My name is Michelle Cook and I am currently working towards the Master of Education (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation) through Charles Sturt University, Australia.
MY CAREER SO FAR
I began teaching in 1990 after graduating form Charles Sturt University, Bathurst at a small central school. I had 33 Kindergarten students looking to me to start their formal learning journey. I remember their faces so clearly and also remember having to remind myself to be confident, I could do this. I remember asking one of the more senior teachers as I was using the spirit duplicator, does it get any easier? At that stage, there was no Internet, no iPads, no mobile phones and no photocopier.
After two years, I headed to the big city to teach in a very multicultural school. During my time there I remember falling in love with the library and was in awe of the teacher librarian’s enthusiasm and passion. I thought to myself, that job looks like it is so much FUN. I entertained the idea of maybe working in a library one day but then dismissed it as another of my frivolous ideas that was soon put to the back of my mind.
While I enjoyed my time in a 3-4 stream school, we had to relocate to the Illawarra which soon became our little piece of heaven. I was able to enjoy some casual teaching which gave me a good insight into the various schools around the area. I secured more temporary block work and eventually secured a permanent position as a classroom teacher in a 2-streamed school where I have gained experience with most grades.
After ten years at the school and gaining experience with most grades in the school, I was offered the opportunity to work as the teacher in the library. Now, let me just share that I very quickly learnt that the teacher librarian role was not the easy job in the school and found myself wishing that I could build a time machine and go back to previous teacher librarians and thank them for every bit of support they offered me as the classroom teacher. I kept thinking, I wish I had the proper qualifications because I felt quite fraudulent in my efforts ‘learning on the job.’
After needing to ‘amalgamate’ two whole schools’ library collections and resources, as one school was to be made from two, the decision was clear that I needed some ‘proper qualifications’ to equip me for the duality of the role I loved and was passionate about. I then achieved my Master of Education (Teacher Librarianship) in 2013. Every day I walk into the library I feel privileged and so grateful for the teacher librarian position and the fact that I undertook the learning that enables me to feel confident in what I do, envision and achieve.
This new chapter of study, most of my family, friends and colleagues think I am mad, especially as there is no extra pay, no promotion, no acknowledgement by higher powers to be. For me though it is necessary, it is challenging, it is stimulating and it allows me to feel like I am growing as a person. For me it is about being a role model to my own children and allowing them to see that women are able to have it all and as my children are sons, I hope it allows them to see the respect and teamwork that is needed in a marriage to be successful in having it all. For me it is about my greatest passion – LEARNING and using my own learning to help the students I teach become successful in their quest as lifelong learners too!