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Mauritius, Grand Baie
Expert IB Educator, specializing in Biology (Physiology, Genetics, Biochemistry), Environmental Sciences, Psychology. IBDP cat 3+ training in Biology and ESS. Head of Science faculty (2022). IBDP (ESS, Biology, Psychology - including support for EEs and IAs) Educational and curriculum specialist. Holds BSc (Hons) in Human Life Sciences and Psychology with 6+ years of IBDP, IGCSE (Biology, EM, Marine Sciences, Psychology), and A levels experience.
I am originally from South Africa and currently live on the island of Mauritius with my husband, two dogs, and son. I have taught IB at an international school for six years, specializing in Biology and Environmental Sciences. For the last three years of my employment at the school, I was the youngest Head of Science faculty appointed. During that time, I created a more cohesive, efficient, adaptable, open, and accountable faculty than in the past. I am also an author of a book for teachers that focus on transformative self-leadership as a vehicle for changing the educational environment (Ripple Effects: Teaching in a New Era), which was published in October 2021 on Amazon, having made the top 5 in its category at the time of release. During this time, I was also featured on educational podcasts that focused on transformation and leadership in education. I am passionate about Sciences and education and the role and responsibility teachers and schools have as agents of social change. My areas of expertise are: Biology, Psychology, and Environmental Systems and Societies. I am further skilled at guidance for IAs and EEs in my areas of expertise, as well as study/learning methods and examination preparation.
2020-Present @ Northfields International High School, Mapou, Mauritius
Head of Science Faculty
Development and continuous management and evaluation of policies and processes underpinned by values of risk-taking, care, communication, and accountability within the department, including but not limited to: differentiation, intervention, faculty meetings and relationships, conflict management, faculty handbook and guide, mentorship policy and expectations, laboratory policy, laboratory safety guide, virtual laboratory policy communication policy, extended essay policy, internal investigations policy, classroom management, and expectations policy, as well as a faculty 5-year plan to ensure continuous stability.
2016-Present @ Northfields International High School, Mapou, Mauritius
Integrated Sciences (KS2 and 3), MYP (years 1-3), PSHE, Biology
(IGCSE and IB), Environmental Management (IGCSE) and Environmental Systems and Societies (IB) educator.
2016 @ Dots Learning Center, Pakistan
Special Education Educator
History, Life Sciences, Natural Sciences, Religious Studies, and Life Orientation educator.
2015 @ Tyger Valley College, South Africa
Life Sciences Educator
Taught Integrated Sciences for grades 8 and 9, Life Sciences for grades 10 and 11, and Life Orientation to my form class (grade 8).
2015 @ John Ramsay Secondary School, Cape Town, South Africa
Mathematics and Science Teacher
Teaching Mathematics to Grade 8 and Grade 9 learners. Preparing and presenting lessons. Creating a space for learning which is mutually respectful, engaging, and interactive, and which is a “safe space” for Conflict management and skills.
University of Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch, South Africa
BSc (Hons) in Psychology
University of Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch, South Africa
BSc Human Life Sciences with Psychology
Environmental Systems And Societies SL
Extended Essay (EE)
Internal Assessment (IA)
Theory of Knowledge (TOK)
Middle Years Programme
Tutor Teaching Style
Teachers are the creators of environments of authentic connection, where students can show up as fully themselves. It is only within this environment where a student feels seen, heard, and supported - where a meaningful connection is made - that they can wholly lean into and experience a significant learning experience. Learning is about relationships; the teacher's role is to foster the connection before content. In this way, students generate connections surrounding the content that is more easily accessible neurologically, and students can learn by their learning style within an environment that has been optimized and curated for them.
Scenario: Student wishes to review a specific topic (e.g., menstrual cycle in IB Biology). Find out where the student is. This can be done through an online questionnaire before the session (what do you know / where are you confident / what specific areas are you struggling with / what do you find difficulty with in terms of revision/study style/learning style). This can also be done at the beginning of the session. Starter: keywords (matching) / quick-fire Q&A / labelling of diagrams / multiple choice exam questions / video and student explanation of key concepts / other Presentation/content: ppt/video/whiteboard explanations: going over the topic in a step-wise manner, with student engagement (conversational/relational and problem-solving oriented approach instead of didactic) Review: Re-do of starter questions/keywords; exam-style questions. Follow up: setting optional additional examination questions (multiple choice, short answer, and structured). Students to send answers back for review (optional).
The focus of teaching is to engage the student in problem-solving and critical thinking vs. memorization of content. Independent learning is fostered by creating the environment in which a student is required to actively engage with the content vs. a pure presentation-style lesson that fosters rote learning/memorization. Understanding the fundamental concepts and how the concepts are linked to each other and having a foundation of understanding that leads to questioning and creation of new knowledge and links to their lived experiences (e.g., connecting the menstrual cycle to their own experience of endometriosis or use of contraception) is how independent learning is fostered. In this way, students' confidence is built as they engage with the content and are encouraged and motivated. They are encouraged to independently further their understanding and skills (e.g., past paper questions, other videos/podcast episodes, etc.).
External motivation is provided within the lesson through positive feedback and reinforcement. This is applied at all lesson stages, from starter to review, and in the follow-up feedback (sandwich or PAR method). This is continuously and intentionally used. Internal motivation is fostered by building the student's confidence through external motivation, which will lead to the student feeling more able to try questions and revise on their own (a positive learning experience in the lesson results in easier cognitive recall). This is then reinforced with external motivation again (it is a positive feedback cycle, where the external environment created by the teacher fosters the internal reflection of that environment).
The key is to determine the difficulty's root cause and build the foundational skills or knowledge required to master the key concept or skill in question. E.g., the Student has difficulty** explaining** Kreb's cycle (IB Biology). Find out where the problem lies. Where does the Student's understanding break down? For this, we must go back to the "basics" of respiration, looking for where the "gap" in knowledge lies. Once the gap is found, we reinforce the content and key concept/skills in various methods to bridge the gap in ways that work with the Student's learning style. It would be a combination of animation/video, diagrams (consecutive steps shown in diagram format), and bulleted lists (step-wise, showing all the essential information according to how it would be marked in the exam). Review: command words - what does it mean to explain vs. describe (understanding how to approach a question in the exam situation). Review: Students were presented with a 4-6 mark past paper question that required them to explain Kreb's Cycle. Consolidate: teach the topic - Student required to explain Kreb's cycle back to the teacher/tutor; with leading questions if needed (scaffolding).
Reading is a skill that can be learned and built upon. If a student is struggling with reading comprehension, we must first determine where the understanding is lost: is it that the student does not understand the key concepts, the command terms, or how to apply either or both? The student will be given text about a topic they feel confident in and 3-4 past paper questions (multiple choice, short answer, and structured) about the text. The student will be required to answer the questions. Review: Students to review their responses to the tutor, focusing on what they identified as the command term and critical concept within the question. Students to receive the correct answers (mark scheme) and work with the tutor to remember where they made errors in understanding each question based on the above, student AND tutor to determine where they believe the difficulty lies. Follow up: reading comprehension exercises surrounding a topic they are confident in, tailored to their needs (e.g., focused on different command terms).
The most successful strategy is ensuring that the student feels supported and heard. The student can connect with the content by positively engaging with the teacher. From a pedagogical view, it is essential to use various resources that engage the student on multiple levels and senses and provide scaffolding/differentiation for tasks (e.g., pictures / leading questions / etc.)—ensuring consolidation in a "discussion" format, whereby a student is required to "teach" the topic back to the teacher/tutor in the form of a Q&A conversation. Lastly, providing the opportunity for further independent study and engagement with the topic: e.g., past paper questions, videos on YouTube, a documentary on Netflix, a podcast episode, etc.
The key is to meet a student where they are instead of where you want or expect them to be. Suppose a student is not excited about or engaged in a topic or subject. In that case, it is the teacher/tutor's responsibility to create an environment where engagement can happen by relating the topic/subject to the student and approaching the topic from their perspective and learning style. E.g. the topic of photosynthesis tends to be somewhat dull to students and lacks engagement. In this case, we could start with an initial question to pique interest (e.g., why can trees pull water up to heights more than 10m without the water boiling?). We could reinforce engagement using various resources (ppt/video/whiteboard / recent articles / reinforcing connection of photosynthesis with other topics of interest), and then use differential strategies to consolidate engagement (e.g., create own Kahoot quiz / correct the teacher / etc.). This could also be used in the follow-up (e.g., make your video to explain the electron transport cycle in photosynthesis using an online platform).
To ensure understanding, a student must be able to apply the content in various ways. The student must answer different past paper questions (multiple choice / short answer / structured/practical). Students will be required to explain the topic back to the teacher (can be done in various formats, from Q&A and discussion-based to the student marking a past paper answer and supplying corrections, as well as creating their resource).
A student's confidence is built by starting from where they are and using strategic scaffolding and consistent positive reinforcement to get them to where they are required to be. For example, if a student lacks confidence in their ability to answer the structured questions of 8 marks: Identify a topic they are confident in, and Have them analyze and answer 3-5 multiple choice questions. Mark and review, ensuring the student understand why they got the answers right or wrong (building foundational understanding using positive reinforcement). Have the student analyze and answer 2-3 short questions (2-3 marks). Have the students mark and review their work, ensuring they understand why they got the answers correct/wrong and how they approached the question. Review the topic (brief), guaranteeing the use of consistent positive reinforcement and giving examples of how this could be asked and come. Give the student 1-2 structured questions of 8 marks each. Analyze the question with the student, identifying keywords, concepts, and command terms. If necessary, the student can be equipped with a sample structure for how to answer the question. (e.g., start with the definitions, then the description, followed by the WHY). Give the student time to answer the question independently. Review the student's answer together with the student. Give the student a model solution (mark scheme), and have the student identify what information they got right and where there were gaps in their answer. With a different question this time, have the student independently analyze the question after reviewing of topic content. Alternatively, the student's confidence can also be built by employing a more comprehensive range of teaching strategies and learning resources (e.g., games/puzzles/videos/documentaries/diagrams / etc.).
A student's needs will be evaluated before and during the lesson. A brief Q&A at the beginning of the lesson (or before the lesson during scheduling) to determine: the topic student is struggling with, key concepts the student is struggling with, any areas of strengths/confidence; key skill areas where they are confident or struggling, and any areas with revision and study methods where they are secure and struggling. During the lesson, when it is clear that a student does not understand a specific concept/skill, it will be reinforced and revised and supported during a ring of the lesson when there is clear that foundational knowledge/skills are missed. During the follow-up: if it is clear that the needs have not been met and other needs have been identified, a reflection and suggested additional work will be given.
Tutoring is adapted by adapting: Teaching style and use of resources (e.g., whether the student prefers whiteboard explanations used with video content from youtube or whether the student learns better-using platforms such as Kahoot/Quizlet). Approach (revision/teaching topic from beginning/review of foundational skills) Structure (starter/content/review/follow up; or whether the structure needs to be more flexible to allow for more excellent discussion time). Timing (to answer questions / go back and review skills/concepts; change the approach to allow for more student-talk and engagement) Strategy (use of past paper questions to answer independently, or whether student creates own quiz, or marks model answers, etc.).
I tend to use various resources, including but not limited to Ppt / Nearpod presentations. Whiteboard explanations, Textbook resources (Kognity), YouTube videos. Snippets of Netflix documentaries (as appropriate), Kahoot, Quizlet, BBC, Past paper questions from IB question bank, Lab stimulations (phet), Other.
Jana from United Arab Emirates
Tala from United Arab Emirates
Dawn is an amazing tutor , very knowledgeable in her subject . My boys are thriving. She provides solid preparation for any type of assessment. We have received emails from school of the exceptional achievements in biology assessments. It doesn’t take long to notice the improvement and confidence in the students .
Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better- Maya Angelou
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