David is an Outdoor Educator teacher at ICHK Secondary.
Why did you want to become a teacher?
One of my first jobs in outdoor education was running team-building initiatives for students. I remember I had a group from inner-city London and the first thing the teacher said to me was “This group is trouble…”. I nervously proceeded and tried to put this ominous comment aside.
Over the 5 days the students had the chance to show and develop strengths that their classroom just didn’t allow. The teacher was stunned as his trouble-makers changed into motivators, carers, problem-solvers, conflict-resolvers, all with a new perspective of their own capabilities. This is when I realised that this style of outdoor experiential education is important for young people and I decided to make it my career.
What is your first memory from school?
Story-telling time in infant school and not being able to move because my friend fell asleep on my shoulder.
What makes a ‘good day’ at school?
Being outdoors, having fun, seeing students stretch themselves and feel proud, engage with nature and have ‘wow’ moments. Helping children learn a new skill like riding a bike or cook a meal. Getting muddy.
If I walked into your classroom on a typical afternoon, what would I see going on?
Swinging from ropes, splashing through streams. Students making decisions and leading themselves.
What are your “trapped on a desert island” books or movies?
100 Years of Solitude, books on social and behavioural psychology, Big History books
What is the hardest thing about being a teacher?
As an outdoor educator,we may only see some students a few times a year, so we need to quickly adjust the program in-field as you learn the group dynamics, the individuals abilities and interests, then build rapport and deal with a changing natural environment. I often wish I could go back and redo days differently.
What inspires you?
When students realise there is more potential in them than they know.
What is your greatest accomplishment?
Organising a climbing trip for colleagues to Mt Haba and Mt Daguniang in China. I find there’s something amazing about being stood on top of a mountain above the clouds and even better when that’s shared with friends who never thought it was possible for them to do it too.
What would the students be surprised to find out about you?
I’m often scared of heights.