Molly Marileen DCruze, who teaches at the GEMS Our Own Indian School - Dubai, has an interesting way to enliven her classroom of diverse students. As a facilitator, she changes or modifies her teaching strategies based on her students’ background, a strategy that she thinks really helps her connect with children of different backgrounds and sensibilities.
Molly has a multifaceted teaching background, spanning multiple countries. After completing her education in Kolkata, she started her teaching career with an American international school in India before moving to China. She then moved to Bahrain, before her current role with GEMS Academy in Dubai. Her international exposure, while opening up a world of possibilities, also has had its challenges.
Molly’s journey as an educator has taken her to different places and people. She has taught children of more than 15 nationalities. She loves connecting with young people, especially students, and thinks of herself as an avid learner too. In China, she learned a little bit of Mandarin, and some Arabic when she was in Bahrain. With Indian students, she even brings different Indian languages into the mix, which she thinks really works well in her classroom.
“When I moved to the UAE, it was difficult for me because all my life, I had been working in international schools and I dealt with a majority of students who were not Indian,” she says. “Coming to Dubai, I was working with Indian students for the first time and it was unusual for me. I realized that I needed to understand their culture, and likewise, in a certain way, mould myself so that they accept me the way I am.”
The importance of one-to-one student interactions
When it comes to her beliefs and philosophies as a teacher, Molly insists that every child is different and therefore, each student’s needs differ significantly. It then becomes important for a teacher to forge a personal connection with each student. This is where one-on-one interactions really matter and Molly insists that it builds a teacher’s repertoire.
A personalized approach can be difficult when there are many students in the classroom, but Molly finds ways to work around this challenge. She draws from her own experiences as a student. “The drawbacks that I had in myself as a student, I can see in my own students,” she says. “This really helps me understand them better. Whatever questions I had in my mind when I was a student, I see that my students have similar questions.”
Empowering children with strategies to learn
Molly is a big advocate of arming students with the right learning strategies so that they can motivate themselves and develop their skills in auto education. “It may be new to them at first, but there is a part of the brain that functions well when the new skills are acquired, and young minds pick them up so well,”she says.
“In the classroom, we connect various skills based strategies with games that engages and interests students, and helps them with report writing as well”
As a teacher, Molly constantly looks for resources that can be implemented in her classroom and applied to different problems. For instance, with Callido Learning’s resources, Molly found that the material on how to write an argumentative essay really helped her students, as did the resources on singling out the key details in an essay. “We have a lot of literature in our lessons, so I found that that the Hilo Crisis (a classroom game as part of Callido’s resources) and online resources, on how to identify tone and diction, really made a huge difference to my teaching,” she says.
Another approach that worked well for Molly was that of the ‘wobbly chair’ (an activity from Callido). “We read a poem called Invictus, which tells us how the poet faced many problems in his life and how he was looking for ways to come out of it. We tried to link the poem with real life situations and our own challenges, and therefore, we thought of the wobbly chair. The chair had a lot of problems but then, the tools to fix the chair were readily available. Connecting it with our own life helped students look for solutions on how to fix situations with resources that we already have.”
When it comes to teaching, Molly places huge importance on the personal connection between a teacher and a student, backed with outcome-driven classroom strategies. “Each day and each child is a challenge but once you build a connection with the child, things fall into place and the students feel free to come and talk to you about the issues they are facing,” she signs off.