Dr. Mandy Heddle (or “Dr. Mandy,” as she is affectionately referred to on campus) is an optimist. She certainly recognizes the global pandemic for what it is—a crisis—but rather than looking at the obstacle of having many students learning from home, she sees it as a huge opportunity to incorporate new classroom-management techniques and to explore a broader set of environments.
Dr. Mandy, who joined UWC ISAK Japan in August 2019, teaches both Science and Environmental Systems & Societies (ESS) courses. The goal of ESS is to enable students to adopt an informed personal response to the wide range of pressing environmental issues with which they will inevitably come to face. So, the current circumstances expose students to consider their current local environments, perhaps more so than if they were still on campus.
In all of her classes, Dr. Mandy challenges her students to constantly be aware of their environments, how they interact with them, and how they use resources. The unexpected local contexts that most of our students now find themselves in have taken Dr. Mandy’s classes to a new level. So, we can’t wait to see how our students design objective research experiments to address issues like how can Kabul, Afghanistan move away from coal as a primary energy source.
Dr. Mandy has also taken the opportunity to try a small-group approach to her classes. She will often prepare short video lessons in advance, but rather than scheduling large, longer duration lessons, she asks students to join at least one weekly small group session with 3 or 4 of their peers. These small groups allow Dr. Mandy to connect with each student individually, whilst discussing concepts as a group.
“Dr. Mandy loves her subject and loves her students”
I am now back in Afghanistan. It is nice to be near family, but due to Covid-19 things are fairly restricted here too. I have been craving Kebab, but we can’t access it.
Remote learning has been an adjustment, but I really appreciate Dr. Mandy’s approach. Her first priority has been to listen and understand everyone’s situation. For me, due to political turmoil, we are sometimes without power for up to several days. So, due to circumstances beyond my control, it has sometimes been difficult.
But Dr. Mandy has been truly amazing. I feel she understands my circumstances and is very flexible and understanding in helping my learning. She also does a great job of localizing my learning and helps me identify issues relevant to Afghanistan.
– Class of 2021 Student
“Regardless of the medium, Dr. Mandy is a great teacher.”
Something Dr. Mandy does well is she helps you understand where you are going; what is the destination. She provides a guide map and offers just enough information to navigate from point to point, but she challenges us to navigate the way ourselves so that we learn to think.
There are different approaches to teaching, from relying too much on students to do it themselves to offering way too much information. But Dr. Mandy walks the fine line in the middle that offers just the right amount of information, modeling, and individual support.
One other thing I appreciate is her individual attention to each student. When she sees you express an interest in something, she captures that spark and then feeds it with things that will nurture the spark of interest.
– Class of 2022 Student