Teacher of the week: Janice Ford

Janice Ford is a Scholarly Teaching Fellow (TESOL) in the Department of Linguistics.

After realising I was not suited to desk work, I chased my original dream of becoming a teacher. Initially a primary teacher, I later taught English to Japanese high school and university students and loved it. I then moved to migrant education, English colleges in Sydney and most recently lectured in teacher education to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in Alice Springs. Most of the students flew in for workshops and were horrified at how cold it was in winter and the fact that the rivers had no water!  Alice Springs is stunningly beautiful and living there was a dream come true.

I enjoy Scottish Country Dancing, spending time with family – especially two young grandchildren who make me laugh, catching waves at the beach, and have recently taken up art classes. Apparently you actually can learn to draw and paint, it is not just a gift some folk possess – although it is early days yet – no exhibitions are planned for the immediate future. And I proudly cook one plum pudding each Christmas.

1. What are your main teaching commitments?

Graduate Certificate of TESOL units – APPL600 Language Teaching Methodologies, APPL922 Practicum in TESOL and APPL929 Evaluating Language Classroom Practice .

2. What’s the biggest challenge you face as a university teacher?

I would have to say engaging external students and assisting students, especially returning and International Ss, through the maze of online and blended learning – I have been a returning student studying externally in French I know how isolating and overwhelming it can be. Oh, and marking!!! What do a cockatoo and a lecturer have in common? They both go “MARK! MARK!”

3. What has helped you improve your teaching most and why?

Present continuous – “What is helping me improve my teaching?” Perhaps ‘who’ would be more appropriate. The sharing that happens here. There are PD sessions on using technology, the Foundations in Learning and Teaching (FiLT) course, and the Teaching Innovations in Linguistics group Claire Layfield established for the Scholarly Teaching Fellows in Linguistics. These all encourage me to reflect on my current practice and how my previous knowledge, skills and techniques need to be adapted to a different context.

4. What’s been your most memorable moment in teaching?

Several: At MQ, having nearly 60 students on their feet singing ‘Heads, shoulders, knees and toes’ in an Aboriginal language in Week 1.  The first 15 practicum portfolios I marked this session had me in tears for the quality of the responses and insight the students could articulate. In teaching generally, the moments when a frustrated, perhaps angry student, understands and relaxes, smiles, shares with another student or thanks me. They are the moments that count.

5. Who is your favourite music band? Why?

Anything I can dance to, especially Scottish Country Dance music with fiddles and piano accordians  – Luke Brady Dance Band is great.

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