A Bold Move
Ms. Ranya Al-Ghawi joined the British School of Bucharest in 2020 as a Primary Teaching Assistant. Following her deep passion for English language and literature, Ranya acquired a PhD in Philology and a Master’s degree in American Studies from the University of Bucharest. She has a published work entitled ‘Memoirs and Dreams’, which was edited by the Romanian-American poet, Gene Tanta. Her long experience in teaching English as a second language started in 1998 in Jordan and continued in Romania. She worked at public and private schools with students aged 6-18 and was responsible for some extra programmes like gifted students and SPANA Club. The UNICEF training programmes that she obtained on different topics such as youth participatory, development and gender sensitiveness endowed her with more tolerance and understanding.
Why did you choose to become a Primary Teaching Assistant?
I chose to become a Primary Teaching Assistant because I wanted to work at BSB.
What qualities are necessary to be an excellent Primary Teaching Assistant?
I think an excellent Primary Teaching Assistant needs a lot of patience and resilience. You need to constantly think out of the box because Primary children’s imagination can be limitless.
What made you want to join BSB?
I wanted to get out of my comfort zone! All my life I was teaching English to Arab students in Arab schools. I wanted to have a totally different experience. In addition, I wanted to work at a place where I could have a new experience every day.
What expectations did you have before coming to BSB? Were they met?
Frankly speaking, I was expecting a little bit of being ‘out of place!’ These expectations vanished on my first day at BSB. I settled in easily with everyone’s flexibility and easy-going behaviour towards me! I started making friends and enjoying the fascinating campus as well!
How do you help children succeed in School?
I help my children succeed by accepting their differences. I help them discover their own potential, hidden talents and find new ways to overcome their daily challenges.
How is BSB different from schools you’ve previously taught in?
BSB has a great friendly atmosphere that any person would enjoy. Moreover, BSB has an interesting flavour of different cultures which enriches my experience. Sharing duties by all staff members erases any sense of exclusion and means having much more rapprochement with staff members as well as students even with whom you don’t have classes at all!
Can you give us some examples of how you would contribute to an environment that promotes tolerance and understanding?
Well, I’ve always felt that a successful teacher must have tolerance and understanding for everyone, particularly for their students. Tutors need to put themselves in their learners’ shoes in order to perfectly understand them and help them develop. In BSB, I would gladly answer any personal questions concerning my culture, religion even my different type of clothes! Little ones might be so curious and I answer all their queries with great happiness! To some extent, I think that might help, my students correct any mistaken stereotyped images they previously have had!
How has your experience in teaching ESL helped you connect better with students?
Having a previous experience in teaching ESL gave me better chances to connect with my students and a broader conception of the problematic issues they may face in their educational journey. My experience in teaching ESL also provides me with a better understanding of my students’ personal needs and the best ways to meet them.
What are your most valued observations drawn from your experiences?
Honesty, respect and believe in yourself! You don’t know what you are capable of doing until you have the courage to step into it! In my view, all students must have the opportunity to have their personal imprint within the group.
How do you transmit your love of language and literature to students?
I transmit my love of language and literature to my students by creating a sense of curiosity about the topics they learn. I help them relate their own life experience to the pieces of literature they read and listen to. Sometimes all you need is a little scratch of the surface and they would write like genuine poets!
What are the most significant challenges that you’ve faced up until now in your professional life?
I would say that dealing with different tasks and responsibilities at the same time. Working as a teacher, a person needs to take very good care of the learner’s educational needs as well as their personal development needs as different characters.
What do you find the most rewarding in working with young children?
The most rewarding thing in working with young children is sharing their innocence and purity. I enjoy that so much! Moreover, seeing children flourishing in day-to-day progress is priceless.
If you weren’t a full-time teacher, what would your dream job be?
If I weren’t a full-time teacher, I would be an author. I would love to share my life experience with others; however, I think I need to be a bit more courageous!
And finally: tell us something unexpected about yourself.
I had many lovely experiences at school as a student. I was a singer, a scout and a stamp collector! As a teacher, I have always been a friend of my students.