It is a big month for staff recognition at Macquarie, with recipients of the 2023 Academic Staff Awards being announced alongside our new distinguished professors and academic promotions. Here, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education) Professor Taryn Jones pays tribute to the Macquarie staff whose purpose – and proficiency – is transformative education.
As our staff are acknowledged for their contribution to the University’s research, health and education missions, it is timely to pause and reflect on what makes an educator stand out as exceptional in transforming the lives of our students.
There are many answers to that question. However, there are a few things that stand out to me personally about great educators:
- Passion – great educators always have a deep and genuine passion to see students succeed. They strive to see their students light up with those ‘ah-ha’ moments that are truly transformative.
- Communication – great educators can take the most complex of content or skills and communicate these in a way that makes them resonate and stick with students. They can cut through all the noise and deliver clear and concise messages on the most important aspects of what students need to know.
- Connection – great educators connect with students on a human level. They engage students actively in their learning ensuring that students can see the relevance and meaningfulness of what they are learning. Connection is also about the simple things – knowing students names, respecting their active role in the learning process, bringing the whole group along in the conversation.
- Agility – great educators are agile and flexible. They will recognise if something is not working or if the energy in the classroom is low and pivot to shift the dynamic in a room.
These qualities are supported when educators have a high level of emotional intelligence, and Macquarie educators exude a high level of emotional intelligence in a way that is rare in a University setting, leading us to deliver a high quality teaching experience to our students. This is recognised by our students who have ranked us second in the country for postgraduate teaching quality in the most recent QILT student survey, with our undergraduate teaching also above the national average.
Our educators are passionate about what they do, and it shows. This extends into the way we engage with our students across all aspects of their educational journey. Our students can see that we care about them and can see that we genuinely want them to succeed and reap the benefits of a Macquarie education.
This came through very strongly, both from our students and our staff, as we consulted on the Macquarie Advantage education strategy, which will harness academic excellence as one of our key strengths.
But while our academic excellence is widely known, it can be easy for great things to go unnoticed, or to be only seen locally by those within a unit, course or department. It is important that we shine a light on the great work that is happening in education at Macquarie, so we can share this practice widely with others.
Education is critical work. It is critical in the transformation of our students – enabling them to become what they dream of being. It is also critical to our communities, the nation and beyond as education both delivers the future workforce the world requires and the transformation of families and communities, both here and abroad.
Recognising our best and brightest, and the transformational work they do every day, is not just something that brings us great pleasure and pride, it also reminds us all of our power to transform.