An Interview With Mrs. Patrick
Written by: Eva Grzegirczk
Mrs. Patrick is one out of the two new chemistry teachers BISB has gotten over our summer break. She studied Biochemistry at Oxford University and has been teaching Chemistry and Science for around 18 years. She moved to the US with her husband and 3 kids. We sat down with her to learn more about her.
Tell us a bit more about yourself
I'm from the UK and I've moved from Bristol. I am married with my three children but sadly the dog is still back in the UK. I went to Oxford and studied Biochemistry and I have taught at the schools in Oxford and Bristol and Athens, in Greece, where I lived there for 2 years and taught in a British school there. I like to go running, baking, ironing clothes and I am a Liverpool fan.
How did you find your first few days at BISB?
Well, everyone was very welcoming, it was a very friendly place, there was a lot to take on board straight away, with technical difficulties, with ManageBac, school email, Teams, and OneNote. Lots to get set up and organize. I like how it is a small school compared to the previous schools that I worked in before. Despite also only teaching Middle and High school, I also get to see the Lower school as well, which allows me to see them as they're walking around from place to place, which makes it quite nice, being such a small school, having the little kids in the same building as the Middle and High, which is what's different to what I've experienced before. That's really nice, each year group being small enough that you get to know all the different year groups, even if you don't teach them. You can be a big school and that has it's advantages but the advantage of a small school is the community sort of feeling and atmosphere, good relation between staff and pupils as well as pupils and pupils because you get to see each other and know each other so well. So I think that's my impression of the school.
Why did you choose BISB?
I chose BISB because I wanted to move to the US for a change, and bring a cultural experience for my kids, having lived abroad previously and taught abroad and really enjoyed the experience. We wanted to do that for our children as well, but we didn’t want it to be somewhere which would be hard for them to settle, so English speaking countries, but I also have a brother who's a US citizen, living in North Carolina for 10 years, so although it's not the same state, it's the same east coast, so it's close enough so we get to see each other more than we used to. I was also looking for a science teaching job, but I also do know Mr. Corrie very well when he lived in Bristol, so speaking to him, it made me aware of BISB.
I teach chemistry because I really love chemistry and biology. At a school level, I find chemistry a bit more interesting than biology. Theory of Knowledge is completely different in many ways, but also you can bring a scientific perspective as think about different areas of knowledge. It's good to be thinking about different areas of knowledge and what knowledge is. It is a fascinating subject to study and teach and I think it is a hugely valuable skill for young people to gain experience in, with critical thinking and analysis. The things it will teach you to do are things that will be very valuable. Although you come in and might not understand TOK immediately, ultimately, it will get very interesting and I think you'll gain a lot from it, but only if you do it. If you don’t do the work, you'll find it hard all the way through.
What attracted you to teaching?
The fact that I love chemistry, and biology, has always been my favorite subject. I love understanding the world around me, why things happen, and what things are made of, and I really enjoy sharing that with people, also when you teach, as a profession, you're always learning, students ask good questions. However, I sometimes find it hard to articulate why I like teaching so much, like why do I want to be a teacher in the first place. However, as I was growing up, my mother was a head teacher and I was always told that I was going to be a teacher because I was very good at telling people what to do and organizing people and giving directions. It's weird because you can fall into becoming a teacher but then trying to articulate being a teacher, but there's just something very rewarding about people learning and helping people to learn. That's really nice to have that in your job, being able to make a difference. A lot of professions make an impact and even those that you think don’t, through the pandemic, we can see that a lot of jobs make a huge impact. However, on a personal level, I just enjoy teaching.
What were your teaching experiences during COVID?
I think online learning is very hard, especially when you teach a practical subject where you can't really do the practical work. I think it’s also very tiring looking into and talking into a screen all day, particularly with Middle and High school students, who don't really want to have their cameras on, so you're talking to a blank screen and you just don’t get that interaction and feedback that you get in the classroom. So I think it was hard for teachers and it was hard for students as well. Covid was also definitely a time where you appreciate the things we took for granted all the time. Even when we were back in the classroom, we couldn't get too close to the student, meaning we couldn't get around which made it much harder to do the work. You don't get the same experience to see what people are writing compared to what you think they're writing down and then you go and look and think "Oh that’s not quite right", which made teaching and learning much harder.
Do you have regrets from your school life?
I slightly regret not taking A-Level physics. I took Biology, Chemistry, Maths and Further Maths and so there wasn't space to do physics, so I sort of regret not doing it. I would have done Maths instead of Further Maths. I also slightly regret taking IGCSE Art instead of German.
Do you have any advice for students that are about to take their IGCSE/IB exams?
Do as many practice questions as you can. The more practice questions you do with past papers, the better. This is because papers tend to come up with similar type of question and more exposure to the different question types will be good.
Do you have any advice for students who are entering the IB?
IB is a broad thing where it's more of choosing things you enjoy and things you're good at. Working consistently is also very important, like in chemistry if you work all the way through, you'll be fine. It's like building a wall, it's layers that you build on, whereas other subjects, they aren't as connected. Physical geography, human geography, yes there are connections and overlaps, or different time periods of history where you might be studying Roman history and then World War History, if you haven't learned your Roman history, you can still answer questions from your World War history, unlike Chemistry, if you haven’t learned your atomic structure, you're not going to be able to do your structure and bonding and if you haven't done your structure and bonding, then you won't be able to do some of the reactivity. My biggest advice would be to work hard throughout and revise as much as you can.
We thank Mrs. Patrick for speaking with us and we wish her all the best in teaching Chemistry, Science, and TOK in BISB.