Teacher Diaries: Ms. Willow – Teaching Philosophy

I have always loved learning, and I can clearly remember the teachers who have influenced me to feel this way.

My first teachers were my parents, who made reading something which was done for the absolute pleasure of entering another world and being absorbed into it. I wanted to read more difficult things in order to access new, even more amazing stories. The foundation of my teaching is always to try to give students that same excitement about reading that I had from the very first time I remember doing it. With young students, I want to make reading as fun as possible, so that they will want to push themselves to keep trying at it even when it’s hard. In fact, I continue this drive to get students to love what they’re reading right up into my iGCSE literature class. Even with the most complex poem, if you can find a way to access the feelings inside it, then you will be more interested to work to understand the finer points of its language, structure and form.

In primary school, my first there teacher wrote plays which the whole school performed. It was inspiring to see that writing was something that real people did and shared. It wasn’t just something in books. I always try to bring this idea into my classroom, so that writing isn’t just an exercise that you can rush through and then forget about. Writing is something with a purpose and an audience. When I can get my students to understand this, not only are they more enthusiastic to write, but the quality of their work also improves significantly.

In secondary school, it was my biology teacher who really inspired me. He had such a passion for the subject and he made me feel the excitement of really engaging my brain and thinking through difficult problems. He asked us questions on things that he hadn’t yet taught, just to try to get us trying to connect different ideas and really thinking like scientists. I always apply this focus on thinking as a skill to my classes. When I guide my students to think through problems for themselves, I am enabling them to know far more than they’ve ever been taught. This is a gift that I’m so glad I have, as it’s what made me able to study at Cambridge, and to learn about science from some of the greatest thinkers in the world.

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