Remember your favourite teacher? The one who made you love going to school, the one you still talk to your kids about today? The best teachers are the ones who go on to inspire the next generation of educators and we spent a lively morning watching the deputy principal at Kent College Dubai hand over the reins of his ICT class to eight-year-old wannabe teacher, Isabelle Richardson.
“I love technology, the incredible things it can do for children in the classroom today and the fact that it’s preparing these kids for jobs in the future that haven’t even been invented yet,” says Mr Parkin, as he sets up a Cromebook and iPad (as opposed to pencils and paper) for a Year 3 ICT lesson he will be planning with Isabelle, before her classmates descend and it will be down to her to stand up and deliver it.
“I’d like to be a teacher one day because I think it would be a nice job. You get to help people learn and boss all the kids about!” Isabelle smiles, as she and Mr Parkin work together to agree the best way to execute the 40-minute lesson. In it, the children will be split into groups and taken to a makeshift “green screen” in the classroom next door, to film each other pretending to be talking in front of a place of interest they have chosen.
They will then use a clever app to merge the videos onto an image of their chosen place, which makes it look as though the person in the film was actually there. (Oh, to be at school in 2017!)
Quietly confident, Isabelle looks excited to get started and show her friends how it’s done. And when we ask what qualities she thinks she will need to be a great teacher, she fires straight back: “Being helpful! You need to be good at explaining things so people you’re teaching know what they’re supposed to be doing.” Right on cue she is called over to her first group in need of extra help.
Panagia and Julia can’t decide whether they want to go to New York, Paris or the Maldives (we know, it’s a common conundrum, right?). And they’re not sure how to save the image they want, but Isabelle is straight on it. That’s before the group on the next table start demanding her attention, and suddenly, another important teacher quality becomes apparent – the ability to manage several questions and demands all at the same time. Luckily, self-appointed teaching assistant (and Mr Parkin’s son), Archie, is quick to step in and give Isabelle a hand. Clearly a chip off the old block!
The stand-in teacher then organises the groups to take it in turns in front of the green screen, explaining how to stand in position and to think about what they’re going to say before they start to record. And, despite the levels of excitement in the room (we are mixing kids with technology, after all), they listen to her, follow her instructions and she answers their questions patiently. She’s a natural!
Back in the classroom, the kids settle down in front of the interactive whiteboard and it’s up to Isabelle to stand at the front, show one of the videos and talk through how it could be improved, while Mr Parkin looks on.
As the lesson draws to a close, Mr Parkin asks the class whether they think Isabelle would make a good teacher and there’s a resounding “Yes!” from the group.
But what did she find a little tricky? “Handling the kids when everybody was shouting and asking for my help at the same time!” Isabelle laughs. “But I don’t have a million pairs of hands so I need to tell people to be patient and wait their turn.”
Mr Parkin also tells the class that he learnt something new from today’s experiment. “It was so useful for me to plan this lesson with Isabelle first because it made me realise that there were certain things I wanted you to do that I thought would seem quite obvious, but Isabelle made me see that they probably weren’t,” he explains, “So I think I’m actually going to do this a bit more often, get you guys involved as your feedback is so important. So thank you, Isabelle!”
The lesson ends with a huge round of applause, a beaming eight-year-old and Kent College Dubai’s youngest apprentice teacher.
Want to see your little one here next? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us what your kid wants to be when they grow up.