About Abena

Just like you, I worked hard for the opportunity to do my dream jobs in education. I’ve taught in various countries around Europe and Asia. Working with all ages from pre-schoolers to adults, and preparing learners for exams ranging across national and international curriculums, I’ve been lucky to experience real diversity in teaching.

My (often-combined) roles have included ESL teacher, tech coach, IB Diploma teaching and learning coordinator, Google Certified Trainer, head of department, department coordinator, teacher trainer, examiner…I love teaching and coaching in whatever form it comes!

I currently teach ELA, Digital Literacy and Writing in a US-leaning, one-to-one (Apple Distinguished) international school in Vietnam.

My teaching stems from the acronym EMPOWER, which I created when trying to encapsulate my core values for students and teachers. It allows me to avoid distraction and remain true to my beliefs around learning.

E – ETHICS: I want to encourage upstanding individuals who have a care for the ecosystem around them, including both living and nonliving beings.

M – METACOGNITION: by promoting the understanding of learning, I hope to enhance the experience of personal development intentionally and with great awareness of what we know tends to work best.

P – PERSONALISATION: every individual is just that – individual. The same approach from last year’s cohort might not suit this year’s so I aim to ensure my lessons address relevant needs.

O – OWNERSHIP: I have delivered teacher-training on student choice and voice, and always strive to ensure this is one of the core features of my teaching. When we feel like we are in the driving seat of our own development, we are so much more effective at reaching our goals.

W – WAYS OF LEARNING: I am not married to any one approach, but rather collaborate with my learners to find out what will best work for them. While I promote enquiry-learning, such as PBL, through my lessons in order to encourage critical thinking, direct instruction (in short bursts) also has a place in my toolkit. I take each approach on its merit and suitability for the learning we are trying to achieve.

E – EMPOWERMENT: in all my teaching, I want learners – whether adult, teens or children to come away feeling they have been given the confidence, strength, knowledge and skills to move forward in their learning journeys. I want to make myself redundant by coaching independent, resourceful and thoughtful learners who know how to achieve their goals.

R – RIGOUR: I believe that enjoyable learning experiences do not have to be ‘fluff’ – learning itself is fun! Therefore, I do not shy away from challenging my students to reach ever higher, ensuring they are supported in their endeavours.

What else? I fill my inbox with blog subscriptions related to one-to-one laptop programs; sustainability & permaculture; the (critically discerning) use of technology; metacognition; student choice & voice; the Flat Classroom; 21st Century skills; PBL; CBC (Concept-Based Curriculum); innovation in education; and secondary school teaching.

I write PD and teaching resources for a number of publishers including Heinemann’s Digital Campus, Teachit and ZigZag Education.

I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to present regularly at various conferences including 21st Century Learning, Teachers Teaching Teachers, Google Apps for Education events and the Global Education Conference.

When I have time, I am an examiner for various boards. This has included Cambridge Young Learner exams, GCSE, A Level and the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme.

I also facilitate student presenters at conferences such as Learning2; it’s an honour to help them get their voices heard.

My qualifications have come from my love of learning and always wanting to find the next challenge. Among the most relevant to my day-to-day teaching and resource writing are Google Education Trainer; Flat Classroom Certificate; Flat Classroom Certificate; and Project-Based Learning Certificate (by PBLU from the Buck Institute of Education).
After a year of English & Drama in London University, I transferred to the University of Liverpool. I graduated with a BA in English & Philosophy. From there, I went on to study for my masters in Education (Applied Linguistics), and the UK’s national teacher qualification – the PGCE – in English & Drama.
Somewhere along the way, I also studied for the Cambridge University Certificates in Teaching English Language to Adults and Young Learners.

Want to take a peek behind the scenes? That’s cool – I always want to know the person behind the logo too!

I’m wife of a truly supportive and patient husband (#justgotlucky), and (always-trying-my-best-but-you-know-what-it’s-like) mum to 3 energetic kids.

The Cheeky Monkeys
Kids collage

Born in London and raised in the north of Ireland, I have an unusual (read: ‘unheard of’) mix of Irish (Mum) and Ghanaian (Dad) genes. #butwhereareyoureallyfrom

Interested to know more? I’d LOVE to learn from / support / laugh / commiserate / collaborate / connect with YOU. Email me any time via learningtoempower@gmail.com or join me on Pinterest – pinterest.com/withreachhigh.

Love your teaching life!

Abena #saywhat