New Zealander Bianca Kraitzick came to China two years ago and has been living in Beijing for the past year. Kraitzick researched online and used our very own beijingkids School Choice Guide to find a school whose philosophy and mission statements aligned with her goals. She discovered House of Knowledge International School and Kindergarten (HOK) and is now the team teacher in English Middle Age (age 3-5).
What’s was your favorite subject when you were a student?
I always enjoyed my high school English classes as I really enjoyed the discussion-based learning. Looking back now, I don’t think it was the content that interested me as much as my teachers! I was lucky to have teachers that were passionate about their subject. They were always delighted to discuss big concepts and were happy to give out reading suggestions too.
What did you want to be when you were a kid? What other career options did you explore before teaching?
When I was a child I was adamant my future title would have multiple dashes: painter-farmer-vet-restaurateur. I remember quite clearly wanting to be this combination around age six. Then during high school I dabbled with the idea of studying pharmacology, psychology, sociology… along with multiple other -ologies. I had been involved in informal education during those same years and after returning to Auckland from a year abroad I was determined to do something I deemed socially beneficial, so I began working in an early childhood centre. A year later I began studying towards a Bachelor of Education specializing in Early Childhood Education. Now even though my official title doesn’t contain any dashes I can still take on multiple roles in a single day as a teacher: researcher-artist-scientist-mediator-storyteller… I think I was lucky to find my niche.
How would you describe your teaching style?
I would describe myself as a facilitator for children’s learning. I believe children create their own knowledge based on the interactions that have with their environment and the relationships in their lives. It is my role as a facilitator to create opportunities in their environment (in this case the kindergarten) that will lead to learning. It could be as simple as directing children to a book or asking the right question that will get them thinking.
What are some of the topics you cover?
I work with children from birth to the age of six so my teaching “topics” vary widely dependent on the children themselves. At the moment our class is made up of 3-5 year olds and we have just started an “Under the Sea” project. This topic naturally leans towards science concepts and of course all of the language that goes along with it. But it also provides the opportunity for us to discuss social responsibility, ethics, and conservation. Throughout the project, children make their thinking and learning visible through art, drama, and dance.
What topic was the most challenging to cover with children?
The most challenging topics to cover are the ones that don’t personally interest me. I think this is completely normal as children learn the same way. So the day a child comes to me wanting to learn all about snails is the day I will remind myself to see through their eyes and try to see snails as wondrous creatures.
What topic was the most interesting to your students?
In New Zealand, I was involved in a project at a community-based center that focused on our neighborhood. I think they found this really interesting because children love making sense of the world around them and seeing how they fit in to it.
How do you encourage your students to be passionate about the subject you teach?
As an early childhood teacher I am a generalist so I am not limited to one subject such as mathematics or English. Instead, I teach concepts that provide the foundation for further learning in the subjects of mathematics, English, science, and the arts. Children have the innate desire to learn and therefore do not need any encouragement to be passionate about learning.
Photos: Courtesy of HoK