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Philosophy of Education

Education is the most powerful weapon with which you can change the world. – Mandela 

My first choice was not to become a teacher.  From early adolescence I discovered a fascination with psychology and aspired to become an educational or clinical psychologist.  I found my way into a double degree with a combined major in psychology and education, my thinking being that it was better to have two degrees than one, and that teaching would always be a good ‘back up plan’.  Besides, I come from a family of teachers, so it was something I was familiar and comfortable with. 

Psychology was all I had hoped it to be….fascinating, inspiring, challenging…meanwhile, my education studies and practicums in schools were merely satisfactory experiences, mostly enjoyable.  It wasn’t until my third year at university that something inside me really changed.  I don’t know what it was exactly – I think perhaps a combination of wonderful education professors and a five week, intensive practicum in a small country school where I was often left in charge of the class on my own…..I was starting to see teaching as less of a back-up plan and something far more noble. 

At some point towards the end of my degree, I decided that I could do more to help students become psychologically balanced, happy, contributing individuals by being with them EVERY day in a classroom, than seeing them once a week in a psychologist’s office.  An inspiring professor of feminist studies, and an even more inspiring feminist Grandmother, directly influenced my early teaching – in the the way that I strived to empower students – girls and boys – to seek out equality, justice and harness their own powers – their words and their deeds – in order to do good in their worlds.  Education, to me, even as a novice teacher, was about inspiring students to take action.

I became a good teacher, quickly, and grew to love the intense relationships with students and their families that I would develop every year.  I remember being heartbroken at ‘losing’ my class of incredible students after a year of learning together, shedding real tears knowing that I’d never have a class quite as wonderful as the last….and what joy there was in discovering that year after year, I was always wrong! 

Seven years into my teaching career, I discovered the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme.  Launched into international education, with no idea what it really meant to be working in an international school, I felt like I had found my home in the world of education.  The PYP seemed to just ‘fit’ with my personal teaching philosophy, with what I believed about helping children to change the world, and about teaching children to become great human beings, rather than just being great at their multiplication tables.  I was dancing in my classroom every day, the joy of being able to teach children ‘stuff’ that was globally relevant, that elevated their thinking and that caused them to want to change their own behaviours, constantly inspired me to want to learn more about this system of education. 

Now 15 years into my teaching career, I find myself no longer working directly with my ‘own’ children.  I am an administrator:  a curriculum coordinator, and I am still a teacher – of my colleagues, of parents, teachers in other schools and sometimes, of children.  I miss the daily interactions with students in a classroom, but find my inspiration in working closely with teachers to develop powerful units of work that directly impact the lives of students and our school community.  I continue to learn and grow as an educator and am energized by being part of a growing global organization that is changing the face of education on the planet – one school at a time.  I do believe that the IB Mission Statement about creating a better, more peaceful world is being lived out in IB schools across the world, and I am so excited to be a part of that.  My next professional challenge, to undertake a Master of Education, is inspired bymultiple motivatons; the desire to deepen my understandings of international education, to continue to change my world and positively influence the educators I work with, to be a model lifelong learning and strong female role model to my daughters and most simply, to continue to become a better teacher.

 

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