Learn, Share, Grow – Best Teacher in the World

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Below is a lesson from The Guardian on the the best teacher in the world, as well as our key learning.

The Blue Courage team is dedicated to continual learning and growth.  We have adopted a concept from Simon Sinek’s Start With Why team called “Learn, Share, Grow”.  We are constantly finding great articles, videos, and readings that have so much learning.  As we learn new and great things, this new knowledge should be shared for everyone to then grow from.

Best teacher in the world Andria Zafirakou: ‘Build trust with your kids – then everything else can happen’

By Decca Aitkenhead

After the London art teacher won her $1m prize, she was showered with praise by Theresa May and the education secretary – but she is exactly the kind of teacher this government actively discourages

Andria Zafirakou has been functioning on three hours’ sleep a night for weeks, but looks radiant. “It’s adrenaline, it’s excitement, it’s everything.” Nominated by current and former colleagues for the Varkey Foundation’s annual Global Teacher prize, dubbed the Nobel for teaching, last month Zafirakou learned she had been shortlisted from a field of more than 30,000 entries. She flew out to Dubai last week to join nine other finalists from all over the world for a star-studded awards ceremony hosted by Trevor Noah, and arrived home on Wednesday the winner of the $1m prize. The nominees were judged on, among other things, the progress made by pupils, achievements outside the classroom and in helping children become “global citizens”.

Politicians and dignitaries, the media and 100 of her schoolchildren were waiting to welcome her at Heathrow, from where she was whisked straight to parliament to meet Theresa May. The prime minister and education secretary’s praise for the arts and textiles teacher could not have been more lavish; she is, declared Damian Hinds, “truly inspiring”.

Continue reading here.

Key Learnings:

  • Background on Zafirakou:
    • Zafirakou has spent her 12-year career at Alperton Community secondary school in Brent, teaching some of the most disadvantaged, ethnically diverse children in the country.
    • I had a girl who was truanting in my class, so I investigated and found it was because she had to go home during the middle of my lesson and cook for her family because that was their slot on the rota.” Children routinely arrive at school hungry and dirty – “I’ve put clothes in the washing machine for the kids, and we provide a free breakfast to every child”
    • She states: I love trying to figure out: how can I get in to that child? How can I get them to trust me and how can I help them? Trying to figure out, right, OK, that didn’t work, what do I need to try now? I love that.
  • She meets people where they are at in life:
    • Zafirakou taught herself phrases in many of the 35 languages spoken by her pupils.
    • She set up a female cricket club for girls from conservative faith backgrounds, and rescheduled after-school clubs, so that children burdened with domestic duties all week could attend at weekends.
    • She uses art to unlock pupils’ creativity and confidence, visits their homes to understand their family lives, and personally escorts them off the school premises on to buses at the end of the day, to protect them from violence.
    • Her school teaches mindfulness, offers yoga classes, runs a boxing club, and is ranked in the top 1 to 5% of all schools in the UK for improving children’s achievement.
    • She states: I have no problem with expecting the same from these kids as we do of kids from Eton. No problem. But did these kids have a breakfast in the morning? Did these kids watch their mum and dad beating each other up?
  • How she engages her students:
    • Connect them with their identity, their own history, their own culture. Show them what it’s about and how you can celebrate it. Then you have a sense of pride. Once you have that pride, then you can say: ‘This is what happened in the Renaissance’
    • It’s all about building relationships. Instead of worrying about teaching the curriculum or making sure that you’ve got a strict classroom environment, build your relationships first. Get your kids on board, connect with them, find out what it is that they’re interested in. Build the relationship, build that trust. And then everything else can happen.
    • Some teachers feel that they need to know everything, and always be the person with the knowledge. But I think sometimes the most beautiful thing about being a teacher is when you ask the child to teach you.

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