WONDERful Advice from our WW Guest Blogger — Tom How, Istanbul, Turkey
Hi, my name is Tom How (aka Tom Teacher). I have recently been appointed as Head of Foreign Languages at my new school here in Turkey. For the past six years, I have been teaching English as a second language to students ages 6 and up.
At Avrupa Koleji (Europe College), we teach 3-year-old kindergarteners and primary students up to 10 years old. The school is part of a large group, and ours is based in Acıbadem, Istanbul. The name of the school, Acıbadem İnovasyon Okulu (“Acıbadem Innovation School”), has the word Inovasyon (“Innovation”) in it, so I wanted to create something that encompassed innovation and teaching English to Turkish students.
Enter Dash & Dot from Wonder Workshop! I spent two weeks researching different ideas and products, and after a lot of time I decided that Dash & Dot were the best thing for my students’ needs.
My first obstacle was that due to exchange rates, this technology is very expensive to buy. When I first suggested the program, it was included in a much bigger idea of teaching innovation via English-language lessons. The school thought it would be a great idea and asked me to prepare a budget for the total. When I presented the budget, it was refused 24 hours later as it was too much money. I did spend some time researching whether or not there was any kind of external funding, but here in Turkey it is very hard to find.
Next, I tried to modify my idea and prepared a new PowerPoint presentation about using Dash & Dot in lessons. Unfortunately, I was met with the same result — a refusal from the school. Yet, being the stubborn person I am, my next step was to present the idea of a coding and robotics club, for which we would need only the Classroom Pack. I suggested that we could enter the worldwide Wonder League Robotics Competition run by Wonder Workshop, which would be perfect for our third- and fourth-grade students.
This time, with the budget decreased (and with the added bonus of a 10% discount for Wonder League coaches) and with innovation being taught through a club model, I figured that I had a winner. So the next day, I presented the idea to the school and waited for the answer. … This time I had the right solution! I was thrilled. I also wanted to buy the xylophone accessory and a multi-charger, but I thought I would be pushing my luck too far, so I just settled for the Classroom Pack.
On Friday, August 25th, the school owner was due to leave for a holiday, so I needed to strike while the iron was hot. When she mentioned that she would be leaving in 15 minutes for a 10-day holiday, I grabbed her credit card, rushed back to my department room, grabbed my laptop, and within 15 minutes (as she was packing her bag), I had ordered the Classroom Pack and had my email confirmation in hand.
Our club will be for third- and fourth-grade students, and I plan to hold two club sessions every Friday afternoon. As a longtime website designer, I also have created a website and registered the domain, www.dashanddot.club, plus I’ve added a Facebook page, which will be launched when school term starts on September 11th. None of this would have happened without the support of our school owner, Nesli, and the school manager, Aynur. I would like to thank them for helping me make all of this possible.
My advice to anyone who wishes to do something like this is: Never give up, keep on trying until you get the compromise that suits everybody. We are looking forward to some fun and games with our students and the community.
Tom How is the Foreign Language Department Head and English teacher at Avrupa Koleji Inovasyon Koleji, Acıbadem, Istanbul, Turkey.