From sawdust to the classroom: former carpenter reveals the secrets to 30 years of teaching success

A drive to change lives has enabled Les Worme to build a 30-year legacy as a carpentry teacher and if there’s one thing Les loves most about his job, it’s seeing his students succeed.

Celebrating his 30th anniversary with Bendigo TAFE this year, Les shares the secrets of his exceptional journey and what it is about teaching that has captivated him for decades.

Having started out as a local carpenter in the 80s, Les swapped the trusty nail bag for the blackboard to become a full-time teacher in 1993, while raising a young family.

Inspired by fond memories of his own time at trade school, Les found he enjoyed the interaction with apprentices and realised early on that the shift to teaching went far beyond imparting practical skills in the trade.

“You need to be able to relate with your students, you need to build rapport with them,” said Les.

“You need to be enthusiastic about what you do and try and convey as much information as you can to them, in a manner that they enjoy it, and you enjoy it. That’s a good learning environment."

Les has seen it all and has prevailed through changes and challenges of an ever-changing world, from the rise in online learning through to modern day work practices.

A good teacher, he found, needs to be adaptable.

“We go out and assess students in the workplace, build relationships with employers and apprentices and see modern day work practices happening out in industry. You need to be able to do that, accept that things change and keep up with it,” Les said.

Putting these traits into practice has enabled Les to change the lives of countless students. One of Les’ most cherished moments at Bendigo TAFE was connecting a young student to a potential employer and witnessing his bright future unfold.

“I suggested this young man for the job because he had all the qualities that you would admire in someone – he would turn up on time (and) just stay focused on his work. He got an apprenticeship, got his job and when he came back to TAFE, he was just beside himself with excitement,” Les shared.

“Anyway, wind the clock forward 20 years later, he’s got a young family and he runs a successful small business. I still see him on the job to this day with his apprentices.”

Having trained thousands of students over time, Les has certainly made an impact amongst aspiring carpenters in Bendigo.

“Overall, the young men and women that want to work in the industry will show the commitment and they’ll have a go. And years down the track, I see them. I could be down the street getting a coffee and someone will walk in and they’ll say ‘hello Les’,” said Les.

Bendigo TAFE’s Chief Executive Officer Sally Curtain said great teachers are at the heart of a great experience at TAFE.

“Behind every successful student is an amazing teacher. Our teachers play a key role, not just in equipping our students with in-demand skills, but also in providing a supportive and enjoyable learning experience,” Sally said.

“We have numerous teachers and staff, like Les, who are celebrating milestones this year. It’s an absolute reflection of their passion for education and I know I speak for everyone at our TAFE when I say we’re incredibly proud to be working alongside these committed individuals.”

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