By: Leisa Grace Wilson
Evo was born in the northwest of England and grew up on Merseyside, where he attended primary and secondary school. His parents emigrated from Bangladesh to the UK and started a family when they arrived in the 1970s. When he was younger, his father taught him to seek opportunities continually, be bold and take risks, a philosophy that motivates him to this day. If you have been an educator in the Middle East for any period of time, the chances are that you might have heard of Evo.
Evo is very active in the regional education scene. He is a passionate Design and Innovation Leader at an IB World School in Dubai. His 20 years in education has inspired a number of projects that promote student agency and the UN SDGs. He is also a TEDx speaker and the host of Ed Talks Live on YouTube, a talk show which engages with educators and thought leaders from across the globe.
In this instalment of ‘A Moment With’, we invite you to get to know more about this passionate educator.
What are your fondest memories of school?
The time I spent with my family and friends is definitely my fondest memory of my time in school. I went to primary school with my sister and three brothers, and it was a lot of fun. I was also fortunate to have made some excellent friends during my primary school years. Our friendship continued into secondary school, and we are still friends to this day.
Who was your favourite teacher and why?
My favourite teacher was called Mr Yarrington. He was my Design and Technology teacher at the secondary school that I attended, Mosslands School on the Wirral. He had an uncanny ability to communicate ideas in very simple ways, making everything connect and have meaning. He also inspired me to always think big and without limits.
What led you to your current career in education?
After developing a passion for design in school, I was intrigued to see how much further I could develop creativity. I applied to study Product Design and Development at the University of Salford. After graduating, I visited Mr Yarrington to share my news. The conversation came up about being a Design and Technology teacher, and the next week I applied for a PGCE in Design and Technology at Liverpool John Moores, eventually leading me to start my teaching career.
What has been one of the biggest lessons you have learned as an educator?
One of the biggest lessons I have learned as an educator is to always maintain a healthy work/life balance. It’s easy to dedicate most, if not all, of your free time to planning units and assessing work. By doing this, I found I was running out of energy and slowly feeling the dreaded teacher burnout before half term. I’d advise all teachers to make well-being a priority.
You have been in UAE education for over a decade; what are some changes you have observed over this period in the education sector?
I remember arriving in Dubai in September 2007 and chatting with all the new teachers. Most had an idea of staying 3 or 4 years. Fourteen years on, and I’m still here. During that time, education and the UAE have both changed dramatically. I’ve witnessed a significant rise in the use of technology in classrooms. I’ve also seen a greater focus on well-being. The most impactful change happened when the National Agenda was introduced, and the KHDA highlighted the importance of innovation in education. I instantly understood the importance being placed on innovation, and this became a priority both professionally and personally.
You are about to move on from the UAE and the classroom; what are your plans for the future?
Unfortunately, my Dubai adventure is coming to an end. I will be relocating back to the UK this summer, and I’m looking at making a career change. I’m one of these people who come up with a hundred ideas a week but doesn’t know what to do with them. I’ve been lucky to have experienced some freelancing, and this, mixed with my passion for ideas, had led me to take a step out of the classroom after 20 wonderful years to start my own enterprise. They say if you want something and you cannot find it, then you must create it. My passion is to connect the global education community, so I am about to create a platform that connects innovation, education, creativity, and freelancing together. Watch this space…
There has been a rise in education influencers and content creators; In what ways can these educators develop their platforms?
It’s great to see the creativity of educators coming to the fore and making such a great impact on the education landscape. I have long been a proponent of educators having their own platforms to build their presence and to make their voices heard.
I would advise educators who create content to develop their own channels, and if it is at all possible to try to create content on multiple channels. By doing this, you will grow your audience and influence. I find that the various social media platforms all work differently, so try to figure out what content is best suited to which type of platform.
Start with the one you are most comfortable with and build from there. For me, it was Twitter. Connect with like-minded educators across the world and build your learning network. This will definitely benefit you when you look at bigger projects and possible career shifts in the future.
Be authentic and make sure not to promote any ideas or products that you do not believe in. People can tell when you are not authentic, and educators have the ability, more than most, to identify inauthenticity.
It is also important to know that when your audience and influence grows, you are likely to be approached by education companies who would want to collaborate with you. Know your worth and charge accordingly. Do not be afraid to ask for the compensation you deserve. You know you are worth it, and so do they.
What do you do to unwind and have fun?
The best way for me to unwind and have fun is with my family. My children Zakaria and Zara certainly keep me on my toes, but they also appreciate chilling on the sofa with some popcorn and a good movie. I also enjoy spending time with friends, tearing up some tarmac at the Dubai Kartdrome, hitting the slopes at Ski Dubai, playing golf and connecting with forwarding thinking educators across the globe.