Let me begin by sharing a little bit about where I come from. I was born an hour’s drive east of Toronto. When I was three, we moved to a farm outside of Listowel, Ontario. The dairy farm that I helped tend to impart in me a passion for the world around us. Within its many facets rests everything we have known, who we are, where we are, and the questions of tomorrow loom and keep us asking questions. I was blessed to be born into a loving family that nurtured me through encouragement and laughter. Throughout my youth, a close connection with the community was established. My Christian elementary school and high school surrounded me with positive values and a perspective of humility, respect, and love.
After graduating from the Faculty of Education at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario, the lure of traveling abroad, teaching English was too much to pass up. Besides, in Ontario, all the teachers who “should have been” retiring stayed in their jobs! So, I left for Korea. At the first “gig” on my Asian adventure, I met many amazing people at an English Village north of Seoul. The EV, as it was known, was also where I met my wife! We were co-teachers within this English camp environment. It just so happened that the village was also just a few kilometers from the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. Actually, I may have ridden my motorcycle as far North as I could, one clear, crisp afternoon. The soldiers stopped me carrying their AK47s but were very friendly and seemed to appreciate the interruption from their otherwise “slow” afternoon. I moved into the Korean metropolis of Seoul the following year. This amazing urban center truly has something for everybody, at any time, in any capacity. It really is a place that if you are looking for something, you can find it. For instance, I lived in Northern Seoul for two years before discovering two ice rinks within a ten-kilometer radius. Of course, this prompted me to bring back my hockey equipment on the next visit home.
My wife and I were married in 2011, and one day after 12/12/12, we welcomed our jubilant daughter, Celina Yaena, into the world. We welcomed our baby boy into the world after moving to Norway. Harrison Yaejun was born on November 25. Our children have enjoyed their foundation as third culture kids. They have thrived in exploring and fusing with the Norwegian culture. Living in Scandinavia has brought the simple love of the outdoors, the snow, the dark, the beaches, clean water, baseball, and new friends. Being able to share this slice of paradise with family and friends has been wonderful. Ferry rides to Sweden, RV trips to the fjords, and dog sledding under the Northern Lights, it certainly has been a blessing being a part of Skagerak International School. The time spent here has provided many valuable experiences, has pushed me professionally, and was a valuable chapter for our family’s story.
Transitions aside, there are new and exciting possibilities ahead. The balance of living internationally is real, but we have been blessed with many forging experiences. The adventures are always seeking our participation; all we have to do is accept the invitation.
“The journey teaches you about the destination.”
Keystone Learning Leadership Online Tutoring July 2020 – November 2020
⬗ Facilitated schedules, teacher expectations, and taught students online in China. Guided by personally created curriculum revolving around best practice literature arts delivery, Ontario Language expectations, and Canadian based content.
Skagerak International School, IB World School Sandefjord, Norway August 2015 ~ June 2019
Focused on PYP and MYP
⬗ Balanced homeroom teaching duties in a differentiated primary years program environment.
⬗ MYP Homeroom responsibilities. Language and Literature, Individuals and Societies, Teaching Assistant support in Maths, Science, and Foreign Language. Differentiated instruction to create unique learning experiences for students on particular Individual Educational Plans.
Younghoon Elementary School Seoul, South Korea February 2012 to July 2015
Grade 5 Homeroom Teacher
⬗ Created diverse, dynamic, and precise long-term plans, unit plans, and weekly lesson plans following learning outcomes outlined by the Cambridge curriculum. Tracked and guided student’s performance through assessments, reflections, and reports.
What is your teaching philosophy?
Each student is different. They need to be directed and motivated in specific ways. When this is accomplished, their true potential is released. Personally, this challenge creates rewards and reasons why I am a teacher. Searching for new techniques and practices that inspire the class allows me to maintain the life long learner aspirations that we try to instill in our students through all disciplines.
There is much more to education than just test scores, grades, and individual success. Students of all ages look for mentors they can trust. They want to know what is expected of them, and also, even if they don’t know it yet, they desire their unique qualities to flourish through respect and guidance. Implementing these professional traits across all disciplines, encounters, and relationships enables me to be a relevant, caring educator.
To prepare students with understanding and life skills rather than their ability to regurgitate content, I structure my classroom, teaching practices, and professional demeanor to provide my students with tools that equip them for a future of mindful inquiry and lifelong learning. Here is a breakdown of how the professional traits I employ within my class and school community.
Safe, accommodating atmosphere – I create learning environments that are cohesive for all junior children’s intellectual, social, emotional, physical, linguistic, cultural, spiritual, and moral development. A classroom should rid itself of judgments, and they should encourage moments of discovery. All teachers long for those “Ah-ha” moments, myself included.
Explicit expectation based curriculum – I understand and implement academic expectations for the junior division student. I apply this theoretical understanding in designing, delivering, and assessing junior learners’ programs in my classroom. While collaborating with the students, I implement the guidelines necessary to be successful. Working as a team to maintain a healthy class structure is important to any vibrant classroom.
Relevant integrated disciplines – I work collaboratively with my co-workers, administration, parents/guardians, and the community to ensure that my students receive the support needed to excel. I implement a variety of resources, including technological resources, to enhance and support student learning. Relating the content to the students’ lives by making the disciplines practical and relevant is an integral part of my classroom.
Cooperative working relationships – I encourage the students to reflect through active engagement and collaborate with their peers to further their understanding. When students are aware of how they learn, their metacognitive relationship with the content encourages them to take a personal appreciation for what is being administered.
Diverse classroom instruction – Students are all unique. I Employ the use of multiple intelligences and how they apply to learn and benefit the students. Teaching for transfer instead of rote memorizing and regurgitating information is crucial as students then learn mindful ways to apply academic content into real-life situations. The use of cross-curricular connections through multidisciplinary and differentiated instruction is key to motivating all learners and adhering to all dynamic classrooms’ needs.
Student / Teacher relationships – I try to mentor and guide all students along their academic journey. This takes time and respect, but as the trust is built, the teacher better understands the students and can thus create a more personal learning environment.
These are the principles to my integrated approach found within my educational philosophy. It is certainly not enough to gauge a successful teacher by how well their students can retell information from a particular lesson. Education must be directed to encourage understanding, both implicitly and explicitly, to the student’s personal experiences to further mindful awareness. We are preparing the next generation to collectively be inspired by the challenges and rewards that lay ahead.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
- Create a tutoring plan.
- Assess the pain points or expectations of tutor meetings.
- Elicit the students’ prior knowledge through discussion and lines of inquiry.
- Introductions and share “Who We Are.”
- Identify some personal shared connections with some particular content.
- Set SMART goals.
- Discuss a future schedule.
- Discover “How We Organize Ourselves.”
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Agency, autonomy, action.
We work at what they know and what they want to know. The guidance of their learning journey depends on the questions asked of them and what they ask of the content, namely the particular Learner Attributes, Skills, and Learner Profile Traits. As the students acquire more autonomy to search and find answers to their questions, they are inherently driven to seek results through action.
I could facilitate extra support to students struggling with learning the IB PYP online.
Students new to the IB
Students are not able to attend PYP or MYP due to economics or location.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Goals and expectations.
What is it that they are looking to accomplish?
In the PYP or MYP, this will most likely be students struggling with Exhibition work in PY5/PY6. Personal Project work in MYP, or exam prep in MYP, or extra support in the PYP.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Like most things in life, practice is the key to most things that we learn. This is the same for students learning another language, particularly motor skills, athletic progression, social skills, and learner attributes.
If a student is having difficulty or notices that there are other strands to the skill that could be strengthened, we will explore those possibilities.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Regarding reading comprehension, there are a few strategies that I like to explore. Determining where the student is struggling is the first step. After, I like to work through reading strategies while strengthening reading skills through age-appropriate text and content relevant and appropriate material.
Keep reading; make it relevant and enjoyable.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
The individual connection is vital. When allowed to help, share, and tutor a student, learning about what makes them tick enables me to make stronger connections. Allowing the student to be intrigued by the material helps create the tutor’s full potential effectiveness.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling with?
Relating this to what they are into. For instance, if they are struggling with BEDMAS, a teacher can introduce a systemic approach to something the student is interested in. This may be procedural writing, turning a 7-2-3 double play, or how to care for a python. Creating these connections shows the importance of the human connection, sharing our stories but making learning less like checkboxes and more relevant.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
Provincial, international, and ministry standards are good benchmarks for where students “should” be on their academic journeys. These are places to start. When starting particular tutor sessions, goals, and expectations are important. If a list of skills and content is needed to be retained, then traditional summative assessments can be used. However, presently it is often more abstract learning attributes and traits that are required to be strengthened. These can be tracked and monitored, and through particular stages along with their development, a tutor and student can reflect and witness the progression.
How do you build a student’s confidence in a subject?
Not to sound like a broken record here, but relating it to personal experiences, and connecting it to passions that a student has, will make learning more approachable for the students. This will also help with making them more confident. If they have begun to take ownership of their learning they become more confident. Autonomy, agency, and action are integral for a balanced, engaged, and confident inquirer.
How do you evaluate a student’s needs?
Pre-assessment on their prior knowledge is critical to understanding where the student lacks in skills and knowledge. Climbing Bloom’s taxonomy ladder will create the descriptors needed to address and evaluate what they lack and where they need to spend their time.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student’s needs?
Each individual is different and need specific activities and work on particular things. Understanding this and catering to the content accordingly is important to meeting the student where they need support. This will look different in each discipline, but being flexible is the teacher’s practice’s backbone.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I will primarily use myself in online tutoring sessions because, truly, I am my greatest resource. With that said, video is too important not to utilize with sessions. These can be used anywhere throughout the lesson. They can be the hook, the instructional portion, the “meat” of the lesson, the introduction to instruction as they “Give it a go,” or even the lesson ending recap. Students are inundated with media; as teachers, we are responsible for gleaning the content that we ingest and filter out relevant material to share, inspire, and direct students forward along their path.
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