American Laura Rogers has been living in Beijing for the past four years, and loving her position as a kindergarten teacher at International School of Beijing (ISB).
What brought you to Beijing? How did you end up at your current school?
Four years ago I was looking for a primary teaching position in an international school. I interviewed with schools in Italy, Japan, Korea and a few schools in China. ISB was by far the most progressive, best organized, and enriched school I had interviewed with. My time at ISB and in Beijing have far exceeded my expectations, I have absolutely loved living in Beijing and think ISB is a great place for kids and a fantastic place to work.
What did you want to be when you were a kid? What other career options did you explore before teaching?
When I was a kid, I told my mother that I wanted to be either a cheerleader or a teenager. I was never a cheerleader, but definitely managed to hit that second career goal for seven awkward years before retiring. I held a variety of part-time jobs throughout university; I worked in coffee shops, I was a waitress, and also worked in a ski shop. My true passion has always been travel, so after I became a teacher, I discovered the world of international schools. I am now hooked and cannot imagine doing anything different. Teaching and living abroad suits me perfectly, much to my family’s dismay! Luckily, they love coming to visit me.
How would you (or your students) describe your teaching style?
I try to make my classroom a welcome place for parents and a feeling of community for the kids. We do a lot of collaborative group work and projects in my classroom; there’s a saying where I come from, “Two heads are better than one!” Students learn from me, of course, but they learn so much from one another as well. Students’ education should help them to develop the skills they will need in real life such as communication, listening, confidence, and problem solving. Working collaboratively puts students in situations where they have to practice such skills. It’s amazing how quickly students learn through this style of education.
What are some of the topics you cover?
Being a primary school teacher at ISB, I teach a variety of subjects including reading, writing, math, science, social studies, and technology. My favorite things to teach are holistic social studies units that integrate as many subjects as possible, including subjects taught by our many specialists at ISB such as art, music and library. Students are always more engaged when learning directly connects to their lives.
How do you encourage your students to be passionate about learning?
Students are most passionate when learning connects to their own lives. I do my best to help students make those connections, deepen those connections, then share those connections.
What class project in your teaching career was the most meaningful to you?
The most meaningful project I have done with students was a unit where we connected our International students with students at other schools around the world, both local and private schools. It was incredible to see kids connect with kids from other countries, whose experiences varied greatly, and to observe how wonderfully blind young children are to stereotypes and biases. It reminded me of the impact I can have in helping to maintain and encourage a perfect perspective and tolerance among my students.
This article originally appeared on page 39 of the 2016 June-July Issue of beijingkids magazine. Click here for your free online copy. To find out how you can obtain a hard copy, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo courtesy of ISB