Anthony Kelly / Dong Yuan Elementary School



Many factors shape an educator's teaching style. The following article provides my background information of education and teaching experience along with my goals as an educator. I've included what I see as some of the responsibilities of a teacher to their students first and foremost, and to society in general.


Education and Teaching Experience

  My rewarding career as an educator began in a place I didn't expect, the same university from which I received my degrees in art. A love for drawing led me to study art (printmaking) at university, and this soon grew into a love for teaching. While completing my master's degree I began teaching “Beginning Drawing” at Marshall University in Huntington, WV. After graduation I stuck around as part-time faculty teaching drawing, directing the campus art gallery, and completing certification in TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language). The TEFL certification was to prepare me for my first teaching job abroad at an international high in Shanghai, China.

  Though planning to only spend a year in Shanghai, I taught at Shanghai High School International Division for twelve years from 2004 to 2016. After settling into the new environment, I realized how much I enjoyed teaching art and English to these second and third language learners. At the international school I was getting as much of an education as I was giving. The experience not only helped shaped my philosophy on education, but also showed me regardless of culture, students around the world share much more in common than they have differences.

  I returned to the US in 2016 to establish my art studio (, and teaching was never far from my day-to-day. From providing after-school art lessons to neighborhood children to online tutoring for Elite English out of Beijing, China my experience teaching only became more diverse. Just before leaving the US to take a teaching position at Dong Yuan Elementary, I was substitute teaching at public schools in Ohio. Even though I enjoyed the position in the public school system in the US, it wasn't as nearly rewarding as teaching abroad.

My fiancée and I at Shanghai International Film Festival 2018

The wood-fired kiln at A Wayne Studio in OH, USA


Education Ideology

  Having spent the majority of my teaching career at an international school in Shanghai, China, I've had the opportunity to teach students from all across Asia and the world. My experience with grade 7 through grade 12 students in this setting has given me the ability to find common ground amongst all students while appreciating the differences which make each student special. Most all students are confronted with the same problems, and each has their own unique abilities for coping.

Teaching a grade 11IB Visual Art Class

  A leader in the American public-school system in mid-19th century, Horace Mann, famously called education the “great equalizer”. This brief quote was enough to impact my life tremendously. The idea a quality education can give the less advantaged the same beginning in life as those who are privileged is a powerful motivator. What should a quality education consist of though? Public and private institutions throughout the world uniquely approach this challenge, each having their own merit. For me personally, I feel an education should not only focus on academics but should also play a role in shaping a compassionate individual. Creating motivated, compassionate students is a worthy goal and helps to create a well-rounded citizen. There are many facets of success in life.

  Motivating students is key to seeing them enjoy academic success. Any teacher with a plan and the class material can deliver a lesson, but motivating the student is sometimes a little more difficult. All students possess the ability to succeed in class, but many lack the motivation for one reason or another. The student may simply be overwhelmed with work from other classes and can't properly manage their time. Maybe the student lacks motivation because their parents are busy and cannot take a large enough role in their education.

  Regardless, a teacher should be aware of the challenges each student faces and push them to work to the best of their ability. When the student feels they are supported they are capable of much greater achievements.

  Academic scores will help the student achieve many goals from pleasing their parents at a young age to entry into a top-notch university later in life. The relentless pursuit of high marks is the norm in schools today, but it should also be balanced with an education in emotional intelligence. This may or may not have a formal inclusion in the class syllabus but should be a goal of the teacher and be taught by example. If students see a thoughtful and considerate teacher resolve conflicts as they arise, they will be able to pick up those tools to use for themselves in the future. The student who leaves class equipped with an emotional intelligence will be able to empathize with those close to them and just as importantly those in their community.

  Even though my understanding of education as the “great equalizer” has evolved over the years, it still rings true as ever. A quality education will provide a stronger foothold for those who are less privileged early in life and help to put them on the same level ground with their peers. Just as importantly though, a quality education can help all students see they are truly equal in all respects. Students should leave the educational institute with equal access to opportunity and a mutual respect for those around them.


Teaching at Dong Yuan Elementary

  So far while teaching at Dong Yuan I've encountered many of the same challenges as teaching at the international high school in Shanghai. Each class has students with a wide range of English abilities. While some students have very little grasp of English spoken or written, others excel in both. Some students love to show off their spoken ability but lack writing skills. Still others understand spoken and written English but are reluctant to practice their spoken English in class. The students of my co-taught classes in grade 4 get plenty of practice in building the fundamental skills for English speaking, while students of grade 6 Extended English get to practice a more hands-on approach to language learning.

The English department at Dong Yuan Elementary


Project Based Learning

  The best way I've found to approach a class with a wide range of English abilities is “Project Based Learning”. This allows each student to work to the best of their ability and avoid the intimidation which sometimes comes with assignments from the textbook. By allowing students to work independently or in groups on real-world tasks or activities, students can both stay engaged with a single task over a longer period of time, and work at a level in which they are capable. It's important to push students to work to the best of their abilities without overwhelming them. If a student feels they do not possess the abilities to accomplish the assigned task, they are likely to lose interest.


Along the Way

  This article mentions my education and experience teaching thus far. These experiences have played a major role in shaping my “educational philosophy”. The elaborations on my ideas are just that, my explanations on how I've formed my opinions. Students are unique individuals at even a young age, and it would be arrogant to think one approach to teaching would satisfy the requirements of all students in a class. The best an educator can do is approach the class with a plan that will benefit the majority, then tailor it around the edges to ensure all students are engaged.

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