07 Mar My Journey as an IB Educator
“You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him discover it within himself” – Galileo
One thing I was fairly sure of from a young age was that I did not want to be a teacher, I waited to finish my schooling never wanting to look back or set foot in a school again. And if anyone had told me when I was a teenager that I would one day be a teacher, I would have laughed outright. I chose a career path that led me straight to the corporate world of business and management. After finishing my M.B.A, I worked in the corporate world for four years, achieving much more than my counterparts in a very short period. I reached higher positions and longer working hours but with a diminishing sense of satisfaction. I started questioning myself more often about what my ultimate goal in life was and was I still passionate about what I set out to do. Ideally, with my success as an ambitious team manager, and unexpectedly fast promotions, I should have been extremely happy and my work life should have been intrinsically motivating. But funnily it was not, and I was feeling more and more restless and dissatisfied. I realised shortly that I was stuck in a job or a career that I once loved, but my heart wasn’t in it anymore.
As an avid reader, I started reading and researching more to find out what was bothering me. I needed to know if this was a normal tendency or a phase people go through before they settle in. In the process, I came across some interesting research done by a Yale professor: people tend to fall into one of three classifications when it comes to their jobs – some view their work as a career; others view it as just a job, and still, others view it as a calling. And I realised I fell into this third variety of people who are constantly in search of a greater sense of satisfaction with their jobs. I realised that what drives me was much deeper than corporate success and a high powered career. I needed to feel a sense of accomplishment, needed to know I made a difference, it may be small but a positive one. I’ve always believed that I am a passionate and creative individual and I needed a career that truly motivated me and made me feel that I made a small difference to someone when I hit the bed every night.
When a close friend of mine asked me to run his brand new school, I took a step back to reflect. I had always been tagged as an average student and my school and the teachers didn’t care much for quiet book worms with average scores. My lack of friends and cold unyielding teachers made me dislike it. Then I realised that since I didn’t care for school, I needed to get back in there and see if I can make a change.
When I started, I instantly knew that I loved working with children, and I wanted to make my learning space a place where they could be themselves, enjoy learning, who could express themselves freely, and use their voices to make the world a brighter place.
When I look back today, after 15 years of teaching, it makes perfect sense that I ended up teaching, but when I started on my journey as a teacher, I knew I was taking a massive leap of faith. I knew that in order to be a teacher, I essentially needed to be a learner and I realised this the moment I knew that teaching was my call.
But my true learning started as an IB Educator in SNIS. Sharanya Narayani International School, an authorized IB World School, one of the best day and boarding schools in Bangalore, is ranked among the top 10 International Day and Boarding Schools in India. When I stepped onto its lush green 60-acre campus, it was a disquieting feeling. I had several doubts and wondered if I had made the correct choice. I knew I had to unlearn and relearn several ideas. For example, the true meaning of a ‘Facilitator’. The actual dictionary meaning of the word ‘Facilitator’ is “a person who makes an action or progress easy or easier”, which is an understatement, to put it lightly. I realised that the roles we play is a conglomeration of many elements. From my past experiences, I learned what not to be. But, it was at SNIS, that I learned the true meaning of an educator and facilitator. An IB educator facilitates personal growth, self-assurance, the freedom to be oneself without a façade and expresses oneself without inhibitions. If I can do all these, then I know that I have crossed the invisible line from teaching to educating and educating to inspiring
Real –Life Connections and IB
Do we all remember our own school lessons? I don’t. One major reason is the fact that we did not use much of what we’d learnt at school in our everyday life. Back then, we were most often taught to just listen, memorize and repeat. The things that stuck for a longer period of time were those that had striking pertinence to real life. That’s how memory works, we have relatable memory. The challenge though for all facilitators is to persuade and stimulate the learners to consciously apply and connect what is learned in the classrooms outside it too.
Making a connection between academic topics, relating them to their outside world will make concepts less abstract and more memorable.
Sharing your experiences, discussing current affairs, inviting guest speakers from different fields to discuss and demonstrate how students can apply what they have learned in the classroom to real-life or a prospective future career is the true job of a facilitator. Field trips too are an amazing magical and creative way to make students express themselves in different contexts.
Using media and technology brings the real world into the classroom. YouTube, streaming videos, podcasts, and news feeds are powerful connections to the real world. Encouraging students to be active, mentally and physically, is a good way to make a real-world connection.
Project-based learning or real-world assignments gives students some hands-on experience, like writing a specific program or report. This helps them apply their theoretical classroom knowledge to a real-world problem and gives them some relatable experience, exposure and confidence. I have seen lessons learned this way stays in their minds forever
I also find games, interactive lesson plans, and many other teacher educational resources make interesting and relatable real-life connections in the classroom. There are innumerable ways to relate our lessons and activities to the real world to increase student attention, motivation, and interest. In my experience, using a real-life connection in lessons have drastically reduced classroom management challenges as well.
Above all this, as educators, we need to develop a genuine love for our students, create a balanced relationship and trust. This comes with mutual respect, effective listening and the ability to look beyond the obvious
For me, the real joy of being an educator comes from energetic and even shy kids who become comfortable enough around me to fill me with their innocent compliments and unconditional love. I want to translate to my students what I got from books and my love for reading, the confidence and the self-assurance I had developed due to language and communication, and the esoteric knowledge I gained as an IB educator and SNIS. And If I can elicit a smile from my student, nurture self-esteem and inspire confidence, I will feel that I have made a difference. The future is unknown, but as for me, I definitely see myself always in a classroom. I will keep learning and teaching.
~ Jesuveni Shenoba
IB PYP Educator @ SNIS