Ken Forde is a Grade 7 physical and health education teacher at the Western Academy of Beijing (WAB). The Canadian native and his wife have lived in Beijing for four years after both interviewed with WAB at a job fair in Thailand. “WAB was high on our list of schools we would love to work at and we were very happy to find excellent positions for both of us, says Forde.” Forde shares more about himself with beijingkids.
What was your favorite subject when you were a student?
Music, specifically concert and jazz band were by far my most enjoyable subjects. The teacher I had was phenomenal and provided a great experience for me beyond the curriculum. Opportunities to lead, organize, and travel throughout high school provided the foundation of what I do today.
What did you want to be when you were a kid? What other career options did you explore before teaching? I realized in Grade 10 that education and physical education would be my career. The influence of several teachers in high school definitely pushed me towards this and an excellent university experience reinforced it. A lot of people have asked what I would be if I was not a physical education teacher. I never have an answer. I cannot imagine doing anything else.
How would you describe your teaching style?
This is never an easy question for a teacher to answer. I believe I create a respectful, supportive, and fun environment for students. I can be strict and have very high standards for both the students and myself, but one of the great things about WAB is that the students never cease to amaze me and continuously push me to be a better teacher.
What was your favorite book growing up? What are you currently reading? Growing up, my family read a lot. My mom had a great selection of books, and we were always encouraged to read. My favorite book when I was in high school, was a historical fiction by Leon Uris called Battle Cry. It was about young men heading into World War 2. I found it really interesting reading about boys my age going through an experience I could not even imagine happening in my life. Currently I read a lot of different topics in both fiction and non-fiction. I am a huge fan of science fiction and am working through the classics of the genre. I am also reading several different biographies as well as some contemporary fiction.
How do you like to relax on the weekends?
Photography is my big hobby, and if I am not coaching I try to get out and take photos. I am also an avid cyclist and try to get out mountain biking with a friend from WAB at least one day each weekend. The next few months are going to involve a lot of cycling as I prepare for a multi-day mountain bike stage race at the end of June.
Where do you like to go on holiday?
Anywhere there is something to do and/or take photos of. My wife and I recently went to Cambodia, which was an amazing experience for us both. In the summer we like to go back to British Columbia in Canada and explore our home province while visiting family and friends.
What is something most people don’t know about you?
I am a big comic book geek.
What’s currently on your playlist?
The Whiplash soundtrack, Milky Chance, The Pretty Reckless and my student-built Grade 7 Playlist. I have also recently been getting into podcasts and have been listening to some excellent ones, such as Serial and Invisibilia, which cover really interesting topics. I have found these are great for listening to on long bike rides.
What do you find most rewarding about teaching?
The fact our profession makes a direct impact on the lives of students. This was really driven home to me in my third year teaching in England when I had a student who, after being expelled from three other local schools, joined the school basketball team I was coaching. During the season, he faced numerous challenges, but he stopped getting into trouble at school, began attending lessons (as a condition of being able to play), and started looking beyond school. In the final week of the year he came to me with a letter of acceptance to a local college. It was one of those ‘This is why I am a teacher’ moments that will be with me for the rest of my career. If nothing else, I know something I did made a positive impact on a student who otherwise would not have had the opportunity.
Photo: Courtesy of WAB