Winning the Teacher Educator of the Year Award

How winning the 2016 Teachers Mutual Bank/ATEA
Teacher Educator of the Year Award supports my research

Dr Jen Scott Curwood, Senior Lecturer, The University of Sydney

It was truly an honour to receive the 2016 Teachers Mutual Bank/ATEA Teacher Educator of the Year Award, and to share my work as a teacher educator at the annual conference in Victoria. I benefitted tremendously from connecting with colleagues at universities across Australia, reflecting on my own teaching practices, and considering how to improve teacher education within both local and global contexts.

Over the past 16 years, I have had the privilege of working as a teacher, teacher educator, and researcher in the United States and Australia. In 2011, I joined the Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Sydney. From the moment I stepped onto the campus, I was eager to meet my students, collaborate with my colleagues, and learn from my mentors. Throughout my career, I have actively sought to provide my students with opportunities to engage in hands-on learning and to demonstrate their content knowledge. Because I teach secondary English pre-service teachers, I believe that it is imperative to model evidence-based practices, engage in ongoing reflection, and create an environment that values critical thinking and collaborative learning.

As a scholar, my research builds on theoretical and empirical work within educational psychology and cognitive anthropology. As a teacher educator, I draw from these disciplines and take a situated approach to teaching and learning. Rather than seeing cognition as an internal state and learning as the acquisition of knowledge, a situated perspective highlights how physical, social, and cultural contexts are integral to the learning process. When students come into a classroom, they bring a rich variety of experiences, thoughts, and beliefs with them. Instead of asking them to leave their experiences outside the classroom, I encourage students to critically reflect on their lives, engage in inquiry-based projects, and develop their identities as English teachers.

Thanks to the ATEA award funds, I am working with colleagues Dr Alison O’Grady and Amy Bywater to research the impact of the partnership that we have established between the English education program and Compass, within the University’s Social Inclusion unit. Over the past four years, we have worked together to offer workshops to high school students on preparing for English exams and pursuing a university education.

I am grateful for the recognition of my colleagues, and humbled by the support of my current and former students. It is truly an honour to receive this award, and I hope that my work makes an impact on teacher education, both in Australia and abroad. As one student shared, “The enthusiasm and passion Jen brings to class has inspired our cohort. In my eyes she has truly made the Teaching English curriculum subject incredibly well structured, helpful, and worthwhile in the establishment of my own teaching philosophy and pedagogy.”

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