Ekaterina Plotnikova ’18 sat down with Middle and High School Science Teacher Ms. Amy Bloodworth, who has made coding and robotics a key component of the Middle School Science curriculum and was the recipient of the 2016 Khan-Page Master Teacher Award.
When did you start at TASIS, and what classes do you teach?
I started at TASIS seven years ago, and I teach in both the Middle School and High School. I teach 6th Grade Science and IB Biology.
What else are you involved with at TASIS?
More recently I have become involved with introducing coding and robotics to my Middle School students. If you would have asked me three years ago, I would have not been able to tell you anything about computer science. I got into it through biology because there is a section that’s about trying to process really large amounts of data. I have realized that we deal with a lot of data in our classes, and we need the skills to store and process all that data. I became interested in it then, and now I am involved with it more. I applied for TASIS grants to buy some robotics systems and the kids loved them, and the school has supported me so much.
Can you please describe your educational background and your career in education prior to TASIS?
I am from Bournemouth and spent my whole childhood there. I went to the same school that 10 of my cousins went to. I always knew that I wanted to be a teacher, but I did not know I would be a science teacher. I really liked school because I had some great teachers. I can remember them all—I was very lucky.
I thought I would become a PE teacher because I was fond of gymnastics, and I used to teach trampling. But then I ended up doing science at university. When we had the chance to participate in a work experience in a lab, I instantly knew I wouldn’t be able to get stuck with the same three people during work. I like to talk to people too much, so I did a degree in Biology and then got a post-graduate certificate in education.
I moved to Milton Keynes and taught there for three years. Then I moved to Madrid, and that was my first experience teaching internationally. When I moved to Varese with my husband, we only had a job for him, and I had to be a substitute teacher. I still did lots of teaching, and then I got a job in the school where I was subbing.
I started my master’s degree in Education, and later I got a job in TASIS. I love it. I feel like my life is a pattern of school—I am always here.
Can you briefly describe your teaching philosophy?
Before I became a teacher, I used to think it was all about sharing information with other people. Now it’s so much more than that. People can find information everywhere—they can google it, read books, and so on. I now know that teaching is different: it’s about helping students find out how to learn, rather than just teaching them a subject.
|Education should be full of life and energy.|
I believe in having students physically creating things. For me, I know if someone only talks, I won’t learn. When I experiment and build things, I put the emphasis on me as the learner, and I want my students to feel the same way—as if they are the center of the learning. Being a scientist is about creating something new, so the students have to try. They should understand in their own way, and that takes more than just knowing facts. It requires being creative and ambitious. Education should be full of life and energy.
What do you like most about working at TASIS?
I like that I learn new things too—just like my students. It’s fun for me because I always try to teach material in a different way, engage my students more, and use new technology to make my lessons more interesting.
I like all my students. It is really rewarding to have debates with my IB students and learn what they think about my subject. I feel connected to them because I see them four days a week for two years, and when they graduate it’s like releasing my own children. I feel like I’ve survived the IB together with them, and I was there when they were struggling or nervous or frustrated.
I love my Middle Schoolers because there is something in them that’s full of wonder. They are so passionate that I do not have to assign homework. They go home and do it because they want to and not because they have to.
I love the opportunities that TASIS gives me. I can try new things, and I am supported in professional development. I’ve set a goal of learning more and more about computer science, and the School is happy to send me away to courses. I’m off to the Raspberry Pi Big Birthday Weekend in the UK in a few weeks, and I signed up to learn how to code explosions!
I am growing bit by bit, and I also just heard that my proposal to teach coding as its own course next year has been approved, so I’m really excited! I am a continuous learner, and that makes me a good teacher because I can set a preferable atmosphere. Being a learner always makes you a good teacher.
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