Originally from Madrid, MiniPD coach Fernando Ramirez has had a passion for education for as long as he can remember. “Ever since I was a member of a Scouts group my biggest heroes were always the leaders,” he says. “Some of the people I have admired the most in my life were my teachers.”
It was the influence of a particularly inspiring teacher that led Fernando to pursue a career as a professional orchestral musician – a path that soon had him engaging in the world of education. From observing the teaching styles of his teachers at the Royal College of Music to developing his own style of teaching music to children, Fernando soon discovered just how rewarding teaching could be.
Fernando had been combining performing and teaching for 15 years when he got the opportunity to join an IB school starting a new project in Doha. “This was the beginning of a great adventure for me and my family,” he says. Having also taught part-time in The Netherlands while working with the Orchestra of the National Ballet, and full-time in Qatar, Malaysia and Albania, Fernando brings a truly international perspective to his teaching.
“As a musician and music teacher, it has been a privilege to be exposed to so many different cultures and traditions and to be able to exchange ideas and experiences with artists from different backgrounds,” he says. “Although we live in a global world with easy access to information, there is nothing like hearing the beating of the drums during an Arab wedding, watching a lion dance performance in a Chinese temple, enjoying a gamelan playing for a Barong dance in a festival in Bali, or joining Albanian people as they dance the Valle by the beach.”
This openness to other cultures ties in with Fernando’s belief that a lifelong thirst for learning is the first step to being a good educator. “I approach every lesson, every meeting, every interaction as an opportunity to learn,” he tells us.
It’s an attitude that’s brought Fernando into contact with numerous inspiring mentors and coaches over the years, not least the PYP coordinator who guided him through the process of understanding every element of the PYP and who gave him the confidence to try out his own ideas. “Now that I am a PYP coordinator myself, I try to build my interactions with my team on the same principles of trust and constructive collaboration,” he says.
Now he’s passing the deep knowledge he’s built on to other educators in his role as a MiniPD coach. “I believe that my journey can inspire or help others in the process of developing a better understanding of how a transdisciplinary programme can be designed and implemented,” he reflects. “I can help my learners appreciate, understand and combine all the elements of the PYP in a practical way.”
Fernando’s years of experience have led him to the belief that “it all comes down to having a clear vision of what, how and why we want our students to learn.” Working within the structure and resources provided by the PYP framework, Fernando helps empower teachers to offer students “relevant and meaningful experiences that will equip them with knowledge, deep understanding and transferable skills that will help them become self-regulated learners.”
As with so many of our inspiring MiniPD coaches, Fernando has his thoughts on the future of education, too. He believes that traditionally, teaching and learning have had to play second fiddle to the demands of timetables and teaching spaces. Instead, he wants to start with what’s needed to guarantee the best possible teaching and learning conditions: “I would love to have the opportunity to explore new ways to organise timetables and the use of spaces more flexibly and promote a more organic and natural approach to education.”
Paradoxically, the restrictions placed on teaching and learning during the pandemic have opened up a whole world of possibility and flexibility in how education is delivered, something Fernando is keen to learn from.
“If there is something positive to take away from the current global situation,” he concludes, it’s that “we have learned that teaching and learning can take many shapes and that technology can be used in creative ways to facilitate a range of formats and situations in which students can continue to thrive. Let’s explore them!!”