Crystel Burt started her teaching journey a few years ago at Ara Institute of Canterbury. While there she was encouraged by her mentor to enhance her teaching skills through completing a certificate in adult and tertiary teaching. After commencing the certificate, her study was soon put on hold when her family relocated to Nelson.
Following the Nelson move, Crystel started teaching certificate and diploma courses at Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology in Beauty and Body Therapy as well as a trade course in Blenheim. It was this experience that propelled Crystel to re-enrol with eCampus NZ to complete the New Zealand Certificate in Adult and Tertiary Teaching (Level 5).
Crystel says that without a doubt, completion of the certificate has improved her teaching and added to her toolbox.
“It’s not enough just to have drive and passion, to be an excellent teacher you also need the tools to enable you think outside the square to engage with all demographics and cultures. As a teacher you should always be learning because if you stop learning your teaching suffers.”
She says the certificate has helped shape her teaching philosophy.
“My teaching philosophy is Ako, a term used to describe that as a teacher you are also a learner. It involves making sure that my students know that I am learning from them as well as them learning from me. This has helped me shape an inclusive environment in the classroom. I was always aware of this philosophy, but completion of the certificate has given me the skills to put that theory into practice.”
Other key learnings have included the importance of constructive lesson plans and understanding moderation and assessments. Both these skills have helped enhance a consistent teaching approach.
During her journey Crystel said that the support from eCampus NZ has been excellent.
“While the person who supports you online might not be right in front of you, they respond to you really quickly and if you’re stuck you’re not left hanging for days. There is always encouragement, not only from the person coordinating, but also the peers working with you on the certificate.”
Crystel said a key aspect for her success with studying online was having a good support network around her at home and within her academic team. She said this is critical as it can be hard juggling work, family life and study.
“Having someone that can help you carve out that time is important, support is everything in order to be able to be successful with time management. The certificate is not something that you can spend a few minutes on here and there, if you want to get the best out of it, you have to put time aside.”
With regards to recommending the certificate to other teachers, Crystel says she has a good saying that she shares with students – Don’t shoot a cannon from a canoe.
“This means that you have to build up your ship and your knowledge in order to give it the best that you possibly can. As a teacher starting off new, you love teaching and are a specialist in your area, but you really cannot deliver to your full potential unless you have the tools to do it. This certificate enables you to do that.”