A teaching journey in specialist education

Janet Jolliffe reflects on a teaching career that has spanned 46 years and prepares for life after school.

In 2016, Janet Jolliffe was acknowledged for 45 years of service within the Department of Education and Training. Janet began her career as a pre-school teacher after completing a three-year Teaching Diploma in Education and Early Childhood/Prim ary at Melbourne Kindergarten Teachers College.

She later returned to study and completed a variety of courses she has drawn upon throughout her career, ranging from a Bachelor of Education Early Childhood/Primary, a Masters of Education and a Graduate Diploma in Special Education.

Teaching across Victoria, Janet has spent the last five years as assistant principal at Swan Hill Specialist School, where she leads curriculum development across the whole school.

Janet is very proud of the achievements of all her students and enjoys the school's focus on individualised teaching, where every student has a plan for their academic, social, emotional and living skills development.

Fondest memories in education

When asked about her fondest memories and what has kept her in education all these years, Janet said she wanted to make a difference.

'I'm not in education for myself, no one is. I'm here because I want to make a difference. I have fond memories of all the students I have taught over the years and I have always enjoyed the challenge of working with 'challenging' students.'

'The first few years are the most difficult. But I would say to other teachers just starting, don't think you have to know it all and if you ever have a problem, it's so important for you to reach out and collaborate with your peers.'

What's changed over the years

Janet also offered insights into what has changed, and remained the same, in teaching across her time as an educator.

'Obviously there has been a dramatic change in technology and the use of this in the classroom over my time as a teacher. I have also seen positive shifts in student and parent involvement. Students are having more input into how, a nd what, they learn.'

'Teaching never stops and learning never stops, and things in education continue to develop and change, so there's no reason to lose motivation,' Janet said.

'For me there's always more research into the areas of teaching and learning and brain development. I keep reflecting on recent research and new initiatives and keep moving forward.'

'While the resources for assisting teaching and learning, such as technology, has changed significantly, the aim of assisting students to reach their potential remains a constant. The underlying care for students is, and will continue to be, fundamental to the work we do as teachers.'

Seeing change over time

Janet has also had the chance to see students she taught come back to the school as teachers and speech pathologists.

As her teaching career winds down to a well-earned retirement at the end of this year, she has already begun practicing what this may look like – starting with a white water rafting trip in early December.

'I am very much looking forward to retirement, where I will be spending time with my husband, enjoying travel and spending time canoeing.'