The last day of the academic year and the last day at my second international school – it’s always the same – you’re wrapping up the year, clearing your office, delivering lessons, assemblies, planning for September and so on…you think you are in control and then boom! The final hour is here!
As a teacher moving from one international school to another the list of things to cross off is even bigger! Over the last week and a half I packed up my condo as well as my office, cleaned my current condo top to bottom ready for handover, cancelled my internet, signed and paid for my new home in Penang [just up the road, a four hour drive north of KL], signed out at school, keys and laptop included! I attended numerous farewell dinners [which have been lovely, don’t get me wrong!] and the final afternoon comprises of speeches, a gathering at a local watering hole, handing back condo keys, dropping the car to a friends and then getting to the airport for my flight back to the UK.
Some sleep on the flight and the socialising starts again, seeing friends and family that I haven’t seen for up to two years. Four weeks of catching up before I come back again to start the next chapter.
This is my second international school and soon I’ll be my beginning my third. The changes since I first arrived in Thailand back in 2008 are huge. The biggest has been in the teaching and learning. With the number of new international schools across Asia growing fast, the market is lucrative. Parents are choosing the highly recommended British education for their children and there is a need for teachers. As we know from the media, experienced and passionate practitioners’ are leaving the UK to start their international career. As a result the quality of the teaching and learning [T&L] and the passion for CPD has come with them to Asia. Competition between the schools and hiring the best candidates is raising the standards. This is fantastic.
My first international post in 2008 I could have given the class a ball and told them to get on with it. Obviously I kept my standards and worked hard to implement procedures and teach engaging and inspiring PE lessons, I continued with my own development and confidence from my NQT year and learned skills from colleagues to improve my knowledge and delivery of EAL and key stage 1 and 2 students. Teaching swimming every week with an ex-international swimmer as one of the PE team was extremely helpful!
Beyond the PE team there wasn’t much else in terms of CPD and coming from a UK school where professional development had been a priority it was disappointing not to continue the focus. What I did do was take responsibility for my own development and what I was also able to do was to take risks and try new strategies that I had researched in between the full-on holistic learning, fixtures and international sports trips to ensure I was keeping up to date with education for when I went back to the UK to resume my post.
As my teaching was recognised as being ‘outstanding’ this gave me a gateway into the whole school T&L. Back in the UK and with promotion into senior leadership with responsibility for teacher development I was working closely with the deputy head to improve the quality of T&L through innovative and inspiring methods. Rather than researching for my own development it was now for colleagues. I had a new passion and direction for T&L.
It was when I got itchy feet again and decided to hop back onto the international circuit and arrived in Kuala Lumpur to realise that it the new Head of Secondary [@MrSallisTenby] was hot on staff development and was very up-to-date with education and leadership from the UK. He had been a facilitator for the NPQSL that I had just completed and had experience working and presenting for various educational bodies in the UK. This was excellent news as I took responsibility for T&L across the secondary school. The focus was to enthuse and improve the classroom practice and delivery from our talented staff that needed inspiration and encouragement to try new strategies and tweak existing methods to get even better results from our students.
We are well aware of the plateau for our staff at points during their career and we had teachers who weren’t sure of how to move forward. We went from an SLT structure with no one responsible for T&L, to myself as deputy head solely responsible for T&L. I was able to have a focus on CPD and improve the teaching and learning across the school. My middle name might as well have been “CPD”! [To see what I implemented and the effects it has had on teaching, learning and staff morale take at look at my earlier blogs for more detail CPD for Free, Showcasing CPD in Kuala Lumpur].
So, are international schools changing how they value teaching and learning?
Two very different experiences of international education, I do think it depends on who is driving the school forward and their personal perception of the importance of teaching and learning. The new leadership structure at Tenby now allows for sustainability and although I am moving on, the culture that has been embedded over the past few months will ensure that my successor will continue the push on T&L and it will be a focus for school improvement.
It may be the position I have held, as it is now obvious to me that the school leadership team must be on top of the game as parents are interested in who is teaching their children and how they are being taught. Our parents are very supportive of school, and they are keen to hear about the staff development opportunities and want to know that teachers are up to date with their subject knowledge and that they are engaging and inspiring their children’s inquisitive minds. This is very different to any of my previous experience in the UK or in international education.
On an individual level we are all responsible for our own CPD and no matter how complacent those around you are about it, you must keep up to date using the tools [Twitter is a dream!] that are available. You must push and support the CPD that is happening in your school. The quality varies so much from school to school and sometimes it is only when you move to your next school you realize how good it was in your old one.
Apologies for not giving credit under the graph. Thank you.