I started my international teaching journey in 2006. After graduating from university with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2005, I moved from my home in New Zealand to Japan and taught English in Japanese English Schools. My strong desire to travel, combined with a fascination with Japanese ceramics and printmaking techniques, made this a natural and enjoyable experience. I also realized I liked teaching so much I went back to university in New Zealand to become a primary school teacher. Since then I have taught in primary schools in New Zealand, Egypt, Togo (West Africa), and China.
It would be pretty fair to say I love primary education. The pure energy that students bring with them to their classroom is magic, and as a teacher I would tap into that magic, almost as if it were a river and the class and I were on a boat. It wouldn’t matter if the river was calm or wild, as long as you as a teacher had prepped for all outcomes, and lesson plans/units of work were scaffolded to meet the needs of all students, you could have fun on that boat and have a great day.
Making the Move
When asked a year ago if I wished to move into a school administration role, I was excited for a new opportunity, however was reluctant because I thought I would miss that magic river that was my classroom, my students, my curriculum and pedagogy. Now a year later, my magic river is wider, has many streams, and is connected to a larger, wider network of educational magic.
That magic does include a lot of Excel spreadsheets, data, daily parent meetings, daily teacher meetings, millions of emails, and many other things I have forgotten, but the biggest magic of all is what is happening in our classrooms.
Promoting Positive Outcomes
This year I have been able to develop a positive reward system that ranges from PreK1 right through to Grade 4, which encourages and promotes students to help their classmates go through the transition from knowing and speaking a few words in English to becoming fully bilingual. Students who encourage and support their classmates are rewarded by being an “English Hero” for the day; this involves wearing capes, and generally being a super hero!
Being in school administration, I am able to be in all the classrooms–rather than just one–which gives an extraordinary insights into the very real needs of our student demographic. This, added with all the excitement and magic I have already spoken about, makes me feel really grateful for the opportunity to move into my dynamic admin role.
Nicole Day is the Dean of Early Years and Primary at BASIS International School Guangzhou.