Western Sydney humanities teacher Yasodai Selvakumaran has been named as one of the Top 10 teachers in the world this year, taking her one step closer to winning the coveted US $1 million Global Teacher Prize.
Earlier this year, she answered some questions for Women’s Agenda after being named in the top 50 and told us about how she plans to improve student learning at Rooty Hill High School and the importance of bridging the gap between research and practice in education.
Selvakumaran is the only Australian in this year’s Top 10, a massive achievement after there were more than 10,000 nominations from 179 countries worldwide.
The inspiring woman teaches history, society and culture and geography at Rooty Hill High School, where she’s known as ‘Ms Selva’ to her students.
This month, she will travel to Dubai to attend the Global Education and Skills Forum, at which the Global Teacher Prize winner will be announced on March 24.
The Top 10 finalists were announced recently by actor Hugh Jackman, who called teachers the ‘real superheroes’ in a tribute to the work of teachers around the world.
Here is a small snippet of her previous Q&A with us and you can check out her other answers here.
Why are you so passionate about the teaching profession?
It is a privilege to work towards a common vision – to empower students, teachers and communities be the best they can be. As a profession, we are constantly learning and adapting and this is a part of the joy of learning. Yes, it can be challenging at times but ultimately Education transforms lives. This impact goes well beyond individuals as the ripple continues further than we can immediately measure or sometimes imagine.
What are you working on right now that’s got you excited?
I’m working on a project exploring the values of subject-based pedagogies with a team at Rooty Hill High School exploring how both developing dispositions and subject-based expertise are important. Often debates in Education come back to a focus on knowledge or capabilities/dispositions/” soft skills” like critical thinking or creativity. I believe the dialogue needs to acknowledge both. This is essential to share and learn about multiple approaches to facilitate this, remembering that each school and teacher need to contextualise what is right for their students.
If you win, do you have any particular plans for how you’ll use the honour and/or the funds?
Yes, to invest in initiatives to bridge research and practice in Education with a greater focus on recognising and developing teacher expertise.