I am all for San Anton’s hands-on teaching style (effective and so refreshing!) and my experience with teachers there so far (Special shout out to Ms Francesca and Ms Nadine) has been nothing short of fantastic! I have been wanting to interview an SAS teacher for a while now and today I’ll be shining some light on Mel Demajo, what she does and to thank her for doing it so well.
Mel teaches Grade 2 (boys and girls aged 5 and 6) at San Anton School. Her passion, enthusiasm and pure love for what she does evidently shines through her carefully selected day to day activities. Her style is creative; by encouraging hands-on learning, she seeks to expand the children’s knowledge whilst playfully exposing them to important life issues.
Here she is …. always smiling, so energetic and quite evidently, lots of fun …..
Mel, what led you to becoming a teacher and what is your philosophy on teaching?
For as long as I can remember I have always been a magnet for young children wherever I went, in fact I’ve been called Melly Poppins and also the Pied Piper quite a few times because children tend to gravitate towards me. Once I left San Anton, at 16, I went to study childcare in the U.K. as at that time there weren’t any courses locally. I feel like I have been studying ever since, as I believe you always have to keep up to date with ever-changing policies and practices. In fact I am still studying now, as I am currently reading for a Masters in Early Years.
My philosophy on teaching is that I want to create a life long love for learning which means I strive to keep it as hands on and play-based as possible, as throughout my years I have found that these methods work best with young children.
What basic principles do you give importance to when creating your learning themes?
I believe that educators should focus on themes that children are keen on. If they are interested in something, they will naturally want to learn more about it. I also think it’s important for the children to be given the space to inquire. I’m a firm believer in not giving them an answer before they have asked to look into it for themselves. As an educator, you also tend to get children interested in what you are passionate about; for me it’s the environment! I believe that if we want a sustainable future we need to start educating young children as they are the ones who can make a difference to the future of our planet. I am also very passionate about healthy eating and I believe that if we instill healthy eating habits in children from a young age then they will find a love for it that will stay with them throughout their lives. In my class I have a strict healthy eating policy which I find really works as the children all want to please their teacher so they actually ask their parents for healthy foods, I also give out healthy eating awards which gives some the push they need to try an array of foods.
Do you endorse a particular style of teaching?
Our pedagogy is based around play-based, hands-on, cross-curricular methods which I am very passionate about since there has been plenty of research to show that these methods work best, especially with young children.
Your creative teaching style is really refreshing; can you share some of the things you get up to with your kids in class?
Where do I start…… from traveling to India, Africa and Egypt (with their imagination), to camping overnight at school, to hatching chicks, to experiencing a real butterfly life cycle, to healthy eating and cooking, to making natural dyes and paints, to the children becoming super world cleaners on a mission to clean the planet ….. and that is just this year!!!
In your experience, what do the kids really respond to?
They respond to things that interest and matter to them. If you stick to what interests them they are bound to be engaged in the learning. I also find that if the children help with the planning of the theme then they are actively involved in the whole process which empowers them to want to delve deeper into their learning.
What has been your most treasured moment as a teacher?
Every single step of the way!!! I treasure every minute that I spend with the children as teaching gives me so much joy! I treasure each and every single achievement of theirs as the pride on their face is priceless!!
Is there anyone in the teaching world that inspires you?
So many different pedagogies inspire me and I feel you have to use what best suits your cohort as education can’t be one size fits all!
At the end of the year, if there is one thing that you’d hope your students to walk away with, what would you hope it to be?
A love for learning. What more could any teacher ask for?