Teacher of the Week: Lauren Dixon, Swiss International Scientific School, DubaiSeptember 11, 2017, 6:05 am GMT
IB DIPLOMA COORDINATOR AND TEACHER OF DESIGN
SWISS INTERNATIONAL SCIENTIFIC SCHOOL
Why and how did you get into teaching?
I have always been passionate about design and media – it's an ever-changing area of expertise. Whilst at university, there were many fast-paced developments in technology, such as YouTube, Facebook and Myspace – our lecturers couldn't keep up. I became good at tinkering with new platforms, and quickly grasped how art, design and science could come together in a digital sense.
I soon realised I was good at delivering this information to others, and even today, students and teachers alike queue at my door for a quick tutorial or a problem to solve.
I think it is now more important than ever that students enter the world of work with a more versatile skill set, and the ability to think 'diagonally', as we simply don't know where technology will take us next.
How long have you been teaching for? How long have you been in the Middle East?
I have been teaching for 12 years. I originally came to Dubai in the 80s - schooled in the UK, where I taught for four years, and I have been back teaching in Dubai for the past 8 years.
What is exciting about your role?
Everything! No, really – no day is the same. Firstly, the students – I am fortunate to teach a subject (Design) that allows me to dabble in new technologies, and deliver my newfound knowledge to students as quickly as I learn it – my excitement for innovation and creativity is certainly contagious at times.
I am also the IB Diploma coordinator, which means I am responsible for the implementation of our first year of our Diploma Programme next year. I truly believe in the Diploma Programme's philosophy. It allows creative thinking with the safety and rigour of a structure across a broad range of subjects. I love that the programme allows a lot of philosophy into each subject area, and room for students to study their own areas of interest.
What is challenging about your role?
Keeping up-to-date. As soon as the year is out, there's an update with technology, and I have to retrain myself constantly – often with nobody to ask for help. It is definitely exciting, albeit a time constraint at times. But, I am a problem solver, and always enjoy a challenge.
What's the biggest myth about teaching?
Those that can't, teach. Okay, not everybody is perfect, however, teaching is a vocation; it's certainly not a drop out system for those that didn't make it anywhere else. Every teacher I know teaches for the success of their students. And they care, a lot.
Who has been your inspiration throughout your career? Why?
I wouldn't say I have one particular person, but there have always been inspirational people at work, and inspirational in different ways. Mostly because of their motivation, commitment, charisma and passion. I get on well with people that inspire me and motivate me in a collaborative way; I thrive on bouncing ideas off like-minded, professional people.
What would you say has been your greatest achievement over the course of your career?
Keeping up with change. I said it before, but it's really become a hobby keeping up with the latest trends and developments in design because it's so broad. My subject area can include architecture, engineering, fashion, food, digital design, animation, robotics, and so many more.
Tell us one way a particular student has impacted your life or teaching philosophy.
There are so many, I wouldn't be able to choose. Many students have impacted my life in different ways. The most memorable are those that have overcome challenges, or have made enormous progress in an area they didn't think they could. Many times, I've seen students struggling with confidence and fear of failure – my aim is always to get them to where they need to be, with support and a safe environment to take risks.
How do you get students interested in the subject you teach – have you found an innovative way to engage students?
I don't, to be honest. Although I set the project tasks, and curriculum outline, they are ultimately in charge of what they create as a final outcome – my job is to guide them into what interests them, and how they can create something to solve a problem. I just do my best to ignite that spark of creativity in everyone. The freedom to create and the freedom to experiment engages them most -They refuse to leave at times!
Are there any specific goals you would like to achieve in your career?
To keep educating myself, and using my knowledge to push for change for the better. Although the world is far from perfect, there are many good things happening all around us. Students have a truly innocent passion and enthusiasm that is hard to retain as we grow older.
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