Jennifer Allen

Jennifer Allen

Year 7 and 8 Teacher, Northcote Intermediate School
Master of Teaching and Learning

She always knew that she was a teacher, says Jennifer Allen who completed a Master of Teaching and Learning in 2021 and is now teaching at Northcote Intermediate School.

“My father is a teacher, and his work inspired me every day. I was a performing artist for many years, performing in hit musicals like 42nd Street, Funny Girl and West Side Story in the USA, my home country. Teaching the arts always came naturally.

“More recently, I entered a school as a teacher aide, managing wellbeing across the school, and supporting children with diverse learning and emotional needs. From then on, I knew that teaching was my passion. I love connecting with the students, building relationships, and being part of a community of staff and whānau. Teaching makes you feel like you’re part of something larger than yourself.”

When a colleague recommended AUT’s Master of Teaching and Learning, Jennifer knew it was time to retrain and start her teaching career.

“Having already completed multiple degrees in the arts and research, I felt ready to immerse myself in education. I sought a programme that held high standards for their graduates, and the Master of Teaching and Learning programme at AUT met the criteria that I was looking for at this stage of my life, study and career.”

Becoming a teacher
Returning to study in a different field had its challenges, Jennifer admits.

“Studying education was a very different experience for me, after completing practical undergraduate study in the performing arts. I spent most of my bachelor’s degree in a dance studio or on stage. It wasn’t until I returned to study that I discovered my passion for research and writing, which I will continue to tap into across my stages of educational inquiry.”

She says the Master of Teaching and Learning is a great programme to complement your previous study and prepare you for a career in education.

“The structure of the Master of Teaching and Learning provided a rich balance of theoretical and practical elements of learning, allowing us as preservice teachers to apply our learning directly in the classroom. I felt supported by my professional learning community, including my lecturers, mentors and practicum schools.

“I was also truly inspired by our work on social justice. Led by Dr Toni Ingram from AUT’s School of Education, we engaged in many substantial discussions on the humanitarian aspects of education as a systematic construct, through the lens of culture, socio-economic status, gender and identity. It was absolutely mind-blowing.”

Advice for other students
Having now started her career as a teacher, Jennifer has some great advice for others who are just at the start of their university journey.

“Trust the process and enjoy every moment, especially the hard ones as that is where the real learning happens.”

Make the most of the university experience, she adds.

“Ask questions, contribute to discussions and dive in with both feet and you’ll get so much from this experience; knowledge, support and lifelong friendships.”

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