Passion

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I apologise….this is going to sound a little egotistical! But most of you know by now that I tend to wear
my heart on my sleeve!

Roughly speaking 60% of the current teaching staff at the school was appointed by me. Of the remaining
40%, very many are still with us because of conversations I have had with them. And, while we are at it,
in the interests of candour, it should be admitted that some teachers are no longer here because of
other conversations I had with them. In other words…this is my team and I am very proud of them! In
the four international schools I have worked in, spanning a decade of experience, this is by far the
strongest team I have come across.

I do a lot of interviewing. If you were in my shoes, what would you be asking in those interviews? What
would you be looking for? What would you hope to hear? Because I have realized over the course of the
past few years that I take quite a different approach both in tone and content to that of quite a lot of my
peers when I am interviewing. I am looking for many different things in candidates, of course, but one
thing above all others…..

I recall when I worked in Kenya how, when we were on family shopping trips in Naguru, I would be
approached as soon as I got out of the car by a woman saying, “I have passion, Sir. Do you want to buy
some passion?” Once I had recovered my composure, I realised I was being offered passion fruit.
Passion. Passion is what I am looking for in candidates I interview: passion for working with young
people; passion for facilitating learning; and (more so with secondary teachers) passion for a specialist
subject. Other schools are often looking for particular skills sets, knowledge or experience; they want to
know if a teacher has taught “such and such” a syllabus and can offer “such and such” a club as an extra-
curricular activity. Not me. I am interested in personal qualities and values, in intellectual capacity and in
passion!

But of course as much as I chose the majority of our current teachers, they also chose us and it is worth
exploring for a moment exactly why. Uganda may be highly rated as an Expat destination in surveys
currently but it still requires a leap of faith to commit oneself to a two year contract here. People still
have to overcome legitimate concerns about security and health care etc. before signing on the dotted
line. Our benefits packages are satisfactory, especially for singles and teaching couples, but in purely
monetary terms there is a lot better out there. So why do passionate, clever, high-quality people choose
us?

Luckily ,more than a few of them have been kind enough to tell us over the course of the past two years
and these are the kinds of things they say: they choose us because they sense that we are unequivocally
child-centred in everything we do; they sense that we are a warm, welcoming and inclusive community
for children and adults alike; they sense that there is a passion for learning and teaching, for pedagogy,
amongst our teachers; they see that we are committed to academic rigour and excellence but that we
believe fervently that there is more to a good education that only that- that we take a holistic approach

to developing each child as a person as well as as a scholar; and they sense that we are truly
international, both in our make-up and in our outlook.
Pride can be a dangerous thing but we should certainly feel a great deal of confidence in the school that
we have built together as a community. When I asked teachers during our in-service training a couple of
weeks back what they thought we had achieved over the past couple of years these were the kinds of
things they listed:

  • Sharing good practice better
  • Improved IB, IGCSE and KS2 Results
  • More detailed and organized schemes of work
  • Increased leadership capacity
  • Improved monitoring of progress
  • Better differentiation of learning
  • Good progress to new English National Curriculum
  • Raised expectations
  • More friendliness
  • A broader curriculum
  • Increased numbers at IB
  • Free Chromebooks for IB students
  • Greater evidence of student leadership
  • Better drama productions
  • Better In-Service Training
  • Better writing (primary)
  • “Assessment For Learning” (AFL) practice now embedded
  • More focused and effective Catch-up programs
  • Greater variety of teaching strategies
  • Winning more ISSAK competitions
  • Improved behavior of students
  • More enthusiasm for private reading through Accelerated Reader
  • Greater openness to change

date authored: 

Friday 25th August 2017 Africa/Kampala

author: 

School Director - Steve Lang