We think being a teacher is the best job in the world but it also has its own unique demands. In our latest blog, our Head of International Primary, Ms. Elizabeth Grundy, considers what we look for in a good International Primary Teacher here at Tenby Setia Eco Park.
What do we look for in a good International Primary Teacher?
Globally, every school is currently facing a challenge never seen before and it is testing all of us in ways we could never have expected. The qualities we look for at Tenby SEP in a teacher have never been more apparent than now, as our teachers grapple with teaching their class via computer screen and demonstrate a single-minded focus on the most important quality all teachers must have, putting pupils at the heart of their practice.
We knew before the crisis came upon us, that at our core, everyone at Tenby is a lifelong learner. We knew that every Tenby teacher has to have a growth mindset, with the capacity to be self-reflective and self-improving. Making the transition from class-based teaching to an online learning platform delivering a full curriculum for our children in 36 hours has shown that our staff not only have this mindset but also a huge amount of resilience and determination. Growing that platform day by day through honest self-reflection, generous sharing of good practice and supportive collaboration demonstrates a unity of purpose across our teachers to delivering high quality teaching and learning.
All our teachers are expected to have an excellent grasp of the UK National Primary Curriculum and the International Primary Curriculum and well as sound knowledge, skills and understanding in the individual curriculum subjects. Ongoing professional development is offered to all staff as a matter of course to keep up-to-date with the latest curriculum developments and pedagogy. Again, this ‘new’ normal is throwing up new and different challenges. During this current period of distance learning, our staff have demonstrated a thirst for professional development in how to use technology in new and innovative ways which has underlined their capacity for personal and professional growth.
As an International School, we aim to give our pupils an outstanding academic education with a global perspective. Our teachers are expected to model this international mindset, which requires openness and curiosity as well as trust, empathy and respect for different cultures and diverse perspectives. At this challenging time, we have valued being part of a campus-based community with strong national and international schools. Never before have we worked as closely to provide one another with cross-school support through sharing of best practice – all driven by the openness of our Tenby teachers to collaboration for improvement and growth.
Even more important than the academic achievements of our pupils is their wellbeing. As a community, we are committed to supporting and developing the whole child. At the moment, our pupils are isolated from their peers and facing an epidemic unlike any we have dealt with in living memory. Our teachers are sensitive to these needs and woven across the school day are giving opportunities for communication and collaboration to maintain those vital social relationships. This sense of care, compassion and responsibility is demonstrated by all teachers we employ here at Tenby.
Those attributes outlined above and which we look for in a Tenby teacher are reflected in our Tenby Learner profile. This clearly defines those qualities which apply to all successful learners on our campus and support us in our personal paths to self-improvement.
How do we measure the success of our primary teachers and how effective is this approach?
At the heart of our vision for Tenby International Primary School is the principle of a self-reflective, self-improving community. Teachers themselves evaluate the effectiveness of their practice and its impact upon the children they are teaching.
The focus of this self-reflection is the delivery of ‘amazing learning’ – an exciting personalized journey that goes beyond what we thought capable and inspires lifelong learning. Campus-wide, we work to ensure a shared understanding of ‘amazing learning’ and what it looks like in practice. Our ‘Tenby Ten’ helps us in sharing this understanding and in developing the self-reflection frameworks used with staff.
Using the self-reflection framework, staff become the owners of their own ongoing development with leadership and colleagues acting as facilitators, ‘critical friends’ and providers of guidance and support as needed.
This process is underpinned by improvement-based learning visits. All staff are visited on a regular basis by school leaders, with joint visits also used to moderate or quality assure. During the visit, the observer uses the self-reflection framework to look at the learning journey of all pupils in the class. The visit is followed by a reflective coached conversation led by the staff member, with outcomes and next steps agreed and recorded. Teachers are also encouraged to use peer-to-peer visits to support personalized CPD or student improvement strategies.
Those same challenges which have led our teaching staff to reflect upon and develop new practices and processes in their online classrooms have led us us to redesign our self-reflection framework to cater for the new learning environment and the requirement to carry out our learning visits in a different way.
Ultimately, whatever the environment in which teaching and learning takes place. the success of our teachers is measured in the growth of our pupils and their achievements, both academic and personal. As a leadership team, we therefore continue to gather a wide range of both quantitative and qualitative evidence including that from our learning visits to monitor, evaluate and review the impact of the school wide self-reflection process on pupil outcomes.
As lockdown continues and the future of how we will offer learning to our pupils appears full of uncertainty, challenge but also opportunity, we have maintained our commitment to the holistic education of our pupils and the provision of amazing experiences inside our online classrooms as much as in our physical spaces. We also recognize our responsibility to support the wellbeing of every pupil and understand the challenges they face in the uncharted territory of distance learning during lockdown.
We are achieving this by continuing our commitment to those qualities which have always made an outstanding international teacher – putting children at the centre of all we do, continuing with our high expectations regardless of the barriers that may be thrown in our path, sharing a real love of teaching children and being self-reflective, self-improving learners focused on providing amazing learning experiences for all our pupils.