How To Be More Than a Class Teacher

An interview with Rebecca Doganay, Primary Teacher and Upper KS 2 Coordinator


Rebecca Doganay joined the British School of Bucharest in 2017 as a Year 5 teacher and PHSCE Coordinator. Rebecca graduated with a degree in Primary Education from the University of Worcester in 2006 before spending two years working within the British school system, in both middle school and primary school settings. She then moved to an international school in Istanbul, where she was subject leader for PHSCE and English, as well as a Year 5 teacher for five years. Prior to joining our School, Rebecca was Head of Year and Humanities, Arts and PHSCE subject leader at another international school in Bucharest. She is also the Coordinator for Years 5 and 6.

Why did you go into teaching?

Both my grandmother and my mother were teachers, so it was a job I grew up with and at times believed that it was the only job people had! When walking through Coventry city centre with my grandmother, we were always stopped by at least one person she taught or someone she worked with and I used to think all teachers were famous! I remember visiting the school where my mum worked, whenever I had an INSET day at my own school, and saw the great relationship she had with the other members of staff, children and parents. I knew from an early age that I wanted to be just like her. I still strive to be the warm and friendly, but also at times quite strict, teacher that she was.

What made you want to join BSB?

I joined BSB because it is, in my opinion at least, the best school in Bucharest. I had already been living in the city for four years before I accepted the job. The main reason I wanted to join BSB is because it is a school that I would be happy to send my own daughter to.

What made you decide to become the Upper Key stage 2 Coordinator? What do you enjoy the most about this role?

I decided to become the Upper Key Stage 2 Coordinator because I really like the pastoral side to School life, in fact this is my favourite part of the job. I wanted to have the opportunity to be more than just a class teacher and to build relationships with the staff and students in Upper Key Stage 2 on a completely different level.

How does your prior teaching experience help you be a better teacher?

My experiences in schools started when I was a baby where I was passed around like a parcel at the school my grandmother worked in and then as a toddler dressed up as various nursery rhyme characters (There is an embarrassing photograph of me aged three dressed up as Little Bo Peep standing outside a school in Coventry) for fun days there! I was lucky enough to see from an early age that a teacher does not work from 8.30am until 3.00pm, despite some people believing this, which meant that I was fully prepared for all the extra time and commitment teachers put into the preparation work they do once the children have gone home. However, the best experience I have had is being better equipped to read situations and change and adapt lessons. I have learnt that it is OK to stop and do something completely different if the lesson isn’t going to plan and revisit it at a different time.

How do you think this ‘new normal’ will impact the students?

I think the ‘new normal’ has made students more flexible in terms of what they can and can’t yet do; more imaginative in the ways that they communicate with each other; and more resilient when dealing with any issues that arise.

How do you connect with your students while practising social distancing?

It is vital to keep the lines of communication going, whether this is having a chat on the bench outside (making sure that you are far enough apart and, when allowed, masks removed so you can see each other’s faces) or talking via a Google Meet. Fortunately, while we were in School social distancing meant we only had to be a few metres apart so conversations can still take place quite easily.

What do you think are the most significant challenges that students are facing today?

Dealing with last minute changes and new rules. I think that the students have all coped well with the sudden change from face to face learning to going online. I was also really impressed with how well all the children in Primary followed the new rules and routines when we stated School in September.

What are the greatest challenges teachers are facing today?

In my opinion the greatest challenge that teachers face, and probably always will, is establishing a work life balance. It is vital that teachers practice what they preach when it comes to mental health and wellbeing.

What is the greatest success you’ve had so far?

Apart from having my daughter and being able to watch her grow up in a completely bilingual world, it would have to be gaining my degree which allowed me to be where I am today.

If you weren’t a Class Teacher and Upper Key Stage 2 Coordinator, what would your dream job be?

As I love food, my dream job would be something in that field. Either owning a restaurant attached to a farm where the food produced was sourced each day and the menu changed daily according to what was available; or a restaurant reviewer for Michelin, AA or Rosettes.

And finally: tell us something unexpected about yourself.

I was given the nickname OFSTED by a TA who worked with my mother. Fortunately, it didn’t stick as it isn’t the best name for a teacher to have!