Meet Dr Tim Delphine, REDI PhD graduate

Dr Tim Delphine was working as an English and literacy teacher in a school with a large First Nations Australian student population when he decided that he wanted to find out more about his teaching practice. He was interested in understanding how teachers, like himself, come to understand what good teaching is and how they can see themselves as good teachers. His research project, Toward a dialogical praxis: my search for good teaching, was a philosophical inquiry into the nature of good teaching in performative times. Here Tim talks about the experience of doing a PhD at Deakin and explains how his research could help other teachers cope with the competing demands of school systems and school communities.

Why did you decide to do your PhD at Deakin?

I had a great relationship with my supervisor Dr Glenn Auld who had also spent time teaching in similar Aboriginal community contexts. He supervised me throughout my Masters and I was happy. It was a case of “if it isn’t broken, then don’t try to fix it!” I ended up doing all of my degrees at Deakin – it is a great university.

How was your experience with your supervisor?

Glenn is one of the smartest people I have ever met. He is just able to see things from multiple angles. He really thinks outside the box. He is also one of the more caring and authentic people you will ever meet. Glenn allowed me the space to decide how I did the study and what came out of it. I followed my own thinking and with his guidance arrived at my own ideas.

I also had another four co-supervisors throughout who brought different strengths to my project. I was lucky to have the expertise of five different people with Glenn as the steadying rock throughout!

What was a highlight of your PhD?

The PhD journey was quite a challenging one. I started doing it while working full-time so that was stressful. Then I took some time away from work to complete it and COVID came and that was compounded by some personal health problems. Given these challenges, I am just proud of the fact that I was able to complete it. After submitting I was nominated for the AARE Ray Debus Award for Doctoral Research in Education which was probably the biggest highlight. Receiving that external recognition was really validating.

What are you hoping your research will achieve?

My study could be particularly helpful for teachers in our community who are dealing with tensions in their practice and are struggling to meet the performance-orientated objectives of many schools today while being responsive to local school communities and students. I also think my research validates the expertise and knowledge teachers bring to teaching and research. Several vociferous people in the research community believe our teachers should stick to the classroom and leave rigorous research to university academics which is nonsense. My study makes a small contribution to the important field of rigorous and systematic teacher research and inquiry.

Now that you have completed your PhD what are your next steps and challenges?

Deciding what to do next is the challenge! I am working on some publications to keep my options open. I have also done some casual research work with REDI. It has been great to work on a different type of research project and in a large research team. So, I can imagine working in academia one day but also possibly staying in schools.

News 8 November 2022
Keywords: First Nationsteacher researchteaching practice