From Startup to School: Indrė Douglas Explains the Importance of Diverse Experience for Today’s Educators
In the modern job market, a professional with diverse work experience, a variety of skills, and abilities is highly valued. However, less often is this considered when thinking about educators – is it enough for a teacher to have the appropriate education?
Erudito Licėjus English teacher, Indrė Douglas, states that the opportunity to explore different fields and career paths has given her numerous advantages that help her view teaching from a different perspective. Having obtained a Bachelor’s degree in History and Classical Literature from the University of Leeds in the UK, before embarking on the path of teaching, she worked as a translator. Later, she gained extensive experience in technology, communication, and education by joining a technology startup.
“These experiences helped me to understand people better and improve my English language skills. Working with individuals and companies from various corners of the world broadened my horizons, providing me with the opportunity to learn how to promote equality and diversity in my environment. I apply this acquired experience in my teaching job by emphasizing mutual understanding, information delivery, and, of course, issues of equality and rights”, says the teacher. She approaches her subject matter much broader than just a lesson focused on teaching new words and rules of English usage.
A broad outlook reflected in teaching methodology
Indrė Douglas’ diverse experiences before choosing the path of a teacher allowed her to learn how to effectively and engagingly impart knowledge. This helps her to look beyond the subject matter – she integrates inclusive and experiential learning into her lessons.
“The importance of inclusive education could be illustrated by this analogy: You can teach someone to write by giving them writing tools and explaining how to do it. However, if you want the person not just to learn to write but also to comprehend the importance, beauty, and essence of writing, you must show them an already created poem, novel, or other written text. Inclusive education is akin to understanding and reading that poem or novel together. When you provide additional context to the student, demonstrating how the use of the English language conveys meaning in arts or other fields – that’s when you allow the student to truly understand and grasp the language”, says Indrė.
The teacher mentions that she often diversifies her lessons by visiting museums and galleries. “By exploring and appreciating artworks, we analyze and try to understand their essence, what they try to convey, and raise questions about the connection between art and humans. Later on, we build upon these experiences in subsequent classes, where students have the opportunity to apply these experiences in their writing, speaking, or reading”, she explains.
A different approach to education and learning
While many things in the education system are often measured through knowledge testing and test results, Indrė Douglas believes that the essence lies not in the final result but in the progress made throughout the entire process. “The result is quite a relative thing – it can depend on countless circumstances. Speaking of progress, what delights me the most is the students’ willingness, engagement, motivation to learn more, apply acquired knowledge, use ideas, and create together.”
Another crucial aspect for her is the relationship between a student and a teacher. According to her, it’s one of the most important parts of the learning process. “Learning is based on connection and communication. The teacher is like a tool that a student can use while learning. If a student doesn’t use this ‘tool’ or the teacher doesn’t allow it, no learning will take place. By establishing a connection with the student, a teacher can not only ensure a quality learning process but also inspire the student to acquire knowledge and apply it in practice”, says Indrė.
Douglas is passionate about arts, literature, and history, concerned about environmental and human rights issues, and volunteers in various organizations. When asked how these activities and hobbies contribute to children’s education or her own competence development as a teacher, Indrė emphasizes that arts, literature, and history are excellent means to cultivate critical thinking, morality, understanding, and appreciation of the world in English.
“During lessons, we often raise, discuss, and examine questions related to human rights and global issues. I believe that constantly raising and discussing these issues is necessary; we must find solutions that could change our environment. Ultimately, these discussions and the analysis of textual and visual sources also allow me to grow together with my students. Defending human rights and helping others are actions that each of us can take to make the world a better place to live for everyone”, she says.
Having explored other professional paths, Indrė returned to her long-time dream
After trying herself in the profession of a translator and working in a startup, Indrė Douglas decided to return to her long-held dream and pursue a career as a teacher – she started working as an English teacher at the Erudito Licėjus.
When asked what fascinates her about the teaching profession, Indrė responds: “It’s an activity where I can share my knowledge and experience and help others. The ability to explore, understand, appreciate, and create the world together with others is incomparable; there probably isn’t a better feeling.”
At Erudito Licėjus, Indrė has been working for two years. She says that the lyceum’s teaching philosophy resonates strongly with her, and she is happy to work at a school whose approach to teaching and learning aligns with her own beliefs.
“I think this school is innovative, student-oriented, allowing everyone to unfold and having a strong, open community. I feel like I work in a team where we trust each other, consult and seek solutions together, contribute to the creation and improvement of quality and modern education”, emphasizes Indrė Douglas.