Please tell us a little about what your award was given for…
The Social Impact award was given for my teaching in a postgraduate unit in 2017-18 within the Master of Teaching (Secondary) Program – ie English Teaching Methods 3 – it’s part of a suite of units that prepare preservice teachers to be secondary school English teachers.
I was a head teacher of English for many years and was keen to give my preservice teachers an opportunity to build their technology skills alongside deepening their curriculum knowledge. Each preservice teacher took an aspect of course content, wrote a 300 word script, and made a three minute film. These became examples of student-created digital content; all curated on the Real Words, Not Fake News WordPress blog (thank you LX.lab) and were featured in two short film festivals; in the first year the films were screened in a Dr Who style Tardis and inside a large wishing well in an English Secret Garden in the second year. The UTS community viewed the short films in real time and online, others gave feedback and interacted with the preservice English teachers who were on hand at the Tardis or in the garden to answer questions about their films over the two day festival.
What’s something new you are hoping to try or explore in learning and teaching in 2019?
This year I would like to involve preservice teachers in understanding how to plan quality assessments tasks and rubrics for Stage 6 English, using a variety of technology tools.
What’s one trick or tip you wish you’d known when you first started out in university teaching?
I was fortunate that I had a long history of teaching in K-12 classrooms in schools before I started to teach in universities, so this set me up well for university adult wrangling…
What’s your approach to keeping students active and engaged in a large group situation?
Planning, planning and more planning – I call it ‘planning hard to teach easy’. Pace is crucial when working with a large group – it really matters, keep the learning student-centred, ‘no sage on stage’…and vary the kinds of activities that you want students to engage with. ‘Hard fun’ – I’d agree with that.
What’s been your most memorable learning and teaching moment – as a teacher, or as a student?
Gosh, so many…I have been a teacher for quite a while…producing a musical with 100 young people in a rural high school, taking 9 girls to Mt Kosciusko who had never seen snow before, and just today I was with some inservice teachers from my research in schools planning a presentation we have been invited to do at an upcoming national conference and as we were saying ‘goodbye’ – one of the teachers turned to me and said “You have allowed me to be the teacher that I always wanted to be – and I thank you”. Gave me goosebumps.
What’s the most challenging aspect of teaching in universities today?
Challenging…no matter what context you are in, teaching can be exigent – always remember to put yourself in the learner’s shoes – ie, would I want to be a student in this class?
Do you think teaching practices in your discipline area have changed a lot with the introduction of new technologies?
Changed a lot…sometimes too slowly – I get impatient. My teaching practice for a little less than two decades now has involved technology – it mustn’t be tech for tech’s sake – it’s about the pedagogy. It could be a session with no tech or a class with high tech involving immersive technologies or low tech with a series of interactive poetry clips from YouTube. High Possibility Classroom teachers think about creativity, they link technology to preparation for life, to enrich subject matter, to construct the learning, they forge opportunities to make learning public, all the while using tech authentically in the contexts in which they live, work and study.