My name is Nat Dunn, and I am The Faraway Teacher. I’ve been teaching in classrooms for 9 years, in 4 education systems across 3 continents. I have taught all elementary/primary school grade levels, from pre-Kindergarten up to Year/Grade 7. I’ve used (and scrutinized over) many national and state curricula, and I’ve been exposed to a multitude of pedagogical approaches, educational environments, and learning needs. All of this has given me a unique perspective on different teaching and learning techniques, as I’ve learned to combine the most effective elements to help children gain the most in their education and development.
I knew teaching was my calling when I tutored a child for the first time. After completing high school, my next-door neighbor asked me to tutor his daughter, a Year 1 student. I’d never worked with children before, but as it turned out, I loved it! I valued the sense of accomplishment she and I both felt when she finally grasped a tricky concept; I enjoyed coming up with games to make the learning more fun; and I felt proud of the feedback from her dad about the progress she’d made at school – it felt like I was really making a difference! So, after receiving my Bachelor of Arts (majoring in English and History), I continued my studies at the prestigious University of Sydney and completed a Master of Teaching (Primary).
After receiving my master’s degree, I worked for the New South Wales Department of Education as a classroom teacher in Sydney over 2011 and 2012. It was during this time that I completed my Teacher Accreditation, a structured induction into teaching that supports teachers’ development in line with quality standards. In 2013, I relocated to the Gold Coast (Australia) and contracted with the Queensland Department of Education and Training, teaching at secular public schools throughout the region from 2013 to 2015. I was also a private tutor throughout this time and was able to work with a diverse range of children, including those with learning disabilities and special needs.
With a sense of adventure and eagerness for a new opportunity, in 2015 I moved to the United Kingdom, attained Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), and joined the high-pressure, data-driven English education system. I taught at a small public Catholic school in a multicultural, low socioeconomic region of Notting Hill in West London from 2015 to 2017. Here I taught Year 5 and a combined Year 5 & 6 class, both of which included a large proportion of students who were EAL (learning English as an Additional Language) and Pupil Premium (a government grant for the most disadvantaged students). Despite this, my Year 6 students achieved outstanding results in their Key Stage 2 SATs, national standardized testing in English and Mathematics at the end of primary school. They achieved progress in the top 5% in the country from Key Stage 1 (Year 2) to Key Stage 2 (Year 6) and made an improvement of 18% in English and 33% in Math from the previous year’s results. I also tutored these students in small groups in English and Math test preparation.
At the beginning of 2018, I moved to Los Angeles where I spent 15 months as a Grade 4 teacher at a small, private Catholic school in Beverly Hills. This was my first foray into the private sector, and the students were vastly different, with a unique set of needs, motivations, and interests. I tutored multiple students in English and Math throughout this time. In mid-2019, I left the physical classroom to begin The Faraway Teacher.
Where I'm based
My husband and I are from Australia but spent 2015 to 2019 living and working in the UK and USA. Nowadays we choose to have no fixed address, allowing us to spend extended periods in a few different countries each year. My current location is displayed at the bottom of the webpage.
Teaching in several education systems has given me greater perspective on the different ways children learn and develop, and what children need to be successful. While the modern classroom combines children of the same age, these children rarely have the same skills, knowledge, and learning style. Whilst I loved being a classroom teacher, I have found it most rewarding to work one-on-one with children. Getting to know a child well, and understanding their learning style and individual needs, is pivotal to successful and enjoyable education.
One key ingredient in fostering success in children is to make learning engaging and fun for them. Children learn better when they are engaged and enthusiastic about what is taught. Teaching through games, showing passion about a topic, encouraging creativity, and building on children’s interests are just a few ways I like to make lessons appealing for children. Not only does creating a fun lesson help children attain information and learn skills more quickly, it also helps to create a positive perspective toward education.
Having a safe and stimulating environment where children can share ideas, practice skills, and solve problems is essential. Students need guidance in the form of high expectations and regular feedback, but at the same time, they need to take ownership of their learning; when children can have some control in what and how they learn, they become more engaged and independent. A part of this is having children self-assess, encouraging them to reflect on and monitor their skills.
The most important aspect of teaching, however, is fostering growth in a child in a holistic way. Learning isn’t just about attaining facts and using skills; it’s also about ensuring children can communicate effectively and solve problems. Learning must be relevant, guiding children to make connections between what they learn and real life. By doing this, we help set the groundwork for independent thinking and success in the modern world.
This approach to teaching, combined with care, empathy, and direction, brings about the best aspect of what I do – watching children grow and succeed, both academically and emotionally.
The Faraway Teacher is committed to giving back and making our world a better place. So many of the world’s problems can be helped by simply ensuring children get the education they need and deserve.
While traveling, my husband and I endeavor to visit schools around the world that can benefit from additional support or provide resources including books, stationery, and learning aids.
In August 2019, we volunteered at a school in Bogancina, a small, rural village in the Balinese mountains which does not see any foreigners. Here, we had the opportunity to spend time with teachers and children from grades 3-6, teaching English and sharing stories about our cultures. It was a wonderful opportunity to make connections, engage with the local children, and make a positive difference in an otherwise overlooked region.
To learn more about what we do, please check back soon or follow @thefarawayteacher on Instagram.