BLOG PAGE: A View from the Bridge
By Mr. Clayton
By Mr. Clayton
FIS a school filled with smiles and laughter - Mr Chadwick, Head of the International Primary School
I believe, quite simply, that I have not only one of the best, but one of the most important, jobs in the world. I arrive each day at one of our school campuses impassioned about spending my days among a splendidly diverse, always inspirational cohort of students, and about working with a team of top-flight professionals from around the world who have chosen to devote their lives to teaching young people how to think and to learn.
When I became Head of International Primary Section of the FIS, I said to myself “ I want to make my school an oasis in the heart of Hong Kong so that when you walk in you feel this is a place where everyone cares, a happy school filled with smiles and laughter.”
For me, if my students are happy they will want to learn and want to come to school. The reasons that they are happy are because: they are engaged with their learning, and that learning is meaningful: our students don't feel threatened, they feel safe, their minds are stimulated and that they feel listened to by caring, amazing teachers. .
Our teachers are our best resources. Our teachers provide many memorable experiences and rich opportunities for high quality learning and well-being. The curriculum on its own doesn’t do anything it is the teachers who make the difference. I believe all students can be successful no matter what their background or capabilities. At FIS we give students self- assurance and self- confidence. My teachers inspire hope, ignite the imagination and instil a love of learning. I have always said that FIS teachers are like the weather ; SUNNY, BRIGHT , CHEERFUL in the classroom but really there are the 3 ARE’s ; teachers are important Teachers are influential Teachers are able to make a difference
At FIS we are a family of 40 nationalities. FIS is like an extension of my family where every child is able to achieve and enjoy. We pay close attention to assessing where the students are in their learning and where they should be: we never stop exploring and investigating.
Through my aim “to create an oasis in the heart of Hong Kong “ I encourage the maxim ‘learning is fun from day one’, learning should be a joy and full of excitement, it should be the adventure of a life time.All students can learn if we as adult role models create the right environment in schools. I believe that academic excellence in school can be individualized to allow each child to reach their academic potential while becoming well-rounded, healthy and happy learners. Learning should be done in a safe, challenging and fun environment that infuses host country culture while celebrating and appreciating individual identity.
I echo Mr Clatyton’s view what is remarkable about schools like ours is that every year we say goodbye to Year 13 who go off to universities all around the world whilst at the same time we welcome 50x Reception students ( 4-year olds ) who are embarking on their own personal learning journey both through education and ultimately life. These reception students starting next academic year will be, by my calculations, the IB graduating class of 2030! What will their world be like then? How can we prepare these students for that unknown? What will schools look like then? We don’t know the answers to these questions, but we need to try and ensure that we help students to be; motivated, happy and engaged ;teach them to be collaborative, curious, critical thinkers and creative problem-solvers as well as good people- an old-fashioned notion, but a really important one! The needs of our students are what drives us, motivating us to do better and be better for them.We as educators have the responsibility to craft the experiences for all children to be successful in the 21st century and beyond.
We are proud of the achievements of our students. the most important thing is that they achieve at their level, they maximize their potential. academic excellence for each individual is different and we pride ourselves on being able to support, nurture and encourage our students. so our students make progress in many areas, whether that be academic, sporting, the arts-all are crucial to the development of our students to make a valid contribution as global citizens.
With the many job applications I have made over the last year and interviews attended I had to crystalise and express my educational philosophy.
My educational philosophy I concluded is written from the perspective of a teacher, a head of school and from my own personal experience as a life long learner.
If my philosophy were to be narrowed down to one sentence, it would be a quote from Kurt Hahn, founder of the United World Colleges and Outward Bound: “There is more in you than you think.”
When I think about who has had the most influence on my own life, it has always been those who made me see that there is more in me than I ever thought possible my teachers and educators. What they all have in common is not just that they thought I could achieve more than I thought possible myself, they built a relationship with me that made all this happen.
They knew that intelligence, in the multiple ways that it can be imagined, is not a single characteristic fixed at birth. Instead, it represents many things that can be developed, and best developed by having and instilling in others what Carol Dweck at Stanford calls a growth mindset.
If you have a growth mindset, you embrace challenges because they make you stronger, failure is seen as an opportunity to learn, intentional effort is recognized as a pathway to mastery, feedback is a critical friend for your improvement and the successes of others are a source of inspiration. I agree with her.
As the head of a school, I believe it is my role to create the conditions and the culture that will nourish the quality of the relationships between student and teacher and among all members of the community. I also believe that everyone in a school is both a learner and an educator in search of meaning and purpose. In the context of both developing human potential and contributing to a sustainable future for this century and well beyond,
I also believe these values are critical: mutual understanding and respect, the joy of learning, purposeful effort and a commitment to diversity. If I were to edit Kurt Hahn’s quote so that it has more of a sense of inclusiveness and recognizes that we are all part of a single interconnected world with the capacity to make a difference, it would be:
“There is more in us than we think.”
It is with this in mind that I am passionate about CONTINUING TO BE a part of developing the full potential of the mind, the body, the heart and the world we share. Leading a school is a great way to make this happen. I am not ready to step down and retire or to hang up my mortar board and gown. FIS this oasis in the heart of HK has become a school of choice, this is where we shape the next generation. The Korean International is next.
I have enjoyed every minute of my time at FIS and I will be sad to leave you all but I have more to give and offer .The Korean International School, for me and my wife, Jenny represents a terrific opportunity and an exciting challenge. My wife and I are looking forward with the prospect and the opportunity to contribute to the trajectory of excellence . It is a complex school with lots of moving parts but has great ambitions. I believe that FIS [also a complex international school] has honed my skills and my successful experiences make a good match for what I am about to do . Thank you
“Pour accomplir de grandes choses, il faut non seulement agir, mais rêver; non seulement planifier, mais croire”
" To accomplish great things , we must not only act, but dream ; not only plan , but believe "
One of the things that I am happiest with in the school over the last couple of years is the increased levels of continuous professional development. Lots of the teachers from reception to IB teachers have benefitted from it in all its forms. We have had outside visitors and speakers in to help teachers with all manner of class room delivery issues. We have collaborated between and across schools, faculties, year groups, subject areas. We have visited other schools and networked across schools and teachers. This week alone we have visited two schools in Hong Kong who have been very generous with their time in helping us in looking forward with our information technology provision. Michael Fullan wrote this in 2001, ‘It is one of life’s great ironies: schools are in the business of teaching and learning, yet they are terrible at learning from one another. If they ever discover how to do this then their future is assured.’ He is right. Andy Hargreaves in his book, Uplifting Leadership talks about co-opetion. The idea of competition and collaboration existing side by side. He cites examples form Singapore where schools are organised in self-chosen clusters of focus and interest so that schools can show what they have achieved and others can learn from their accomplishments. He also points out that giving away some of your best ideas forces you to think of new ones! This has happened across many of our interactions with other schools here in Hong Kong.
Singapore, mentioned above, Shanghai and Finland always perform well in worldwide tests. There are several overlapping features that make for their excellent performances. One of the features is teacher training and development. In Singapore it is mandated to meet several hours per week with other professionals to discuss the art of teaching and learning. In Shanghai teachers undertake 360 hours of this training per year, the equivalent of 2 hours per day. In Finland teachers have more time in the school day to plan for their students than any other country and to meet with their colleagues to discuss their students’ needs.
I recently went to watch two colleagues deliver a presentation to an audience of their peers made up of teachers from all over Hong Kong. In itself it was uplifting, affirming and exciting. They were fantastic ambassadors for FIS, they gave a lot to the audience and in their turn gleaned a lot too. Co-opetion in all its glory! I will finish with a couple of quotes from FIS teachers about the power of their CPD :
‘Having my baby was the best CPD because now I’ve got a better understanding of little people and their amazing brains. This has helped me when developing inquiry activities. I can also see things more from a parent’s perspective: even more than before, I want the best for our students!’
‘Having taught and examined IB Diploma Literature for many years, a recent CPD workshop opportunity in Singapore resulted in reinvigorating both the course content, the department and, I am sure, the pupils themselves. Such changes bring challenges and renewed fulfilment.’
‘In that training I have learnt how important the well-being of our students is for their holistic development, and how being positive and happy does impact on their learning (scientifically researched). It helps me connect more meaningfully with the students, become a more compassionate and empathetic teacher, colleague and parent. It has helped me change and reflect on the kind of feedback I give my students and own children. It has helped me not only at school but also in my personal and family life.’
Next year we will continue with this growth and development all for the benefit, ultimately of the students.