A qualified carpenter and registered builder, Andrew works primarily as a construction manager on school project developments. Andrew rounds his busy life off nicely as a sessional teacher of Certificate IV and Diploma students in Building and Construction at Epping campus.
‘I always liked working outdoors and using my hands. I was lucky enough early on in school to know I wanted to be a carpenter. When I finished Year 12, I already had a job lined up but I never knew where the future was going to take me. During my apprenticeship I completed a Certificate IV in Building and Construction (Building), which is what I teach now. I never knew I would be a teacher but after I became a qualified Carpenter, I just kept on doing night school.’
Andrew achieved great things at night school, which is part of the reason he is so keen to teach now. Starting working life with an apprenticeship in Essendon renovating Victorian homes, he says ‘once qualified, I moved into commercial construction where I have remained, developing school projects and moving up to management. I believe my school accreditations, my various roles in varying areas of construction and my teaching position all complement each other and I continue to develop my skill set in all areas.’
With a number of Certificates and Diplomas in the industry, Andrew then discovered ‘a course which enabled me to teach my trade - the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment’. With a new qualification and reliable tip that Melbourne Polytechnic needed trade teachers, he got himself in front of the right people and was offered a sessional teaching role, ‘which has been great!’
The Building and Construction curriculum is along the lines of Andrew’s day-to-day work – as manager on a construction site. ‘I ensure students are up-to-date and across all the learner resources which support them for their tests. Many positive responses relayed back to me by students are around the on-site knowledge I bring to class. I show videos relating to topics at the commencement of a session’, which he has found is the best way to capture class attention, particularly for those who have no knowledge of the topic.
‘I encourage questioning and ensure I answer every question and do not move on until I am satisfied they understand.’ Andrew shows photos from completed jobs, explaining all processes and highlighting key points and management techniques. ‘I find sticking to this routine gives the students confidence and structure. Even students who may be a little timid to ask questions during class, ask educated questions at the end in private, giving me confidence that my three methods – videos, reading resources and photographs, is resonating with them in one way or another.’
‘At the end of a course when a class is complete, I very much appreciate the handshakes and gratitude. Students often express how much more confident they feel having finished the course, leaving fulfilled with their new qualification. This for me, makes it all worthwhile.’
As a sessional teacher, Andrew has worked with a diverse array of students, ‘some have strong construction knowledge and need the certification to obtain their builders registration and others have zero knowledge and choose the course as their first step in learning something new.’ He’s also worked with students with construction experience in other countries who ‘want to learn and adapt to our methods here in Australia.’ For some students where English is an additional language, technical discussions can be challenging, but Andrew assesses and adapts keeping each session interesting and appropriate for students to grow and improve.
‘The student who has had the greatest impact on me would have to be Joseph Reed. Joseph is deaf, does not talk and requires two interpreters just to be part of my class. He is a great student and has performed well which gives not only him, but also me, great satisfaction. Knowing my knowledge is being passed on with the help of interpreters is a great team effort and Joseph is performing as a model student scoring top results. He has also encouraged me to assess my teaching methods to ensure he is not missing out and we communicate directly in writing so, as with other students asking questions after class, he and I also have one-on-one time.’
‘Every day is new. Every project is different. Every student and class brings new dynamics. I am always learning and building great relationships!’
Of course, Andrew has no hesitation in recommending Melbourne Polytechnic’s building and construction courses to students considering a trade, it’s a ‘great, friendly, warm and welcoming environment, with learning strategies to suit everyone’s needs.’