Natalie Shaw

Lecturer at ITEps (International Teacher Education for primary schools)

Natalie Shaw, lecturer at ITEps (International Teacher Education for primary schools), believes everyone should have access to the best education. With 15 years’ experience teaching in (International) Schools across the globe, including the UK, Germany China, Cambodia and educational work experience in Thailand and India, she has a wealth of insights to share with her ITEps students.


”ITEps is about teaching creatively”

Schools should be like homes

“One of my biggest passions in this field is making children feel at home in school. They are at school from 8am to 5pm, which is a huge part or their day. And that is why it is so important it feels like their own space. I want us as teachers to think about what we can do to help children feel comfortable in their learning environment. For instance, some teachers might decorate their classrooms completely before the first day has even started, but this means the children cannot really make the classroom their own. If they can use their own personalities to set up the room, then they know it is not just a class, but it is their class. I think this makes a significant difference.”

Emotional lessons

“I am known in Meppel for my workshop on helping children deal with death. It is something children rarely learn about and yet we all come across it in our lives. The workshop is intense and emotional to teach, but it's also fun. We laugh, we cry and I see that it really has an effect on the students, and I think that is valuable. It is way of teaching my students not to shy away from difficult topics and to try to teach them more about them. I myself lived and taught in Liverpool, which is not a wealthy city. I taught kids who would come to school hungry and for whom the first meal of the day was the snack we offered at school. But I also taught kids who came to school in a Mercedes or Porsche. I want to make sure that all those kids know more about issues that affect today’s world, to make sure they get involved and make their voices heard. I try to show my students that they need to be a role model, that they need to be caring, involved and understanding. That way children are more likely to take on this behaviour themselves. Children do not tend to learn well from adults whom they perceive as not authentic! It is really important to be passionate about teaching because children know clearly if you are not.”

Teaching creatively

“ITEps is all about teaching creatively. For example, when the students needed to put together portfolios and give each other feedback on them, they first needed to know what a good portfolio, and a not so good  one, looked like. So, I made a few portfolios, one was an example of a very good one and the rest were examples with the most commonly made mistakes. The students were invited to determine what the differences were. By seeing the mistakes from the less successful ones and understanding how these might be improved upon, students were able to identify what makes a quality portfolio. Then they were better able to give feedback to each other, and this in turn led to them producing better portfolios themselves.

Another nice  example of creativity was when a group of students needed to learn about Piaget and Vygotsky in their first year.The activity was very practical in that they had to write an eulogy to give at the theorists’  funerals. It was a drama activity, but they had to prepare the speech and learn all about the theorists’ life achievements and contributions to education.  They could have just read up about them and summarized the information, but I knew if that was all there was to the activity, students might not be motivated to do it or learn as much from it. With the eulogy, they needed to prepare a speech and as I picked the speakers randomly in class, they all did the work.”

“ITEps is a very warm, accepting community. I think every single student is authentic and socially aware. The most spontaneous and kind things can happen on campus, like students painting Easter eggs and hiding them around Meppel for people to find. It is a really great community to learn and teach in.”