watched videos, had guest speakers and worked through worksheets,” Elizabeth explained.

Incredibly, after engaging in these activities for several weeks, one of Elizabeth’s mature-aged students—who speaks English as a second language—found employment.

“I encouraged and assisted her in applying for jobs. A few weeks later, this student sent me an email letting me know how happy she was in her new job. I felt so honoured to be part of her journey to such personal success,” Elizabeth said.

Elizabeth explained that while many SEE students first arrive with some level of apprehension, it’s not long before they find a true sense of belonging in the classroom.

“The SEE class is a very special community, and has an incredibly positive impact on mental health. That’s often an unexpected but welcome surprise to students,” she said.

“Generally, students keep to themselves at first, but before long, they make friendships with people in the class, help each other where possible, and also meet up outside of the SEE program.”

Today, Elizabeth’s passion and purpose for teaching permeates her classroom just as it did during her first placement as a university student.

“My favourite part of this role, by far, is watching the confidence of my students improve, and the privilege of being a part of their success.”

The Skills for Education & Employment (SEE) program is funded by the Australian Government Department of Employment and Workplace Relations.