Institute of Education


IOE welcomes International Teacher of the Year

6 September 2017

Maggie Macdonnell

The UCL Institute of Education (IOE) will co-host the Varkey Foundation's International Teacher of the Year lecture today, where winner Maggie MacDonnell will discuss the challenges, opportunities and experiences of teaching in the Canadian Arctic.

Chaired by Professor Becky Francis, Director of the IOE, Ms MacDonnell's lecture will focus on her experiences of teaching in Salluit, an Inuit village that can only be accessed by air and reaches lows of -25c in winter. Due to these harsh conditions, many teachers in this region leave their post midway through the year, and a significant number apply for stress leave.

Ms MacDonnell's teaching approach has dramatically improved attendance in a school that experiences very high rates of teacher turnover (the last principal left after just six weeks). In her talk, Ms MacDonnell will explain how her initiatives such as "acts of kindness" have helped to turn students from "problems" into "solutions". These "acts of kindness" include running a community kitchen, attending suicide prevention training and hiking through national parks to understand environmental stewardship. In addition to this, her students, despite their own challenges, have fundraised over $37,000 for diabetes prevention.

Ms MacDonnell will also discuss the gender issues in the Inuit region of Nunavik, where teenage pregnancies are common, high levels of sexual abuse exist, and gender roles often burden young girls with large domestic duties.

Commenting on the lecture, Professor Francis said:

"We're honoured to be hosting a lecture by Maggie MacDonnell, whose CV is incredibly inspiring, let alone what she has achieved in her current post in Salluit. It's fantastic to be able to celebrate the immense contribution that teachers make to the lives of their pupils and their communities."

Listen to the lecture

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