Educator Spotlight: Meet Nathalie Mathieu
English teacher in France embraced technology to make big changes in the classroom
This story is part of a series that celebrates outstanding educators within the Flipgrid community. Stories by Angela Tewalt.
In the cold snap of January two years ago, empowered by the fresh start of a new year, Nathalie Mathieu took a risk.
For a private school teacher in Dijon, France, big change is a big deal, but after ten years of teaching English to high school students, she decided that her classroom and her entire perspective on teaching needed to look a little different anyway.
“I had no choice,” says Nathalie, who also teaches higher education alongside her 100 English-learning students. “I was feeling great – I loved teaching and I loved my students – but I knew exactly where I was going. I was feeling too comfortable in giving the same kind of teaching for 10 years, so that’s when I knew I had to let go of everything and learn something new.”
But for Nathalie, change wasn’t just for her. If anything, it mattered more that the risk was a collaborative effort with her students. So when she was introduced by a colleague to Microsoft digital tools to use in the classroom, she immediately looked to her kids for approval.
“I spent weekends over several months learning about Teams, OneNote and Flipgrid,” she says. “But I was discovering them at the same pace as my students. We were learning together. I was completely honest and just said, ‘You know what? I’m going to try something new with you, and we can help each other. You can tell me if you like it or not, and I’ll tell you the same,’ and now we’ve all become more self-confident because of it.”
Nathalie says the students continue to surprise her with how well they use these tools in the classroom, and she’s also surprised with just how deeply they needed the invigoration.
“I have to be learning new things, so we don't get bored in class!” she says. “You will face obstacles along the way but stepping out of your comfort zone is a great, great thing to do for both the teacher and the students. I have completely changed everything about my teaching practice.”
Making New Friends from Anywhere
Nathalie respects how difficult it can be to switch toward a different teaching method. Change is scary, especially when what you’ve been doing works. But on the other side, Nathalie is anew.
She’s wild with enthusiasm when she shares how her classroom has changed, where she’s been and who she’s all met. Both she and her students have friends across the world.
NATHALIE’S STUDENTS IN FRANCE RECEIVED A CHRISTMAS BOX FROM THEIR GRIDPALS IN MARYLAND.
“We’ve had such a great adventure with Flipgrid’s GridPals,” says Nathalie, who completed a couple different projects this past year with a high school French class in Ellicott City, Maryland. “Her students first chose topics like sports and holidays, then Mrs. Ghezzi had the idea to start a topic on America and France in a Box.”
The students would talk about which objects they could put in a box that represented their country until the American students decided to send an actual Christmas gift box to their GridPals in France.
“The reaction from both the students on her side and on mine when we received the Christmas boxes was really great, just such an awesome experience,” she says.
It’s a moment that continues to be matched, day after day, because Nathalie chose bravery over complacency and asked herself what was possible.
“For us, Flipgrid is not just about learning how to speak English. It’s learning about the culture of another country and sharing feelings of joy with students and teachers who are living thousands of miles away,” she says. “This has been so much change from what we’re used to doing, but so rewarding from the very beginning.”