I am guessing many of us remember at least one teacher who really stood out from the others, someone who has made a real impact on our lives. I am often tempted to define a brilliant teacher as one who passes the thirty year test: when you catch up with them thirty years later, you want to go up and talk to them, because they made such a difference to your life. The thing about making a difference is that you can never unmake that difference. Once you are "that" teacher for a child, you will retain a special place in their hall of fame for ever.
Education is ripe for disruptive change, leading to innovative practices that improve learning outcomes for our students. What might have worked in the past will not necessarily have the same impact today, as the world has changed dramatically in a short period of time. It’s safe to say that the seismic shifts we are witnessing as a result of technological advances will continue to reshape our world in ways that we could never have imagined. Disruption has become commonplace in the new world, and organisations have moved from adaptation to evolution in order to not only survive, but more importantly, thrive.
I've always had the privilege of working in schools where a network of teachers look out for one another and support each other's wellbeing in numerous ways. Even at moments when it seemed that the leaders didn't have wellbeing at the top of their list, the relationships between members of staff kept us all afloat in the more testing times. Although I think I have the ultimate responsibility for my own wellbeing (after all, I'm the one who knows my own triggers, warning signs and limits) I have also recognised the value of these relationships where teacher wellbeing is concerned.
Back in 2010, the United Arab Emirates launched the Vision 2021 project, which addressed key development issues across the nation. As part of this, the Emirates have implemented the ‘First-Rate Education’ plan, with the aims to implement dramatic reforms to the curriculum, improve teaching through professional development and encourage schools to develop the 21st Century skills young people need to succeed.
Architectural Design is not a subject normally taught in schools. Because it presents something of a novelty to children, it often produces some very creative and exciting results. Furzedown Primary School in South West London regularly hold a sequence of lessons in its summer term focusing on this with a Year 5 class. The process starts looking at structure and continues with spacial design, materials, drawing techniques followed by model making. The children are normally given a brief and asked to design a pavilion. To conclude the sequence of lessons, a selection of projects is chosen to build full scale.
Nixiwaka Yawanawá, an Amazonian tribesman from Brazil, recently paid a visit to Great Chesterford Primary School in Essex. Nixiwaka, now living in London, works with the charity Survival to teach British pupils about life in tribal Brazil.
So many of our schools and classrooms involve a multicultural mix of students and staff. Taking opportunities to include these cultures in lessons and other enrichment activities can help to teach tolerance and tackle prejudice. One way that I get to do that in my classroom, being an Aussie, is through the Australia Day Curriculum Olympics.
We’ve all experienced how languages borrow words when they come in contact with other languages. Cultures do the same thing, borrowing aspects of other cultures. If you take a job at an international school, you’re likely to experience a different school culture than you’re used to. It won’t be the culture of your host country, but it won’t be the culture of your home country either. And, if you’ve worked at other international schools before in other countries, it won’t quite match any of those either.