UNE students ‘learning from the best’

Published 23 December 2008

harrington.jpgA University  of New England lecturer has been recognised as one of the State’s best. Dr Ingrid Harrington, from UNE’s School of Education, has received one of the four Quality Teaching Awards for 2008 to be given to university teachers across NSW.

‘Teaching can be stressful and full of challenges,’ Dr Harrington said, ‘but to be recognised by your peers as doing a good job is the highest form of compliment. It also rebuilds your faith that hard work is rewarded.’

The NSW Minister for Education and Training and The Australian College of Educators, NSW Branch, Quality Teaching Awards recognise the State’s most outstanding teachers from government and non-government schools, TAFE colleges, early childhood organisations and universities.

In presenting the awards at a recent ceremony, the Minister for Education and Training, Verity Firth, highlighted the teachers’ exceptional level of commitment to excellence and student achievement.

‘The awards recognise the teachers’ tireless efforts, and are an opportunity to say “Thank you!” for their dedication to our students,’ Ms Firth said. ‘The award recipients share essential qualities that make them excellent teachers: they each personalise the learning of their students and set high expectations for them, inspiring their students to achieve their best while at the same time teaching their subject with deep knowledge and enthusiasm.’

Dr Harrington, who is an expert in behavioural management, believes the attributes of a quality teacher are varied. ‘You need to know your stuff, have an understanding of where students are coming from, be non-judgemental, and, as the teacher, be prepared to learn in the classroom each day,’ she said. ‘You also need to be able to create an effective learning environment where students feel safe and secure and know it’s OK to make mistakes.’

Dr Harrington (pictured here with her award certificate) has worked at UNE for six years. She teaches behavioural management to third and fourth-year students and is a member of the University's Special Education Team, which is based in the School of Education. ‘You don’t have to go to one of the big universities in the city to be taught by the best and most recognised academics,’ she said. ‘UNE offers students a first-class education degree. It’s fantastic to see young students transformed into professional teachers after four years of studying.’

She began her teaching career in 1997 at the University of Canberra as a guest lecturer on behavioural management. In 2000 she worked on a research project at James Cook  University and Education Queensland, funded by a grant from the Australian Research Council, which examined the participation and retention of boys in schools. Her findings were later used by the Queensland State Government to develop policies that underpinned the teaching of boys.

Along with the other recipients, Dr Harrington was selected by the NSW Branch of the Australian College of Educators on the basis of three references, a professional portfolio and in-class observation, and interviews with students, parents and teaching colleagues.

‘The testing was extensive and rigorous,’ she said, ‘but the awards show teachers who are working tirelessly “often in tough conditions“ that you can be recognised for doing a good job.’