BLOG PAGE: A View from the Bridge
By Mr. Clayton
By Mr. Clayton
Traditionally Christmas is a time for reviewing the year just past and for looking forward too with the advent of a new year to new challenges and new resolutions to ourselves about how we will all improve by eating less and exercising more! Research shows that 90% of us ditch our resolutions by the end of the first week in January! Never mind! A little more of that in a later article.
One of the delights of the new position for me has been to meet lots of new parents. It has been an edifying experience. Some have been very friendly and open, some have been very chatty, some have been circumspect and some have been very respectful and some very assertive. They have all pretty much asked me the same thing in one way or another. What are you going to change? Of course parents (and I am one) are a funny breed. They want change but not on their watch! One particular parent asked me what I believed and thought about education so I duly explained. She looked at me with great wonder and said, ‘That sounds perfect, I really like all your ideas, but can you wait 2 years until my daughter leaves!’ Several parents have taken me aside and asked what I had done so far. They were polite about it but there was an underlying tone of impatience. ‘Mr Clayton what have you changed so far?’ That was on September 5th!
One of my key ways of working is to try and avoid random acts of improvement which are easy to do and seem to offer quick wins. On the other hand, focused acts of improvement take longer and need more time to come to fruition, but are way more powerful. However, of course there is pressure to make changes which I believe are ultimately for the good of the students in the school. I have been aware of building on the foundations that I inherited with a view to making progress and effecting change. The journalist Sydney J Harris said, ‘Our dilemma is that we hate change and love it at the same time; what we really want is for things to remain the same but get better!’
So with that in mind we have made some changes in the school despite it being still early in the year. I will take the liberty of describing some with the impact it is having. We are moving as a school towards collaboration, identified by researchers as the key influence to improving standards in the school. As a result, primary and secondary colleagues are meeting regularly to discuss teaching, learning and progression through the school. We have established professional learning groups comprised of primary and secondary teachers examining key issues like teaching and learning and assessment, recording and reporting. Teachers have been sent out on training courses within Hong Kong and are networking with teachers from other international schools which can only be good. When these teachers are absent on training we are ensuring that supply teachers are covering the lessons so that we are not using permanence and the students are in their classes doing the pre-arranged work with a teacher. We are moving to sharing good practice sessions where teachers learn from fellow teachers. This will be much improved next year too. We have set in motion an IB team which is tasked with looking at all aspects of the 5 year review. There has been a real desire to offer support to IB students. We have initiated IB support sessions run by the IB coordinator, the university counsellor and me. We have run parent information evenings for classes in form 3 and forms 4 and 5. All of these initiatives speak to the core aim of impacting on student learning. As for the future there are many plans to improve the lot of all stakeholders in the school. Watch this space and others!
I hope you have enjoyed the first blog. Over the coming weeks and months I will be inviting other teachers, students and parents to contribute. One of the key aspects is that I want this to be an interactive experience with parents, teachers and students contributing and commenting on the bi-weekly blogs. So with this in mind, George Bernard Shaw said, ‘Progress is impossible without change and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.’ How far do you agree with him? What are the key elements of change? Can you think of times in your life when change has occurred? Are there any secrets to handling or effecting change?
Finally, it has been a pleasure and honour to lead the International Stream here at the French International School. I am proud and privileged to lead such dedicated professionals and amazing students. I wish them all and you the parents the best for the holiday season and 2015. Remember, Work hard: Be nice!