Jade Cusworth from the School of Vocational Health Sciences is RMIT's Vocational Education Early Career Teacher of the Year.
RMIT News caught up with her to see what makes her tick.
What do you teach at RMIT?
I’m currently the program coordinator for optical dispensing at RMIT’s School of Vocational Health and Sciences, but I also teach the Business and Communication course to students in RMIT’s myotherapy programs.
What is optical dispensing and what kinds of careers does it lead to?
Optical dispensers help you see clearly and look good. We interpret the prescription you get from opthamologists and optometrists to provide you with the best advice on all kinds of eyewear – from contact lenses to spectacles, sunglasses and more.
We work closely with optometrists, ophthalmologists and other healthcare professionals to provide solutions for eye care and eyewear needs. We also perform spectacle repairs, fittings and adjustments.
What’s the key to your teaching success?
My teaching approach is one that’s very relaxed and comfortable.
When I am relaxed in front of the students, they relax with me, which enables them raise the questions they might be too scared to ask somebody else.
What are some of the challenges involved in teaching your disciplines and how do you overcome them?
Optical dispensing attracts students from a wide range of backgrounds, who come to the discipline for a range reasons. We have everything from school leavers to people in their fifties and beyond wanting to explore a new career.
These groups learn differently from each other, so we design lesson plans that are accessible at all levels.
This isn’t an easy feat but I’ve found that the key is to break the content up into manageable chunks and to always use language that is right for that class.
By taking the time to understand my learner group, I know what level to start at and how to build up from there.
What’s the best thing about teaching at RMIT?
I love to see my students develop and grow. The highlight of being a teacher here is to see my students leave RMIT having had a positive experience and also learning along the way.
It makes them go on to have a positive impact on their industry as a whole. I’ve also been very fortunate to work with a fantastic team inside the School of Vocational Health and Sciences.
In 2014 you won the Early Career Teacher of the Year Award for the vocational education category. What was that like?
I was honoured to receive the award - especially when there are so many fantastic teachers at RMIT who are equally, if not more deserving.
I think a lot of the credit belongs to the fantastic team in optical dispensing and myotherapy who have supported and encouraged me every step. I came to RMIT not having taught before, so to be awarded such an honour has just been unbelievable!
What’s on the horizon for your discipline areas this year?
This year will be a big year for the optical dispensing area.
We have an upcoming study tour for students of the Certificate IV in Optical Dispensing, who will be heading to Vietnam to look at eye health in another country.
We’ll also be furthering our industry partnerships at the Optical Distributors and Manufacturers of Australia conference later this year.
In the myotherapy area, we’ll be continuing to develop students’ professional skills through practical experience at the Myotherapy Teaching Clinic, work placements with prestige organisations, and I’ll be focusing on classes that give students core business and communication skills to work for themselves or as part of a bigger organisation.