Katherine Mitchell - English Teacher
What do you currently teach at ACG School Jakarta?
I currently teach Year 7 English, Year 9 and Year 11 English as a Second Language, and Year 8 Humanities.
Tell us a bit about your background? How did you decide to become a teacher?
I grew up in the UK, but moved to Japan when I was 22 years old to teach English as a Foreign Language (EFL). Returning to England three years later, I studied for my PGCE (Post-Graduate Certificate in Education), specialising in History, which would enable me to teach at secondary school level. I then worked in England for several years before moving back to Japan where I taught until 2010. I moved to Jakarta five years ago and over the years I have taught English (first language), History and English as a second/foreign language and now Humanities, which includes Geography and Economics. I was lucky enough to realise my talent for teaching at a young age and have been fortunate to follow my passion!
Do you think it is a benefit to teach two subjects?
Absolutely. Although I am a qualified History teacher, I also hold a Masters in Applied Linguistics and TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). My most recent experience has been teaching English (as a first language) at IB and IGCSE level. I think it is a benefit to have experience of teaching English as it makes you more aware of the students’ needs, especially regarding the teaching of Humanities, which students often find difficult. Humanities contains a lot of specialised vocabulary and students need to have sophisticated writing skills. Through teaching English I am very aware of the need to provide students with plenty of keywords with meanings before we embark on a topic, and the need to teach key skills. Humanities and English are very closely linked subjects and you cannot take it for granted that the students have the English skills needed to succeed in Humanities.
ACG School Jakarta is very international. Can you tell us a little about the enrichment that brings?
Yes, ACG School Jakarta is truly an international school which attracts students from a wide range of backgrounds and abilities. For example my home room has 13 students: with a mixture of nationalities from Britain, Malaysia, Brunei, USA, Vietnam, Japan, Korea, Indonesia and the Philippines.
The dynamics of teaching such a diverse group is both exciting and rewarding. Materials and activities need to be differentiated to meet the needs of students whose first language is not English. Furthermore, I am proud that ACG School Jakarta is one of the few institutions in Jakarta which accepts students with Special Educational Needs (SEN). Having SEN students in our classrooms adds another exciting dimension to the classroom dynamics.
What inspires you about the subjects you teach?
I am greatly interested in the subjects I teach: that’s part of what makes a good teacher. I am an avid reader and always have two or three books on the go at the same time; which I read depending on my mood. Regarding History, I love learning about the past and I think it is fascinating how everything in the past has shaped the present.
What’s the secret to your teaching success?
I think loving my job, the subjects and the students. I really strive to ensure that my students succeed therefore I plan engaging lessons which push the students and stimulate thought. I also haven’t forgotten what it was like to be a teenager so I believe I am able to relate to the students.
What other skills do you hold regarding teaching?
I am an examiner for IGCSE English as a first language and the IB diploma English A. I am an online facilitator for the IB and a team leader for the Duke of Edinburgh award (called the International Award for Young People, in Indonesia)
What advice would you impart to students?
I believe that you should always challenge yourself and push yourself to the limits. Do the things you think you can never do.
What do you do in your free time?
I am a trail/road runner, and participate in races in Indonesia and around South East Asia. I try to get out of Jakarta and into the countryside (yes there is some!) as much as possible. There are some lovely trails and mountains out there. I have done various triathlons, marathons, half’s and 10kms. Next year I hope to complete my first half ironman.