Andrea Payne: Learning is about Caring and Inspiration

Some footage used in this video was filmed prior to the pandemic and may not depict social distancing measures.

Transcription – Andrea Payne- 2021 Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence

[Close up of a woman in an interview setting. Music playing.]

"The number one thing that makes that contributes to a student being successful, is them feeling safe, valued and recognized in the program."

[Fade to white with a medium shot of woman, smiling, on the right side of the screen, with the following words appearing, line by line, on the left: Andrea Payne, Allenby Junior Public School, Toronto, Ontario. Cut to close-up of Andrea in the interview setting. Music playing.]

"If they feel safe, if they feel like they can make a mistake without dire consequence, if they can feel like they can ask for help, if they feel like they are recognized and their identity is recognized in the program and they see mirrors, basically of themselves in the teaching material that they are exposed to then they are much more likely to be engaged in the program and the more engaged they are of course the more successful they will be."

[Fade to black and then up to Andrea in the interview setting.]

"I really focus on student centred teaching. So, I try to organize the physical space in my classroom to allow students to be comfortable, to allow students to collaborate but I also organize my instruction in such a way that I am not standing at front of the class delivering the material but rather I'm providing a few prompts and some learning material, students are learning to inquire and ask good questions but in terms of their actual learning of the material, they are doing it collaboratively with me and with their peers."

[Fade to black and then up to Andrea in the interview setting.]

"I get so much pleasure and so much excitement out of finding new and exciting ways to present content to students so they will have those ah ha moments so that they will be able to make connections with the material, feel valued as individuals and as people with decision making power and agency and I think that kind of connection with the students is what has really kept me motivated throughout my career and continues to motivate me to provide innovative instruction and try all kinds of new things in the classroom each year of my career."

[Music ends. Fade to black, with the Government of Canada FIP and then the Canada Wordmark appearing in white.]

Year: 2021 — Province: Ontario
Certificate of Excellence Recipient

Allenby Junior Public School
Grades 5 and 6 - French, English, social studies, math, visual arts
Toronto, Ontario


“Andrea respects the diverse learning styles of students and provides ongoing positive and frequent feedback. She excels at supporting our most needy students, implementing accommodations to ensure their success. To be a student in Andrea’s class means you are active in your learning, you have a powerful voice and you are trusted to learn more, say more and do more.”


Teaching Approach

The overall classroom ambiance begins with the teacher. Most teachers are trained to educate solely from the teacher's point of view. However, to make the classroom more inclusive, Andrea thinks about her students as leaders too. In her class, work happens in many different spots, not just seated at traditional desks. She creates a flexible learning environment with flexible seating allowing students to work alone, interact with their peers, and collaborate.

In the Classroom

Andrea’s method is based on innovation and creativity. She uses design thinking in the classroom - the cognitive, strategic and practical processes by which design concepts are developed - to identify real world issues and work through the process to develop, prototype, and test their solutions. Her lessons are student-centred and inclusive. Student identity, interests, and experiences drive the curriculum delivery.

Andrea’s methods give all students an equal opportunity to success. This approach offers flexibility in the way students access material, engage with it and show what they know, but it is especially helpful for kids with learning and thinking differences.

Outstanding Achievements

Andrea connects experts in the community to bring real-world knowledge into the classroom. Her classroom projects have involved professionals including climate researchers and structural engineers who provide real-life perspectives and knowledge allowing students to have discussions with experts on their research and design projects using virtual platforms such as Zoom, and through programs like the Digital Human Library.

At the beginning of the pandemic, Andrea created a weekly virtual learning schedule that combined class learning with student-led independent studies and small group work. Her learn-from-home approach was empowering, inclusive, and helped minimize feelings of isolation that so many children were experiencing. The outcome is that her students' learning is optimized, and that the sense of community is not only maintained but flourishes.

Her commitment goes far beyond curriculum. Andrea models respect and caring in her actions. During virtual school, she introduced weekly mental health checks and feedback forms for students to complete, and she is proactive about checking in with students and parents, to make sure that no one is left behind in these uncertain times.

Andrea weaves Indigenous learning through the curriculum, generating awareness and interest with her students. During last year’s Treaty Recognition Week, Andrea’s class participated in webinars with Indigenous elders about treaties and looked at how differing perspectives influence the understanding and protection for Indigenous treaty rights in Ontario. Some deep thinking emerged around this issue in her class. Students have become engaged in our relationships with Indigenous Peoples.

Get in touch!

Allenby Junior Public School
391 St. Clements Avenue
Toronto, ON  M5N 1M2
Twitter: @AllenbyPS_TDSB