Ian Birkmyre – Secondary Learning Support


Ian Birkmyre is a Learning Support instructor in our Secondary school…

Ian Birkmyre is a Learning Support instructor in our Secondary school. Ian is not new to Bangkok Patana having been a supply instructor here for the past two years. Ian is from Glasgow where he studied Sculpture at the Glasgow School of Art. After graduating he trained in furniture restoration and making and started his own business in restoring furniture for many of the local hotels.

“I have been working as a supply teacher at Bangkok Patana, and before that as a maternity cover, that time gave me a really good insight into the school. I really enjoyed working alongside the students and supporting them. I went on the Residentials and became a Duke of Edinburgh instructor, which was really fantastic, we went to Phraya Nakhon Cave in Prachuab Khiri Khan. It was a tough hike for me much less the Bronze Award students.”

“Working alongside the staff and our students has been great, I feel the one-to-one learning support is so essential. I work with my students across all faculties and different subjects which makes every day very interesting. It’s really fulfilling to help them on their learning journey. I think the learning pre-Covid was definitely a more enjoyable experience for the students and for me, I could really co-construct the learning experience for the student. I was a little bit nervous when we first went into CSL (Continuing Student Learning – off campus), but within a couple of weeks you get the flow of it, working through the computer. While we can’t meet face to face we do have a chat in Teams, while opening the lesson plans and having different conversations with different students. At some point I think CSL is actually really helping us to organise ourselves better. We are getting more organised with the technical side of teaching and it’s going to spill over when we are back in school. Working with this new technology and apps is going to help us, and I think it will help the students with their organisational skills.”

“In Learning Support we are constantly trying to keep in contact with students, even outside lessons. We are on the student’s side, we have to be there for the students, talk to them and help them learn at their own pace. That also entails the emotional side of it too, how they are feeling and what is happening in the background of their lives. If a student isn’t happy with something outside school it takes a toll on their learning capabilities.”

“Listening to students is so important, it has to be more than just the topic they are researching in History. You have to listen how their life is going, how their interactions are with other students. We have to understand where they are coming from and that helps us determine the best approach to their learning. We need to be aware of their fears, their stress and I do this by building relationships with students. I really have to understand where they are coming from to help them to learn. It is important to be approachable, if they fear you or dislike you it sets up barriers to their learning and to their ability to get help to learn.”

“The Learning Support team works very well together, we talk about different lessons and different students. We have team meetings four to five times a day, even if it’s just over coffee or lunch. We always talk about how we can work best with the students. I love working in Learning Support because you can see the difference you make.”

“I like to go for a run, we live near the Khlong and it’s a nice run in the morning. It’s nice at the moment as it’s not too warm. I really want to try sky-diving, it would be great to do it here in Bangkok, I am excited for that to reopen! I like reading, I am a big fan of George Orwell, Ray Bradbury, classic SciFi. I am attempting Dostoyevsky now, the House of the Dead.”

“I was a member of a performance group in Glasgow after I graduated from uni, we offered immerseive theatre performances with a dystopian background. I helped design sets and costumes –  and performed myself. We would take over a venue and transform it – one time we dressed up as coal miners and took guests down these alleys and tunnels we had made that were like a coal mine. During the journey the guests would see videos and photos, listen to music and see our performances along the way.”