Teaching Excellence Award recipients announced

13 July 2016

2016 Faculty of Education Teaching Excellence Awards' Recipients
From left to right: Professor Graeme Aitken, Dean of the Faculty, Associate Professor Carol Mutch, Associate Professor Louisa Allen and Dr Kirsten Locke, Associate Dean - Teaching and Learning at the Teaching Excellence Awards. Not in photo is Dr Kelsey Deane who is on research and study leave.

The Faculty of Education and Social Work held their annual Teaching Excellence Awards last night. The awards were an opportunity for staff to join together to celebrate, honour and congratulate teachers in the faculty who use their talents and skills to inspire trainee teachers and educators who will go on to inspire others.

The recipients of the awards this year were Dr Kelsey Deane for Early Career Excellence in Teaching, Associate Professor Carol Mutch for Excellence in Postgraduate Research Supervision and Associate Professor Louisa Allen for Sustained Excellence in Teaching.

“For me, teaching excellence occurs when the air in the lecture theatre 'pops' with the frisson of learning. You can almost see the students' thoughts circulating and there is an energy that often spills into moments beyond the class,” said Dr Allen when asked what teaching excellence means to her.

The selection panel emphasised Dr Allen’s commitment to her students as being an important factor in their decision.

“[Dr Allen] is sensitive to the needs of her learners and her commitment to her students is clearly evident in the way she advocates a safe space within which to confront and reflect on complex issues to do with sexuality and identity,” said the panel.

For Dr Deane, the honour of receiving the Early Career Excellence in Teaching category was viewed as a manifestation of the inspiring role models she has had the privilege of learning from, including her family members.

“This award really means a lot because I come from a family of teachers. When I reflect on who I am, not just as a teacher but as an academic, I realise how much of an early influence my father, in particular, has had on my values and what I strive to achieve in my practice.

“He was the principal of a small rural school (my primary school) and did amazing things, generally under the radar, to support marginalised students and struggling families in our community. So it’s really special to be able to share this award with him and the other teachers in my family.”

For Dr Deane, teaching excellence occurs when a teacher works to foster a positive learning climate where each student feels valued and included.

“I love those teaching moments when you see the penny drop for a student who has been struggling and something just clicks. The sense of self-efficacy they feel in that instant, when they realise that they get it, is almost palpable and it really gives them momentum to keep going. It’s just really cool to be able to be a part of that growth,” said Dr Deane.

Dr Deane’s citation mentioned that she “Creates holistic and supportive learning environments within and beyond the classroom. She is committed to enabling people, achieving results through carefully constructed assessments and evaluation, maintaining reflexivity as a lecturer, and professional development.”

Dr Mutch and Dr Allen also shared Dr Deane’s sentiment of strong relationships being at the heart of of teaching excellence.

“What is important about receiving an award is that it is never just for the person who is named. It recognises all the others that have helped the recipient along the way," said Dr Mutch.

“My award is for postgraduate supervision and it recognises my masters and doctoral supervisors who set me on this path. It also recognises all the students I have supervised along the way. Each of them has taught me something more about the supervision process. It also recognises all my co-supervisors. We have put in many hours to guide our students through to completion. To have a colleague support you through that journey is of immense value.”

“Carol [Mutch] understands that the quality of her supervision is dependent on the quality of the pedagogical relationship she carefully co-constructs with her students. At the very core of Carol’s teaching is a deep ethic of care and concern for her students as human beings. I have witnessed on many occasions, in her role as supervisor or as Head of School, Carol creating the space for students to grow and develop as scholars and as people,” noted Dr Mutch’s colleague on her success.

“Receiving one of these awards is often the result of having been taught by at least one excellent teacher yourself. I have been extremely lucky to be surrounded by superb teaching role models and mentors in this faculty and so this award is a result of their work also,” concluded Dr Allen.