Home-schooling during pandemic inspires mother to tackle teaching

26 OCTOBER 2023

Home-schooling during pandemic inspires mother to tackle teaching

The COVID-19 pandemic was a turbulent time putting many people’s careers and livelihoods in jeopardy, but for one Charles Sturt University student, it was the catalyst for a new passion.

In light of World Teachers Day on Friday 27 October, Ms Erica Louise from Bonbeach in Victoria reflects on her travel experiences and how interactions with diverse cultures and countries have influenced the kind of teacher she is becoming.

Erica Louise is a Bachelor of Educational Studies and Master of Teaching (Secondary) student within the Charles Sturt School of Education. She is currently studying to become a fully qualified teacher  through the Charles Sturt University Collaborative Teacher’s Aide Program.

Before the pandemic hit, Erica led a successful 12-year career as a freelance writer which came to a halt as the world came to terms with the ‘new normal’ of working, learning and recreating from home.

“I spent a lot of time with my two sons while they tackled remote learning, and surprisingly, I was probably the only parent in my friendship circle who enjoyed the whole homeschooling gig,” Erica said.

“I appreciated the opportunity to watch and help my children learn and grow.”

One of Erica’s son’s teachers suggested she turn that enjoyment of helping her children learn into a job by becoming a classroom assistant.

“I thought it was a great idea, so I signed up to undertake a Certificate IV in Education Support, which was a full-time online TAFE course, while we were in Melbourne’s extended lockdown,” she said.

“The educational environment resonated with me, and I loved being in the classroom once lockdowns were over.  Engaging with and assisting young people, nurturing conversations, witnessing students’ progress, and providing guidance brings me a huge sense of job satisfaction and fulfillment.”

Just one year into her new role as an integration aide, Erica considered taking it to the next level. All it took was a gentle nudge from a Year 7 student who told her she should become an English teacher.

“Considering I would be entering university at the age of 40-something, I had reservations,” she said.

“I initially enrolled in a Victorian university; however, a friend tagged me in a Facebook post announcing the new Collaborative Teachers’ Aide Pathway option with Charles Sturt.

“With the potential to earn credits from my work experience as an aide, and thereby shorten my study and practical experience, I found it to be a more appealing choice, so I withdrew from the Victorian-based university and enrolled at Charles Sturt.”

Erica is originally from the United Kingdom and feels meeting different cultures during her travel experiences have helped her with her teaching style.

“I’m originally from the UK and migrated to Australia in 2004, but I’ve also travelled extensively and explored numerous corners of the globe,” she said.

“These experiences have undeniably shaped the person I've become today, and I’m deeply passionate about immersing myself in various cultures and understanding different ways of life.”

This understanding of the world was instilled in Erica from a young age, when her Year 6 teacher encouraged her and her classmates to think of the bigger picture.

“Each morning began with lively classroom discussions and debates about world affairs and news, and I strongly believe that this early emphasis on global awareness fostered critical thinking, empathy, expanded perspectives, and prepared us to be informed and engaged in an increasingly interconnected world,” she said.

Erica said World Teachers Day was also an opportunity to reflect on the luxury of education we have in Australia.

“Value your education and don’t take it for granted, because there are countless individuals around the world that would yearn for access to the education we have in Australia,” she said.

“If you’re not ready to enrol in university now, that’s okay. Embrace life, gather valuable experiences, and remember, it’s never too late to embark on your university journey.”

While further studies could be on the cards for Erica, she said for now, she is most excited to be able to share her passion with the next generation.

“I have been considering pursuing a PhD to further my studies, but for the time being, I’ll focus on completing my Master of Teaching and gain practical classroom teaching experience,” she said.

“Now that I am past the halfway mark of my degree, I will soon share my love for literature, language, and human culture with these fabulous young minds who are going to shape the future.

“It is a rewarding and inspiring journey.”


Media Note:

To arrange an interview with Mrs Erica Louise, contact ­­­­­Trease Clarke at Charles Sturt Media on 0409 741 789 or via news@csu.edu.au

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