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o's approach to teaching is characterised by a respect for students, a love of learning, a quest for varied, effective and innovative teaching approaches and a determination to connect learning to the real world. The students she teaches are preparing to become teachers themselves. She believes that it is essential to model excellent teaching practice and make transparent her reflection on practice so that her students may themselves become effective and reflective educators.
Jo teaches in the area of Arts Education with a particular focus on Drama, which is considered as an aesthetic, embodied and social art form and a method of teaching and learning. Her teaching at Deakin University encompasses undergraduate, postgraduate and higher degree by research students both on campus and in flexible delivery modes through the Institute of Koorie Education. Outside of these University programs her teaching also involves students in schools and practising teachers, through professional development sessions and conferences, and in broader community settings. Her ongoing participation in these spheres keeps her practice relevant, contemporary and informed, and enhances her teaching at the university level.
Jo’s contribution to students’ learning has been sustained over time and is characterised by a student-centred approach based around relationship building in a positive and vibrant environment. Jo and her students get to know each other by sharing their backgrounds in a range of creative formats such as images, stories and blog profiles. These relationships often continue, with many past students keeping in touch.
This student-centred approach allows Jo to focus on the diverse needs of students, inspiring her to initiate a range of authentic learning experiences that provide access opportunities, bridging the world of the university and some of the professional communities the students will work within in their future careers.
One example is the 'Drama for Learning' school-based teaching project in which student teachers work as a team to design a drama-based workshop at a local primary school. Another innovation is the faculty grant-funded Teaching for Diversity project, which involves five members of a theatre group who have mild intellectual disabilities presenting drama-based workshops on inclusive education for all final-year students.
Jo embeds technologies in all her units to broaden horizons and internationalise our curriculum. She developed learning communities through new technologies such as the international VINE project, which shared performance-making processes through web-based technologies. Jo was also the co-leader of a project team that received a Deakin University Strategic Teaching and Learning Grant to develop an arts education community in the virtual world of Second Life, with a view to experimenting with and exploring the potential for teaching and learning in the Second Life environment.
Jo has presented on her teaching initiatives at many conferences and facilitated professional development for Deakin lecturers in the area of voice care and drama as pedagogy in higher education. This has included collaboration with colleagues in other schools to develop and present a workshop series on ‘The Lecture as Performance’. Her interest in working with colleagues across the University to enhance teaching and learning in higher education stems from her passion for improving pedagogy but is also encouraged by unsolicited student comments on her exemplary presentation skills.