Teacher of the Week: Kate Jones, Brighton College Al AinJune 11, 2017, 5:10 am GMT
TEACHER OF HISTORY
BRIGHTON COLLEGE AL AIN
Why and how did you get into teaching?
I started teaching from a young age at 21. As soon as I graduated from university with my History degree I then started teacher training. After studying History I knew I wanted a job connected to my subject. Like most teachers, I had a teacher who inspired me and he also taught History. I would look forward to his lessons every week and I remember them well, even now. As time progressed and I developed in confidence I enjoyed teaching more and more, especially working with young people.
How long have you been teaching for? How long have you been in the Middle East?
I started teaching in 2009 and it was only in 2016 that I left the school where I had been at since my NQT year. I made the difficult decision to move on from the school I was at and I started researching teaching internationally. After a vacation to the United Arab Emirates I decided I definitely wanted to live and teach here. In August last year I relocated to Al Ain to teach History at Brighton College. It was one of the best decisions of my life.
What is exciting about your role?
Every day is a learning day for both pupils and teachers. I'm excited by the pupils I work with and I'm still excited by the topics I teach in History. I find the UAE to be very exciting in terms of professional development, networking and advancing with digital innovation. I'm excited by how our role as educators is changing yet many core values of teaching will always remain the same.
What is challenging about your role?
I have faced new challenges since moving to the region, such as ensuring I always demonstrate cultural awareness, understanding and sensitivity that is very important to me personally and at my college. A challenge that has been ongoing throughout my career has been the regular changes to exam specifications. It takes a long time to prepare, plan and resource exam classes then changes are introduced. These changes can be minor or can include changing exam boards, topics, of questions and starting again from scratch increasing our workload. Obviously as teachers we are flexible and adapt to these changes as best we can.
What's the biggest myth about teaching?
That teachers leave school every day at 3 o'clock and switch off. For the first few years of my teaching career I really struggled to switch off from teaching. I always had something on my to-do list and this would often keep me awake late at night. Over time I have improved at switching off, which we need to be able to relax. Work life and home life balance is so important but yet as a profession it can be very challenging to get right – I know many teachers that work in the evenings and/or weekends so for people to suggest we leave at 3 o'clock and we're done – that's a myth!
Who has been your inspiration throughout your career? Why?
Various people have inspired me throughout my career and for different reasons. I often find in schools there are always colleagues who we admire and look up to. In my current role my inspiration is Emma Graham, head of English and CPD. The CPD at Brighton College has been the best CPD I have had in my whole teaching career. This is due to the senior leadership team recognising and valuing the importance of professional development but also due to the hard work, dedication and passion demonstrated on a daily basis by Emma. She is well respected by her pupils and colleagues, a great person to ask for advice and support and she always deals with every situation with such professionalism.
What would you say has been your greatest achievement over the course of your career?
My personal greatest achievement has been supporting my pupils to always achieve outstanding results. I can't take credit for their exam results as it is a result of their hard work and effort but I am proud of my pupils and the previous results of all my exam classes. Other achievements include securing a teaching position at such a prestigious school in the United Arab Emirates – Brighton College. I also have my own teaching website lovetoteach87.com (designed by Mark Anderson) which has been very well received all around the world – I really enjoy blogging, reflecting on my practice whilst sharing with other educators around the globe.
Tell us one way a particular student has impacted your life or teaching philosophy
So many pupils have impacted my life in different ways! I have kept and brought with me to the UAE all the thank you cards and letters pupils have given me since I started teaching. They are a reminder that this really is the best job in the world and how lucky we are as educators to impact so many young people that we teach. Relationships are key in teaching. I didn't realise this at first in my career but thanks to my pupils I have learnt the importance of building strong, positive relationships with my pupils and colleagues.
How do you get students interested in the subject you teach – have you found an innovative way to engage students?
I am regularly trying new ideas and resources to engage my pupils and provide opportunities for innovation and creativity in my classroom. I create resources that I know will appeal to my pupils for example, I created Emoji exit ticket – a learning hook using the popular emojis to help younger pupils reflect on their learning at the end of the lesson. Pupils could relate to the template and it grabbed their attention but did not distract from the learning or act as a gimmick but instead provided the reflection from the plenary. I teach from Year 5 – Year 12 so I have to adapt and personalise my lessons for my pupils. I am an advocate for using technology in the classroom. Virtual and Augmented reality plus a wide range of exciting apps also help to engage learners whilst developing their subject knowledge and skills, immersing them in their learning.
Are there any specific goals you would like to achieve in your career?
I aspire to reach a senior leadership position in the future, with a specific focus on teaching and learning as that is my area of expertise. That is my long term goal as I now want to focus on gaining more experience as a middle leader. This summer I will begin writing my first educational book; I have all the ideas and content, now I just need to have the time to collate it together – this has been another goal to achieve in my career. I want to continue to share my ideas and resources with teachers in my college, in the UAE and further afield.
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