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Teacher Feature - Eden Finnegan

Why and how did you get into teaching?

I got into teaching because I think that the children we teach today will have a huge impact on the world tomorrow, if I can help, even in the slightest way, to make that world a better place, then I know that it is the right job for me. As adults, we should never stop learning. There is as much to learn from children as there is to teach them; their different perspectives; the questions they ask; the way they communicate, I knew that it was a job where the children would both challenge and inspire me daily!

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

This is my 4th year of teaching. I have been in Dubai since August 2016.

What is exciting about your role?

There are so many exciting aspects to my role. I get to work with children from all over the world who bring with them a wealth of experience and knowledge. The children ask questions about subjects, friendships and life that I would have never have even thought of! One of the most exciting aspects of my job is watching the growth in children, when you know that you have helped them understand something new or finally reach a goal that they have been aiming for, the pride and joy that you feel for them is huge!

What is challenging about your role?

Trying to show children that if they fail in something, it doesn’t mean that they cannot achieve! I want every child that I teach to realise their potential and sometimes that can be very hard to do, especially if they have experienced failure before. Children should know that it is all about the journey and when we fail, it only helps us to learn and become better people.

What’s the biggest myth about teaching?

That a teacher’s day ends at 3 o’clock – and I’m not necessarily referring to work load or emails, even if that is a big part. When something happens at school, whether it is good or bad, we don’t just leave that at work, we bring it home with us, we are constantly thinking about it. When a teacher goes out they are constantly thinking about how something could be used in school, what could be changed, what we will be teaching, if it will be good enough. Being a teacher is by no means just a job, it’s a life.

Who has been your inspiration throughout your career? Why?

My Nan, she is my inspiration in life and work. She came to England from Italy at a very young age, knowing no English. She has been through struggles that no one should ever have to go through and still came out the other end, never complaining! She is now in her seventies and still does not stop working, her drive is incredible and I only hope for people to look at me one day in the way that I look at her.

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

I think that my career is a huge achievement in itself, I get to meet fantastic children and parents and work with amazing colleagues – I think very few people can say that about their job! I could say lessons, promotions or jobs but in all honesty my greatest achievement has been being able to see the children at the end of the year and knowing that I have made a difference in their lives – that is why I do my job.

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

I once taught child who had a troubled background and there would be occasions where he would not come into school at all. For him, school was one of the safest environments that he would be in. When I teach children, I am not just their teacher, I fully care about their well-being and mind-set and with this child in particular, I needed to make sure that he felt as safe as possible at school. Despite all that he went through, his determination was incredible, he was going to learn and progress no matter what anyone said or did. I learnt a lot from him, about how to treat others, about resilience and about how to overcome the things that life may throw your way.

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

It completely depends on the class that you have. If I want to engage my children then I need to know what they like and what is going to gauge their interest. On top of that I have to be enthusiastic about it myself, if I am enthusiastic, if I share my love of reading, of writing, it will rub off on them. I love to get the teachers involved if I can, I have found that children really react to that. Using a video of teachers at the start of a unit completely draws the children in, they feel ¬¬as though they have become a part of the work and therefore it feels a lot more exciting.

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

I have many goals to do with career progression and where I would like to be within a school, however, if I can get to a point in my career where I can meet a student that I once taught and they can tell me one thing that I did that inspired them, then my main goal of being a teacher will have been achieved. Looking at myself as a part of a whole school, I would love to be the person created one of these ‘wow’ moments that the pupils never forget, that they remember even when they are adults!

Eden Finnegan Year 6 Class Teacher, Kings’ School Al Barsha