From courtroom to classroom: new horizons

23 August 2012

Governor General Quentin Bryce has consistently reminded young Australian women of the words of wisdom: "you can have it all, but not all at the same time."

Now one former lawyer is living proof of this advice, trading the courtroom for the classroom in her pursuit of a more balanced life.

Current Master of Teaching (Primary) student, Sandra Gosnell, began her career on a completely different trajectory.

Having completed a Bachelor of Commerce (Marketing) and Law at the University of New South Wales, Sandra worked as an intellectual property lawyer at a large Sydney firm for seven years.

But the birth of her first child in 2007 gave Sandra the chance to step back from this demanding role, allowing space to reconsider her career options and discover her true calling.

"During that time I was able to reflect on my interests, strengths and priorities and I realised that I was better suited to a career in teaching," she said.

"Deciding to pursue a second career path was a big step for me and I wanted to study in an environment which was inspirational, with classes taught by knowledgeable and reputable teacher educators. The Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Sydney is such a place."

As more women delay motherhood and attempt to climb the career ladder, for the first time in recorded history statistics have shown Australian women are having, on average, fewer than two children.

In the face of such figures, Gosnell believes that women must ultimately take the time to choose a career they're passionate about, and measure their expectations.

"I think it's incredibly important to reassess your career to confirm you are truly satisfied with your chosen profession," she said.

"We spend so much of our life working that it makes sense to actually be happy and stay motivated in what you are doing. From a personal perspective, I also want to feel as though I am truly making a difference in my job and hope to instill my love of learning in others."

An early observation visit to three local schools helped solidify for Sandra her renewed career path towards teaching.

With two placements lasting 4 weeks each, along with a nine-week internship built into the degree structure, Sandra believed her Master of Teaching (Primary) degree provides "invaluable practical experience".

"There are plenty of opportunities to develop your own teaching skills in tutorials before having to face a classroom of children," she said.

For Sandra, the prospect of leading a classroom of children is still as thrilling as fronting a law court.

"It is a demanding but exciting course, with so much to be learnt and experienced," she said. "The lecturers and tutors are truly experts in their field and are so passionate about education, constantly modelling and explaining handy teaching tips."

Through completing her Masters degree part-time, Sandra is already reaping the benefits of a better work-life balance, successfully juggling life as a mother of two young children with her study commitments.

But she's under no illusions of the unacknowledged hard work that goes into the teaching profession outside of school hours.

"I feel that there will be a better work-life balance as a teacher compared to my previous job, although I certainly do not think teaching is a 9 to 3 venture, given the incredible amount of work that goes on behind the scenes," she said.

Contact: Emily Jones

Phone: 02 9114 1961

Email: 50091e4731645c393614581047110a252b114155503b190b25