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Curriculum Studies & Teacher Development degree leads to job evaluating and improving teaching

 

By Fred Michah Rynor

CSTD alumna Amy GullageNothing stays the same and that is certainly the case for education – a discipline that is examined and re-examined constantly.

While many OISE grads look forward to a career in teaching, more and more are interested in jobs that re-evaluate and improve the teaching tools that today’s teachers use.

Such is the case for OISE grad Amy Gullage, an OISE PhD grad (Curriculum Studies and Teacher Development Program) who is now engrossed in a curriculum review of U of T at Scarborough’s Sociology Department.

“I’m assessing all of the undergrad curriculum by reviewing the course outlines and by having on-going conversations with faculty members in order to develop, improve and update the curriculum and determine what students are actually exposed to in their courses,” Gullage states. “I’m tasked with identifying what the department is doing well and what areas could be made more relevant and useful as well as seeing what is innovative and exciting. How can we enhance student experience by updating the curriculum?”

Such reasoned and professional reviews are an important opportunity for departments to look at their courses in an informed and organic environment says Gullage.

 “Faculty members are often too busy with other responsibilities to dedicate themselves to the time commitment necessary to look at all of the courses offered in the department or they don’t have the interest or sometimes don’t even see the need for such an in-depth investigation.”

Gullage feels this is a missed opportunity “because this is a wonderful way to look at the conversations taking place between all courses offered in a particular discipline. We need to know how department members are talking to each other through their courses as this shapes students' learning experiences.”

Gullage’s enthusiasm for this four-month contract is boundless especially since it’s her first job since graduating in November 2012.

 “Curriculum review and renewal is so important because education is never static and requires our never-ending attention,” she says. “Your curriculum is alive and you have to tend to it and that’s an interesting challenge for someone like me who really enjoys this specific area of education.”

Gullage, who is also the Lead Writing Teaching Assistant with the Women and Gender Studies Program at U of T, says her success will depend on how well she works with the faculty and how adept she is “at verbalizing what the professors and instructors are already doing in the classroom."

However, she does admit that it can be challenging to ask professional educators to reflect on their teaching practices in order to improve “especially since I’m new to this field and some of these instructors have been teaching for years but they understand that this is my field of study and they respond and respect my background. We speak the same language and they know I have the credentials to back up my opinions.”

Gullage feels curriculum renewal will be a major part of her post-OISE reality for years to come although she admits that this wasn’t part of her original plan.

“I saw myself being a traditional academic working on the other side of things in the classroom but I’ve found my new calling to be a very rewarding and fascinating area of education.”

A recipient of a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council grant and an Ontario Graduate Scholarship, she firmly believes her personal and professional success is directly attributable to her seven years at OISE.

“It was an amazing opportunity to work with leading scholars and supportive mentors in the field of Curriculum Studies like my supervisor, Tara Goldstein. I also met some of my closest friends at OISE and when you're surrounded by so many like-minded and dedicated people you just want to say hey, I’ve been looking for you!”

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