Brian Barry is a teacher in Nunavut, Canada. I know what he believes about teaching and learning and he knows my beliefs, although we have never met. We have read each other’s blogs and exchanged ideas on Twitter. One of my favourite posts from his blog was one in which he asked teachers to think about what’s important, in the interest of letting go and allowing students to take control. I’ve used it in PD sessions with teachers at my school.
Brian has a fascinating series happening on his blog at the moment, in which he has been interviewing educators around the world about their experience and beliefs. Some are well known personalities, others are members of his personal learning network, and it’s interesting to read what’s important to them. Since I was included in his series, I thought I’d invite him to answer the same questions for my blog…
How long have you been teaching?
I am in my 12th year of teaching in Nunavut, Canada. I have taught Grades 4 (4 years), 7 (2 years), 8 (2 years), 9 (4 years).
Has your educational philosophy changed since you began teaching?
Yes. It used to be based on extrinsic motivation. I used rewards and punishment to control students. Now it is based on intrinsic motivation. I try to tap into my students natural curiosity. Their motivation now comes from within (intrinsic). They control themselves, not me controlling them.
Has Twitter played a role in your evolution as a teacher? If so, how?
Indeed. It has helped me grow by making connections with teachers of like mind. Moreover, I have connected with teachers that have changed my mind on specific topics.
What’s the best advice you have received as a teacher (or can give to a new teacher)?
Teaching is all about students and not subjects. That means it is about relationship building. Get to know your students; ask them plenty of questions about themselves. The rest will follow.
As I write this post, I realise that strangely, I know less about some of the teachers in my own school than I do about Brian, or many other educators whose blogs I read regularly. So, if you teach at my school (and if you don’t) I invite you to reflect on the questions above and answer them in a comment. There’s so much to learn…