The IB has partnered with the University of the People (UoPeople) to address the global shortage of qualified educators. This year, we are funding 140 educators on their way to earning a Master of Education (M.Ed.) degree. We hear from Thao Hoang, an educator from International School Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam to reflect on how access to this programme is shaping her knowledge and career aspirations.
By Thao Hoang
“I personally believe that changing people’s mindsets from fixed to growth is the biggest impact that an increase in qualified educators should make”.
In Vietnamese culture, teachers are respected as much as parents for a simple reason: Education can change the lives of not only the students but their families as well. In other words, education is respected as the most powerful weapon to protect a country and as the strongest base for its economic and social development. This belief has occupied my mind, inspired me and driven me to pursue a career in education.
During the last ten years, my professional experience has exposed me to different educational systems and learning styles, contrasts that are deeply pronounced between public schools and international schools. Students in these schools differ greatly in terms of growth mindsets and ownership of their journey as lifelong learners. It is the International Baccalaureate (IB) educational philosophy that has inspired me to my own lifelong mission: Helping students in public schools close the gap between them and their international school peers. My work as a Master of Education in Advanced Teaching student provided by the University of the People has also empowered me with the knowledge and confidence to fulfill my life mission.
What do you hope to learn through your education with UoPeople?
Since confidence is considered as one of the keys to success, I am determined to build my confidence based on advanced knowledge, global perspectives and a growth mindset within my education. The IB’s scholarship opportunity has provided me with not only applied, research-based knowledge but also valuable opportunities to cooperate and learn from excellent students around the world. The confidence this curriculum has afforded me is key to spreading awareness that: Vietnamese teachers, like myself, can be just as qualified as global teachers; Vietnamese students as brilliant as other students globally; and Vietnam as powerful as developed countries.
“Education can change the lives of not only the students but their families as well”.
According to UNESCO, there is a global educator shortage and we will need almost 69 million new teachers by 2030. What is the importance of this programme in decreasing the gap of qualified educators globally?
First of all, qualified teachers with growth mindsets always the possess internal motivation in themselves to go beyond local problems to keep improving pedagogical approaches and inspire their students to learn with a belief that intelligence can be developed. Besides enhancing the community’s intelligence, I personally believe that changing people’s mindsets from fixed to growth is the biggest impact that an increase in qualified educators should make. As mentioned previously, Vietnamese students are strongly influenced by their teachers; this includes their practices and mindsets. Once their fixed mindsets are successfully converted into growth ones, students become more self-motivated and engaged in academic subjects and skills while enjoying the learning process and embracing challenges to obtain higher achievements in their academic and social lives. Accordingly, they show brilliant competency and confidence to employ leading duties in such an unstable and ever-changing world as active global citizens. In conclusion, local teachers and students are not the only ones that benefit from cultivating knowledge from exposure to qualified educators but the entire community can also receive the benefits from this significant transformation in education.
Could you tell us about your first teaching experience?
“The more I get engaged in teaching and understand the importance of this career, the more I desired to learn to improve myself and inspire other teachers to learn, share and grow together”.
Playing teacher was my favorite childhood role play game and during my school time, the ways teachers introduced the topics, gave instructions, dealt with students’ misbehavior and inspired students t earned my utmost admiration. However, my decision to become a teacher had not committed seriously until my first teaching experience in a small English language center. I was so excited to teach an ESL class with about ten little kids, either at kindergarten or primary ages and all with different levels of English experience.
Even though I prepared very well for the first lesson, what happened was just a disaster! I failed to put them in the right groups and give each group different tasks to do while I monitored the whole class to ensure all the kids were on tasks. Putting aside disappointment after the first class, I reflected to determine what knowledge and skills I need to learn and improve to be a more skilled teacher who can manage students and inspire them to learn in a positive and effective way. The more I get engaged in teaching and understand the importance of this career, the more I desired to learn to improve myself and inspire other teachers to learn, share and grow together.
As an educator, what aspects of the IB inspire you the most?
I believe it is the IB educational philosophy that inspires me the most, as when it aims to develop students as a whole, not focusing on academic subjects only. According to the IB learner profile, students are encouraged and empowered to be independent and inquiring as lifelong learners; active and balanced as global communicators, open-minded, caring, and willing to take risks as true leaders. Meanwhile, a positive and inclusive learning environment is successfully created to actively support students to learn for themselves, to contribute to the community, and to inspire others to learn with confidence and efficiency.
Currently, Thao Hoang is working as an assistant in an IB international school in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. She also has a part-time teaching job at a local English center for Vietnamese students from public schools. In 2020, when the whole world was struggling in a pandemic caused by COVID-19, Thao was granted a scholarship by IB to continue her Master of Education in Advanced Teaching degree. The most important value she has received is the confidence to carry out her life mission as an educator thanks to the knowledge and global learning experience she gained from each course of the degree.
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