Primary school teacher at the Phorms Campus Frankfurt City: ‘Children don’t necessarily need to always give the right answer’
What did you do before you joined Phorms?
I completed my Bachelor of Education in Australia, and taught in primary schools in both Adelaide and Melbourne for five years, before spending another five years in South Africa as a teacher and curriculum coordinator, and educational content designer. After that I decided to take a break from teaching and moved to Frankfurt, where I managed the Wall Street English office. Over the course of that year, I noticed how much I missed teaching, the students and above all the unique community feeling you get in schools. I’ve been a class teacher for year 4 at the Phorms Campus Frankfurt City since 2016. I teach all lessons in English, except German, which is taught by a German teacher.
Do you feel your lessons are influenced by particular teaching methods you learned in Australia and South Africa?
Yes, definitely. I saw and used a lot of teaching methods from the UK, New Zealand, the US and Finland being used in Australia, and I also implemented them myself. Something that really influenced me was the Reggio Emilia approach, which was used in a school I worked at in Melbourne. A key part of this concept is working with the strengths of the children rather than against their weaknesses. The learning environment and classroom set-up play a major role in this, as these should both encourage children’s natural curiosity. I think this way of teaching is really fascinating, as it means children learn in the way they want to, not the way they have to.
Are there particular teaching concepts that you use in your everyday teaching?
I’m really passionate in encouraging the children’s ‘thinking skills’. This isn’t necessarily about giving the right answer; it’s much more about the process of learning itself. In order to foster this, we’ve introduced a STEAM programme (read more on page 25). I also use Edward De Bono’s ‘six thinking hats’ strategy, which is used for task structuring in schools and even in companies. For instance, if you encounter a problem, you apply six different thinking hats in order to solve it, each with different colours that reflect different types of thinking: red represents emotional responses, white stands for grappling with the facts, black refers to considering challenges and yellow to an optimistic approach. The green hat represents trying to solve the problem with creative ideas and the blue hat mentally monitors and organises the whole thinking process. So when children see a problem, and I ask them which hat and which strategy they could use to approach it, the children realise that they sometimes have to rethink a situation. We also use Dr David Hyerle’s ‘Thinking Maps’, which help the children to visualise and organise their solutions and argumentation and arrange their thinking more clearly. There’s a strong focus on teamwork in my lessons: the children brainstorm and exchange ideas with each other, and come to a conclusion together. I think it’s one of our most important tasks as teachers; to teach children how to disagree graciously.