I’ve been here as Principal since August; I spent two months here last spring as an educational consultant before coming here. I run the school. I monitor and support the faculty and their needs. I hire new staff. We are currently in a period of transition towards authorisation and I am overseeing that as well. So it’s basically everything on a daily basis from making sure the processes and procedures are in place to planning a bigger strategic plan.
I think one of the things that make us different from a lot of the other international schools in KL, particularly in central KL, is that we have the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme. We will go through authorisation this fall and that philosophy makes us different and fully inquiry-based, which also means that teachers need to adapt to that approach.
It’s not your traditional teaching method where you have seven subjects that are content-based; it’s also skill-based and art-based and a large part of that means the teachers that come in need to understand the right philosophy. There needs to be a will for teachers to understand what students are capable of.
On Child Development
I think child development is huge. A large piece of what we do concerns the social and emotional developments of a child as well as the physical developments. We don’t just teach traditional subjects. Part of being an IB World School is putting the student at the centre of everything you do. The programme develops characteristics and teaches you how to cooperate and work together in teams. In the 21st century and ongoing, that will be a huge piece of what they will be facing. Education needs to catch up with the rest of the world because we are educating students for the future and we need to give them the tools as individuals – not just in subject-based settings but also in teaching them how to interact with people from other parts of the world. It’s about making them question: “How can I stay open-minded when someone has a different approach and different view than I do?”
There are obviously hard parts with moving from a pre-school approach into taking on some of the more traditional learning, reading and writing and mathematics, but I think the ideal approach is lots and lots of inquiry-based learning. It helps them, even though some of them still struggle. I think when it comes to Mathematics, the IB is very big on conceptual math. It’s not just to learn via the traditional way, but it is also to understand the big concepts; in many cases, some students who are really good at traditional math will struggle with conceptual math. But you also have it the other way around, where those who struggle with traditional math really thrive in conceptual mathematics. I think that our students are embracing the change quite well – we have systems in place to support certain types of learning. We have online programmes for our students and we’ve seen some tremendous growth in our students. One of the misconceptions about inquiry-based learning is that you don’t need traditional skills; you’re always going to need to know how to count, read and write. How to use them, however, has changed. Students that memorise things don’t need to do that today. That’s why we have Google. The IB approach teaches students skills on how to tackle the unknown situations.
Most Memorable Moment
Every Friday we have something we call ‘Pride of the Principal’, which is an award for the student. The students are nominated in the classes for showing one of the IB learner profile attributes, among which are the Risk Takers and the Communicators. On Fridays, they get to come to my office and hold a sign that says what your attribute is. The students will then get a picture with me. When it started this year, I had a little Nursery Two student second language learner who was able to come in to my office to tell me that she had been an Inquirer and that wasn’t an easy word. That was a very heartwarming moment, and that memory in particular stands out.