Teaching has been in Kiriaki Hamilton’s blood since she was a young child, but it took a few different career directions to bring her back to her passion.
“I remember as a child, my Dad made me a little blackboard. I would get all my cousins to sit around, charge them 1 cent, and I’d teach them! From a very young age, teaching has always been my passion. After school I qualified as a secondary school history teacher and then I got sidetracked with world travel. When I came back, I thought together with my world experience I would take up teaching again. When I got back from overseas, I studied Business Administration and then put my teaching and business skills together at Melbourne Polytechnic.”
World perspective in the classroom
Kiriaki believes that world experience gives her a different perspective in the classroom. “We get a lot of students from different cultural backgrounds and I can relate to that as I’m from a migrant family. I can understand some of the challenges that our students face. It is great when you can tell a story to your class and they connect. You need to bond with your students and you need to find a little familiar snippet to make a connection with them. Then they feel comfortable too. Every student wants to feel that the teacher is looking after them, they’ve got a connection with their teacher … I think that’s so important and then the rest comes easily!”
Compassionate and approachable
Looking back at the teachers she had at school, Kiriaki was always drawn to those who were compassionate, approachable, good listeners, and made time for the students. Kiriaki says she wanted her teachers to engage with her and make the learning experience a fun one. Now as a teacher herself, she tries to mould her classes to reflect this.
Traditionally, the Business Administration program attracts members of the community who are looking at getting back into the work force: mums returning to work, mature age students, younger people who are starting out, or small business owners who want the edge. Kiriaki says that one of the best parts of teaching is making all students feel at ease when they start their studies. “As teachers, we learn to pick up these vibes from our students and help them overcome some of these feelings. I was in the exact same place as these students at one stage and I know it’s a challenge.”
It’s really all about having fun
We asked Kiriaki if she had any sage advice for any new Business Administration students. “Just turn up and ask as many questions as you can. We’re here to support you. I’m an educator and all I want is the best outcome for my students. I look for students who are motivated, engaged, and will have a good cultural fit for roles. Most of all, we want you to come here and have fun in your learning. I’ve talked to industry and they say that they can train them in procedures, but fit and personality are equally as important. I tell all my students this in their very first class.”