Our Mrs Cojocaru Rocks at Teaching!
An interview with Karen Cojocaru, Class Teacher and Primary English Curriculum Coordinator
Karen Cojocaru joined the British School of Bucharest in 2014 as class teacher and PSHCE Coordinator. She graduated with a Primary Education degree from the University of Lancaster and taught in primary schools in the north of England for a few years before moving to western Germany, spending 10 years teaching in an international environment. During this time, Karen played an important role in setting up a new bilingual international school in Cologne as part of the school’s Leadership Team.
Why did you become a teacher?
For me, there were only ever going to be two career choices – teacher or rock star. As being a rock star was not on the cards for me, a teacher I became. I have always been passionate about education and a firm believer in its power to transform lives. Plus, as my dad used to tell me, I have an insatiable thirst for knowledge, so what better job could I do?
What made you want to join BSB?
After deciding to leave Germany to come to Romania with my Romanian husband, I looked around and applied for teaching jobs in Bucharest and was offered positions elsewhere, but it was the family atmosphere, the dedication to the children’s wellbeing and excellent academic record of BSB that persuaded me to take up my role here. It was definitely the best decision and I am proud to be part of an outstanding school with such supportive families and colleagues.
What are the biggest joys of teaching Primary pupils?
They are always full of surprises! I love listening to them, having conversations and ‘seeing’ the world through their eyes. Their innocence is heart-warming.
What do you take into account when developing the English Curriculum for Primary?
English is my passion. I admit it – I am the Grammar Police! However, there are so many facets to the subject and it is a huge undertaking to develop all of these across the Primary School, especially as the curriculum requirements for children from the very Early Years through to Year 6 are so different and aligned with their development. It is important to address these stages appropriately and to consolidate and build on each child’s achievement as they progress through the School.
I work closely with my colleagues in each school phase to choose texts upon which to base English lessons that will not only expose the children to genres and text types that incorporate the elements of the curriculum we address, but also hopefully inspire children to want to imitate these to develop their own authorship skills. I hold a firm belief that if you let children read and write what they want to read and write, they will learn to read and write; therefore, it is important that we provide them with something that they want to read and write while ensuring we are delivering a top class curriculum.
What do you think are the most significant challenges students are facing today?
Besides the current challenges with schooling online, the world our children live in is so different from the world we lived in as children. It is a more fast-paced, technological world and they are exposed to so much information in so many different ways. They need our support to understand what is important to know and to do, and how to act and react, as a lot of what they hear and see through technology gives them an unrealistic view of what is important in life.
How are you helping the BSB pupils navigate through these special times?
My main concern is their wellbeing. How can I help them feel safe and secure while supporting them to learn? How can I help them understand what is happening while assuring them that everything will be all right? When a child feels safe and supported in school, the rest will follow in time. Strong and trusting relationships are the key.
What is your greatest accomplishment so far?
Apart from raising my own children, who have grown into amazing and responsible adults, there have been so many others! One that stands out is the work I did to receive permission from the German state of North-Rhine Westphalia to open a new school as an alternative to the state provision, which was successful. We also became an IB World School and I received a commendation from the IB for the work I did on developing a bilingual curriculum for English and German. It took over a year and lots of sleepless nights to develop this, but it was worth it.
What do you like about teaching in an international environment?
Having a chance to learn about different cultures and languages is a draw for me. That is so important in developing understanding and respect for our differences as well as understanding that we are all human and that there is far more that connects us than separates us.
If you weren’t a Class Teacher and Primary English Curriculum Coordinator, what would your dream job be?
Is it too late to be a rock star?
And finally: tell us something unexpected about yourself.
I played a part in a UK TV adaptation of Oliver Twist. It is on You Tube, but I won’t tell you where to find it…