Portrait de professeur : Karl Watts
Karl Watts, professeur d'anglais, de littérature anglaise et coordinateur du Dual Diploma, est également en charge du cours d'initiation à la théorie de la connaissance (TdC), au programme de notre 2nde Internationale et au programme du Baccalauréat International (IB) au sein du Cours Hattemer.
Your role at Hattemer and the classes you teach:
For the last four years, I have been teaching English at Hattemer. I have taught across the three boards since I arrived, meaning primary, secondary and high school. Today, I am mainly concentrated on primary and high school. I teach various forms of English, ranging from English Language, English Literature, T.o.K Initiation in 2nde International to the Theory of Knowledge in the IB Program. The Theory of Knowledge is a course based on epistemology, the study of the nature and origin of our knowledge. A subject that students often find very interesting but not always easy to access as it does have a certain philosophical approach to it. However, it does broaden their minds and helps them analyse life from a tangent, a new perspective. We have also just introduced a very simple form of classic literature in the primary classes to give the pupils a little insight into English culture. This is in addition to the course books we use which provide students with different themes so as to vary their vocabulary and gradually introduce simple grammar. When I am not in the classroom or marking papers or researching material to develop lessons, I work as Dual Diploma Coordinator for the American Baccalaureate for Hattemer students who are either on-site or remote learners. Here I accompany the pupils who may have certain difficulties and act as a sort of local safety net so that they may feel more reassured.
Your teaching experience:
I began my studies in England but left when I was quite young so continued when I arrived in France. I first did a degree at La Sorbonne in Language and Civilisation and then later through the Open University in England I did a partial degree in Linguistics and the Evolution of the English Language through the Times. This is what I feel adds colour to what I teach and how I teach and gives the pupils more depth to what they learn rather than providing just basic material. I have also worked at university and in engineer schools preparing students for various English language and French exams where I was also an examiner for the French concours. When working in further education, in companies, I would teach employees and employers more business-oriented English, preparing them for presentations or accompanying them on business trips or being their interpreter in seminars for instance. At the same time, I was a freelance translator for companies in general but mainly pharmaceutical societies working on the development of new medicines.
What you love the most about your job:
What I love most about this profession is the idea that we are preparing people for their future so that they can improve the quality of their lives in certain aspects. When a pupil’s face lights up having understood something and realised that they are indeed capable of taking that information on board and improving themselves, it is priceless. The fact that my knowledge becomes theirs and that one day that knowledge in one way or another will be passed on to somebody else in this world, and even after I am gone, fragments of that knowledge will still remain and continue to float through time, a small part of me in fact. It’s romanticism, I know, but it’s a nice image to have.
Your approach to teaching and learning:
This is not an easy one, for there is what should be and there is reality. In my four years of teaching at Hattemer I have not once sent a student to detention. I firmly believe that education is not to be taught with ruler-on-the-knuckle Victorian style methods, especially if you wish to help students attain a higher level of thinking, a higher level of mentality, maturity and character not just knowledge. This is by no means an easy task because students do not understand what you are really trying to give them and it takes a long time to sink in. Change in behaviour is not a switch you flip overnight; it takes time and you have to begin somewhere. However, the day they connect with that frame of mind, be it sooner or later, then I have achieved my goal. There is a blend of long-term and short-term goals in education and the necessary techniques differ and unfortunately, I feel we fall into confusion and sometimes we do not grant certain aspects the time they need. Sometimes we can’t see the wood for the trees and that’s a pity as students could then put their full potential to use which would be so fulfilling for them.
Your plans for the school year 2021-2022:
I will continue to develop my knowledge and techniques within ToK for IB and 2nde International as this is a non-stop process and I would like to consolidate the theme of English literature for primary school. For a while now I have been putting together a data base for Hattemer on the cloud and I want to develop this further providing teachers with material they need at the touch of a button so they can access what want from anywhere they want, phones, pads and classroom computers. I will also improve the running of the Dual Diploma and continue to iron out any creases in the administrative procedures involved so as to simplify the tasks and make everything as transparent as possible for all those involved. The last point is I would like to develop a system whereby students can help themselves to self-help material to improve their English through a drilling system which makes their English more spontaneous. This is in its initial stages but hopefully one day will come to surface. I like to call it H.E.L.P.S (Hattemer English Language Practice Sheets).
Your teaching mantra:
Savoir est le début et ne suffit pas, il faut agir !