And Gladly catches up with Mary Ryan as she approaches her 1 year anniversary as Head of Department of Educational Studies.
I am the Head of the Department of Educational Studies and I have been at Macquarie for almost a year now (where has that time gone?). Prior to this I was at QUT in Brisbane where I initially completed my PhD while teaching large undergraduate and postgraduate units in English curriculum and literacies (with two young children). Then I went on to coordinate the Primary Initial Teacher Education (ITE) Program with almost 1000 students, and then the HDR program in the Faculty of Education with over 200 students before taking on the role of ADR. My teaching and research are very much integrated and I am passionate about both. My research interests are in the areas of writing development, pedagogy and assessment, teacher and learner reflexivity, teacher preparation and professional learning and literacy pedagogy in schools and universities. I apply theories of reflexivity, socio-spatiality and social semiotics to the ‘texts’ produced in classrooms, schools, higher education institutions and workplace learning.
What has been your main focus since joining Macquarie as HoD of Department of Educational Studies?
My main focus since joining Macquarie has been on the Department as a cohesive, highly engaged and inspiring place to work. We now have a distributed leadership structure in place, and we have been writing our whole suite of new and exciting Initial Teacher Education (ITE) programs for external accreditation. We have also established research groups to consolidate our strengths and support our ECRs, we have strengthened our partnerships with schools, centres, State Government and community groups, and have been conducting learning and teaching projects in assessment, digital literacies and peer review. My staff have achieved all of this in 11 months – they are amazing!
What’s the biggest challenge you are facing or working on at the moment?
Implementing the numerous and ever-changing requirements for external accreditation of ITE programs while at the same time maintaining the integrity of our program logic and what we believe Macquarie ITE graduate should embody. My whole staff is involved in this endeavour – and it keeps me awake at night!
Where to next for your Department?
We have recruited a number of new staff and are looking forward to new ideas and collaborations within and beyond the Department. We have initiated an impact and evaluation program so we can track the impact we have on our students and the impact they have on the students they teach. We have also established an Academy for Continuing Professional Development with accreditation status through the NSW Education Standards Authority. We plan to grow this academy so we continue to inspire teachers and enable their ongoing learning.
What’s been your most memorable moment in teaching?
I think it is when students recognise an important concept, interrogate it, research it and then apply it in a way I had never thought to do! I know then that they are going to be independent, lifelong learners. It’s also pretty cool when I’m contacted by former students who tell me how much I have influenced their passion for and approach to teaching.
Who is your favourite music band? Why?
I like the Courteeners because I can’t help singing along (with their accents) and the Lumineers because they have intelligent lyrics and are great musicians. I also like Vampire Weekend – any band that has ‘Oxford Comma’ as the name of a song…