1. Teacher Profile: David James

Teacher Profile: David James

Published on 30 Aug 2018
Educators' Perspective

Year(s) and Subject(s) Taught 

Taught all subjects and classes across the Primary range.

How long have you been teaching? 

14 years.

Why did you become a teacher? Why did you choose teaching as a profession?

I became a teacher to make a difference. I strongly believe that every child has an entitlement to the very best education. As teachers then we have a strong responsibility to ensure all children are provided with learning opportunities to achieve their full potential; to understand the world around them and shape it for the better, to develop their own opinions and consider the perspectives of others. 

Every class is unique. A strategy that works well for one group of students may have less impact on another. We therefore need to continually develop and refine our practice to ensure it is having an impact on learning and students are developing skills, knowledge and understanding they need to be successful in the future (in whatever form they choose this to be). This challenge, and responsibility, inspires me every day and reinforces why I became a teacher. 

I resonate strongly with the belief that we are all learners. Every lesson provides me, as well as students, with the opportunity to learn and develop professionally.

Tell us about your own education journey.

I completed my teaching qualification in primary education in Cardiff, Wales. Before that I studied History at university and completed a GAP year at a residential school for children with a variety of special educational needs. I have also completed my MA in Education (Leadership & Management). 

Whilst I truly enjoyed my experiences at university and learnt a great deal, it was only when I started to work as a qualified teacher that I really began to learn and understand what it means to be a teacher. I have been fortunate enough to work in a range of wonderful schools with some truly inspirational teachers who have made time to support, encourage and challenge me in my own professional learning. I have learnt something new in every school I have worked in, which is what makes teaching such a wonderful career. Every school is different, every group of students are different and the challenge of schools is to provide the students in their schools with the very best learning experiences so they can fulfil their full personal potential. Similarly, the challenge for us to continually grow and develop, not because we are not good, but because we can be better. 

What is the most memorable moment in your teaching career so far?

I am fortunate enough to have had many memorable moments in my teaching career. I have taught in a wide range of schools: from large inner city schools in England to a small international primary school in Japan. Each school though has offered something new and rewarding, something memorable. Directing my first school production, teaching my first class, exploring ways of deepening understanding in mathematics, leading staff development sessions, welcoming visitors to the school, taking part in school festivals - each of these events and many more hold special memories. 

What stands out though, are the students and teachers I have worked alongside and taught in each of these settings. Their passions, their interests, their humour, their smiles - this is what I remember.  

What do you like most about teaching?

I enjoy the challenge of teaching and the rewards this brings with it. Teaching is a highly complex occupation, full of complexities and contradictions. On a daily basis this requires us to exercise judgment and decide how to act. Student learning is dependent on our expertise to be able to assess the most appropriate course of action in any particular situation. The key factor underpinning all of this is understanding how learning will be improved through our actions and then responding accordingly. 

I read somewhere that the essence of professionalism is this ability to make high quality judgements. 

What is the best thing about teaching at your school?

The singular focus on learning. As a school we are committed to developing a learning culture where all students are given opportunity to achieve their full personal potential. Academically, the school is highly successful but there is also a deep understanding that this is underpinned by a strong belief in student wellbeing. Wellbeing and learning are interconnected. Through conversations for learning, staff truly get to know students so we are best able to support them in achieving their potential. 

GIS has a unique learning culture; we believe that we can grow and develop together as a community. This belief influences every decision we make. Through innovative and evidence based approaches to teaching and learning students are given opportunity to excel, parents are supported and provided with learning opportunities through strong home-school partnerships and through our professional learning programme all teachers access a personalised programme of professional learning - including whole school collaborative groups, personal learning time, professional learning courses, wellbeing sessions and professional reflection opportunities. 

As a teacher what stands out is this learning culture. GIS is cultivating a culture where staff feel trusted and supported and are provided with personalised programmes of professional learning that is strongly rooted in student learning. The success of our Professional Learning Programme in particular is perhaps best illustrated through the following quote by a member of staff, “ “I have developed professionally faster here than I have at anytime in my career”.

Who or what inspires you?

Other teachers. I am always amazed at the passion and dedication of teachers to create a truly inspiring learning environment for students. The creativity, energy and insights I gain from working with other teachers and engaging in learning conversations with them on a daily basis has helped me to reflect on what I do and why I do it, and continually develop as a teacher.

Each day I am fortunate enough to work alongside a group of professionals who are consistently reflecting on learning, collaborating with others and engaging in the learning process. 

Working at GIS, in particular, has inspired me. Working in an environment where staff are empowered to take ownership and responsibility for their professional development and work collaboratively with others has been truly rewarding. Key to this has been the personalised opportunities staff have to develop their own skills and knowledge, and the sharing of this with others. 

Describe the ‘perfect’ student.

It is hard to describe the ‘perfect’ student as every student is unique with their own amazing potential, passions and interests. Our job as educators is to work with all students and engage them in the learning process so they are able to achieve their full potential. 

At GIS, our Learner Skills represent the key skills and competencies which we believe are at the heart of becoming both true global citizens and adaptable life long learners. Thinking differently, learning together, being resilient, asking questions and getting involved, these are the skills, qualities and competencies we want to see in all of our students.They are common goals that transcend the individual areas of the curriculum and unite us in a shared belief of what young people can, and should become. It is this holistic view of education that I strongly empathise with and best represents what I would describe as the ‘perfect’ student. 

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