I recently discovered a website named Teachmeet New Jersey: Fresh Ideas for Education. The site introduces educators to its readers by conducting short interviews. I really like that idea so I asked a few people from my PLN to answer a few questions about education. Enjoy.
How long have you been teaching?
I have been teaching since 1999; although I am not so sure you can call the first four years teaching. I was young and sill learning. I started my career as a Peace Corps volunteer in Mozambique, Africa. Filled with an unrealistic idealism and passion I had very few skills when it came to helping students learn. After Africa, I was thrown into a high needs school in The Bronx and once again found myself searching for a voice to guide me through. Looking back, however, it was those first four years that really helped me become the teacher I am today. It was a sink or swim situation and I think I swam my way out pretty well.
Since then I have been honing my skills at various international schools worldwide. I have taught in Malaysia, Qatar, and now Indonesia. I have taught English, Social Studies, Geography, History, Humanities, Journalism, Drama, ESL and Global Issues from Kindergarten to twelfth grade. At heart, I would say I am an eight grade English teacher.
Has your educational philosophy changed since you began teaching?
At its core I would say that no, my philosophy has not changed much. I got into teaching because I want to help young people feel comfortable in their skin. I want to empower students and help them find their voice. I want to help create a cadre of young people who are confident, talented and educated who can help build a more sustainable, caring and peaceful world.
I believe in building communities of learners. I believe in free human dialogue and the wanderings of agile minds. I believe in trust and inspiring students and providing them with the academic and social skills that will enable them to fulfill their human potential as responsible global citizens. You can read more of my philosophy here.
Has my philosophy changed since I started. I hope so. It is impossible not to evolve as teachers or as human beings.
If so, what led to this change? Was it a gradual process or a specific event?
I think experience has helped me grow. I have taught in different environments, subjects and age groups, each with their own successes and challenges. I hope that my philosophy of education will continue to remain malleable and forever influx. I think once you become too comfortable with one way of thinking you either need to be open to a new direction or enhancement, or get out of the game.
Has Twitter played a role in your evolution as a teacher? If so, how?
Yes of course! Twitter has helped connected me with like-minded educators from around the world. This community has helped me by giving me feedback, pushing back against ideas I may not have thought through or by simply giving me support and validation when I need it. In addition, I am able to connect with their journeys and see what they can teach me. Twitter is the single most important tool I use to connect and learn from educators throughout the world. It has helped me create some of the most important personal and professional relationships in my life.
If you are reading this, come find me- @intrepidteacher or www.jabizraisdana.com and let’s move forward together.