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22 April 2024

Get to know Chris Barnes from Hillel Academy

 1.  Let’s start with a glimpse into your professional journey. Can you share a bit about your background?

My journey commenced at The University of the West Indies, Jamaica, where I pursued both my Bachelor's degree in Biology with a focus on Education and my Master's degree in Educational Leadership and Management. These formative years laid a robust foundation for my career in teaching and educational leadership. With a relatively young tenure in academia spanning four years, I've been fortunate to embrace leadership roles, including that of a Curriculum Coordinator. Throughout this journey, I've remained driven by a profound passion for both the subject matter and the pedagogical process, propelling me to consistently innovate and enhance my teaching practice.

2.   What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone starting out their teaching career and one piece of advice to someone who has been teaching a while but wants to incite change in their school?

One piece of advice for someone embarking on a teaching career is to ensure that their motivation stems from a genuine passion for the field. Teaching demands not only knowledge and skills but also emotional investment. It can be emotionally draining at times, and having a deep-seated love for education is vital for sustained growth and fulfillment in the profession.

For experienced teachers seeking to incite change in their school, it's crucial to revisit their initial motivations and remember “why” they chose to enter the teaching profession. Reconnecting with this sense of purpose can reignite their passion and provide clarity in driving forward initiatives for change. Moreover, it's essential for seasoned educators to adopt a growth mindset, viewing challenges not as indicators of inadequacy but as opportunities for personal and professional development. Embracing this mindset enables them to approach obstacles with resilience and a willingness to learn, ultimately fostering an environment of continuous improvement.

3.  When did you/your school begin the journey with IMYC, and how long have you been implementing it?

Our school began its journey with the IMYC six years ago. Since then, we have been dedicated to implementing this innovative curriculum framework, which has greatly enriched our students' learning experiences.

4.  What are the biggest challenges on the horizon for your context/school?

Our primary challenge revolves around striking the delicate balance between academic rigor and holistic learning while preventing staff and student burnout. While we aim to uphold high academic standards, we recognize the importance of providing a learning environment that nurtures students' overall well-being and fosters meaningful connections between curriculum content and their lived experiences.

5.  How has implementing the IMYC helped with improving learning in your context/school?

One of the key benefits is the framework's emphasis on inquiry-based learning, which fosters critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving skills among our students. The curriculum allows our students to extend their knowledge beyond their context and make international connections, enriching their understanding of global issues and perspectives.

Furthermore, the IMYC's flexibility enables teachers to personalize learning experiences and cater to the diverse needs and interests of students. This flexibility not only empowers teachers to innovate and adapt instructional strategies but also fosters their professional growth and development. By continually refining their practice and exploring new pedagogical approaches, teachers are better equipped to meet the evolving needs of their students and create engaging learning experiences.

6.  If you could have any superpower related to your work, what would it be and why?

If I could have a superpower related to my work, I'd be thrilled to have the ability to predict the future! Just imagine the excitement of being able to anticipate upcoming challenges and opportunities in education before they even arise. With this superpower, I'd be able to stay one step ahead, dynamically adapting curriculum, teaching methods, and school policies to ensure our students receive the best possible education.

7.  We’d love to know a bit more about you beyond your professional persona. What do you like to do when you’re not working?

Outside of work, I'm all about the thrill of Broadway musicals, the excitement of anime adventures, and the mind-blowing wonders of space exploration! Whether I'm belting out show tunes, binge-watching the latest anime series, or geeking out over space videos, I'm always up for an exhilarating adventure that sparks joy and ignites my imagination! From musicals such as Hamilton to the epic battles of Naruto, I love diving into worlds filled with creativity, imagination, and endless possibilities.

8.  What's the most interesting thing you've learned recently, inside or outside of work?

One of the most fascinating things I've recently learned is about the phenomenon of aphantasia, where some individuals lack an internal narrator or mental imagery. This revelation has reshaped my understanding of human cognition and perception, highlighting the diversity of experiences within our own minds. Simply shows how unique we all are.

9.  What's your favourite way to unwind and de-stress after a busy day?

My favorite way to unwind and de-stress after a busy day is by calling my parents. Every day at 6:30pm, I make it a point to call my mom and dad. This daily ritual not only helps me decompress, but it also strengthens my bond with my family, providing a sense of comfort and support that rejuvenates me for the days ahead.

10. One thing on your bucket list?

To travel the world and connect with different people and cultures.