Teesside teacher makes international waves

05 December 2017
A teacher who is considered among the best in the world brought other teachers from across Europe to Teesside to work together. 

Middlesbrough College’s Dr Richard Spencer, an A Level biology teacher and Head of Science, was already one of ten finalists in the Varkey Foundation’s Global Teacher Prize. 

Now, as part of the Erasmus+ Project, Richard is this week hosting 20 European teachers from nine different countries, including Estonia, Greece and the Netherlands.

Richard, or “Doc” as he’s affectionately known by students, is working with the teachers to develop innovative teaching and learning resources for design, science, technology, engineering and maths (designSTEM) subjects. 

He explained: “I’ve been working with the Erasmus+ group since December last year, and the project will run until 2019, funded by the European Union”.

“We’re using our collective expertise – and experience from our home countries – to build a collection of learning resources for teachers across Europe.

“Middlesbrough College has a STEM specialism so I’m excited to share some of our thinking with the group. 

“As part of the visit I’ll also be showing them around Teesside and the wider North East as the project is also about cultural exchange.”

And Richard’s international exploits don’t stop there.

Most recently he’s spoken at the prestigious QUDWA 2017 Global Teachers’ Forum in the United Arab Emirates – an initiative spearheaded by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Richard, who teaches 60 students, was invited to the international conference to speak about “active learning” and how students can be stretched to reach the highest grades through engaging and interactive teaching and learning activities. 

He joined 900 delegates from 80 countries – and was even quoted by the keynote speaker, Andreas Schleicher of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), in his closing address.

Meanwhile Richard’s commitment to leading a biology field trip in North Yorkshire recently scuppered an invite to speak at an OECD presentation in Paris. 

The invite came on the back of Richard’s involvement as part of the winning team for the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA4U) competition, which attracted entries from 171 different countries.

And if that wasn’t already enough, the Billingham teacher is due to receive an honorary Masters from the Open University in November.

Richard added: “It was a shame to miss the Paris opportunity but my A Level students come first!

“The PISA4U project was exciting and I was able to bring my own teaching resources to the table – including a special enzyme simulation and my famous DNA boogie dance.”
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