Through the duration of my two-year sabbatical in Dubai, I was fortunate to have the enriching experience of meeting and interacting with students from different countries and cultural backgrounds. The learning experience was priceless and something I would have never experienced elsewhere. As an educator, interaction with such a diverse body of students left me considering… what exactly is that one thing that I really wish to impart to my students?
We know that each student is distinctly different from the others and have different learning styles. As a teacher, I recognize this and tailor the curriculum accordingly. This said, it is essential that the students learn to take responsibility and are accountable for their work. Over time, the confidence sets in as they ‘learn how to learn’ and emerge as independent and critical thinkers. The key is to keep students motivated with ongoing, open-ended questions – this keeps them inquisitive and generates questions to satisfy their curiosity. This also gives them the confidence to deliberate on their response and understand that there is often more than one solution to the same problem. To teach the curriculum from textbooks is a given, but how do we, as teachers, go above and beyond the books? We have to facilitate situations for students to freely voice their opinion in a friendly, respectful manner. Presenting and sharing their work with their peers helps them learn and improve their oral and listening skills; applying their learning and knowledge to new ideas in innovative ways.
Harrisburg Academy provides the setting for me to teach in all of the ways I mentioned above. Being a mission-focused school, with small class sizes and an open minded community, the teaching and learning is how I want it to be – so that I can reach my goals to instill confidence, collaborate, be creative, and encourage critical thinkers.