Rooty Hill High School (NSW)
Yasodai Selvakumaran is an outstanding teacher. Her students have consistently achieved above-average results in the HSC, in a school where the cohort generally performs just below state average in most subjects.
In 2014, Selvakumaran received the Australian Council of Educational Leadership NSW Mary Armstrong Young Educational Leader Award recognising inspiring classroom practice and her leadership of the school’s Aboriginal programs. Last year, she and another teacher developed a professional learning program that drew on concepts such as song lines, stories, non-verbal communication, symbols and images, community links and land links to introduce ‘8Ways of Learning’ in the school’s professional practice. Aboriginal elders, students and community leaders – including the staff from AFL NSW – conveyed deep messages about the way teachers can connect with the community and use their pedagogy to embed Aboriginal perspectives. The result was the adoption of 8Ways of Learning across the school.
As a professional practice mentor, Selvakumaran has developed professional learning for practicum supervisors and coached and mentored practicum, early-career and new teachers appointed to the school. Over 50 practicum students were offered places at the school in 2016, and it embedded a strategic partnership with UNSW to offer an APST Lead level course for classroom observers.
As a result of the action research project on which Selvakumaran collaborated with another teacher, the school’s work on creativity was translated into a Creative Inquiry Cycle, which was trialled with over 500 students studying history and geography across the school. Selvakumaran’s implementation of that work will be featured in the Australian Learning Lecture series this year.