From curious to empowered: A teacher’s journey to her Masters

Jamie Leckie is a New Entrants Teacher at Coromandel Area School, and completed The Mind Lab’s Postgraduate Certificate in Digital & Collaborative Learning, then continued on with her Master of Contemporary Education.

While completing a Masters is no mean feat, Jamie discovered that her studies fit in well with her life as a busy teacher. She says her projects didn’t feel like “work”, instead, they empowered her to share knowledge with her learning community.

“It’s not work, it’s completely passion. It’s my gift, I want to give this to people,” says Jamie.

Her Masters project was a professional development tool giving teachers the skills to implement play based learning, which she discovered helped to improve her students behaviour and grades.

Meeting with the principal after each one of her classes to share her new-found knowledge, Jamie is now educating fellow teachers on how to implement play based learning.

“[Studying] was about growing my capabilities, so I could help the students grow theirs.”

Jamie was impressed with the amount of support offered by The Mind Lab, whether it was in-person or online, her tutors were quick at responding to emails, and any group work was made easy by instant messaging on Slack.

“There is so much instant support online, everything is there that you need. If you needed someone to talk to, they were there,” says Jamie.

With The Mind Lab’s flexible learning approach, not only was it possible to study remotely, but create lifelong friends in the process. With like minded mates across the country, Jamie was thankful for the collaborative environment that allowed relationships to be built with peers and advisors over the two year period.

This strong support network was a highlight for Jamie because being in the Coromandel, she initially felt isolated to the idea of further study. “It was amazing to be able to get this information, learn from across Aotearoa, and bring that knowledge back to school,” she says.

Jamie started her journey at The Mind Lab to grow her capabilities, so her students could grow theirs too. Before diving into her Masters Degree, she completed the Postgraduate Certificate in Digital and Collaborate Learning, which took her out of her comfort zone.

Dr David Parsons facilitates classes via Zoom

“I’m young, I thought I was quite techy and knew how to navigate my way around apps and allof that, but I learnt so much!” says Jamie.

Being so practical and hands on, Jamie loved how the class was on Thursday evening, so she would return to school on Friday and go through what she’d learnt with her Year 4 students.

Not only was it beneficial for her own self growth, but exposed her students to “a whole new world”. The most memorable lesson was when she made VR goggles out of cardboard for the kids, as taught in her course.

‘We’re going on a plane! We’re looking at a desert! We’re at the zoo!?’, the students said in awe, and Jamie realised that these were simple things that she had taken for granted, that these small town Coromandel kids had never experienced.

“It was cool to not only bring it back as technology skills but as life experiences,” Jamie said.

At school prizegiving, Jamie was recognised for her achievement on stage, where her students could cheer her on for completing the course. “It was really cool for the kids to see me as a learner, rather than just a teacher.”

From feelings of isolation to achieving her Masters, Jamie says she felt curious on day one – a bit unsure of what was to come – and empowered on her final day as a student at The Mind Lab.

Jamie hopes to continue learning to aid her school and students. “Watch this space!”

Learn more at themindlab.com/teacher-programmes

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