I Love Children and Knew that My Future Lay in Working with Them
An interview with Geraldine Andrews, Primary Teacher at BSB.
Geraldine Andrews joined the British School of Bucharest in 2019 as a Primary School Teacher and Key Stage Coordinator. Geraldine has vast experience, having worked in the educational system for 26 years, and she has a high understanding of the British curriculum following many years in Primary school leadership positions in the UK and having attained the NPQH qualification. Geraldine joined us after 5 years working at a prestigious international school in Qatar.
Why did you go into teaching?
I was one of the lucky ones, in that I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. I love children and knew that my future lay in working with them. I never had the angst of wondering what I wanted to be when I grew up. From an early age, I was going to be a teacher, and here I am 27 years later!
What made you want to join BSB?
When my husband and I decided to leave Qatar, the search was on for another international school which could offer us a new experience. When I saw the vacancy at BSB, I was attracted by the commitment of the school to provide high-quality education to children both inside and outside the classroom. The values of the school matched mine, and I thought I could fit in well. The campus looked amazing, and the opportunity to teach in Europe and be closer to family in England all added together to make me want to join the team. It was a good decision!
Which of the schools you have taught in is the most different from BSB?
Probably the school where I was the Headteacher for 10 years. It is a small, rural school with only 2 classes, FS/KS1 and KS2 class. The challenge of teaching children aged between 7 and 11 in the same class is an interesting one! We often had brother and sisters in the same class, and at one point, both my children were in my class. The grounds were lovely, which allowed us to develop the outdoor learning space (similar to BSB) but the indoor space was limited. Every school I’ve taught in has similarities and differences, but each has its own character.
In how many countries have you lived?
Lots! I was born into an expat family, so despite being born in England, I didn’t stay there long. I have been lucky enough to live in Germany, Italy, UAE, Qatar, Iran, Sweden and of course, Romania! I love travelling and visiting new countries, so the list of countries visited is longer than the ones I have lived in!
You have worked in the educational system for 26 years. Can you elaborate on how the British curriculum has improved over the years?
As you can imagine, I have seen many new initiatives (and a few old ones!) over the years. I started my teacher training as the Education Reform Act of 1988 came into effect, which hailed the introduction of the National Curriculum. I believe this was a turning point for British education as it offered our children a structure to their learning and equality of provision, no matter where you went to school. Since then the curriculum has been adapted to suit the needs of a modern-day classroom. It has changed to allow schools and teachers more control over what and how they teach whilst retaining basic expectations. These expectations mean that children who move between schools can expect a smoother transition as the curriculum is divided into key stages. I am proud to be a teacher and to be part of the British education system which seeks to educate leaders of the future.
What inspires you to be creative in your teaching methods?
I take my inspiration firstly from the children I am teaching and secondly from my colleagues. Every class is different, and children’s’ interests vary but using these interests in your teaching always captures their imagination and keeps them motivated to learn. Colleagues are always a source of inspiration, and often the best ideas come from shared planning, a break time chat or team teaching. I think a ‘have-a-go’ attitude is important as teachers. We encourage our children to take risks in their learning, but do we take risks in our teaching? We should. It makes for more exciting and interesting lessons.
If you weren’t a full-time teacher, what would your dream job be?
This is my dream job! If I wasn’t a teacher, I think I’d have to work in a book shop or library so I could immerse myself in my reading. It would be handy if there was a chocolate shop next door too!
What are you enjoying most about Bucharest so far?
I love exploring the city and finding out about its history. Weekends are spent in museums and art galleries. The restaurants and bars are a treat having come from the Middle East where outside living is limited, due to the heat. The people here have also been so friendly and helpful. I’m looking forward to furthering my explorations and especially the opening of the Christmas market.
What advice do you have for students who want to follow a career in education?
Go for it! I think it’s important to encourage our young people who want to be educators of the future. It’s such an amazing job that I would never dissuade anyone from going into a career in education. Every day is different and brings its own challenges, but the rewards are immense.
Is it a good idea for students to study a humanities subject at university?
Yes, I think it gives balance to a potentially narrow curriculum. I majored in Geography as I have always been interested in the world around me, but the skills and knowledge I learnt are more far-reaching than the course offered. I encourage students to look carefully at the options available to them at university, as the opportunities these days are wider than they have ever been.
What part of teaching children, as an educator, are you most passionate about?
Making teaching fun! For children to fully achieve their potential, they need to feel happy and secure in school. As a teacher, I feel passionate about this. Children must feel confident in the classroom, that they can contribute to their learning and ask questions about what they are being taught. All while enjoying themselves!
And finally, tell us something unexpected about yourself.
I have seen Mount Everest, close up and on three separate occasions.