Teacher of the Week: Vincent Burden, Greenfield Community School

Teacher of the Week: Vincent Burden, Greenfield Community School
Teacher of the Week: Vincent Burden, Greenfield Community School
Published: 27 June 2017 - 4:50 a.m.
By: Staff Writer

Why and how did you get into teaching?

I was always interested in playing sports and knew the value and sense of worth and well-being it gave people from an early age. Once I had taken this interest further, by sharing my knowledge with younger people, I was hooked about helping shape and mold the lives of others.

How long have you been teaching for? How long have you been in the Middle East?

I've been teaching for the best part of twenty years. This is my first-time teaching in an international setting and I'm extremely fortunate to be working at Greenfield whose staff and parents are all pulling together to make a community based learning environment.

What is exciting about your role?

As homeroom teacher of younger students, I'm aware that this is a pivotal time when young minds are opened. They show awe and wonder to learning daily and this really excites me. Over the years, I've benefited from working with some amazing people who have questioned my practice, delivery and approach to education. However, much of my pedagogy is a direct result of the students who I have worked with who have helped mold me into the teacher I am today. In my head of department role, I'm excited to be able to share some of these ideas whilst learning from the breadth of knowledge from a truly global network of teachers.

What is challenging about your role?
Whilst extremely rewarding, teaching is a very demanding and endless job. We teach our students that we are all lifelong learners and this certainly applies to those on the frontline. The ever-changing initiatives that teachers are required to do can sometimes come thick and fast. In these busy times, it is a challenge to manage our time effectively whilst continuing to perform to the standards we expect of ourselves. This is when we rely on the help and support of colleagues and I'm very fortunate to have a learning assistant who can read my mind and intentions during these busy times.

What's the biggest myth about teaching?

That teachers have long holidays! I've given up trying to reply to this statement and now greet this remark with 'We sure do... Would you like to know how to get into teaching?' Agreed, the termly breaks are welcomed, but I would suggest that conscientious teachers never really switch off and are always on the lookout for inspiration and resources to enhance their lessons further.

Who has been your inspiration throughout your career? Why?

It would have to be initially the teachers who taught me who showed an interest in me and gave me a real sense of belonging. Once I embarked upon teaching myself it would undoubtedly be the students I have worked with... who through their actions and relationships with each other have shown me the values of collaboratively working together. Also, my own children and wife have been pivotal in many of my achievements as their support, encouragement, patience and understanding have enabled me to give of myself.

What would you say has been your greatest achievement over the course of your career?

Different accomplishments for a host of different reasons. I particularly enjoyed working with students in the UK to promote business products linked to promoting health related products. The initiative received local and national attention and I would like to think that the interest in the innovative project inspired others to live healthy lives.

Tell us one way a particular student has impacted your life or teaching philosophy

I can recall teaching an international student in my home country. I can recall how they arrived with limited English language mid-way through the year. By the end of the year, her fellow peers and I set about teaching this student and making them feel valued. Whilst we believed it was us teaching them, I believe that what we all gained at the end of the year was a more telling lesson. This shy and retreated student showed us trust and the art of positive thinking. Their determined attitude to remove the barrier of language and take risks in who she communicated with resulted in a confident and welcomed addition to the wider school community.

How do you get students interested in the subject you teach have you found an innovative way to engage students?

As a primary practitioner, I'm able to teach virtually all subjects and this is one of the biggest attractions of working in this phase. The ability to teach thematically, drawing upon the skills of each subject results in meaningful links and hopefully memorable learning experiences. Here in the UAE we are spoilt with examples of innovation. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has a clear vision to build a nation with a sustainable legacy. His nation attracts many and it's exciting to be able to tap into the innovative minds of the younger population. Whilst many believe that success breeds success; I believe innovation inspires success. Innovation is the art to think and approach things differently and I think that all teachers are making connections in a host of ways that will ultimately connect the minds of this nation. Hooking these minds is the key and I believe that at my current school, our shared collaborative planning enables us to plan exciting and purposeful hooks.

Are there any specific goals you would like to achieve in your career?

I've never set myself goals... I believe that if we give of our best the right opportunities will find us.

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