As a TAFE NSW Teacher for 15 years' Claire Bigelow has seen firsthand the mental health challenges many students are faced with.
It was her desire to be more competent and confident in effectively supporting and nurturing her students' coupled with the desire for a new personal and professional challenge that led her to enrol in a Graduate Diploma of Positive Psychology online with CQUniversity.
"Mental health challenges have become increasingly common with young people'" Claire explains.
"It's clear how much it impacts their lives' their capacity to 'show up'' participate effectively' learn and retain information' and to develop the confidence in their abilities to seek and obtain employment.
"As teachers' we are in a unique and privileged position to support our students and more broadly the community."
The working mother of two said it was important for her to have a quality online study option with adequate support to ensure her study aspirations fit into her lifestyle.
Claire graduated in 2020 and said she found the online learning platform' webinars and workshops well-developed' easy to navigate and rich in content' and the communication between lecturers and students was responsive and supportive.
"Every experience I had with any CQU staff from my initial enquiry to graduation was positive and professional'" she said.
"Dr Adam Gerace and Dr Danielle Every were both fantastic lecturers. They have a depth and passion for their discipline which is palpable' and they shared their expertise so generously.
"I feel incredibly fortunate to have spent two years learning under their guidance and in the company of so many interesting and accomplished people."
Claire has since applied what she learnt in her study to support students and to cultivate more pro social behaviours to support better engagement' participation' and course completions. She has also used the learning to help herself and her colleagues reduce teacher stress and prevent burnout.
Seeing the positive impact on her students and colleagues' Claire moved to enact change on a large scale by utilising her new-found skills. For a recent staff capability event' she engaged one of Australia's highest profile psychologists Dr Michael Carr-Gregg' to address nearly 200 head teachers on teacher burnout and relationship success strategies for supporting students. In addition' she has engaged with various experts to support over 500 staff in extending their professional capacity for effective communication' collaboration' emotional intelligence' and coaching.
It is no surprise that Claire has excelled in her career with TAFE NSW. Working as a classroom teacher' a content/resource developer' and now in staff capability development.
"I love my role and the opportunity it affords me to be part of the conversation for how our organisation can make a real difference to the lives of staff and students'" she said.
"Since undertaking study' I have been better positioned to influence the activities of staff and directly in response to their expressed needs."
"Being able to effect real change in this way makes my work meaningful' purposeful and fulfilling."
Claire plans to continue to promote positive psychology and cultivate wellbeing initiatives. She hopes to build an immersive strategy and create a ripple effect that extends beyond the classroom and into the community.flickr embed.