Teacher of the Week: Damian Edwards, Kings' School Al BarshaMay 28, 2017, 6:10 am GMT
PE Teacher, Head of Able Gifted and Talented Learning
Kings' School Al Barsha
Why and how did you get into teaching?
At primary school, I developed a love of PE, and at secondary school, I had excellent role models who inspired me and gave me the confidence to reach my personal goals. These teachers encouraged me and gave me faith in myself. During my teenage years and early 20s I was fortunate enough to play professional and international basketball, as part of this, we had to do school roadshows and to give back to the community. We spent a considerable amount of time within local primary and secondary schools. I found real enjoyment watching the students' progress during the sessions. This is when I first realised I could go into teaching; I attend Loughborough University for my PGCE which only fuelled my passion for teaching.
How long have you been teaching for? How long have you been in the Middle East?
I have officially been a teacher for five years, graduating in 2012. However, I have been teaching and working with students and young people since I was 18 through various remits. I started at Kings' this year for my first venture into the Middle East.
What is exciting about your role?
The most exciting part of my role/day is the students; every day is different. I love hearing their stories and what they have been up to in their "non-school" lives. I feel every lesson is an opportunity to make the interested, passionate; make the unmotivated, ambitious and make the curious expand their horizons. This is what excites me and makes me get up to go work every morning. I feel teaching gives me the platform to channel my energy into developing interesting and exciting ways to allow students to succeed as so many great teachers and colleagues have done for me.
What is challenging about your role?
I find one of the most challenging areas of teaching is ensuring lessons are engaging while trying to keep up with an ever-changing world. Students have an abundance of technology resources and opportunities that just were not available when I was at school. I feel this has to be integrated into the curriculum to ensure students are engaged and motivated. I have a passion for creating engaging lessons, through interactive games, use of technology and a range of pedagogies. For example the use of Flip Learning, Aurasma, Google Classroom, an interactive Monopoly revision game and the use of video analysis software Ubersense. I feel technology is forming an integral part of teaching and learning.
What's the biggest myth about teaching?
The impression that you work 9-3 and have loads of holidays. Whereas the reality is you are often in work hours before the students arrive and don't leave until hours after they have left, it's also very rare you don't take work home with you with every week having its own new and demand challenges.
Who has been your inspiration throughout your career? Why?
Honestly, my colleagues, I am constantly learning from my peers on ways I can get better and improve the learning environment for my students. My mum ensiled an unprecedented work ethic into me from a young age, this and being fortune enough to be work with outstanding and inspirational mentors, colleagues and friends have only put me in a position to succeed.
I'll often have conversations with colleagues about new and exciting ideas they are trying, and they inspire me to try them within my lessons. For example dissecting hearts in GCSE PE to allow students to discover how the cardiovascular system works. I feel like as a professional I am always learning, trying to better myself and ultimately improving the classroom learning environment for my students.
What would you say has been your greatest achievement over the course of your career?
During my teaching, I've had the opportunity to work with a diverse range of pupils as well as being allowed to implement different teaching strategies. My current post has supported and enhanced my professional development in a variety of ways, such as the Outstanding Teaching course, Trampolining course and rock climbing. I continually look to develop my subject knowledge and teaching style by using a broad range of pedagogical models such as Teaching Games for Understanding and the incorporation of Personal Learning Thinking Skills, as well as strategies which promote Assessment for Learning and development of a growth mindset.
Tell us one way a particular student has impacted your life or teaching philosophy.
During my last role at a multicultural high achieving school in Wembley London, I met a sixth form student name Sirya, who through no fault of his own ended up being the only student in Year 13 BTEC Sport. Sirya was on target to get a Distinction (equivalent to two B grades at A-Level), the fact there was only one student in the class forced me to change my teaching style. I adopted an approach called Flipped learning, through guidance from Colin Hegarty (top 10 Global Teacher Prize finalist 2016 and creator of Hegartymaths). Within this, all the theoretical work was covered outside of the lessons through YouTube videos and open-ended tasks. When Sirya then came to lessons, we worked on his application of the knowledge to the tasks. Through this Flip Learning approach and instilling the work ethic that made me successful, Sirya finished year 13 on a Distinction* (equivalent to three A* grades at A Level). From my course alone Sirya gained 350+ UCAS points and successfully went to university, when three years prior he was struggling to get into Sixth Form.
How do you get students interested in the subject you teach – have you found an innovative way to engage students?
Inspiring students to commit and participate fully in a subject is key to creating a positive and productive learning culture. I find the best way to engage students is through innovative and engaging lessons. I find that within practical subjects students respond and thrive on game situations, therefore in lessons we play a lot of skill related games supported by individual drills and tactics.
During theory lessons, I have a passion for creating engaging lessons, through interactive games, use of technology and a range of pedagogies. For example the use of Flip Learning, Aurasma, Google Classroom, an interactive Monopoly revision game and the use of video analysis software Ubersense. I feel technology is forming an integral part of teaching and learning. Again creating that "play feel" within lessons to engage and interest students.
One of my favourite lessons this year has been the heart dissection we conducting during GCSE PE while studying the cardiovascular system within GCSE PE. The students worked in small groups with one heart between three; they had to act as heart surgeons to dissect the heart and discuss the makeup of the various chambers. They then used this experience to create and execute a presentation while revising for their upcoming antinomy and physiology paper.
Are there any specific goals you would like to achieve in your career?
I am a very driven individual and am aspiring to be an assistant head teacher focusing on teaching and learning. I have a passion for developing resources and trying new ideas within lessons. I consider myself to be a highly motivated team player, who will continually look for ways to increase my learning through reflective practice.
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