LESSONS FROM AN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL
SamesamebutDifferent in an International School
We might all speak English but clarifying questions are essential.
Cover teacher, supply teacher, temporary replacement teacher, relief teacher (all one and the same).
Assessment: in some countries the focus is on summative assessment, so plenty of clarifying needed around the assessment of learning (summative), as learning and for learning (formative). Everyone needs a reminder that a tree doesn’t grow just because you measure how tall it is.
We all eat three meals but what descriptor is used for which meal: breakfast, lunch, tea, dinner, supper…… and ‘in betweens’ called snack, morning tea, recess. And remember, the main meal of the day is very different in different cultures. Furthermore, the time we eat is different. Everything is earlier here in Cambodia. White tourists may still eat out after 7pm, 5.30pm is more standard for locals to eat.
’This year and next year’. Australians refer to the calendar year but most in the HOPE school community refer to the school year which now means for me next year starts in August (problematic when I am thinking I’ll have things in place for next year…..time is running out).
Seasons: in Australia, Summer is a clear and evident season. Cambodia only has two seasons: wet and dry (currently…. hopefully…the start of the wet season). But with so many northern hemisphere connections school will go on Summer break in late June and return for the new year in August. As for Spring and Fall, they are talked about but make no sense to me at all in this context.
Dressing for work: while I aim for SMART, I don’t always achieve it. There are some practical considerations: riding a motorbike to work doesn’t lend itself to pencil skirts, heat and humidity means one layer is enough and gravel, mud and water (in the wet season) make heels impractical. Makeup is minimal as sweat takes its toll. And currently I am a swimming teacher for 6 lessons a week so happily PE gear is quite appropriate.
I live in the world of testing and examination acronyms! ISA, PSAT, WIDA, IGCSE, IB, CAT 4, GPA …..to name a few. What is important depends on your pathway. Some of our Year 12 students receive unconditional offers based on internal school results, for others the transcript (with a grade point average calculated from year 9, 10, 11 and 12 results) that is key. Timely and valid assessment is critical. And if you happen to be returning to Korea it is likely they will ask for your primary school reports also!
I continue to learn that I must speak slowly and clearly. Whilst our language of instruction is English, for many staff and students this is their second or third language. Current teaching staff come from America, Australia, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, England, France, Hong Kong, Ireland, Korea, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam and Venezuela.
Our student body comes from more than 30 Passport countries.
BUT there is so much that is ‘same same’. Children are children. Mostly nice, some more conscientious than others, occasionally naughty, sometimes unkind, but largely enjoying school and wanting to do their best.
A difference relates to their thankfulness. They have a clear and evident understanding that education is a gift and an opportunity that is still not available to everyone. They understand that their teachers have made personal sacrifice to be here and that their parents make a sacrifice to access a HOPE education.
It is their open and regular expression of this that becomes part of the encouragement our staff need to keep going when the going gets tough. Our staff here are clearly ‘called’ not ‘careered’ but they are still human beings who need to be affirmed.
CHERYL FLIGHT. SECONDARY SCHOOL PRINCIPAL HOPE School email@example.com
STAFFING AT HOPE UPDATE We have had some successful staffing interviews and have now filled our Primary School teaching position, one middle school specialist, an English/SOSE teacher and an ELL support teacher.
We are still without a Siem Reap Principal, a Phnom Penh Primary Principal, a music teacher, a PE teacher, a Business Management teacher and a Maths/Science teacher. We also have two maternity leave positions: High School Art for three months and a teacher/librarian for 6 months.