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Q&A with Annalise McNeill, Teacher at Uptown School Mirdiff

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Find out why Annalise McNeill loves teaching at Uptown School Mirdiff!

Trying to get a feel for a school, mama? Look no further than the staff room to find out what kind of teachers make the place tick! We sat down with Annalise McNeill, Teacher at Uptown School Mirdiff, to find out why she became a teacher, how she engages with her students and why she thinks sets Uptown School is a great choice.  

What is your background and training?

I am a 31-year-old Canadian teacher. I attended Queen’s University in Canada and graduated with a B.Ed and B.A.H (Human Geography). After graduating, I moved to London, England where I started out my teaching career doing day-to-day supply cover for a network of schools, followed by long-term occasional work. After two years in London, I moved to Abu Dhabi where I taught Grade 2 in an American curriculum school for a further two years. Afterwards, I moved to Dubai where I taught Year 4 and 5 at a UK curriculum school for three years before moving to Uptown School last year.

What made you want to become a teacher?

As far back as I can remember, becoming a teacher has been the only thing I’ve ever wanted to be. I used to make my little brother play school with me amongst a class of stuffed animal friends!

What do you love about working at your school in particular?

I love the fact that Uptown School truly is an international community under one roof! The students, teachers and staff hail from all corners of the globe which makes it a wonderful place in which to learn and grow. I also believe that the children are what make a school and at Uptown, we are incredibly fortunate to have such a dynamic, engaging and articulate student body. Our children embody the core principles of the IB Learner in their willingness and ability to become truly internationally-minded.

 What is your take on ‘play-based learning’?

My personal style of teaching stems from a belief that students learn best when they are doing. As such, I believe in giving children hands-on, experiential opportunities so that they are fully engaged while learning. As a teacher, I always plan my lessons with each child’s individual needs in mind. Additionally, I try to incorporate creative approaches and hands-on manipulatives so that children are always engaged in the learning process.

What is your favourite game or activity to do with your students?

One of my favourite games to play with my class is “Can I Join Your Club?” To play this game, the ‘leader’ has to think of a specific category (without telling the rest of the class). It could be compound words, famous landmarks around the world, prime numbers, etc. The ‘leader’ must then think of three things that fit their chosen category. So, for example, if the category was compound words they might say to the class: “You can join my club if you are sunshine, a basketball or sunglasses.” (all of these things are compound words) Then, the other students would have to think carefully about the items listed and try to figure out a commonality. They would then take turns proposing to join the club. For example, a student might say, “Can I join your club if I am a rainbow?” The ‘leader’ would say yes (because rainbow is a compound word. Another child might say, “Can I join your club if I am a shoe?” The ‘leader’ would say no (because shoe is not a compound word). I like this game because it encourages students to think outside of the box. It can also be easily differentiated for all ages, interests, abilities and subject areas.

What is one fun fact about you?

I am a strong believer in the healing and restorative powers of Bikram Yoga, and so I try to incorporate elements of yoga and meditation into my regular classroom practice. There are so many benefits that children can gain from practicing mindfulness and stillness on a regular basis!

Brought to you in partnership with Uptown School.

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