One of our 2016 WATE winners, Yvette is looking forward to developing her teaching practice and work, both in Africa and the UK.
Why did you start teaching? What (or who) inspired you?
I had great teachers at secondary school that inspired me to grow personally and undertake independent learning and research. This motivated me to keep learning and do the same for others. I was part of a teaching programme for Bible education from the age of 7, which helped me to do research & share ideas in a structured, conversational way.
What pearls of wisdom have you been given over the years that have helped you with your teaching?
Believe in what you are sharing and start with what people already know.
Is there anything you wish someone had told you when you started out?
Information is not as important as understanding, and neither of these equal wisdom.
If you were mentoring a first-time teacher, what three bits of advice would you give?
Do less better, focus on the students rather than the information, and enjoy what you are doing.
What advice/top tips would you give to more experienced teachers?
Keep it fresh, move out of your comfort zone, don’t try to stay in control of the material or the class.
What new technologies are you currently using to enhance your teaching? What are your top tips for using them?
Youtube to get students to see performances as well as read texts, an app to help women playwrights in Africa develop their work. Small contact regularly with users builds group dynamic and engagement with the ideas or a forum.
What new or future teaching innovations are you looking forward to?
Developing more figurative work in my classes.
What does winning a WATE award mean to you?
It was a lovely assurance that what I am doing does impact on students positively, which has spurred me on to continue developing my teaching methods. It will mean that I can extend what I am doing in Africa with a youth group and women artists and also bring this work back into my classes in UK.
What do you enjoy the most about teaching? What’s the best part of your job?
Seeing students get excited about ideas and run with them independently, their curiosity and energy.
What are the biggest challenges faced by teaching staff? How do you overcome these?
Students wanting what they already know, not wanting to read or be challenged. I address these challenges by trying to help students see how they can benefit by stretching and being uncomfortable, that not knowing is no bad thing as long as it is a starting point to learn more.
What lessons have you learned from your students?
To be patient, slow down, new ways of being creative, particularly around new media, how cultures differ.
If you could write a recipe for the perfect inspiring teacher, what ingredients would you need?
Energy, patience, joy, curiosity, organisation, the ability to listen and deal with anxiety.
I think the most inspiring teacher is like a guide on a hike – they make sure you have what you need for the trip to be safe and comfortable, and take the lead, but allow you time to enjoy the hike, look at the view and have time to explore on your own. Where appropriate, they are willing to go down a different path that appears unexpectedly, but still take one safely to the destination planned.
Know someone like Yvette? Nominate them for a WATE award!