Mentor Community Spotlight: Manuel Ataíde

Coursera community means that I belong to a group that cares about education and cares about helping others. It means that I am not alone, that teaching really pays off

Our spotlight this week is on Manuel Ataíde. Manuel is a Mentor in Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects.

Share something about yourself 

I am a teacher living in Portugal with my husband and our dog and cat. For me teaching is not an obligation. It’s a state of mind. I can’t imagine myself doing something different. In my free time I love to get lost on my X-Men Comic books. Entering that world makes me disconnect from the reality and relax. We can call it an escape from the confusion one has in the daily life.

What was your first Coursera course, how did you find out about it and why did you decide to take it?

My first course was Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects. I was on summer holidays and I started thinking about my life as a teacher and how I needed to update some concepts. So, I googled and Coursera was a suggestion. So I decided to take a look. I was browsing through the several courses and the title Learning How To Learn jumped strings my eyes. “This may be what I need to become a better teacher!” I thought. But when I saw Barb’s welcome video… She was so empathic that I decided to start the course… and until this day I am still with her.

What’s your favorite Coursera course and why?

Tricky question. Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects is the one that has my heart and energy. One can only fall in love with practical tips to improve/boost their own capacities to learn. And they are all so easy to stick by that you will use on a daily basis without knowing “how to read and write”. Some of the tips I am using with 8 year old kids, like the Pommodoro Technique (What? You don’t know it? Please take Learning How To Learn!) But there was another one that I still remember: Superhero Entertainment. As a comic book lover I just had to learn more about what motivated comic book publishers to do what they did.

What impact have Coursera courses had on your life?

Coursera sent me back to school, for starters. When you are a teacher you are supposed to learn different strategies to become a better teacher. But time is an issue here. Between teaching, assessment of students, parents meetings… when do you have the time? Coursera was he answer for me. I can study in public transportations, while having a snack and even when I just don’t have nothing to do (less frequent this one). After starting on Coursera I restarted to feel able to think about education and pedagogy in a different way, because I’ve learned new ways of approaching this issues.

How did you decide to become a Mentor?

The funny thing is… I didn’t. Not in the beginning. I didn’t know Coursera had mentors. I just signed in on the platform to study. But life can offer us opportunities that we are now expecting. To make a long story short, I got in contact with Barbara Oakley and after that it was like rollerblading… you just gain speed and momentum and crash into a tree. Here I crashed into Mentoring. Thank God I know how to mentor… but know nothing about rollerblading!

Coursera community means that I belong to a group that cares about education and cares about helping others. It means that I am not alone, that teaching really pays off. It means that I still have a lot to learn from other people. Being part of the community helped me forget some sharp parts of my very assertive/arrogant personality.