“It is our job as educators to ensure that all our students feel they can succeed, and if they feel they can, they will.” – Nicos Paphitis, Cyprus
The Junior and Senior School
Some educators can look to one moment that defines their careers. But not MIE Expert Nicos Paphitis. “I am who I am because of hundreds of defining moments,” he tells us. “From the students who come back after graduating with their kind words of how I inspired them with pep talks, or from the ones who were able to find their path in life through the subject I taught them.”
Some students have stood out in his mind, however. “Students that were classified as ‘weak’ students,” he says. “Students that believed they could do no better than a grade C or D…students who at first would fade away in the background noise of the class, but at some point, turned it around and got A’s. A couple of these students have come back after their exams and told me that it was my constant help and attention that made them realize they could do better.”
And while Paphitis is clearly doing a lot right in his classroom, even an educator as accomplished as he has challenges.
“Differentiating has got to be the biggest challenge in a mixed-ability classroom,” he says. “Finding ways to keep all the students motivated so they can take control of their learning. Stretching students who are far exceeding, while not demotivating students who are either emerging or not meeting expectations must be the hardest part of all. At the end of the day, it is our job as educators to ensure that all our students feel they can succeed, and if they feel they can, they will.”
Just how does Paphitis meet this challenge? Creative and unique learning experiences. His favorite? “Escape the classroom (breakout rooms) as group activities,” he tells us. “The competitiveness between the groups to escape first makes the students forget about any quarrels or differences they have, and they work united for the bigger cause (to escape). Grouping mixed-ability students together is a fantastic way for all the students to contribute and share the tasks required to get the password for the next page.”
Connect with Nicos through his Microsoft Educator Community profile.
About Nicos Paphitis
- Educational background: BEng. Electronic Engineering, MSc Telecommunications and Information Systems
- Favorite Microsoft product, tool, technology: OneNote Class Notebook
- What is the best advice you have ever received? To not look at the pile of work you have left but focus on the piece you are working on now.