Welcome to my little online ‘home away from the classroom’, the place where I share on a variety of topics that interest me as a teacher.
Where I’m from
I’m from the festival city Edmonton, Canada (which has the ‘best folk festival in North America’, according to Rolling Stone Magazine, and after that proclamation it became the truth…I’ve not been to a folk festival anywhere in the world yet that tops the Edmonton Folk Fest). This is somewhat relevant because not only am I a teacher, but I am a songwriter with two albums to my name and a rather interesting creative history that I’m proud of. Google me to learn more or go here to check out my music: CD Baby.
Having said that, I actually grew up in the rural suburb of Sherwood Park – twenty minutes drive from the Edmonton’s city centre. It’s relevant because I have both a love of nature and an inherent passion for great cities, architecture and old cultures. Growing up bored is what developed my love of reading and my desire to travel internationally.
My learning journey
I obtained my Bachelor of Education in Secondary Drama and English from the University of Alberta. Good times. My drama education professor was a nun.
I’ve studied music in Varanasi, India with two masters of voice and slide guitar and also studied songwriting and performance at the world’s most prestigious music college, Berklee College of Music in Boston, USA. Crazy busy. I learned that school doesn’t teach you everything; it merely gives you the tools for life-long learning (self-driven). Practice makes perfect and mastery is possible, given enough time and love for a subject.
I’ve received a post-graduate certificate in Creative Writing from Humber College in Toronto, Canada for my work on a book of memoirs about my life in Saudi Arabia and wider travels throughout the Middle East. This was done under the tutelage and mentorship of one of Canada’s foremost authors, an accomplished traveller herself and a woman I admire greatly for her writing and views on the world: Karen Connelly. The working title of my book is Desert Feet. It starts with the fantastic and sometimes harrowing aspects of my 11 years in Saudi Arabia, the only country in the world where it is illegal for women to drive…and the stories move the reader through experiences of peace and war in Lebanon as well as journeys through Syria.
I am currently finishing a Master of Management (Arts and Cultural Management) degree with the University of South Australia and plan to attend my convocation in Adelaide in 2015. I am deeply passionate about business and entrepreneurialism as a result of this degree, and look forward to teaching business one day in a class, somewhere.
Ridiculously, my employer with the Qatar Foundation inspired me to take on yet another master’s degree – a Master of Science in Multi-Disciplinary Studies for Educators with the State University of New York, Buffalo -as part of my in-school continuous professional development. It all started with my school’s intensive CPD focus on tech for learning (in addition to other things), as Qatar Academy is a one-to-one laptop environment where every middle and high school has his/her own MacBook to use and take home and where teachers developed their courses on a virtual learning environment platform called Moodle. My passion for IT exploded. So did my love of leadership. I’m grateful to the school for subsidising the cost of this degree while I was there. My favourite course was the last one I took on Organisational Change Management with Dr. Gregory Hedger because it tapped into my love of strategic planning and management. Fantastic to take a class from your own school’s director. Now, there’s leadership in action. It would be great if more schools allowed teachers access to the minds of their leaders and leaders the opportunity to model great teaching. Key lesson learned: A school is only as good as the teachers and staff who work in it.
I suspect the day will come when I will do a PhD. No idea in what, yet. Or maybe I’ll just write books. Watch this space.
My areas of expertise and experience
My subject experience and expertise are English, Drama, PSHE/Citizenship, Leadership and Community and Service.
I have also taught Humanities and Sex Education (to middle school students in Canada) as well as the whole core subject spectrum (to fifth graders for two years at an American international school on a Saudi Arabian military hospital compound).
This past year, I taught English and Drama to high school and 6th form college students (years 12/13) at a privately funded state academy in Bolton, which is one of ten Greater Manchester boroughs in Manchester, UK, the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution and an amazing amalgamation of factory brick and urban renewal. Love Manchester!
I enjoy working for progressive learning organisations where CPD is built right into the work. Expect me to reflect on this and the Ofsted adventure of teaching good to outstanding lessons.
Why I like to teach teenagers
My passion as an educator is for teens. They’ve developed in me the wacky sense of humour that has seen me through two delightful decades of teaching in four countries.
That’s all for now, folks. Come find me on Twitter and say hello.