Episode 20 – Mareike Hachemer


mareikehachemer“I think as humans we tend to think of success as being self-made … and feelings of failure to be caused by someone else, maybe a bad teacher, and that is often true, I guess. But, I think we don’t give the good teachers enough credit, because we take them for granted, like we sometimes take other good people in our surroundings for granted,” says Mareike Hachemer, an educator of 14 years from Wiesbaden, Germany, on the importance of uplifting the teaching profession in the eyes of society. “I think it’s important for us to share their stories as teachers … ask them how they contribute to the global goals. And I think it’s important that we continue convincing education journalists to take a new approach.

“We focus on the negative,” continues Mareike as she discusses the tendency of top news stories about teachers focusing on things like sexual harassment or teachers who publicly shame students. “…but I think it’s important that we also focus on what’s being done, what works, why does it work …. A more prominent position for education news. Lots of big newspapers only have education news once a week or once there is something very big like an international study. There are so many stories about education that need to be told and that the public can learn from and teachers can learn from and students and parents can learn from. I think those need to be shared more often and they need to be on a similar importance as news about the economy or news about other social or medical advancements, and they certainly need to be on a higher level than real estate and pop culture.”

Fast Facts about Mareike

  1. Full name: Mareike Hachemer
  2. Years Teaching: 14
  3. Grade(s) taught: K5-13 and university level
  4. Current position: Teacher, UNESCO-Delegate, Global Educator Task Force at TeachSDGs.org
  5. Current city: Wiesbaden, Germany
  6. Favorite resources:
  7. Why teach: Because 60 Million teachers and 1.2 Billion students have the power to change the world!

Noteworthy Outtakes from Mareike’s Chat

As the third Global Teacher Prize Finalist to chat with teachers, Mareike talks to listeners about the need for teaching global citizenship and building the skills in our own classroom that will help lead to students who are self-directed learners who are critical thinkers, productive citizens and lifelong learners.

“[Teachers must take opportunities to implicitly teach] the social emotional skills, and the behavioral skills, so that [students] can make a difference, locally, nationally and globally,” says Mareike. “That first started for me when I asked a group of 15-year-olds, who they thought could make a difference in the world, and they all said no one can.”

Mareike shared how her students insisted people like Bill Gates could make a difference in the world but remained unconvinced about other examples she presented to them. “They also tended to look at those change makers in a very negative way and suggested that they had ulterior motives, or that they just wanted to be in the center of attention, or that they just wanted to, I don’t know, be self-important. From that, came the idea of letting them try to make a difference.”

Mareike’s students were then tasked with a four-week challenge to make a difference. She discusses the challenges her students faced at first with doubt and their tendency to think up overly ambitious ideas. However, she then talks about the opportunity for building problem solving skills, and learning about scaling their ideas down to meet their tight four-week deadline. Part of the work also included the need to consider possible setbacks. In the end, students were able to see ways they could make a difference in the world by offering tutoring to peers, visiting a local animal shelter or helping the homeless.

Through perseverance and reflection, listen in as Mareike shares her passion for helping students reach their full potential and become active citizens.

Episode 19 – João Couvaneiro


João_Image1“Every kid has a smart phone in his pocket, most kids have iPads or tablets or devices like that, and with these mobile devices we can have access to the world,” says Mr. João Couvaneiro, a High School history teacher in Almada, Portugal and a 2017 Top 50 Finalist for the Global Teacher Prize. “If you bring this technology to the teaching methods, you are using the tools that kids are using in their daily life. [Students] are hyper connected, they are doing lots of stuff online and we can use it for good or for bad… Bringing these devices to the teaching process, we are dealing with the tools that kids recognize and feel that are useful for all their learning.

“For instance,” João continues, “if we adults are at a dinner and speaking about a subject
that we don’t know that much about, we Google the thing we are speaking of. Why not do that in the classroom? I’m a history teacher … if I am speaking about the New Deal in the States, or if I am speaking about Mussolini, or if I am speaking about the European
construction, I can have access right now to lots of media that is available online, and that enriches my teaching process. So I can be more effective in the teaching I am doing if I am using all the resources available … so why shouldn’t we bring the technology that we have available in our daily life to the classroom? Students are very fluent with these technologies, teachers sometimes are not that fluent, but if teachers are comfortable with the idea of not leading the process all the time, but scaffolding the process, teachers can achieve much better results using these powerful tools.”

João_Image5Fast Facts about João

  1. Full name: João Couvaneiro
  2. Years teaching: 21
  3. Grade(s) taught: 7th-9th grade and college courses
  4. Current position(s) and location(s):
    • Mozambique – Teacher and Teacher Trainer (School in a Box)
    • Portugal – Deputy Director of the National Agency for Qualification and Vocational Education (ANQEP)
  5. Current city of residence: Almada, Portugal
  6. Favorite books:
  7. Mentioned during our chat:
    • UNESCO: Encourages international peace and universal respect for human rights by promoting collaboration among nations.
    • School in a Box: A community digital engagement project developed by the Institute of Art Design and Technology (IADT), Dun Laoghaire, Ireland. The School in a Box project is a program in Mozambique that João helps to facilitate the advancement of local teachers in incorporating the use of film and digital technologies to enhance learning among a typically underprivileged community of learners.
    • Apple Distinguished Educator

Noteworthy Outtakes from João’s Chat


João Couvaneiro, a son of teachers, lives and breathes teaching – whether in his own history classroom in Portugal, or in schools in Mozambique that are often times a far distance to travel to and from, are overcrowded, and lack an adequate number of quality teachers.

Having been a former oversees territory of Portugal, Mozambique is also João’s birth place, and so when he was asked to join the School in a Box Project through UNESCO, he jumped at the opportunity to help train teachers on how to use technology to enhance student learning.

Listen in as João talks about how this work aims to support teachers in becoming comfortable with using iPads and setting up projection and solar energy components. Teachers are also trained to quickly and easily create lessons using these technologies. The focus entirely being on making learning relevant and meeting the needs of bringing students in Mozambique into the 21st century.

João_Image2João’s commitment to teacher development, in a still rather underdeveloped community, is evident in his description of the very real struggles teachers and students continue to experience.

“[Empowering] teachers right now in Mozambique and in Portugal, it means different things,” says João. “In Mozambique the wages of the teachers are very low, some of them struggle a lot just to arrive to the school because there is no public transport system, they have to take several private transports to arrive just in school. It is a very difficult reality. The school we are working in it’s a school with 5,000 students, so teachers don’t have good conditions to work… showing [teachers] different technologies, showing them that they can use different tools that we are providing them [allows them to] have access to all the resources that we have in Europe or the States.

“They can have, right now, access to the internet. They can use different apps to enhance their lessons, so they are bringing their teaching to the 21st century, and that is empowering teachers,” continues Mr. João. “…being a teacher in Mozambique right now, it is not that different from what teaching was 100 years ago, with a book, in front of the class, the students in a passive mode. Changing that allows these teachers to be a teacher of the 21st century… so we are allowing teachers in Mozambique to be teachers of the present.”

Here is a sneak peek at João, and the School in a Box Project, working on empowering teachers in Mozambique through the use of technology:

Along with his commitment to his work in Mozambique, João also shares about the work in his own high school classroom in Almada, Portugal. Additionally, he talks about what it’s like taking on all the projects that he does while also being a husband and father to a nine-year-old son and newborn baby boy. Here is a look at João’s students in Portugal:



Episode 17 – Estella Owoimaha-Church


EstellaimageFind ways everyday to avoid the isolation,” reflects Estella Owoimaha-Church, a top 50 finalist for the 2017 Global Teacher Prize as she discusses the heartfelt validation she felt among colleagues at the recent ceremony in Dubai. “The isolation, I think, is what leads to the depression and teachers leaving the field in […] hoards, it’s the isolation – we’ve got to figure out how to avoid that. So connecting with like-minded teachers and working with like-minded teachers, and doing everything we can to uplift the entire profession. I know that’s hard and we maybe didn’t sign up for that, but I think it’s kind of on us now and I appreciate Varkey, Mr. Sonny Varkey and the Varkey Foundation, for what they’re doing to do that around the world. We’ve got to avoid the isolation.

Fast Facts about Estella Church

  1. Full name: Estella Owoimaha-Church
  2. Years teaching: 11
  3. Grade(s) taught: 9-12 grade, High School
  4. Current position:
  5. Current City: Los Angeles, CA
  6. Favorite books:
  7. Favorite resources:
  8. Mentioned during our chat:
  9. Why teach: “You can’t lead the people if you don’t love the people. You can’t save the people if you don’t serve the people.” (Dr. Cornel West)

Noteworthy Outtakes from Estella’s Chat

The high rates of incarceration in the United States are felt far beyond prison walls. From resentment, anger and a student track record that went from a gifted and talented student on the brink of failing out of High School, Estella understands firsthand the impact of EstellaQuotedigging herself out of a hole she dug herself into in a subconscious attempt to lash out at her imprisoned mother.

“It takes empathy, it does.” says Estella as she discusses the importance of practicing empathy in order to build relationships and the power of allowing yourself to be vulnerable with your own truth to help your students, in turn, be vulnerable with you.

Estella goes on to say, “I teach it explicitly but […] we have to believe no matter what, in our kids, in who they are, where they come from, and love them, period. That’s it, there’s no asterisk, no side note, no subtext, that’s it. And if you can’t do that, if you can’t love the kid in front of you, no matter religion, no matter race, no matter ethnicity, nationality, immigration status – if you can’t love the kid in front of you, without them having to do anything or ever speak a word, then this isn’t the field for you.”

Despite her difficult upbringing, Estella spends time describing the need for teachers to be willing to have an open heart and to learn from their mistakes. Her vulnerable honesty about her childhood, migrant parents, imprisoned mother and an eventual rebound thanks to some very inspirational teachers she’s had along the way, helps to capture Estella’s passion for teaching to the whole child.

Validation is another component of Estella’s work as a Varkey Ambassador, as she also recognizes that many in the education field have long felt demonized in this profession. Listen in as she describes her sincere feeling of validation among other finalist at the recent Global Teacher Prize ceremony in Dubai and how, if she could, she would bottle up that feeling of validation and pride and share it in every teacher’s morning cup of coffee.