This award is for my students. They are the reason I do what I do.
The Australian Training Awards (ATA) began in 1994, acknowledging individuals, businesses and RTO’s for their contribution to the teaching industry in Australia. The ATA aims to raise national and international awareness for the VET sector, with a continual pledge for improvement in the delivery of VET.
Jodi Rechsteiner-Sanders joined GOTAFE in 2009 teaching in the Hospitality and VCAL sectors. GOTAFE is the largest vocational education provider in North East Victoria. The strength of GOTAFE lies in its industry connections and partnerships with schools and universities, through strategic pathways that lead to employment or University.
With a strong appreciation for the training industry, Jodi aims to teach her students to be the best versions of themselves.
Jodi has generously agreed to do a phone interview with me, discussing her ATA journey, career plans and her love for the industry.
I read that training was never on your radar as a career, what made you decide to go into the teaching industry?
“I came from a family of educators. Both my parents and grandparents were teachers. You could literally say I grew up in the education system. That was my backyard.”
Although this was Jodi’s life, she vowed that wasn’t what she wanted.
“I wanted to forge my own way and be my own person. I didn’t want to be a clone of my parents.”
It wasn’t until Jodi had her own family that she realised she should consider a different path. Jodi had always worked in and enjoyed people orientated roles, was people based, and she thoroughly enjoyed helping others to achieve their version of success.
After completing her TAE and Certificate in Education-Technology, Jodi was offered a job at a TAFE. She has now been there for 10 years.
Can you explain the VTA process? Were there criteria that you had to meet?
“The ATA is a follow-on event from the VTA awards. There are 5 individual categories and each state put’s forward their nominees.”
Without knowing, Jodi was nominated by an amazing colleague. When she found out that she had been nominated, together they worked on her application.
"It was not an easy application. There were 6 criteria to meet with a maximum 500-600 words, along with an overview. I was nominated for Teacher/Trainer of the Year 2019.
Jodi was shortlisted and interviewed in front of a panel of 5. An achievement she should be extremely proud of!
Soon after, Jodi was notified that she was one of the top 3 for her outstanding dedication to her students. This to Jodi was quite harrowing, as the winner wasn’t announced until the award’s dinner.
Herself, along with the other candidates were invited to attend the VTA award dinner at Crown, Melbourne. Before the award night, Jodi received some important advice from one of her students: "Jodi, if you write a speech you won’t need it, if you don’t write one, you will need it”. Taking this advice on board, Jodi didn’t write one and in true style, she won the awards and “...winged the speech.”
When asking Jodi about this moment, she made it clear that this award was for her students, and not her, which I really admired.
Do you know how many applicants you were against?
“I think 28 applicants overall.”
The ATA preparation process consisted of a 2 day long coaching process in Melbourne with a media company. Jodi describes it as a period which "is all about telling your story and getting your audience interested.”
The finalists were trained by individuals who worked with Politicians. “We were taught that it’s okay not to answer a question we didn’t want to.”
A main skill Jodi learnt was how to present herself in the best way possible.
What was your proudest moment during the ATA awards?
“I have to tell you this beautiful story”.
After winning VTA, Jodi’s students decided they were coming to Brisbane with her for the ATA.
“They decided I needed their support in Brisbane. In two months, they planned and raised the money needed to get to Brisbane, and they did it, they came”.
On the night of the awards Jodi’s students met her in the foyer. The institute went above and beyond and gave each student a $200 Myer voucher. Using this money, her students went out and bought new outfits for the awards. Seeing them dressed up was a “proud proxy mum moment”.
Jodi was on a mission to get her students into the event. She gathered her students and said to them “I need you to do me a favour. I need you to put your shoulders back, your chest out and hold your head high. You are going to walk in as if you are meant to be here.”
Jodi’s determination for her students extends outside of the classroom, and in 20 years' time if they look back on this moment with pure joy, then she knows she has fulfilled her job.
In your time as a VCAL trainer, have you utilised Didasko online?
“I have been using Didasko online since I’ve been in the TAFE sector, which is 10 years. I have seen the program evolve and develop. I have worked quite extensively with Didasko.”
Have you found that Didasko online has enhanced your training delivery?
“Yes, due to the different formats. If I have students who can study online then there is the option for them, however there is also print based.”
Jodi explained that she had an amazing student last year who loved Didasko online.
“I could upload units and she would work on them at home, without being in contact with me. If she didn’t feel like working on a particular unit, she could move to another.
Additionally, Jodi’s students have helped each other navigate the platform, which they find extremely valuable. If Jodi has any enquiries, she can contact Didasko’s customer support team, who can assist her efficiently.
Do you feel that online and blended learning is becoming more popular and, if so, why?
“If it works then it can be exceptionally beneficial. It can be a great way to work at your own pace, to login wherever you are and to get things done. It can connect remote students and ensure that those at home can keep up to date. However, we must be careful of not having online as our only delivery option.
It’s a good dual delivery technique, but you can’t replace humans completely.”
Is there any aspect of the Didasko products and services you use that you’re particularly happy with?
“I love that I can bulk enrol a group. If I have some students who are go-getters, I can select them and put them in additional units. Vice versa, students who need less units can have that option. For me, that’s a real winner.”
Jodi also finds that Didasko online is easy to use because it’s consistent.
“Once you know how to navigate Didasko online, it’s really easy because it’s the same. There are no little surprises or roadblocks."
Jodi also loves that she can track learner progress through their logs. “I really like being able to see when and how long students have been logged on. It’s a useful tool which keeps students accountable.” Notifications make Jodi’s life easier, as she can easily be informed of which students are completing their work.
What's next for you, do you have a goal or hobby in the hospitality industry that you wish to fulfil?
Jodi has a few ideas simmering away that she is very excited to explore.
It was a pleasure being able to hear Jodi’s story and I’m sure we will see her exciting future plans joining the market very soon.
The ATA enables individuals to gain national recognition in their field of study and allows them to network with others in their sector.
Additionally, Registered Training organsiations and businesses can become recognised across Australia worldwide, through expanding their clientele and employability rate.
Are you thinking of applying for the 2020 ATA awards or know of anyone you’d like to nominate? Visit https://www.australiantrainingawards.gov.au
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