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Teacher Feature - Samantha Hamlet

Why and how did you get into teaching?

I found my passion for teaching whilst volunteering in my own children’s school in Norway over 20 years ago. Through being a part time helper I fell in love with teaching the youngest children. I was extremely lucky to gain experience in both Norwegian and British International schools.

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

I have been teaching for over 16 years, of which I have spent 12 years teaching in the Middle East. Some of the countries I have taught in includes Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and I am currently teaching in Dubai.

What is exciting about your role?

The most exciting part of my role is watching children’s passion for learning develop by following their interests. It’s that moment in a child’s eye when they make that connection between what they are doing and how it relates to their own development.

What is challenging about your role?

The most challenging part of being an Early Years teacher is there is never enough time to do all the things you would like to do.

What’s the biggest myth about teaching?

Some people believe that Early Years is perhaps an ‘easier’ teaching job, whereas if you speak to anybody who has young children or teaches under fives, they will most likely tell you it is one of the most challenging and satisfying!

Who has been your inspiration throughout your career? Why?

The children and the families that I have had the pleasure to share learning journeys with, particularly those families and children that have had to overcome adversity. It’s being able to see the wonder of the world through the eyes of a child.

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

Being able to bring magic into learning for every child and help them to become independent and passionate about their own learning.

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

The first student I worked with who had learning support needs due to circumstances at home. I learned so much about the journey a child takes when external indicators impact on their lives. I still use a lot of the practices I learnt from external support agencies in my everyday teaching to ensure all children have the best start on their learning journey. From this experience I know that we have to work collaboratively parents, family, the child, outside agencies and teachers to enable that child to be successful. To enable this all parents must have strong, supportive and respectful relationships.

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

Following the children’s interests is paramount in a classroom. When you do this, you get much higher levels of engagement. It is also important to let children lead the learning and to teach each other. This enables them to develop their critical thinking skills. Learning should be challenging for all children, even our very youngest.

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

I would like to see all schools adopt a child led approach to learning. I would also like to see governments put weighting on the power of play not just in Early Years. So much research is being done at the moment about the psychological benefits of play and how this relates to children's and young adults mental health. Play offers everyone including adults the ability to process events in their lives and to apply new learning in a non pressured environment.

Samantha Hamlet FS1 Year Leader & Chameleon Class Teacher, Kings’ School Al Barsha