Bonnie Woolley: Professional Biography
Bonnie Woolley is a career education specialist. She has taught at all levels, from elementary to university, and has run several professional training organizations. She is a teacher-trainer and consultant, and does coaching and in-company training. She also has experience in curriculum design, for both face-to-face and online learning platforms.
Currently in Dubai, Bonnie is a French resident and has lived in Paris for most of her life (she is bilingual). During that time she has had the privilege of teaching and working with thousands of people of all ages and nationalities.
Her teaching career has taken her into every possible category of institution and industry. She has taught music and English to children at Wat Opot, a Cambodian orphanage for children affected by AIDS. She has taught English to adult students pursuing advanced degrees in French universities, and language-teaching methodology to scores of elementary, middle- and high-school French teachers in the context of Master’s and Doctoral programs in a prestigious university in the United States. Bonnie has directed music programs in churches and in schools. She has negotiated contracts from French companies for highly-specialized ESL training that she then designed and provided.
Music and language are natural allies, and it’s entirely logical that a practitioner of one would be passionate about the other.
Bonnie has a Bachelor’s Degree in French and Music Education, a Master’s in French (with a concentration in bilingual education) and a D.E.A. (the “course” portion of a doctoral degree) in English for Special Purposes / Language-Teaching Methodology. She did several years of doctoral research, writing and conferences on the cognitive aspects of second-language acquisition, before deciding to dedicate her professional life to music. (Full CV available on request.)
She has worked as an officially-recognized Cambridge examiner (ESOL) and is currently qualified as a Category 1 PYP teacher.
Bonnie first built her professional life around the teaching of French and language-teaching methodology at the Middlebury College French School in Vermont, and ESL / ESOL in Paris.
For over 20 years, in Paris, she ran an independent language training organization, providing services such as needs analysis, program design, made-to-measure courses, coaching in soft skills, reading technical documents, and learning to learn. She wrote a textbook – which was used by several language institutes in Paris – to help technicians with little to no experience speaking or reading English to learn to read technical documents in their field.
In Dubai, and throughout her career, she has taught both French and English as “foreign” – or additional – languages to adults and children, in schools, companies, and privately.
She has worked on supporting primary teachers in their quest to help English-language learners (ELLs) to access curriculum in the target language. She has developed and taught teacher training sessions on supporting ELLs (Quatar, UAE) and is currently teaching English (as well as music) to a diverse group of learners in Dubai.
Woolley, Bonnie. “The Jigsaw Method: Seeing the Whole Puzzle.” Les Après-Midi De LAIRDIL, 6 Mar. 1995, pp. 53–70.
Bonnie has been teaching music, as well as creating and directing choral and handbell ensembles, for 40 years. She has been a professional choral director since age 19 – a parallel to her career in language teaching and methodology.
From 1982 to 2014 she lived in France, and became known for her work with children, youth and adult choirs. She created Voices Choeur International, a semi-professional chorus which, over its 25-year-long career, performed all over France, as well as abroad.
For 20 years, she was also Youth Music Director at the American Church in Paris, where choral and handbell ensembles under her leadership participated regularly in services, performed for several French Prime Ministers, gave concerts in the Paris area, and participated in professional recordings.
She has taught in countless French schools on a project basis over the past 30 years. The French education system has approved her as a consultant and has invited her to work as a specialist teacher, on the basis of her education and work experience. She has also taught music in several French conservatories, and in association with regional authorities. She was instrumental in creating a “classe CHAM”, or a music-concentration program, with handchimes at the core, in the Val d’Oise (Paris region) and in convincing the National Education system in France to accept handchimes as an officially-recognized instrument for secondary-level music exams.
Bonnie has frequently been invited to coordinate choral programs in elementary and secondary schools, notably yearly choral festivals for which she prepared youth choirs all year long for a final, spectacular common concert.
She has also been a teacher-trainer for the French educational system (specifically via the ADIAM du Val d’Oise), training schoolteachers in the use of singing in the classroom. She was invited by the Inspection Académique of the Middle East region to give a workshop in Dubai for teachers (both classroom teachers and music specialists) on choral singing (October 2019).
In the UAE, Bonnie has been a teacher at the ADNOC School of Abu Dhabi (formerly the Glenelg School), where she taught French and began a choral program. She is currently employed as all-school music teacher at ICE School (International Concept for Education), an IB school, and at LFI (Lycée Français International de l’AFLEC) in Dubai.
One of the advantages to having had two complementary careers over the years is that I have learned invaluable lessons about the diversification of learning and teaching approaches.
In my university level courses I have taught teachers about differentiation, about the importance of cultural content within a foreign language learning context, and about the need to constantly re-evaluate oneself as a teacher.
My deepest satisfaction comes from my relationships with my students and their parents, with my colleagues and administrators. The wealth of experiences I have had over the years gives me enormous insight into human behavior and motivation.
In my teaching, I strive to “surf the wave” of student inquiry and demand, while structuring content and approach to the needs and desires of the institution and individuals I am working with. I am fully conversant with pedagogical and cognitive theories of teaching and learning. No single theory, however, and indeed no combination of theories, can suffice if considered to be a fixed set of guiding principles.
The best teacher, I believe, is one who can make every moment a teachable moment, fielding the energy and curiosity of the students and helping direct it in a way that will best help them to grow.
I bring to each and every professional engagement my full attention and energy. I greet challenges and opportunities to learn new ways of doing things with eagerness and industry.