Schools

Federation member in running for global award

March 21, 2019

Rooty Hill High School humanities teacher Yasodai Selvakumaran has been named among the top 10 teachers in the world and is now vying for the $1 million Global Teacher Prize.

Ms Selvakumaran — who was presented with a Commonwealth Bank Teaching Award last year, which qualifies her as a Schools Plus Teaching Fellow — follows YouTube phenomenon and maths teacher Eddie Woo, who was named in the global top 10 last year.

“It’s an honour to represent Australia at the Global Teacher Prize and follow a consistent record of Australians in the top 50 and top 10,” Ms Selvakumaran, who has been teaching since 2011, said.

“This is a testament to the quality of Australian teachers on a global scale. I’m so proud to follow in this tradition and especially to represent Rooty Hill High School and public education.”

A Tamil Sri Lankan-born Australian, Yasodai’s parents left Sri Lanka amid growing civil tensions, and grew up in rural and regional Australia before moving to Sydney to complete university study.

She has been recognised for her mentorship and ability to apply creative inquiry to enable students to develop the capabilities and dispositions they need for work and life, and it is this aspect of teaching and learning she would like to expand upon.

“I have worked with others to model teaching explicitly with the Australian Curriculum general capabilities with a focus on critical and creative thinking and continue to work in this area,” said Ms Selvakumaran, who is known as Miss Selva to her students.

“Initially, I worked with a colleague Shae Dunbar, to pilot a trial of a creative inquiry cycle that was tested with 500 students in studying History and Geography in 2016.

“This formed part of an Australian Learning Lecture case study in 2017. I continue to work on projects within and beyond the school in further developing creativity and critical thinking across subjects.”

In a career of just eight years, she has directly influenced the journeys of more than 200 teachers and won the 2014 Australian Council of Educational Leadership Mary Armstrong Award for Outstanding Young Educational Leader.

Rooty Hill High School has been named as one of Australia’s 40 most innovative schools in 2016 and 2017.

Next month, Yasodai and seven other 2018 Teaching Fellows will travel to Dubai to attend the Global Education and Skills Forum, at which the Global Teacher Prize will be awarded on 24 March.

With the $1 million prize up for grabs, Yasodai would “invest in initiatives to bridge research and practice in education with a greater focus on recognising and developing teacher expertise”.

— Scott Coomber

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Authorised by John Dixon, General Secretary, NSW Teachers Federation, 23-33 Mary St. Surry Hills NSW 2010

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