Canadian Romy Friedman has been in Beijing four years. Freidman, who had taught in Europe and Africa, says she was lured by both the chance to live in Asia as well as to teach the MYP (Middle Years Programme) at a fully IB school. "China certainly fascinated me with its food, culture and people," she adds. "And it looked like a great place to develop professionally." The Beijing City International School (BCIS) teacher shares more about herself in our Meet the Teacher series.
What’s was your favorite subject when you were a student?
I think it very much depended on who the teacher was, though I always liked science and English. I think the best class I took was a world religion course in high school but through a local university. Each religion (Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) was taught by someone of that religion and it involved field trips and a research paper. I learned so much, and the history and culture involved was fascinating.
What did you want to be when you were a kid? What other career options did you explore before teaching?
When I was four I decided I wanted to be a hairdresser: I cut mine and my cousin’s hair (not so well either). This was true until age 9 when I decided I wanted to be a doctor like my parents. I focused on this right into my undergraduate degree at university when my mom got sick. Then when someone suggested I would make a great teacher I decided to explore that and started volunteering in a school.
How would your students describe your teaching style?
I asked my Grade 12 biology students this question and their feedback was pretty nice to hear! They said I am very logical and my lectures are well-structured; students know what they are getting into. I tend to reference the syllabus a lot which is helpful. I include many techniques or methods so different style of learners can understand concepts (such as video – visual learners). They like how I ask questions of them and always check their understanding.
What was your favorite book growing up? What are you currently reading?
As a child my favorite book was anything by Roald Dahl including The BFG, The Witches and Fantastic Mr. Fox (probably my most favorite). Then I become interested in fantasy and science fiction as a teenager. Right now I’ve actually just started reading Ancillary Justice by Anne Leckie, as it was recommended by another teacher (Kathryn Yeo) as one of her favorite science fiction books.
How do you like to relax on the weekends?
I love to read to relax but being in China I also go for massages and to get my nails done!
Where do you like to go on holiday?
Anywhere and everywhere! Right now I’m exploring China as well as Asia while living in this area of the world. My next trip is to Sri Lanka over the Chinese New Year holiday.
What’s something most people don’t know about you?
I was actually born in South Africa (as were my parents and most of my grandparents). I only immigrated to Canada at age 6. I left South Africa to the middle of winter in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. That was the first time I had ever seen snow. It was a big change for me!
I also have a black belt in karate. I started training when I was 11 and at age 16 I got my first degree. I broke twp five 2-inch blocks of concrete at one time with my foot at the grading.
What’s currently on your playlist?
The song “Big Jet Plane” by Angus & Julia Stone. I heard this when I was in Australia over December loved it and now I can’t seem to get it out of my head.
What’s do you find most rewarding about teaching?
Without hesitation it’s the students. I love interacting with them and learning new things myself. I find the chance to help them when they really need it the most rewarding. Sometimes I know that I’ve done this and at other times I have had no idea and it’s only later that a student has come and told me what an impact I had on them. The most precious thing I have from my time teaching so far is a four page letter a student at BCIS wrote me on their graduation trip to tell me how thankful they were for the help I had given them through a difficult period in their lives during Grade 12.
Meet the Teacher is a beijingkids blog series designed to help the Beijing community learn more about international school teachers. If your school would like to participate in the series, please email the school editor at firstname.lastname@example.org